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Tamanu oil is a remarkable topical healing agent with skin healing,
antineuralgic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic and antioxidant
properties. Tamanu oil’s botanical name is Calophyllum tacamahaca and/or
Calophyllum Inophyllum--but it's been called everything from Alexandrian Laurel
to Pannay Tree to Sweet Scented Calophyllum, and in London it was once sold as
Borneo Mahogany. The Tamanu tree is indigenous to tropical Southeast Asia; it is
found in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka, and the
Melanesian and Polynesian islands. It is grows up to three meters tall, sporting
cracked, black bark and elliptical, shiny leaves. The Tamanu tree blooms twice
annually with fragrant, white flowers, which later yield clusters of
yellow-skinned spherical fruit. The fruit's pulp tastes similar to an apple,
within which a large nut is embedded. The nut contains an odorless pale kernel,
called punnai in some Pacific areas. This kernel is dried in the sun for two
months until it becomes sticky with a dark, thick, rich oil; it must be
protected from humidity and rain during drying. This sticky oil is cold-pressed
to make a greenish yellow oil similar to olive oil. To put this
spectacular oil into perspective, and to further justify its relatively high
cost, It takes 100 kilograms of Tamanu fruit, the amount that one tree produces
annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil! Natives believed
the Tamanu tree was a sacred gift of nature and that gods hid in its branches.
It was their answer to skin protection from hot sun, high humidity and ocean
Current and Traditional Use Around the Globe
Indonesians soak the leaf in water; the resulting blue solution is applied to
inflamed eyes or taken internally for heatstroke. It is used as an
astringent for hemorrhoids in Philippines. The Manus of Papua New Guinea heat
leaves over a fire until they soften, then apply them to skin ulcers, boils,
cuts, sores and pimples. On Dobu Island, leaves are boiled, and the resulting
solution is used to wash skin rashes.
In the Philippines, the sap is mixed with sulfur to create an ointment for
boils, open sores and wounds. In the 18th century, native Jamaicans used a
similar species for wounds and sores.
Fiji natives use Tamanu oil for joint pains, arthritis, bruises, oozing wounds,
chapped lips and preventing diaper rash. In most south sea islands it is
utilized as an analgesic for sciatica, rheumatism, and ulcers.
Pacific islanders apply Tamanu oil to scrapes, cuts, burns, insect bites and
stings, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn,
dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, diaper rash, and herpes sores--and even to
reduce foot and body odor!
In Europe, sometimes called Domba oil, it has a 70- to 75-percent success rate
in alleviating rheumatism and scabies. It’s also effective on gout and
ringworm. It can be applied to mucous membrane lesions. It heals chapped
skin, post-surgical wounds, skin allergies, cracked skin, bed sores, wounds,
rashes, abrasions, athlete’s foot, boils, and infected nails.
Tamanu oil has even healed severe burns caused by boiling water, chemicals, and
X-rays. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce rashes, sores, swelling,
and abrasions. Tamanu oil promotes new tissue formation, accelerating
healing, and healthy skin growth.
Tamanu oil's pain-relieving properties have also been used traditionally to
relieve neuralgia, shingles and believe it or not, leprous neuritis! In
the 1920s, Sister Marie-Suzanne, a nun stationed in Fiji, topically applied
Tamanu oil to leprosy victims with positive results.
“Tamanu,” by Anthony C. Dweick, Editor, Personal
Care and Tim Meadows, Concentrated Aloe Corporation, USA
“Evaluation of the Ability of One Test Product
to Improve the Appearance of Scars,” Product #05-5511, Tamanu Oil (Calophyllum
Tacamahaca Seed Oil), Final Report #010514-111, Prepared by BioScience
Laboratories, Inc. for Concentrated Aloe Corporation
HerbalGram 2004;63:26-31 © American Botanical
Council by Chris Kilham
Pharmacist, Consumer Edition
For educational purposes only
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any
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