The tamanu nut tree, whose kernels yield the natural tamanu nut oil, is botanically termed as Calophyllum inophyllum meaning the beautifully leafed tree in Greek. This species in native to southeast Asia and is found growing in abundance along the seashores as well as in upcountry regions having tropic climatic conditions. While scientists are yet to undertake a study to ascertain the differences between the oil yielded by the tamanu nut trees growing in the coastal regions and the inland, natives of Polynesia asset that the oil obtained from the trees growing in the coastal regions is more useful compared to the oil extracted from the nuts of the trees growing inland.
Hence, it is not surprising that manufacturers of tamanu nut oil depend more on the nuts produced by trees growing in the coastal regions. It is interesting to note that the oil obtained from the tamanu nuts is somewhat mystifying. This is primarily owing to the fact that when the nut is taken out of the inedible fruit of tamanu nut trees, the light-colored kernel does not give any indication that it has any oil content. This is true even when the kernels are squashed or pulverized. Nevertheless, once the kernel is dried out for a period of a month or two on a rack, its color changes to profound chocolate brown and it is coated with muggy loaded oil that can be extracted mechanically without much effort using a screw press. It may be noted that scientists have still not been able to find the process of such transformation of the tamanu nut kernel.
The tamanu nut tree is native to the Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. Laborers manually collect the nuts of the tamanu trees growing in the coastal regions since the oil extracted from the nuts produced by these trees are said to be of superior or best quality. In may be noted that the oil extracted from tamanu nuts (Oil of Tamanu) is absolutely wholesome and a natural extract from the tamanu nut tree, which the locals consider being ‘sacred’. This natural oil does not enclose any synthetic chemicals, preservatives or additives.
Manufacturers of tamanu nut oil still follow the traditional practices and use manual labor to crack the nuts and dry the kernels out in the sun till their color changes to golden brown. When the kernels have been dried out for about a month or two and they possess a chocolate brown color, they are cold pressed to extract the enclosed natural oil. The cold press using screw press does not involve any heat or addition of chemicals and yields the best quality, unadulterated, loaded, deep green and luxurious tamanu oil.
Tamanu nut oil possesses outstanding therapeutic attributes and the indigenous people of Polynesia and Melanesia have been holding this natural oil in high esteem since ages. The natives of Polynesia and Melanesia consider this wonderful oil as a sacred gift of nature and occasionally talk about it as the ‘Green Gold’ or the ‘Sacred Oil of Tamanu’.
The exclusive attitude of this natural oil is to stimulate the formation of new tissues; this is the real therapeutic power of tamanu oil. The oil’s ability to encourage new tissue formation actually speeds up the healing process of any wound and, at the same time, results in the healthy skin growth. Hence, it is not surprising that this natural oil works as an effective anti-aging agent. Scientifically, this process is known as ‘cicatrization’. In fact, our skin is the largest organ in our body and is composed of three stratum – the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. A number of other layers lie within these three layers and each of them performs particular functions. Since tamanu oil penetrates deep into the core connective tissues of the skin and encourages the growth of new tissues, it is effective in accelerating the healing of any type of wound.
The islanders, as well as the practitioners of local medications, have been conventionally using tamanu oil to stimulate the regeneration of tissues and, hence, this action helps in the regeneration of healthy skin. This natural oil not only helps the growth of new tissues but also makes the skin new and glowing.
The natural oil extracted from tamanu nuts therapeutically has a number of external applications. Generally, tamanu oil is applied generously to any scrape, cut, burn injury, abrasions, diabetic sores, psoriasis, anal fissures, blisters, eczema, sunburn, insect stings and bites, herpes sores, dry or scaly skin, athletes foot as well as lessening the foul odor of the body, especially the foot. In effect, tamanu natural oil is an excellent deodorant for the underarm also. It is common among the natives of Vanuatu to massage tamanu oil or the natural oil extracted from the nuts of Calophyllum inophyllum on the skin to get relief from the excruciating pains associated with conditions, such as rheumatism, neuralgia, and sciatica. Many of them also use this oil to treat the baby rash caused by the use of nappies.
Several studies have revealed that the oil extracted from the tamanu nuts encloses three primary lipid categories – neutral lipids, glycolipids, and phospholipids. In addition, the oil of tamanu also encloses a distinctive fatty acid known as chlorophyllic acid as well as an unusual antibiotic called lactone. It also contains calophyllolide – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. The therapeutic benefits of this natural oil are attributed to the above-mentioned substances and anti-inflammatory coumarins. On the basis of the identified actions of the familiar elements of this natural oil, it is obvious that the oil of tamanu is not only anti-bacterial but also anti-inflammatory.
Tamanu nut oil also possesses an exceptional cicatrizing (healing by the formation of new tissues over any wound) properties, but scientists are yet elucidated on this aspect in the available scientific literature. Nevertheless, this unique attribute of the oil extracted from tamanu nuts is not only proven, but also accepted by all concerned. The same thing may be said regarding the anti-neuralgic properties of the oil of tamanu. In fact, there is adequate evidence that this natural oil is effective in providing relief from neuritis (a condition marked by tenderness or continuous pain in a nerve, accompanied by paralysis and disturbance of the senses). Again, in this case too, scientists are yet to ascertain the elements responsible for this specific property of the oil as well as the manner in which they function to alleviate the condition.
It is interesting to note that scientists in Asia, the Pacific Islands and Europe started undertaking researches on this natural oil in their hospitals only in the 1930’s following a report by a French nun Sister Marie-Suzanne, who was working in Fiji at that time, that external application of Dolno (as tamanu nut oil is known locally) on patients suffering from neuritis accompanied by leprosy showed amazing effects. The research undertaken by these scientists demonstrated that external application of the oil of tamanu is also an excellent remedy for healing skin conditions. In addition, their findings also showed that this oil possessed properties that were effective in providing relief from nerve pains. They also proved that tamanu nut oil possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant as well as anti-microbial attributes.
While the oil of tamanu has been studied by scientists for nearly eight decades now, the tamanu nut oil has been marketed commercially for the last 10 years as an element in first aid purposes as well as cosmetics.
The oil of tamanu is a traditional medication in the Pacific Islands where people apply it topically to cure all types of skin disorders that one can think of, such as acne, scrapes, cuts, insect bites, burns, sunburn, ulcers, eczema, blisters as well as aches caused by herpes – genital pains and cold sores. In addition, natives in the Pacific Islands also use this natural oil to treat arid and scaly skin. Tamanu nut oil has the aptitude to get rid of or significantly diminish scarring caused by burns, acne as well as other skin conditions. On the other hand, the indigenous people of Polynesia also apply this oil topically to lessen foul body and foot smell.
External application of tamanu nut oil to the neck also helps in getting relief from a sore throat. As aforementioned, this natural oil extracted from the nuts of the tamanu plant possesses properties that help in alleviating pain and the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands have been using it traditionally to get relief from nerve pain or neuralgia, sciatica as well as arthritis. Native women also use this oil topically on their skin for clear and flawless skin. This natural oil is also beneficial for infants and it is used to treat nappy rash as well as other skin disorders in babies. It has been established as well as accepted that the compounds enclosed by tamanu nut oil possess noteworthy anti-inflammatory properties and are effective in diminishing pain as well as swellings related to the above-mentioned health conditions when applied topically.
In addition, the oil of tamanu also possesses numerous potent anti-microbial properties and, hence, it has been established that this natural oil is effective in treating several conditions caused by pathogens that are responsible for numerous epidemics and deaths in the present times. It also has the potential to prevent MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) – a bacterium that enters the body via the open wounds on the skin and is resistant to most of the available antibiotics. Currently, this oil has been creating lots of headlines as it is helpful in preventing this morbid bacterium. In comparison to amoxicillin and ampicillin, the elements present in tamanu nut oil have been found to be equally effective against this bacterium. In addition, the findings of several types of research have confirmed that the anti-microbial and anti-fungal elements enclosed by this natural oil may be used to effectively treat skin and eye contagions, together with ringworms (any skin infection caused by certain parasitic fungi and distinguished by the formation of eruptive patches in the shape of rings).
As discussed earlier, the oil of tamanu possesses significant antioxidant attributes, particularly in slowing down the breakdown of lipids by oxygen (a process called peroxidization). It may be noted that the membranes of the cells are made up of lipids and, hence, this natural oil facilitates the inhibition of any harm caused to the skin due to oxidation. While the tamanu nut oil is viscous as well as full, it is soaked up by the skin completely without leaving any slippery excess or a greasy feeling. In addition, this natural oil also possesses a gentle and pleasant scent and provides a comfortable experience making it a perfect ingredient for creams, lotions, ointments, balms and other cosmetics.
Although the therapeutic use of tamanu nut oil was started in the Pacific Islands where it is used extensively even to this day, presently this natural oil is being used by people in different countries for remedial purposes. People in Indonesia call the tamanu nut tree as nyamplung and use its leaves to cure inflammation of the eyes as well as heatstroke. While the trunk of this tree is used by them to construct boats, people in Indonesia launched a large-scale program to plant this tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) throughout their country to acquire the tamanu nut oil that is used as an alternate for diesel. Then again, people in Malaysia know this tree by the name penaga laut and use the oil obtained from its nuts.
Inhabitants of the island nation Vanuatu, a republic in the Pacific Ocean, use this natural oil as a remedy for several skin conditions, including cuts, burns, insect bites, stings, blemishes, rashes, and sores.
According to numerous people familiar with the therapeutic properties of the oil of tamanu, it is a marvel of nature since it is effective in treating numerous skin conditions, including inflammation and irritation, as well as pains associated with arthritis and rheumatism. Some of the condition specific benefits of unadulterated tamanu nut oil are mentioned below.
- Tamanu nut oil is extremely beneficial for people having dry, coarse and flaking skin as its regular application on the skin makes the skin soft and helps it to retain moisture. While applying the oil of tamanu directly to the skin is the most common practice, as an alternate process, one may also add a few drops of this natural oil to their lotion or moisturizer and use the blend daily.
- Topical application of the oil of tamanu is effective in preventing as well as healing pimples and eruption of acne. The best way to apply this natural oil is to lightly touch this natural oil on the affected areas prior to retiring to bed.
- Apart from lessening the blemished tissues as well as stains/ discoloration of the skin, the oil of tamanu has proved to be an effectual remedy for wrinkles and stretch marks.
- A clinical trial undertaken to treat observable blemished tissues found that the oil of tamanu was effective in diminishing the size of such damaged tissues and, thereby, make them appear less obvious. The participants of the research applied this oil topically on the affected skin areas two times every day for nine weeks continually.
- Besides being a useful remedy for almost all types of skin disorders, tamanu nut oil is also effective in relieving health conditions like muscle aches, neuralgia, neuritis, rheumatism, and arthritis.
- The oil of tamanu is used for healing other conditions too, especially in preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth. It has been established that tamanu nut oil has the aptitude to penetrate deep into the hair follicles strengthening them, which, in turn, facilitates the prevention of hair fall or receding hair line. This natural oil works to clear the uncleanness and rubbish on the scalp and reinstate as well as nurture the scalp while increasing its shine. Tamanu nut oil may be applied directly on the scalp or, added with one’s regular shampoo or hair conditioner before application. Alternately, the oil of tamanu may be applied on the scalp after blending it with other natural oils, such as olive oil, neem oil, and/ or jojoba oil.
In addition to the remedial uses of tamanu nut oil mentioned above, this natural oil is also useful for treating skin conditions like sunburn, psoriasis (a widespread chronic, inciting skin ailment distinguished by formation of flaking patches), dark spots and rosacea (a chronic type of acne that affects the nose, forehead and cheeks and marked by red pustular lesions). This oil, extracted from the nuts of the tamanu nut tree (Calophyllum inophyllum), is also a useful cure for poison ivy. Researchers conducted on animals have shown that the oil of tamanu may also prove to be effective in healing health conditions like yeast Candida, cancer, and HIV.