Tamanu Calophyllum inophyllum

Tamanu Calophyllum inophyllum is a large evergreen tree that grows to around 20 m in height. Native to East Africa, it grows from southern coastal India to Australia and is cultivated in many tropical regions, including several pacific islands.

It is an ornamental plant with a crackled, dark bark, dark-green glossy leaves and white, fragrant flowers. The fruit is a round, green drupe with a thick skin and a single thick-shelled seed about the size of a walnut. The wood is hard and strong and it has been used in construction and boat building.

Tamanu calophyllum inophyllum | West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy

The carrier oil is produced by cold-pressing the sun-dried fruit and seed together to produce a thick, dark green-brown oil. The resins that are initially to be found in the oil are separated out.

The oil has a long history of traditional folk use. It has been used by many Pacific island peoples for a wide range of skin disorders and conditions. It is used for its analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious properties and has been found helpful for sciatica, shingles, eczema, psoriasis, neuritis, skin allergies, rheumatism, phlebitis, varicose veins, cracked skin, stretch marks and sunburn.

LenPrice in his book Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage says that external use of this oil has been shown to be helpful for:

  • various problems of the scalp and hair
  • acne, eczema, psoriasis, scars (Muller 19930
  • facial neuralgia
  • shingles (Herpes zoster) a combination of tamanu vegetable oil andRavensara aromatica essential oil has been used successfully as a treatment (Penoel 1981) and it has been shown effective for shingles by Cadwallander 1997 and Keville & Green
  • stimulating phagocytosis (Schnaubelt 1994). Phagocytosis is the process by which the human body destroys dead or foreign cells)
  • sciatica and rheumatism – due to the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Kurt Schnaubelt says that one of the most effective remedies for the relief of pain in the case of shingles is to blend Tamanu and Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphoract. 1,8 – cineole) in a 50:50 synergy and apply as needed.

Jan Kusmirek, in his book Liquid Sunshine, Vegetable Oils for Aromatherapy says that in the South Sea Islands it has been used to alleviate pains due to leprosy, sciatica and rheumatism, and as a cure for ulcers and bad wounds. He also says that Tamanu oil is an excellent raw material for protective formulations such as soothing creams, lotions and balms; and as after-hair-removal creams, after-sun milks, or for sores and minor stings and bite preparations. He says that it is not suitable for massage or diet and should be used as a formulation ingredient and for spot topical applications.

While this thick sticky oil might not be the one you would reach for for your regular skin care routine, it has a long tradition of being effectively used in cosmetic products and it is certainly an oil that I have seen used, in combination with Ravintsara, very effectively for several different cases of shingles.

Contraindications: for topical use – none.

When properly stored in cool dry place and out of direct sunlight, Tamanu Oil has a shelf life of up to 5 years. It is ideal to store the bottle of Tamanu Oil you are frequently using between 70° F (21° C) and below 125° F (52° C) and out of direct sunlight.

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