The tamanu nut-tree comes form the plant species Calopyllum inophyllm, which s commonly found along the shores of Southeast Asia, and grows to approximately three meters in length. Calopyllum means, “beautiful leaf” in Greek and the Polynesians tamanu is their tamanu is their “green gold” known for safely and effectively regenerating damaged skin. Beautiful, fragrant, orange blossom like flowers bloom on the tamanu twice a year, and produce 100 kilograms of apricot sized fruit annually, translating to 5 kg of mature nut oil, which is deep green in color and carries a luxuriously pleasant aroma.
Tamanu, also known as kamani among Hawaiians, has historically been used as a topical agent for th relief of pain from sciatica,, shingles, neuraligia, rheumatism and many other skin issues, including burns, scrapes, insect bites, sores and blisters. Its use has been very popular among the Southeast Asian natives in Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Historically, one of the most highly regarded medical studies involved a woman who was admitted to St. Louis Hospital in Paris with a large, gangrenous ulcer on her leg that was not healing properly. Amputation seemed unavoidable, yet the doctors opted instead to administer tamanu oil dressings to her leg on a regular basis in the hopes that the wound would heal. Eventually, the consistent application of the oil to the woman’s leg resulted in the limb’s complete recovery. After some time passed, all that remained of the wound was a smooth flat scar. This remarkable incident that occurred years ago kicked off years of research of tamanu oil’s therapeutic and healing effects for the skin.
Although tamanu oil has proven to be effective in addressing a broad range of skin problems – the oil is found to be quite soothing, even on sensitive skin. According to Plant Resources of Tropical Africa and Chris Kilham, an ethnobotanist who researches and studies the effects of plant-based medicines, this cold pressed oil contains anti-inflammatory properties. This is due to the presence of 4-phenyl coumarin calophylloide and a group of xanthones, which explains the reduction effect it has on rashes, sores, swelling and various skin abrasions. The antimicrobial phytochemical agents like friedelin, canophyllol, canophyllic acid and inophynone are the reason for the oil’s efficacy against various human and animal pathogens, including Staphylococcus and other undesirable infections.
According to reports from research conducted in Pakistan, friedelin, one of tamanu’s antimicrobial agents, exhibited activity against various fungal diseases found in hair, skin and nails. The presence of antioxidants that all of us look for in a skin care regimen is abundant properties, specifically inhibiting lipid peroxidation (oxidative degradation of lipids). We must not forget that our cell membranes, including those of skin cells, are made up of lipids. The presence of these compounds allow tamanu oil the capacity to promote the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating cicatrization, increasing skin’s elasticity and suppleness, minimizing blemishes and reducing common free radicals.
The tamanu tree is a valuable element for skin protection and an effective remedy for many skin problems and health conditions. It can be credited for the beautiful, blemish free skin of Polynesian women. The substantial research that has been conducted on the tamanu tree has continuously uncovered positive data on its beneficial properties. It is time we recognized tamanu as the precious gift of nature that it truly is.