What is Tamanu Oil?
Tamanu oil comes from the nut-like fruits of Tamanu or Calophyllum inophyllum tree. This leafy, 25-30 meters long tree is a native of Southeast Asian, Melanesian and Polynesian islands. The sandy and salty coastal soils are appropriate for growing tamanu trees. (3)
The apricot sized tamanu fruit has a single large kernel inside it. The process of harvesting tamanu oil starts by drying the kernels or seeds for almost a month. The green kernels become deep brownish and sticky with an oily substance. Then the tamanu oil is extracted from them through screw press method. (4) The resultant oil is dark green and of nutty-sweet fragrance. It is the best treatment for your hair and skin because it gets absorbed deep into your skin without leaving any sticky residue.
A French nun Suzanna in the early 19th century first discovered the magnificent benefits of tamanu oil in healing leprosy and nerve inflammations. (5) After that the French scientists investigated tamanu oils skin regenerating effects in treating many serious skin disorders such as leg ulcers, leprosy, etc. at that time.
Recently there have been enough clinical studies to prove all of those earlier claims about the benefits of tamanu oil for skin, hair and health.
This article reviews some research backed benefits and uses of tamanu oil, its therapeutic components and potential side effects.
15 Health Benefits and Uses of Tamanu Oil
Tamanu Oil for Skin Care
Primarily all the benefits of tamanu oil are directed at your skin. It has a long list of nutrients and chemical compounds for a supple and healthy skin.
Let us look at some skin care activities of tamanu oil.
1. Tamanu Oil May Cure Acne
Acne is a common skin disorder for many people around the world. Tamanu oil is an excellent remedy for your acne problem. The antibacterial properties of tamanu oil: canophyllol and capnophilic acids can fight off the bacterial growth responsible for acne.
A 2002 study shows the antibacterial activities of tamanu oil on acne-causing bacteria like Propionibacterium. (8) Tamanu oil does not stop only at preventing the spread and reproduction of acne vulgaris. Its cicatrizing properties regenerate new skin tissues on your acne affected skin areas and give you back a smooth, scar-free skin.
2. It May Fight off Psoriasis and Eczema
Psoriasis and eczema are chronic forms of skin inflammations. These skin disorders give you a flakey, dry, and red skin with constant itch or irritations. There are hundreds of eczema treatment products on the market but with a little help. (9)
Tamanu oil may be effective in relieving eczema and psoriasis. Its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidants, anti-itch and skin moisturizing properties are ideal for treating these skin disorders.
Researchers have confirmed that xanthones and calophyllolide in tamanu oil can soothe the irritations of allergic inflammations on your skin.
3. Tamanu Oil Can Remove Scars and Stretch Marks
You have already known the skin regenerating effects of tamanu oil in treating scars. A regular application of this oil can provide elasticity to your skin and fade off the unsightly stretch marks as well.
A 2002 experiment on 6 individuals shows significant effects of tamanu oil when applied twice daily in fading the stretch marks and scars. (10)
4. It May Protect against UV Rays
What makes tamanu oil famous among the sun-kissed Polynesian islanders is its UV ray protecting elements. Prolonged exposure to solar UV rays can damage the DNA of your skin and has adverse effects on the cell growth and genes of your body. UV radiation can cause you skin cancer in the long run.
Tamanu oil is your most effective sunscreen product. A layer of tamanu oil can create a UV protective shield over your skin. A 2007 study confirms that tamanu oil has a high level of 18-22% UV protection factors in it. Moreover, only 1% of this protective oil can save up to 85% of DNA damage to your skin due to solar radiation. (11)
5. Tamanu Oil May Heal Wrinkles
Hyperpigmentation due to solar radiation may damage your skin and weaken its natural collagen structure and elasticity. Moreover, the free radicals can lead to mutation of unhealthy cells on your skin. All these issues are responsible for premature aging, wrinkles, and blemishes on your skin. (12)
The fatty acids in tamanu oil are great antioxidants. They can fight off the free radicals and provide strength to the collagen and elasticity of your skin tissues. Thus, tamanu oil provides you with a firmer regenerated skin and a younger feel.
6. It May Combat Skin Cancer
Recent studies on tamanu oil have suggested its anticancer potentials. Especially one remarkable research conducted in Japan, 2001, proves that tamanu oil has capabilities to battle the spread of cancerous tumors. (13) However, tamanu oil is undoubtedly the best precaution against skin cancer caused by UV radiation from the sun.
7. Tamanu Oil May Heal Wounds
Cicatrizing or ‘wound healing’ effects of tamanu oil are one of its primary benefits that caught the attention of the French scientists. Cicatrizing properties make this oil stand out among all other health beneficial oils.
No matter the size and spread of the wounds, cuts, insect bites, burns, etc. tamanu oil is there to soothe the immediate pain and heal the inflammations gradually. The antibacterial properties prevent any infections on the wounds. Its analgesic properties ease the pain and regenerate the skin tissues from within. (14)
8. It Is a Skin Moisturizer
Tamanu oil is popular for its hydrating and moisturizing effects on the dry and damaged skin. It is composed of 35% omega 9 and omega 3 fatty acids, along with calophyllic acids to provide you with a smooth and supple skin. These essential nutrients can revitalize your skin by reconstructing the lipids and stopping dehydration. (15)
9. Tamanu Oil is Good for Healthy Hair
Although tamanu oil is well regarded for its ability to treat all forms of skin disorders, it makes a wonderful hair oil too. You should not miss the opportunity of tapping into the hair improving properties of this oil. Tamanu oil is the best bet for your healthy, strong, and smooth hair.
Tamanu oil massage can strengthen the immunity of your scalp and hair follicles to prevent hair fall, hair thinning, split ends and dandruff problem.
This lightweight oil can easily penetrate deep inside your scalp and unclog the follicles from accumulated dust and other dirt. The antibiotic properties of tamanu oil can heal fungal and bacterial infections and provide you with a healthy scalp. (16)
Tamanu oil is a great moisturizer for your flaky and scaly scalp. It can moisten and regenerated the damaged scalp with thick hair growth. A scalp massage of this oil can regulate the circulation, and its calming agents can relax your nervous system.
10. It May Boost Immune System
With its celebrated list of anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and analgesic properties, it goes without saying that tamanu oil can boost your immune defense against many harmful microbes, pollutants, and irritants.
Skin is the largest and the most exposed organs in your body. Tamanu oil can provide you with a primary level of immune shield against all harmful agents. (17)
11. Tamanu Oil May Speed up Healing
The antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids of tamanu oil are stimulant nature. They can instantly start the healing process of damaged skin cells caused by minor injuries, bruises, cuts, and wounds. (18)
12. It May Relieve Pain
The analgesic properties of tamanu oil can give you a great relief from the pains of rheumatism, sprains, back pain, neuritis, neuralgia, shingles, sore joints, tendonitis, sciatic nerve pains, insect bites, and sunburn. You can topically massage this therapeutic oil as a pain reliever in the affected areas. (19)
13. Tamanu Oil May Fight Foot and Body Odor
Tamanu oil is a natural deodorant. This tropical oil has a distinct nutty and sweet aroma. You can apply this oil topically on your underarms and foot. Thus it can keep off the bacterial infections in the sweaty areas of your body and reduce the foul smell or odor. An application of tamanu oil on your toenails and foot can keep off fungal infections such as athlete’s foot as well. (20)
14. It May Soothe Diaper Rash
Diaper rashes can give a hard time to your children. Tamanu oil is safer than any other oils available when it comes to treating diaper rash on the sensitive skin of your children. It can stop the irritation, redness and provide with an immediate comfort on the rashes. (21)
15. Tamanu Oil May Protect Blood Vascular System
Tamanu oil can regulate the circulation process and protect the small capillaries. Thus it treats the conditions such as rosacea, and heavy legs. (22)
Therapeutic Values of Tamanu Oil
Tamanu oil has a complex but unique chemical composition. It is packed with a wide range of healing properties and nutrients such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant, analgesic, antibiotic, anti-neuralgic, anti-itch, deodorizing, cicatrizing or ‘wound healing’ properties, etc. (6)
Some of the core components of tamanu oil include: (7)
- Three types of lipids: neutral lipids, glycolipids, and phospholipids
- Fatty acids: omega 6, omega 9 and calophyllic acid
Apart from these therapeutic properties tamanu oil also stores antibiotic compound such as lactone, calophyllolide, coumarins, friedelin, and vitamin E.
Tamanu Oil Side Effects
The negative aspects of tamanu oil weigh too little when compared to its innumerable health-promoting values. There are a few reports of irritations, allergic reactions, and itching due to topical use of this oil. Let’s get to know these side effects in detail.
- Skin inflammations: Just like any other concentrated herbal oil tamanu oil can also create skin inflammations with symptoms like itching, redness, swellings, and irritations. The best solution to avoid these hazards is to mix tamanu oil with any of the carrier oils to reduce its potency. You can use coconut, jojoba and almond oil as your carrier oil.
- Allergic Reactions: People with allergic sensitivity to mangosteens, bitter kola and other plants from Liliaceae family can develop an allergy from tamanu oil too. (23) However, the chances are very rare. You can do a patch test by rubbing one drop of tamanu oil on your elbow. Stop using the oil if you observe any allergic reactions or dilute it with any of the carrier oil.
Tamanu oil is a popular skin and hair care oil in the Polynesian islands and Southeast Asian countries. In the recent times, this beneficial oil has crossed the native boundaries, and its wellness values are trending in the western world. (1)
The health communities around the globe are discovering the hidden potentials of tamanu oil with renewed interest. (2)
You may use tamanu oil for healthy hair, skin and numerous health issues. You should consult an expert for appropriate dosage and method of using tamanu oil for any particular health condition.