What is Tamanu Oil?
Tamanu oil may still be something of a secret in the Western world but this native of the Polynesian islands has been used by the locals to treat a very broad range of skin conditions for thousands of years.
The oil is derived from the fruit of the Tamanu tree or Calophyllum inophyllum which grows as high as 30 meters. The tree bears an apricot sized fruit from which tamanu oil is produced. Interestingly enough, when the fresh fruit is collected and opened, there is no discernable oil, however when the kernel is allowed to dry for a month or more its properties change completely.
The light colored fruit kernel becomes a deep shade of brown and produces a rich, sticky and very fragrant oil which is extracted through a screw press process. The resultant product is a luxurious, dark green oil which can be safely applied to your skin for a range of purposes. This wonderful oil is absorbed easily, smells delightful and leaves no trace of residue making it one of the best treats that you could give your skin.
Even though it is only just becoming better known in the west, the unique abilities of tamanu oil have been known to European scientists since the early part of the last century. A young French nun called Sister Suzanna had reportedly used tamanu oil to great effect in treating some of the awful symptoms of leprosy including severe painful nerve inflammation.
Word of the oil spread quickly and in 1918 French researchers began to investigate its effects for potential topical use. The scientists were impressed by its incredible cicatrizing effects meaning that it had the ability to regenerate the skin giving it great potential for the treatment of a range of serious skin conditions.
The scientific literature of the time recorded many successful cases where tamanu oil was used on the skin including a patient admitted to a Paris hospital with a severe gangrenous leg ulcer. The records show that the wound healed completely and left behind just a smooth scar.
Since the early days of use, there has probably not been the amount of research into tamanu oil that these early discoveries would merit but there some notable studies have been completed proving that tamanu oil has various applications especially for the skin.
Why does Tamanu Oil Work?
The reason that tamanu oil is such a blessing for your skin can be found in its unique chemical make-up. It contains a number of active compounds that can rejuvenate your skin including canipyllic acid, friedelin, and canophylol.
It is also a rich source of skin friendly omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. When you use tamanu oil, you are getting a natural product with a range of quality therapeutic properties. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in nature and it may also have pain relieving properties.
Tamanu Oil Benefts
Many of Tamanu Oil’s benefits are related to skin protection, healing and general skin health.
1) For Acne
According to those that have used it, tamanu oil is an outstanding remedy for people suffering from acne. Its effect is largely down to its antibacterial properties which mainly stem from the canophyllic acid and canophyllol contents of the oil.
People with acne should benefit greatly from the way in which tamanu oil can minimize bacterial growth and irritation on the skin. It also helps to regenerate the skin by stimulating the growth of healthy fresh cells which goes a long way to minimizing acne scars.
2) For Psoriasis and Eczema
If you are one of the many people suffering from a chronic inflammatory skin condition like psoriasis, eczema or rosacea, you will doubtless have tried any number of remedies whether they were natural or pharmaceutical.
And let’s face it, there seems to be another natural remedy around every corner promising the ability to treat your condition. I certainly wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical but tamanu oil really does seem to work.
Tamanu oil can help provide fast relief to the inflammation and distress your skin is experiencing. It is the xanthones contained in the oil which are mainly responsible for its ability to ease inflammation and irritation. Studies have actually confirmed that callophyllolide which was isolated from the oil could relieve histamine induced inflammation. (1)
3) For Scars and Stretch Marks
Just as tamanu oil can be used to minimize the appearance of acne scars, it can also be used on other types of scars and also on stretch marks. Tamanu oil does a great job in encouraging the growth of new cells so using it on your scars and stretch marks might well have the desired effect.
Of course there are absolutely no guarantees and the severity of the scarring will be a factor but as well as anecdotal evidence, there were encouraging results from a small scale trial published in 2002. In this small experiment, 6 participants who applied tamanu oil to their scars twice a day experienced significant improvements. (2)
4) To Protect against UV rays
One of the most important and well researched uses of tamanu oil is its ability to counteract damage caused by over exposure to damaging UV rays. Too much exposure to UV rays can cause free radical cell damage and the use of tamanu oil has long been understood by Pacific islanders who use it to protect themselves from the sun.
Several studies have now been conducted into tamanu oil’s protective abilities including one published in 2007 that demonstrated that it had a solar protection factor up to 18-22. (3) The researchers were able to show that even in concentrations as low as 1%, tamanu oil could protect against 85% of the DNA damage inflicted by the sun.
5) For Wrinkles
When the skin gets damaged by exposure to the sun, it often becomes over pigmented and loses its elasticity and collagen structures. This can lead to an overall loss of strength and firmness in the skin and inevitably to wrinkles and other blemishes.
You can use tamanu oil to treat these signs of aging naturally instead of the commercial anti-aging products which are often laden with dubious chemicals.
6) Skin Cancer
Research with regard to the anti-cancer effects of tamanu oil is at a very early stage but results have been promising. A Japanese study published in 2001 found that tamanu oil had the ability to combat the growth of cancerous tumors. (4)
Admittedly, there is little else to go on but given these positive early indications, it would be great if researchers had the funding necessary to delve deeper into the cancer protective properties of so many natural treatments including tamanu oil.
7) For Wound Healing
Whether you have a minor wound caused by an injury, a cut, an insect bite or a minor burn, there is good reason to think that tamanu oil can help it heal quickly and naturally.
You can apply tamanu oil to your wounds just as the Polynesians have been doing for thousands of years because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It will ease the irritation and pain and also prevent the spread of harmful bacteria while working to rejuvenate your damaged skin.
8) For Hair
While tamanu oil is best known for its ability to treat the skin, it can also be used to improve the strength, health and appearance of your hair.
There is no research to prove that it works but many people also claim that it can help promote the growth and improve the thickness of your hair too. There is certainly no harm in giving it a go and we would love you to let us know if it was effective.
Other Tamanu Oil uses
I have listed some of the best-known tamanu oil uses but the list is far from exhaustive. Tamanu oil can also be used to treat a range of other conditions mostly related to the skin including:
- Diaper rash
- Body and foot odor
- Herpes sores
How to use Tamanu Oil
Tamanu oil can be safely applied to the affected areas of the skin without any fear of adverse effects though some people have reported sensitivity. If you have sensitive skin or you are concerned about a reaction, then make sure that you test it on a discrete small patch of skin before going ahead with a larger application.
At first, you may need to apply it up to 4 times each day but many people recommend using it twice a day especially as you start to see the results. Tamanu oil is well absorbed into the skin but it can take some time to fully absorb so make sure that you apply it at least 30 minutes or so before you plan to go outside.
Tamanu Oil Soap
While tamanu oil can be applied in its pure form, there are commercial soaps available which use tamanu oil as one of their main ingredients.
You can buy Tamanu Oil Soap here
When buying your tamanu oil, make sure that you are buying the best quality product that you can find. Many companies selling ‘pure’ tamanu oil actually dilute it with olive oil or some other type of oil.
You can buy quality Organic Tamanu Oil here
Try to make sure that the oil you are buying is hand gathered, cold processed and sun-dried.