Tamanu oil comes from the kernel of the fruit of the Tamanu tree (Calophyllum inophyllum), which is dried in the sun, and then cold-pressed to extract the oil. It takes a hundred kilograms of fruit to extract just 5kg of oil, so Tamanu oil is not a cheap product, however luckily a little does go a long way.
Scientific studies that have been conducted on Tamanu oil have found that it has an amazing capacity to promote the formation of new tissue; a process known as ‘cicatrisation’. This process assists in the reduction of stretchmarks and scars, plus aids acceleration of wound healing, and growth of new skin tissue.
In their 2001 paper ‘Evaluation of the Ability of One Test Product to Improve the Appearance of Scars’, Bioscience Laboratories (Beausoleil C, Lehman L, et al) tested 6 subjects with visually obvious scars one year old or more and had them apply Tamanu twice a day over a period of 9 weeks. Significant improvement was evident over the period or the study, with the overall size of the scars consistently decreasing. The length of the scars was reduced by an average of 0.28 cm, and the width by an average of 0.12 cm. *
Despite the scarcity of scientific data, anecdotal evidence abounds. In the late 1920s, a Missionary nun in Fiji apparently used Tamanu Oil to treat leprosy with good results. In addition, French doctors in the 1930s apparently managed to prevent amputation of a woman’s leg when a large gangrenous ulcer would not heal. After regular applications of Tamanu dressings were applied, despite the scepticism of the treating physicians, the wound healed and the limb was saved.
On a personal level, I have used it with tremendous success on both minor burns and on an infected patch of eczema. My daughter's eczema flared up and became infected on a Sunday night - no doctors were open, so I applied Tamanu and bandaged the area. The next morning the infection was gone, and the inflammation greatly reduced. I applied Tamanu over the next week and the inflammation totally disappeared. Had I taken her to the doctor she would have been treated with antibiotics. The natural way is much better!
With anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Tamanu is used extensively in Polynesia to treat wounds and skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, ulcers, cold sores, burns & sunburn. It also has anti-neuralgic properties, which helps to remove the pain of burns and infections and is reported to be an effective treatment for arthritic pain and the pain associated with Shingles.
All in all, Tamanu oil is an extraordinary product; incredibly versatile, totally natural and possessing remarkable healing properties. There seems to be no end to its talents.
* Source: Dweck, A.C.: Calophyllum inophyllum – Tamanu oil the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 24, 6, 1-8 (2002).