What Is Tamanu?
Tamanu oil (pronounced TAW-man-oo) has been a staple in local traditional medicine in the Polynesian Islands and Southeast Asia for centuries. It is in use today in Africa, the Pacific Rim, Polynesia and Asia, and is making strong inroads into the U.S. and Europe.
What’s So Great About Tamanu Oil?
The kernel found inside the plant’s fruit yields an oil with remarkable uses in skin care, wound treatment and as antimicrobial and antiviral agents. Polynesian women have used it for centuries for clear, healthy, blemish-free skin and on babies as a preventive and treatment for diaper rash and skin rashes.
In Pacific Island traditional folk medicine, tamanu oil is popular as a treatment for cuts, burns, abrasions, insect bites and stings, psoriasis, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters and sores caused by the herpes virus. It has also proven effective in diminishing the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Extracting Tamanu Oil
The tamanu tree can grow up to 25 or 30 meters high. It has spreading limbs and a thick trunk covered in dark, cracked bark. It’s shiny, oval-shaped, dark green leaves stand in contrast to its white flowers with yellow centers. When it produces fruit, the apricot-sized berry has a large nut kernel inside that’s covered with a thick flesh.
Workers hand-collect the fruits and crack them open. They remove the blonde-colored kernels and place them on racks to dry in the sun for one to two months. During this time, the nut turns a deep, chocolate brown and oozes out a rich, sticky oil to cover the kernels. The oil is cold squeezed from the nuts using a simple screw press.
Although the oil produced by the tamanu tree is a thick, oily texture, it is readily and completely absorbed when applied to the skin, leaving no oily residue behind. Pure, filtered tamanu oil is a deep green color with a leafy, nutty aroma.
Tamanu Oil for Healthy Skin
Tamanu oil has been a favorite for centuries for use on the hair to increase fullness and on the skin for conditions such as acne, psoriasis and scars. It has also been a favored antibiotic ointment and a treatment to reduce inflammation.
Tamanu oil is rich in lactones, sterols and fatty acids, all recognized as healthy compounds. The beneficial properties of tamanu oil make it a treatment for a variety of skin ailments.
- Refreshing agent for skin overexposed to harsh conditions, such as the sun’s UV rays, cold or abrasive winds, chemicals and pollutants.
- Decreases the visibility and improves the appearance of scars by promoting the formation of new skin tissue, including pitting scars of acne.
- Moisturizing properties help protect against wrinkles, fine lines and signs of premature aging.
- Nourishes and protects compromised skin, such as dry, chapped and cracked skin.
- Daily applications can help clear eczema and psoriasis eruptions, as well as relieve irritation of persistent itchy areas.
- The anti-inflammatory benefits can calm the pain and help heal blisters and rashes.
- Cuts, wounds – even chronic ulcers such as those caused by diabetes – have improved and healed with application of tamanu-infused dressings.
- Testing on use of tamanu oil as a natural UV filter in ophthalmic preparations is ongoing and promising.
- Tamanu oil shows promise as a topical treatment for the pain of neuralgia, sciatica, shingles outbreaks and arthritis.
Tamanu oil is not a cure-all for every skin condition or hair problem. It does have a long history of success in treating irritations, dryness, scars and other common skin difficulties. Studies on the healing benefits of tamanu oil continue. As with any new medication, consult with your personal physician before beginning any new treatment regimen. At Legend's Creek Farm we make our Tamanu products with 100% organic Tamanu oil from the only reputable dealer in the USA.