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Tamanu Oil Botanical Profile

Pure Tamanu Oil

Tamanu Oil’s botanical profile is unique and complex. This Tamanu Oil Botanical Profile sets out its origins, composition, the extraction process, uses and precautions, especially for anyone with a nut allergy.

1. Common Name: Tamanu Oil

2. Scientific Name: Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil (usually) or Calophyllum Tacamahaca Nut Oil

3. Other Names: This botanical product may be known by various other common names such as: –

       Foraha Oil: Particularly used in Madagascar, parts of Africa and certain regions of Southeast Asia.
       Beauty Leaf Oil: A name reflecting its common use in skincare and beauty products.
       Domba Oil: Used in some parts of India and Sri Lanka.
       Punnai Oil: Found in Tamil Nadu, India.
       Kamani Oil: This name is more commonly used in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
       Alexandrian Laurel Oil: Derived from the scientific name of the Tamanu tree, Calophyllum inophyllum.
       Palo Maria Oil: Used in Mexico and Central America, particularly in traditional medicine.

These names may vary depending on local languages, cultural practices, and historical usage of Tamanu Oil in different regions.

Tamanu Tree

4. Description:

  • Tamanu oil is extracted from the nuts of the Calophyllum Inophyllum Tree, also known as the Tamanu tree.
  • The tree is native to Vanuatu as well as other Melanesian countries. Also found in Southeast Asia and in parts of Polynesia and other Pacific Islands.
  • It is a large evergreen tree with shiny, elliptical leaves and clusters of fragrant, white flowers.
  • The fruit produced by the tree is a round, green drupe containing a large nut with a thin, hard shell.
  • The oil extracted from these nuts is thick and rich, with a dark green color and a nutty, earthy aroma.

5. Uses of Tamanu Oil:

  • Traditional Medicine: Tamanu oil has been used traditionally in Pacific Island cultures for its medicinal properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties.
  • Skincare: Tamanu oil is popular in skincare products due to its moisturizing and healing properties. It is used to treat acne, scars, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
  • Haircare: Tamanu oil is used to promote hair growth, strengthen hair follicles, and moisturize the scalp.
  • Massage: Due to its emollient properties, tamanu oil is commonly used in massage oils and balms.

6. Chemical Composition:

  • Tamanu oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.
  • It also contains calophyllolide, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties, and various antioxidants.

Tamanu Nuts

7. Tamanu Oil Extraction Process:

  • Tamanu oil is typically extracted from the nuts of the Calophyllum Inophyllum Tree through a process called cold-press extraction.
  • The nuts are cracked open and the net kernels inside are placed on racks to cure until they become sticky and aromatic.
  • After curing (takes 6 to 8 weeks), the nut kernels are then cold-pressed to extract the oil, which is filtered to remove impurities.

8. Sustainability and Conservation:

  • The demand for tamanu oil has led to concerns about the sustainability of harvesting practices.
  • Efforts are being made to promote sustainable cultivation and harvesting of Calophyllum inophyllum trees to ensure their long-term viability.

9. Precautions:

  • While tamanu oil is generally considered safe for topical use, it may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
  • It is recommended to perform a patch test before using tamanu oil on a larger area of the skin.
  • Anyone allergic to nuts should avoid using the product, at least in its pure form.

8. References:

  • Hammer, K.A., Carson, C.F., & Riley, T.V. (2002). Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 86(6), 985-990.
  • Rasoanaivo, P., & Wright, C.W. (2011). Antiparasitic and anticancer constituents of Calophyllum species. In: Medicinal Plants of the Asia-Pacific: Drugs for the Future? (pp. 85-105). Springer.
  • Southwell, I., & Lowe, R. (2020). Tea Tree: The Genus Melaleuca. CRC Press.
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