[Foraha, Tamanu, Kamani]
Name and Latin
binomial: Calophyllum inophyllum
(Also called Kamani Tree,
True Kamani, Alexandria Laurel, oil of Tamanu and Foraha)
Origin of Name:
Calophyllum = calo is beautiful; phyllum is leaves. Inophyllum =
ino is fiber; phyllum is leaves. In other words this plant is
named for its beautiful, fibrous leaves.
375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols
Photograph by Fagg, M.
We discuss this oil in the
as well as in the many
seminars and aromatherapy classes regarding
aromatic botany and skin care carrier oils.
Native to India, it is indigenous to Southeast Asia,
especially prevalent in Polynesia. It was naturalized to Hawaii. It
was sacred to Polynesians and mentioned in many old Hawaiian chants.
Grows to 60 feet with seeds that are dispersed by bats and by sea
movement. Seeds germinate well in muddy and saline soils. The tree
can grow inland, but favors the coastal areas. In fact, Polynesian
natives prefer coastal Tamanu for therapeutic uses. The full-grown
tree has a thick trunk covered with black, cracked and gnarled bark,
with big, twisted branches. It has firm, dark green oval shiny
leaves and produces small white flowers with a yellow center, that
have a sweet aroma, reminiscent of lime. The fruit is apricot sized,
yellow, and apple-flavored covering a large, thick-shelled nut with
a pale yellow kernel. This nut, when freshly harvested, seems to
have no oil. Once dried for about a month, it turns dark,
chocolate-brown and develops a sticky rich oil. The oil is
screw-pressed from the dark kernels.
"Chemistry of the
The oil is cold-pressed from the fruit and seed together. It
contains a unique fatty acid called Calophyllic acid and an
interesting antibiotic lactone which is a non-steroid
anti-inflammatory agent 4-phenyl coumarin called Calophyllolide as
well as stigmasterol and about 7% wax. The oil contains 3 basic
classes of lipids; 92% neutral lipids, 6.4% glycolipids, and 1.6%
phospholipids. It also contains xanthones of jacareubin that
inhibits Staphylococcus aureus, S. typhimurium and
Calophyllum B. These xanthones inhibit P. aeruginosa and Bacillus
subtilis. Other components calanolide A and Costatolide are
coumarins which inhibit HIV reverse transcriptase. The components of
balsam, Calophyllolide and Calophyllic acid contained in the oil are
thought to be connected to its curative effects. This carrier oil
could be added to a combination of essential oil for deterring MRSA”.
This tree was once considered
a sacred tree by the tropical people and was planted surrounding
royal marshes. When the areas were converted to Christianity, the
population of the trees dropped by the thousands. It has many names,
called Dilo oil from the nuts and the nuts are called Punnai Nuts in
Hawaii. The nuts are also collected in Ceylon. In Madagascar, this
oil is called Foraha or Vintanina.
anti-inflammatory, cicatrize, anti-neuralgic, analgesic.
The oil is analgesic and is used for sciatica, shingles, neuritis,
leprous neuritis and rheumatism. The pulverized seeds have been used
to cure ulcers and bad wounds. Bark also has medicinal uses as an
infusion or in other herbal remedies.
Folk or Older Uses:
Calophyllum oil has been an important part of Pacific Island folk
medicine for a wide range of skin disorders and conditions, from
superficial burns and scrapes to neuralgia and fissures. Polynesian
woman have used Calophyllum oil to promote healthy, blemish-free
skin. It is also used on babies for diaper rash and skin eruptions.
This nut oil has been used since the late 1920's to alleviate
leprous neuritis. A nun in the Society of Mary, Sister
Marie-Suzanne, used an oil called "dolno" (meaning, no pain)
effectively on leprosy victims. The oil was Oil of Calophyllum
called Tamanu. French researchers in the 1930's became interested in
the oil for its wound healing properties. There are several
documented cases in the medical literature of the time, illustrating
that this oil has therapeutic uses in cases of severe skin
Old Case Studies:
A 57-year old woman was admitted to a hospital in Paris
with a large, gangrenous ulcer on her leg that would not heal.
Normally, the leg would have been amputated. The leg was treated
regularly with dressings of Calophyllum, and healing took place
slowly within 7 months. The wound healed completely leaving only a
smooth, flat scar.
The oil was used to treat a young teenage girl whose leg had been
crushed 4 years before by a cart with iron wheels and on whom grafts
had failed. New grafts were attempted and after a treatment for 10
days with Calophyllum oil the 12 grafts worked perfectly, the wounds
closed and the girl was cured within 2 months after admission. In
1934 Calophyllum was prepared with ethyl ether and injected to treat
leprous neuritis. Since this time, the oil of the seeds was tested
on various skin problems and disorders.
Burns treated with Calophyllum have showed good results. Burns cured
include: burns to the face from phosphorus; burns to the head from a
pot of boiling milk; burns to the hands from a batch of caustic
soda; burns to the scalp from boiling water and burns to the
poplitaeal area (back of the knee) from inflammable oil.
In its native habitat, both plant and oil have been used medicinally
to treat a variety of ailments, mostly skin related. This oil can be
used on either mucosa or epidermal lesions. It has been effectively
used to cure chapped feet and hands, chilblain and skin cracks,
vaginitis, erosions and ulceration of the cervical matrix, breast
cracks, bites, stings, acne and acne scars, diabetic sores, herpes
lesions, and anal fissures. It has also been used for hair and scalp
conditions, eczema, and psoriasis and facial neuralgia. Oil of
Tamanu has an amazing capacity to accelerate wound healing and the
growth of new tissue, a process called cicatrisation. The unique
cicatrizing properties and the anti-neuralgic effect of Calophyllum
are not as yet explained by current scientific literature. Another
principle use of the oil is for dermatitis from X-ray therapy.
Before surgical treatment, the oil has been applied to recent anal
fissures with success. Post-surgical treatments eases pain and
assists tissue on treatment after breast surgery, Calophyllum is
used as a treatment for various problems of the hair and scalp, for
eczema, psoriasis and facial neuralgia as well.
The essential oil of Ravensara and the vegetable oil of
Calophyllum have been studied together by Dr. D. Penoël and
mentioned in Phytomedicine, 1981 as a treatment for shingles (zona)
and has been shown to have pronounced amelioration of the problem.
The oil of Calophyllum easily saponifies and produces an abundant
lather on contact with seawater.
Leaf infusions are calming in skin and eye infections. A hot bath
for 30 minutes is useful in the treatment of ailments of the skin-dermatosis,
urticaria (hives) and eczema. Young leaves macerated in water are
used as a painkiller for eye washings. Young shoots are used with
other plants internally and externally for treatment of burns, as
well as to treat hernias. A macerated oil of or a plaster of fresh,
crushed seeds diluted in sterile coconut oil contains scar
forming/healing properties and is used for scabs, varicose ulcers,
fistulas, leprous ulcers and burns.
The oil is a rich and thick green oil, however it is easily and
completely absorbed into the skin. Once applied, it leaves the skin
feeling smooth, plump and soft, with no greasiness, it also adds a
healthy glow to the skin. Tamanu oil is safe; it can be applied neat
to the skin and works just as well if diluted by 50% in coconut or
other tropical oils. Calophyllum has a mild and pleasant aroma and
is ideal to be used in lotions, creams, ointments and many other
cosmetic products. It can be easily mixed with most essential oils
for the added benefit of aromatherapy with herbal therapy.
Aromatherapy Blends with Calophyllum
Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy
SKIN CARE & ACNE
Any mixture of vegetable oils or
creams or lotions can be mixed 50% with Calophyllum at 50%. Then
the essential oils are added at 2-10%. Essential oils
particularly useful are German Chamomile, Lavender, Rose
Geranium and others.
1 oz $35.00 – Special Order
MYALGIA AND NEURALGIA
50% Calophyllum oil, 30% Jojoba
unrefined oil or Olive, Sunflower, Pecan and essential oils of
10% Ravensara and 10% Petitgrain. Helichrysum might also be a
good addition. Mix these together, label your container, and
apply to the area night and morning.
1 oz $32 – Special Order
MUSCLE AND JOINT ACHES
To a clear silicon gel add 50%
Calophyllum. Add up to 10% essential oils. [Combination of
Rosemary, Juniper, Basil and Cypress]. Ex: To a 1 oz jar of 50%
gel and 50% Calophyllum add 15 drops each of the above-mentioned
See Centurion I Healing Gel – 2
oz $15 or
Bruise Juice 8 oz $32.
SHINGLES ON SCALP (OR ANYWHERE)
A good mixture would be 50%
Calophyllum oil, 25% Walnut oil (for scalp), 15% Jojoba
unrefined oil and 10% Ravensara essential oil. Mix these
together, label your container, and apply to the scalp (or skin
problem) night and morning. You could also use 50% Calophyllum,
40% olive oil and 10% Ravensara.
1 oz $35 - Special Order
A property that means the substance can accelerate
wound healing and the growth of new tissue by producing a scar.
Description of symptoms (inflammation) of some
Generic term for disease of the skin,
many of which are not contagious.
Any of a large group of fats or fat-like compounds that
include oils, waxes and steroids which occur in living organisms and
are soluble in certain organic solvents but only slightly soluble in
An allergic condition of the skin characterized by the
formation of large blotches or welts which
Rose Aromatherapy at 219 Carl St., San Francisco, CA
To Order: PH 415-564-6785 • EMAIL
Classes, see our Calendar
Kilham, Chris. Oil of
Tamanu. from Total Health, Vol. 25, #1 1/888/316-
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols. Frog Ltd. 2nd edition.
Book: Applications & Inhalations. North Atlantic
Rothenberg, Robert E. Medical Dictionary and Health Manual. New
American Library. 1968.
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Clarendon Press. Oxford.
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