Research is constantly revealing remarkable medicinal qualities in exotic and native plant species. When considering this natural pharmacy, we are talking about an R&D lab backed by billions years of product development. In fact, it is hard, when contemplating the rapid disappearance of the Amazon rainforest, not to lament the ongoing loss of thousands of plant species and their potential healing power. Often these benefits are most represented in concentrated oil extracts. Hence, we have seen a virtual revolution in essential oil therapies in recent years, and super food oils, derived from emu fat, red palm fruit and the coconut have also proven to be potent wellness tools.
Occasionally, one of these plant extracts is shown to possess such remarkable qualities that it is destined to become a staple in every person’s first aid kit and anti-aging armoury. Aloe Vera, for example, qualifies as a genuine “essential”. In recent years a new oil from Vanuatu has emerged as a prime contender in the super oil stakes. This pacific powerhouse is called Tamanu oil and I will share the story here.
Whenever a culture has regarded a plant material as “sacred”, then it is usually safe to assume that it is something special. This is certainly the case with chia, the sacred seed of the Aztecs and it also applies to the neem tree, which has served as “the village pharmacy” in India for thousands of years. The Tamanu tree (Calophyllum tacamahaca) is indigenous to tropical South East Asia and has long been considered a sacred gift from nature for skin protection and healing. A 3 metre, mature tree blooms twice a year, producing a circular, yellow skinned fruit containing a large nut. The kernel from within this nut is sun dried for up to two months until it produces a dark, thick, sticky oil. At this point the kernels are cold-pressed to generate a rch, yellow green oil.
It takes a 100kgs of Tamanu fruit (the complete yield of a mature tree) to produce just 5 litres of cold pressed oil. This oil exhibits a remarkable range of skin healing and cosmetic benefits and the increasing International awareness of these attributes is offering much needed employment opportunities for small communities. When Tamanu oil is scientifically scrutinised it does indeed justify its “sacred” reputation. It is not only an incomparable skin healing agent but also features proven anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti neuralgic and antioxidant properties. However the most unique claim to fame for this oil relates to cicatrisation.
New Tissue, Less Scars
Cicatrisation is the formation of new tissue to speed healing. Tamanu oil promotes tissue formation and this is partly why wounds heal much more rapidly and this is how the growth of healthy skin is sponsored. It has obvious benefits from a cosmetic perspective and is increasingly included in skin rejuvenating formulas in the US and Europe where it is often called Domba oil. In fact it is a key beauty secret of the women of Tahiti and Vanuatu. It is this tissue building capacity that has made this versatile oil so effective in treating acne scars, burns, stretch marks, eczema, diabetes sores, psoriasis, herpes sores, sunburn, insect bites and stings, cuts, abrasions and the reduction and removal of age spots on the face, neck and hands. It is cicatrisation that accounts for the many, amazing anecdotal reports of remarkable recovery from burns, including scar minimisation. This oil can infiltrate all three layers of skin (The epidermis, dermis and hydrodermis) and this penetrative capacity explains some of it’s regenerative, restructuring and hydrating effect.
In 2002, a study by Beausoleil and Lehman, looking at the scar reducing capacity of Tamanu oil, was published in The International Journal Of Cosmetic Science. This research involved subjects who had visible scars that had been present for at least 12 months. Tamanu oil was applied every day for a 9-week period with impressive results. There was a significant improvement in the visual appearance of the scars after 6 weeks and this continued through to the completion of the study. The overall size of the scars consistently decreased throughout the study with the length of the scars reduced by an average of 2.8 mm in length and the width of the scars reduced by 1.2 mm. In the French medical literature there are several reports of success with Tamanu oil in serious skin conditions ranging from gangrenous ulcers to severe burns.
Understanding The Actives
Tamanu oil exhibits a unique and complex chemistry. In 1953, French research scientist, Professor Lederer, isolated the two key chemical components linked to the exciting citracising capacity. He identified a totally new fatty acid, calophyllic acid and a novel antibiotic lactone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent called calophyllolide. The oil contains three classes of lipids including neutral lipids, glycolipids and phospholipids and it also features a significant percentage of anti-inflammatory coumarins. Coumarins are a group of phytonutrients that have many biological activities. They have been shown to be effective against HIV, tumours, anti hypertension, arrhythmia, osteoporosis, pain and asthma. However it is preferable that these powerful compounds are in their natural form and, if used internally, are used at low rates to avoid potential toxicity. The blood thinner, Warfarin, for example, is based on a concentrated, synthetic form of coumarin, which shuts down the coagulating effect of vitamin K, and it has undesirable side effects.
A Natural Antibiotic
The advent of antibiotics initially saved millions of lives but we have abused this tool to the point that its effectiveness is seriously reduced. Modern medicine is becoming paralysed in the face of an onslaught of infection. 90% of all visits to the doctor are infection-related and US doctors write out 110 million scripts each year (only 50% of which are necessary). Confinement animals, including cattle, pigs and chickens, are routinely fed antibiotics and the drug residues still present in the meat, milk and eggs, become contaminants in our diet. This misuse and abuse has resulted in an increasing number of drug resistant microbes and over 100,000 US patients die each year as a result of antibiotic resistance organisms. Tamanu oil offers a remedy from nature’s medicine chest. It has proven a highly effective topical antibiotic to which there is no resistance. Canophyllol is a key antibiotic component of this oil along with several other synergistic compounds. It can be used to treat a wide variety of infections including: ringworm, athletes foot, herpes, warts, infected wounds, acne, boils, jock itch and it is widely used in the Pacific to prevent nappy rash. It can even be used as a natural deodorant as it neutralises the bacteria, which generate body odour.
A Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agent
In the ethno-pharmacy of several Pacific Islands, Tamanu oil is seen as an important treatment to relieve the pain of gout, shingles, sciatica, shingles, neuralgia, rheumatism, ligament damage and even leprous neuritis. The pain relieving and anti-itch qualities make it an “essential” during outdoors activities when insect bites can be a problem. Inflammation is linked to most degenerative disorders and it can be a productive strategy to adjust our diet to include less inflammatory components and more anti-inflammatory foods. Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids top the list Of A.I foods including fatty fish and chia seed (the highest plant source of omega 3’s). Inflammatory foods include wheat, peanuts, sugar, bananas and some processed dairy products. 30 billion, over-the-counter, Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) are sold each year in the US alone and over 80,000 people are hospitalised with side effects. The use of food, probiotics and topical natural antibiotics is a great way to reduce the reliance upon this dangerous medication.
Psoriasis is a debilitating, chronic skin condition that affects between 1% and 3% of the world’s population and it is theoretically incurable. The symptoms of this autoimmune disorder can be relieved with certain shampoos that reduce skin flaking but not the flake formation. Prednisone can also reduce the discomfort, albeit with several side effects. There are a growing number of anecdotal reports in relation to the use of Tamanu oil for exceptional symptom relief of this disorder, but at this stage there are no published papers on this potential benefit.
In Conclusion… Tamanu oil represents an exciting new problem-solving gift from the plant world that has the potential to become an integral component of every family first aid kit. This tropical oil has been used for centuries as a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, antibiotic and antioxidant and research suggests it may have anti-aging effects on the skin and can also aid in the reduction of age spots and scars.
Source by Graeme Sait