Tamanu Oil

Botanical Name: Calophyllum Inophyllum

Extraction Method: Cold Pressed

Description: The Tamanu tree blooms twice annually with fragrant, white flowers, which later yield clusters of yellow-skinned spherical fruit. It is grows up to three meters tall, sporting cracked, black bark and elliptical, shiny leaves

Color: Dark green viscous oily liquid.

Aromatic Description: Tamanu Certified Organic Oil has a rich, woody-spicy oil scent.

Common Uses: Tamanu Certified Organic Oil is a very popular, all purpose carrier oil. It is used by manufacturers (particularly as a conditioning agent in hair care products), aromatherapists, and massage therapists. It is reputed to have wondrous properties, however all of it's miraculous claims are hinged on anecdotal, not scientific, evidence. There's no harm in using this oil in skin care-like most oils, it is composed of phospholipids and glycolipids, and these are natural constituents of healthy skin and are good water-binding agents. It can be applied neat to the skin or blended with other carrier oils.

Consistency: Solid at room temperature. Product should be heated in a warm water bath in order to liquefy.

The solid particles are a mix of palmitic acid (MP 62.9C) and Stearic acid (MP 68C) which make up nearly 30% of the oils weight. 

Fatty Acids
Oleic- 41.4%
Palmitic- 14.5%
Linoleic- 29.7%
Linolenic- 0.2%
Stearic- 12.9%

The tamanu tree is indigenous to tropical Southeast Asia

cold-pressed to make a greenish yellow oil. It takes 100 kilograms of tamanu fruit, the amount that one tree produces annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil!

Calophyllum inophyllum L.

The oil is obtained from dried nuts of the Tamanu tree found in the Pacific and Asian tropical regions. Tamanu oil has hydrating and soothing effect on the skin, relieves irritations such as sun burn, inflammation and general rashes, and helps regenerate skin cells. Tamanu oil is useful for the treatment of rheumatism, eczema and inflammatory skin and helps heal cuts and wounds while acting as a germicide to prevent infection.


Anti-inflammatory Activity of Tamanu Oil

Tamanu oil demonstrates anti-inflammatory activity. This activity is due partly to the 4- phenyl coumarin calophyllolide8,11,20 and to a group of xanthones in the oil, including dehydrocycloguanandin, calophyllin-B, jacareubin, mesuaxanthone-A, mesuaxanthone-B, and euxanthone. All the xanthones in tamanu oil show anti-inflammatory activity,10 which explains reductions of rashes, sores, swelling, and abrasions with topical application of the oil.2

Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity of Tamanu Oil

Tamanu oil demonstrates significant antimicrobial activity, as demonstrated in antibacterial and antifungal tests.2,13,14 The oil contains several powerful bactericide/fungicide agents, which demonstrate efficacy against various human and animal pathogens. These antimicrobial phytochemical agents include friedelin, canophyllol, canophyllic acid, and inophynone.13

Tamanu oil applied to wounds possesses the capacity to promote the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating healing and the growth of healthy skin. This process of forming new tissue is known as cicatrization.

Antioxidant Activity of Tamanu Oil

Xanthones and coumarins in tamanu oil demonstrate antioxidant properties, specifically inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Cell membranes are made of lipids. Lipids are organic compounds that are oily to the touch and are insoluble in water but are soluble in nonpolar organic solvents (e.g., chloroform, ether). Lipids include fats, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides. The antioxidant activity of tamanu oil helps to protect skin cells from damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other oxidative antagonists.13

The two main actives in this oil were discovered by a Frenchman named Professor Lederer; he succeeded in isolating two essential components of the oil of Calophyllum.

He found a totally new fatty acid, Calo- phyllic acid and a lactone endowed with antibiotic properties to be at the origin of the oil’s amazing cicatrizingpower.

Lastly we have Tamanu Oil, extracted from Calophyllum inophyllumseeds from the Ati tree of the South Pacific. Traditionally Tamanu Oil has been used to combat a range of skin problems and is highly beneficial as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The oil contains unique calophylloids that reduce stinging in skin and helps to control the growth of the acne causing bacterium, P. acnes.

French researchers working with leprosy patients were the first to study the skin regenerating properties of Tamanu Oil. It has been used to heal stubborn and severe wounds with very good success. More specifically, scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil that have been credited for its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to reduce swelling and irritation with topical application.

From a study conducted in 2002, participants applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement, so even older scars can benefit from Tamanu Oil regenerative properties.5

Tamanu Oil is also excellent for individuals with acneic skin, as the mild antibacterial properties of the oil work consistently and without irritation to minimize growth of acne causing bacteria on the skin. The moderate antimicrobial activity of Tamanu Oil has been compared to antibiotics like amoxicillin. The actives, canophyllol and canophyllic acid, have been identified as the specific agents in the oil that provide the antibacterial activity.

And finally, the xanthones and coumarins found in Tamanu Oil are potent antioxidants that inhibit the breakdown of cell membranes from free radicals. Consequently, this oil can help to counteract aging caused by UV-induced free radicals.

Harnessing the power of phytoactive ingredients is one of the best ways to restore a compromised skin barrier to replace intercellular lipids that have been depleted from aging, environment, and the many other factors. And with the overwhelming amount of research on these oils and their phytochemical components they are prime candidates for incorporation into your favorite skin care products.




A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002