There seems to be an essential oil for just about any concern, from dry hair to headaches to stress. So it’s not surprising that there are also essential oils that may be used to address skin concerns such as itching. Bergamot, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender are just some of the essential oils that are said to have skin-soothing effects.

Being very potent, essential oils are normally mixed with carrier oils before being applied to skin. You can max out the benefits of essential oils by mixing them with carrier oils that are likewise good for the skin. While coconut and olive oil are the more known carrier oils, it’s worth considering the benefits of tamanu oil.

Essential Oils and Carrier Oils 101

Essential oils are natural oils that have been extracted from plants through a process called distillation. The end product of distillation is highly concentrated and retains the properties of the plant source. Essential oils have been used in traditional folk medicine for years and are now getting some attention from the scientific world.

When it comes to essential oils, a little certainly goes a long way—the extremely potent oils are normally diluted with other oils called carrier oils when topically applied. The difference between essential oils and carrier oils is that carrier oils are typically cold-pressed. (Unrefined versions are best.) This is where tamanu oil comes in.

About Tamanu Oil

Tamanu oil comes from either the calophyllum inophllum or the calophyllum tacamahaca tree, native to Southeast Asia. The nuts are left out in the sun for weeks until a thick, dark green oil appears on the surface and is then harvested.

Tamanu oil goes by several different names such as beauty leaf oil, calophyllum oil, dilo oil, Alexandrian laurel oil, and kamanu oil, among many others. It’s primarily used as a skin treatment and has been used in traditional medicine in India and the South Sea Islands. The benefits of tamanu oil are mainly by virtue of its high fatty acid content and include:

Wound healing. The primary benefit that is backed by science is tamanu oil’s wound-healing properties. A study entitled “The Wound Healing and Antibacterial Activity of Five Ethnomedical Calophyllum inophyllum Oils: An Alternative Therapeutic Strategy to Treat Infected Wounds” confirmed what traditional medicine has long purported: that tamanu oil can be used to treat wounds.

The study, published in POLS One, evaluated the cytotoxicity, wound healing, and antibacterial properties of caluphyllum inophyllum oils (CIO). The study states, “Using cell and bacteria cultures, we confirmed the pharmacological effects of CIO as wound healing and antimicrobial agent.

Moreover, we showed that concentration of CIO needed to exhibit therapeutic effects are lower than concentrations exhibiting cytotoxic effects in vitro. For the first time, this study provides support for traditional uses of CIO. These wound healing and antibiotic properties make CIO a valuable candidate to treat infected wounds especially in tropical areas.”

Another study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, entitled “Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum)—the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea” likewise supports tamanu’s vulnerary (medicinal use) and citracising (wound healing) effects, citing calophyllolide and inophyllum as among the polyphenols responsible for its healing powers.

Treating other skin conditions. Tamanu oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and may thus be used as a natural treatment for certain skin conditions.

While no conclusive tests have been done, anecdotal evidence supports the use of tamanu oil for treating acne, fading stretch marks, soothing razor burn, managing ingrown hairs, reducing the appearance of scars, healing rashes, and moisturizing skin.

Joint relief. Because it exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, tamanu oil has been traditionally used in India to soothe symptoms of rheumatism.

Managing odors. Tamanu oil has a subtle nutty scent that can be used as a natural deodorant. Try mixing it with your favorite essential oil and dabbing some on your underarms or on your feet.

You can get a bottle of Aura Cacia Tamanu Oil from your nearest Healthy Options branch. Some caveats: Since tamanu oil comes from a nut tree, you might want to skip this one if you’re allergic to nuts. As with other oils, always perform a patch test to see how your skin reacts before applying tamanu oil to your body.