Tamanu Oil - Calophyllum inophyllum
If one did not know much about tamanu oil, one drop on the skin would give a rich and luxurious feeling with wonderfully hydrating and softening properties. If you intuitively sensed that this oil has a bio-compatibility with the skin, you would be bang-on. Highly regarded in Pacific island folk medicine, the oil has been topically applied to treat just about everything you can imagine related to the skin including cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, herpes sores, and to reduce foot and body odour.
The tamanu plant (Calophyllum inophyllum) is native to South East Asia and Polynesia, with much of the commercial production coming from Tahiti and Fiji. Tamanu is a member of the mangosteen family, this is a thick tree with cracked dark greyish brown colored bark. The leaves are shiny rugged and elliptical, with the tree producing a striking white perfumey flower to be followed by a large nut with green outer fruit (apparently tastes like an apple).
The nut of tamanu in some way reminds me of olive fruit in that both cannot be consumed or used without some processing. Amazing how someone at some point figured out these processes to obtain these incredibly valuable agricultural products.
The process to make tamanu oil requires cracking open the nut and drying the kernel for approximately 1-2 months where it turns from a blond colour to a deep chocolate brown with a visible sticky greenish yellow coloured oil trickling out. The kernel is then cold pressed to make tamanu oil.
The pressed oil has a luxurious rich feel with a slightly nutty pleasant smell. That sense of luxury does come at a cost though, considered an expensive oil for good reason, only 5kg of cold pressed oil is produced from 100 kg of tamanu fruit! 100 kilos is the amount the average tree will produce annually.
What is really cool about tamanu oil and the reason I recommend it especially for use with acneic skin conditions is that apart from having anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, restorative and regenerative properties, it is also great carrier oil absorbing quickly in the dermis with no oily residue left on the skin surface.
Some of Tamanu oil bio-active properties are believed to come in part from a unique fatty acid called calophyllic acid.