An exotic tropical oil is the second installment of our oil profile series. Last time we featured Sea Buckthorn. This month we look at another favorite, one from the Pacific basin, Caulophyllum Inophyllum. The tree has so many ‘common names’ over such a wide area, there is no other easy way to describe it except to jump to the Latin even if it is a mouthful of a name.

The tree, Caulophyllum Inophyllum is called various names around the Pacific; beach calophyllum, Alexandrian laurel, balltree, beautyleaf, Borneo-mahogany, oil tree, Indian-laurel, Indian doomba among others.

The oil from the nuts has a whole different set of names, just to add to the confusion. Tamanu, in Tahiti; Kamanu, in Hawaii; ‘fetau, in Samoa and faraha, in Madagascar. Caulophyllum Inophyllum oil also goes by the name Dilo oil, while Tamanu and Foraha are the common names when shopping for the oil.

What is so special about the oil? Firstly it is thick and viscous but not really solid like cocoa or shea butter. It has an interesting smell, kind of nutty, with a pungent but ‘healing’ scent. Naturally colored green and very thick, Tamanu will knit up just about anything going on on the skin. It even has a reputation of successfully treating diseases like leprosy.

The large tropical evergreen tree produces nuts that yield a most unique oil. Oil of Tamanu shares the usual triglycerides and plant compounds customarily found in vegetable oils, Oleic, Linoleic, Palmitic and Stearic acids. But, unique to Tamanu, the oil contains a wholly new fatty acid Calophyllic acid. It also contains glyco-lipids, which are lipids with starches attached, phospholipids, and a new compound, calophyllolide, an anti inflammatory agent first found in this oil.

With this unusual composition, Tamanu absorbs deeply into all three layers of the skin where it has been demonstrated to rapidly regenerate new skin, repair nerves and diminish scaring. Useful in the treatment of sciatica, rheumatism and shingles, it also treats eczema, psoriasis, chapping, burns, cracked skin, fissures, and infections and historically, even leprosy. Open wounds and serious breaches of the body have been repaired by application of the oil. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and analgesic while being non-irritating.

The oil is referred to as “green gold” for its color and healing properties. Of the botanical family Clusiaceae, which includes Mangosteen and St. John’s wort, it is a rightful member of this healing, nutritious and therapeutic family of plants.

Look for it on ingredient labels to find powerful treatments for skin problems. On healthy skin, its amazing properties will maintain the healthy glow of skin in good condition.

INCI – Caulophyllum inophyllum