Tropical-equatorial plants, clusiaceae are essentially trees or shrubs, sometimes epiphytes, "strangling" their support and developing aerial roots (genus Clusia).
Most often large trees in the rainforest, swampy coasts or along coral beaches;
Mammea american (with an edible fruit),
Calophyllum brasiliense , (in its huge trunk ameridians used to dig large canoes, Amazon and Guyana regions),
Garcinia mangostana ( the mangosteens, delicious fruits native to tropical Asia).
The majority of clusiaceae secrete latex or exudates (they were formerly known as guttifers), some are toxic (poisoned arrows in South America), many are medicinal, but few have actually been studied or evaluated in therapeutics, despite their use in traditional medicine.
Vismya cayennensis : Guyanese darter wood ( to treat various skin diseases including leishmaniosis.
Symphonia globulifera : Mani from Guyana (healing and powerful anticoagulant).
Rheedia sp. : with is resin to soothe muscular sprains (Palikours Indians of French Guiana).
TAMANU or TEMANU (Polynesian vernacular names which appears to be adopted by many for Calophyllum inophyllum) is a large tree native to tropical Asia.
It is widespread in India, in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific Islands and the Indian Ocean.
It is found both on the coast and on the first mountain slopes.
Its trunk is thick, very cracked, rather blackish, the rather large leaves (15 to 20 cm by 8-10 cm) are leathery and shiny with corrugated margin, the white flowers give off a pleasant scent.
The fruits , quite numerous, often in clusters, are spherical or slightly ovoid drupes 30 to 40 mm in diameter.
The thin, edible pulp (green or yellow) covers a thin-shelled nut which contains an almond (creamy yellow).
The tamanu was a sacred tree in Polynesia, it was planted in the enclosure of "marae" (sacred places); it was a tree strictly "tabu" so unusable by ordinary mortals, his wood could only serve as the sculpture of idols, "tiki".
Thanks to this protection, the tamanu became very numerous in all the islands where the Polynesian navigators planted them, in Tahiti they formed magnificent forests.
Then came the conversion to Christianity , the fall of the idols and the intensive exploitation of these trees for its wood highly estimated by the ship's carpenters, the builders of all kinds, and more recently the Polynesian sculptor artists.
The big tamanu are now rare in Tahiti.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
Fresh tamanu kernel contains little extractable oil; on the other hand, after prolonged drying and maturation of the seeds, an abundant oil (50 to 60% of the dry weight) can be extracted from it, green yellow to dark green color and of slightly aromatic odor.
It contains :
• Flavonoid compounds.
• Coumarin derivatives : calophylollide and inophylollide.
• Terpenoids that give it its aroma.
• Triacylglycerols whose fatty acid composition is as follows:
oleic acid 49%
linoleic acid 21%
palmitic acid 15%
stearic acid 13%
eicosanoic acids 1.7%
0.3% linolenic acid
This unrefined oil is similar for some authors to a balm (but the term is improper), for others it is simply a fatty aromatic oil.
• an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory with healing properties by direct and indirect antibiotic effect and by stimulation of the phagocytic activity of the cells of the reticuloendothelial system ,
• an analgesic and antinevralgic power,
• a protective effect on the blood vascular system (especially veins and capillaries),
• anti-rheumatic power locally and perhaps per os.
Tamanu oil is slightly rubefacient, it gives a feeling of warmth or even a slight inflammation after application to sensitive skin, in children, or on the face.
Tamanu also secretes more or less spontaneously a green resin that appears in the cracks of the bark but for which I have not found any pharmacological information.
• painful joints,
• tendinitis, sprains, muscular pain ,
• perhaps to mitigate the effects of Dupuytren's disease (to be verified) ,
Some therapists recommend limiting the amount of tamanu oil in the massage oil or liniment to 10-20% and to avoid its use in children and pregnant women.
Other older, imprecise or unverified uses:
• in deep intramuscular injections, the ethyl esters of the oil to relieve neuralgic pains in some lepers (in the 30s-40s in Fiji).
• By mouth as a gastric and analgesic cicatrisant, anti-inflammatory in osteoarthritis pain and neuralgia..
It is quite easy to find on the international market the crude tamanu oil which can be used as such or after dilution in other medicinal or cosmetic oils.
Beware, the medicinal power of tamanu oil is greatly diminished (especially the ability to regenerate tissues) when the oil is purified (without resin), it is then colorless or pale yellow without aromatic odor.
A revered tree with medicinal almond
Tamanu is a large common tree in the Pacific area and tropical Asia.
The oil extracted from the fruits almonds, a mixture of fatty substances and aromatic compounds, is a good regenerator of tissues, useful to help heal chronic skin ulcers.
It is also an anti-inflammatory liniment, a skin protector treating many chronic dermatoses, burns, and calming hemorrhoidal inflammation or anal fissures.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel