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Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum L.)


Related terms

Related Terms
  • Alexandrian laurel, ati tree, bioflavanoids, brasiliensic acid, calaustralin, calophyllolide, Calophyllum inophyllum L., calophyllic acid, calophynic acid, caloxanthone A, Clusiaceae (family), delta-tocotriene, dilo, dipyranocoumarin, dolno, fatty acids, feta'u, fetau, Foraha oil, Guttiferae (family), hydrocyanic acid, Hypericaceae (family), inocalophyllin A, inocalophyllin B, inophylloidic acid, inophyllum B, inophyllum C, inophyllum E, kamani, kamanu, linoleic fatty acid, nambagura, ndamanu, oleic fatty acid, palmitic fatty acid, poon, punnai, punnakkai, saponins, stearic fatty acid, sterols, temanu, ti, tocopherol, tocotriene, tree of a thousand virtues, triterpenes, undi, xanthone.

  • Tamanu is a large tropical tree native to Polynesia and Southeast Asia. In Chinese and Tahitian traditional medicine, tamanu is used for abrasions, acne, anal fissures, blisters, burns (boiling water, sun, x-rays), cuts, diabetic ulcers, dry skin, eczema, herpes sores, insect bites and stings, psoriasis, scars, sore throat, foot and body odor, and for pain from muscle, nerve, shingles, leprous neuritis (inflammation associated with leprosy), or rheumatological etiologies.
  • The phytochemistry of tamanu has been well established, and there are several laboratory and animal trials showing effectiveness of tamanu as an antibacterial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral agent. There is limited evidence from human clinical trials, however, about its safety or effectiveness.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abrasions, acne, age spots, anal fissures, analgesia (inability to feel pain), anthelmintic (expels worms), antibacterial, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, athlete's foot, bed sores, blisters, burns (boiling water, sun, x-rays), cancer, cicatrizant (scar tissue formation), constipation, cuts, diabetic ulcers, diaper rash, dry skin, dysentery (severe diarrhea), eczema, eye disorders (sore eyes), eyewash, gout, hemorrhage (internal bleeding), herpes, insect bites/stings, leprosy, molluscicidal (kills mollusks), neuralgia (nerve pain), pain, psoriasis, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, sedative, skin conditions, sore throat, stretch marks, wound care.


Adults (18 years and older):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for tamanu. For wound healing, tamanu oil has been applied "liberally" to cuts and other wounds.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for tamanu in children, and use is not recommended.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to tamanu or its constituents. Allergic dermatitis has been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There are very few reports of tamanu and its adverse effects. Allergic dermatitis has been reported. Although not well studied in humans, tamanu may cause central nervous system depression (eg. sedation), and increase prothrombin and bleeding time. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Tamanu is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Although not well studied in humans, xanthone compounds from tamanu may potentiate ether anesthesia. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before combining therapies.
  • Tamanu may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Xanthone compounds from tamanu may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Tamanu may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Xanthone compounds from tamanu may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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