Scientific Name(s): Calophyllum inophyllum L., Calophyllum tacamahaca
Common Name(s): Alexandrian laurel, Dilo, Dolno, Fetau, Kamani, Kamanu, Tamanu, Tamanu oil, Ti
The genus Calophyllum consists of approximately 130 species. C. inophyllum is indigenous to Southeast Asia, and is also found in Southern India, Sri Lanka, and throughout the islands of Melanesia and Polynesia. It is a tropical evergreen plant that can grow up to 30 m in height. The trunk is typically thick and the bark is dark to grayish brown. The plant has dark green oval leaves and white flowers with a yellow center. The mature green fruit is inedible and is about the size of an apricot. The plant prefers salty and sandy soil.Ali 1999, Kilham 2004
Tamanu has been used traditionally as a local medicine, and is sometimes considered to be the African, Asian, Polynesian, and Pacific Rim panacea. All parts of the plant (bark, leaves, seeds) have been used medicinally as antiseptics, astringents, expectorants, diuretics, and purgatives. The oils of the seed and root have been used to treat wounds and scabies. In Pacific island folk medicine, the oil has been topically applied to treat various ailments such as 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 odor. The oil has also been topically applied to the neck area to treat sore throat. The oil is valued for its analgesic and pain-relieving properties and has been used to treat neuralgia, rheumatism, and sciatica. The oil is used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat rheumatism, skin infections, wounds, leprous nephritis, pain, eye diseases, and inflammation.Ali 1999, Dweck 2002, Kilham 2004, Shen 2003
Xanthones isolated from the plant have antibacterial activity, and 4-phenyl coumarins obtained from its leaves may have antitumor-promoting activity. Several triterpenes, flavonoid glycosides, neoflavonoids, pyranoamentoflavone, and other bioactive compounds have been isolated from the plant. Two isomeric benzodipyranone derivatives have been isolated from the leaves.Khan 1996
Two epimers, inophynone and isoinophynone, were isolated from the leaves of the plant, as well as friedelin, canophyllol, and canophyllic acid.Ali 1999
Four pyranocoumarin derivatives have been isolated from the seeds of the plant, designated as inocalophyllins A (1), B (2), and their methyl esters (3, 4). Ten 4-phenylcoumarins have also been isolated from the plant.Itoigawa 2001, Shen 2003
The anti-HIV activity of the following coumarins has also been reviewed and includes: calophyllolide, inophyllum P (Soullatrolide), inophyllum B, inophyllum C, and inophyllum E.Spino 1998
Uses and Pharmacology
Review of the scientific literature reveals mostly animal studies evaluating the efficacy of tamanu oil.
In vitro analysis
At a dose of 20 mcg/disc in an agar well diffusion assay, caloxanthone A, calophynic acid, brasiliensic acid, inophylloidic acid, calophyllolide, and inophyllum C and E, were found to inhibit Staphylococcus aureus but not Vibrio anguillarium, Escherichia coli, and the yeast Candida tropicalis.Yimdjo 2004
In vitro analysis
Various chemical components of C. inophyllum have been examined for antiviral activity. Inophyllums are considered novel nonnucleoside inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase. Inophyllum B was active against HIV-1 in cell culture with an IC50 of 1.4 millimoles (mM). Inophyllum P (soullatrolide) also has anti-HIV activity.Spino 1998, Taylor 1994
The isolation of 10 natural 4-phenylcoumarins from C. inophyllum inhibited (except inophyllum C and calocoumarin C) Epstein-Barr virus early antigen in Raji cells. Calocoumarin-A exhibited the most potent inhibitory activity in a 2-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis test.Itoigawa 2001
None suggested due to lack of clinical data.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
There is a case report of allergic contact dermatitis from tamanu oil.Le Coz 2004 Tamanu oil may cause hypersensitivity reactions in patients with an existing allergy to plants in the Clusiaceae family.
Review of the scientific literature reveals little to no toxicity data on the plant.
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