In this article, we consider the potential use of tamanu oil as a treatment for psoriasis and look at whether or not research supports the claims about its benefits.
What is tamanu oil?
Tamanu oil is found in a range of cosmetic skin care products.
Tamanu oil is a greenish oil extract from nuts of the Calophyllum inophyllum tree, which is native to Southeast Asia. In traditional medicine, people have used extracts from this tree to treat skin disorders and aid wound healing.
Tamanu oil is widely available in health food stores.
Many people believe that tamanu oil provides benefits for the skin, and it is an ingredient in a range of cosmetic skin care products.
Can tamanu oil improve psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition. There is no cure, but treatments can reduce the inflammation and make the symptoms more manageable.
No scientific studies have looked at the effects of tamanu oil on psoriasis symptoms. However, there is some evidence that extracts from the Calophyllum inophyllum tree could have useful anti-inflammatory properties.
The results of a 2017 study suggest that a compound called calophyllolide, which is present in extracts of this tree, could have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects in mice. A 2012 study also showed that extracts from the leaves of this tree reduced inflammation in cells in the laboratory.
These findings are interesting, but the research is small-scale. A significant amount of additional research will be necessary to determine whether extracts from this tree can reduce inflammation in humans and whether these findings also apply to tamanu oil.
How to use tamanu oil for psoriasis
Due to the lack of research in this area, there are no guidelines on how to use tamanu oil for psoriasis.
As with most essential oils, it is vital to mix tamanu oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, before applying it directly to the skin. Learn more about carrier oils here.
Many over-the-counter skin creams contain tamanu oil. People can use these creams according to the instructions on the packaging.
If any new cream or oil irritates a person's skin, they should avoid using it.
Are there any side effects?
The National Psoriasis Foundation advise people to avoid herbal remedies during pregnancy.
The lack of research means that there is also limited information available on the safety of tamanu oil for people with psoriasis.
The National Psoriasis Foundation warn that herbal remedies can cause harmful side effects and may interact with other medications. They also advise people to avoid herbal remedies in the following cases:
- during pregnancy
- when breastfeeding
- if they have preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
Herbal remedies are also unsuitable for infants and children.
In some people, tamanu oil could irritate the skin. Anyone who finds that using tamanu oil causes their inflammation to worsen or spread should avoid using this remedy.
Other uses of tamanu oil
Tamanu oil contains several different types of fatty acid as well as antibacterial compounds that can contribute toward skin health.
These compounds may underlie its use in several cosmetic skin products, including creams for:
- skin regeneration
- after-sun protection
- soothing irritation
If future research can demonstrate that tamanu oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it could be useful for treating other inflammatory skin conditions, such as dermatitis.
Other natural treatments for psoriasis
Vitamin D cream and fish oil supplements may help prevent or manage flare-ups.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but people can prevent or manage flares using particular herbal remedies and natural treatments.
Other natural treatments for psoriasis include:
- herbal medicines, such as Mahonia aquifolium or indigo naturalis
- vitamin D cream
- fish oil supplements
People can also use aloe vera gel and coconut oil as natural moisturizers to soothe psoriasis symptoms.
There is no cure for psoriasis, which is chronic, but people can usually manage their symptoms and prevent the condition from affecting their quality of life.
Tamanu oil may relieve the symptoms of psoriasis in some people, possibly due to its anti-inflammatory effects. However, there is not yet strong scientific evidence to support this.
There is also little information on the safety of using this oil. Until scientists know more about its effects, people may wish to try other, more well-established treatments for psoriasis.
People may need to try several different treatments to determine what works best for them.