- Calophyllic acid
- An anti-inflammatory called calophyllolide
- An antibiotic called lactone
Along with coumarins – another powerful type of anti-inflammatory agent — these ingredients are the source of the oil’s remarkable healing power.
In the early 1900s, the Western world was briefly introduced to tamanu oil. Word had spread due to the miracles worked by a French nun — Sister Marie Suzanna — who had used tamanu oil to treat the symptoms of leprosy, including painful inflammation of the nerves (leprous neuritis).
In 1918, researchers affiliated with the French Pharmacopoeia began investigating tamanu for topical and subcutaneous use. These scientists were immediately impressed by its cicatrizing — or skin regenerating — effects.
The French medical literature of the era contains many records of tamanu’s successful application for severe skin conditions, including one astounding story of an anonymous gangrene patient treated at the St. Louis Hospital in Paris.
When the woman was admitted, she had a gangrenous ulcer on her leg that stubbornly refused to heal. Doctors were sure that amputation was inevitable, but as a last resort they opted to try treatment with tamanu oil dressings first.
To their amazement, the dressings worked so well that the wound eventually healed completely leaving only a flat, smooth scar.