Healing Straight From Nature…

Leaves and green fruit (ballnut) of the Calophyllum inophyllum Tree

A friend, who later became my client, was in so much pain he went to the hospital, staying a few days. He had thought he had a bad cold. Then he started experiencing pain that became excruciating. He couldn’t take it!  He was the third person in as many months to be diagnosed with shingles and to reach out to me.

Shingles, medically known as Herpes Zoster, is a virus that affects the roots of nerves and appears as blisters, generally in a band on one side of the body. It is also a disease that affects individuals who have already had the chickenpox. Once one has had the chickenpox, the chickenpox virus can remain dormant within cell membranes for years, or forever. If the virus flares up again, it will appear as the Herpes Zoster virus, more commonly known as Shingles.

Shingles occurs most in individuals over the age of 50, although it can strike at an earlier age. The first person I can recall having a case of shingles was Magic Johnson of NBA fame, now a successful entrepreneur. At the time I thought it was a complication of his positive HIV status announced many years ago, both occurring that long ago. Magic Johnson was not 50 years old at the time. Shingles typically also occurs when one has an auto-immune illness, is experiencing high levels of stress, both of which are somewhat more likely as one ages or has sustained an injury.

The three persons that contacted me did so seeking some relief from the pain the illness brings with it. They could not sleep; one complained that he couldn’t eat and could barely think–which is why he went to the hospital not realizing initially that the sudden onset of blisters could result in so much pain. The other two clients were being treated as out-patients by a physician.

In my research as to how I was going to assist my first client, I came upon a common blending component, a carrier oil named Tamanu Oil (Foraha to some) or known by its botanical name Calophyllum inophyllum. Calophyllum means “beauty leaf.” It is native to east Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific. A member of the Mangosteen botanical family, it has been widely planted throughout the tropics and is naturalized in the main Hawaiian islands. To obtain the oil, the seeds of the plant are dried for several months and cold pressed.  It takes 100 kilograms of Tamanu fruit, the amount produced by one tree annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil!  

In the Polynesian and Melanesian Isles Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu Oil) is also known as Green Gold! It is cicatrisant, anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, antimicrobial, antibiotic and also possesses antioxidant properties. Tamanu oil is well researched as a skin healer. One item I came upon highlighted its use to treat leprosy in the 1930s. It is a thick oil possessing a nutty aroma, a somewhat translucent green color and is exceptional enough to generally be among the more costly of carrier oils. For the relief I have witnessed it achieve, it is worth it!

Calophyllum (Beauty Leaf)

I have learned that the choice of a carrier is very important to effective aromatherapeutic blending. When I research chemical components of the essential oils I will select from, I make sure to provide just as much concern to the carrier I select. It is important that the manner of delivery be spot on whether an oil, gel, salt, diffusion blend, etc., and all of the primary ingredients should all serve to make the blend as effective as possible.

As my clients were all is so much pain and could not bear to touch the area or have anything against their skin in the affected area, there was no choice to consider anything other than a spray application. In each case, I selected the same three essential oils:  Niaouli (Melaleuca  quinquenervia ct 1,8 cineole), Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) and Melissa (Melissa officinalis), each receiving a dilution of no less than 5% with a determined amount of Tamanu oil in an aromatic organic Lavender hydrosol to heighten the efficacy of the blend from the start. Other essential oil options considered included Bergamot, Tea Tree and Roman Chamomile.

In each case, I reached out the next day to see how each was feeling and to ascertain that they were all, in fact, using their blends. The satisfaction and relief expressed by each was rewarding to hear. In two out of three instances, the pain medication that had been prescribed was not necessary as the blend provided adequate relief from the pain. In the other instance it took three days before my client conveyed likewise that she felt it was unnecessary to take the pain medication anymore. In all instances, I stressed the requirement that each complete the oral antibiotics that had been prescribed by physicians that were treating each one of them. The blistering effect of shingles can be a horrifying image. I observed numerous blisters larger than 1/2 inch in diameter on the trunk of the male client (they appeared smaller but were just as numerous for the two female clients). Needless to say, all are concerned about potential scarring. I plan to transition to a topical oil blend containing Tamanu and Jojoba as carriers and a few carefully selected cicatrisant organic essential oils for my most recent client as was successful with the prior two. When they see me, they can’t thank me enough for “getting them through it.”

Maintaining my own health and helping others as a result of knowledge gained, as in other circumstances in my life, serve as primary motivating factors regarding my interest and effort to study and use aromatherapy. I love hearing positive results. I am always grateful about the bounty and blessings in plant life that serve our needs in  miraculous ways. While I would insist that anyone diagnosed with shingles be treated by a physician, I would not hesitate to promote the use of aromatherapy to support the need to alleviate pain, and once the external healing has begun, calm the itch and anxiety that accompanies a shingles diagnosis.

With a rise in compromised immune systems and stress as factors for the onset of shingles, in addition to the benefit of living longer among growing segments of the general population, I expect to see more clients presenting shingles as their introduction to aromatherapy. I full expect to utilize more Green Gold (Calophyllum inophyllum) to assist and relieve their physical and emotional discomfort.

Aromatically Yours.

Dried Calophyllum inophyllum fruit (seed)

To read more about Tamanu (Foraha) Oil, please use these links: Aromatics International http://www.aromaticsinternational.com/aromatherapy-other-products/tamanu-oil-foraha

Agroforestry: http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/Calophyllum-kamani.pdf (amazing pictures of this wondrous plant)
Fascinating chemistry of Calophyllum inophyllum and study of its use on scars in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science article (2002): http://www.dweckdata.com/Published_papers/Tamanu.pdf

Comments on: "Green Gold For Shingles!" (4)

  1. I really appreciate the information provided about foraha. I’ve recently started using tamanu/foraha oil; it has helped my dry hands tremendously. I have tamanu oil from Tahiti and foraha oil from Madagascar. I bought the Tahitian first, then read on another site that Madagascan oil is favored over Tahitian. There was no information given as to why it is better, but I went on and ordered the Madagascan and I do like it better. Both have been great for dry skin, but I was not expecting it to heal a swollen spot beneath my eye! Also, I was having twitchy lower eyelids and this oil stopped the twitching overnight.

    I am wondering what makes the Madagascan oil better, or if there truly is a difference?

    • You’ve ask a really great question! Foraha/tamanu oil is also known by its botanical name Calophyllum inophyllum and is a marvelous oil to promote the formation of new tissue. Its use can accelerate wound healing and the growth of healthy skin. This process is known as cicatrization. The tree upon which tamanu fruit, the oil is pressed from the dried nut/seed, is indigenous to Southeast Asia. Clearly, the tree demands a warm coastal climate such as in Tahiti, Madagascar; its found even in Australia. It normally tolerates varied kinds of soil, coastal sand, clay or even degraded soil. The chemical components that vary in plant life are dependent upon a variety of factors among them being the soil, amount of sun, time of year harvested and even the process in which oil is extracted. It is these components that distinguish the characteristics of an oil or in other words, how one oil might be better or preferred over another oil– even the same genus and species of an oil. In order to really know why one is “better,” we’d have to know more about how the oil was produced besides other factors that may be inherent to Tahiti and Madagascar. Then again, preference varies. The users of an oil would then have to tell the difference while perceived benefits can even vary from one person to another. Since you obtained results beyond your expectations, I think you have a wonderful oil in your possession. If you need to know more, the oil suppliers would be a source for more detailed information. It always pays to know your sources! Be sure to store your oil in the refrigerator for maintain it. Oils like cold and typically last longer when kept in a cold environment.

      I hope this helps. I love this oil. It is so healing!!! It’s truly special!

      Be well!

      • Thank you so much for the detailed response, Khay! It helps very much. I am very excited about this oil, and I appreciate the information you gave for combining it with other oils as a trreatment for shingles. I had chicken pox as a child, and my father suffered terribly from shingles, so I fear that I’d be a perfect candidate for developing shingles myself as I am close to 50. It is so good to know that I already have a natural remedy at my disposal in foraha oil!

        I also did not realize that I should put in the refrigerator, and I will do that pronto. Again, thank you for your quick response to my query! Peace 🙂

  2. I always recommend this oil to my family and friends because of its benefits/uses. People should know the greatness of this tamanu oil.

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