Tomar Seed Oil


With the botanical name Zanthoxylum armatum, the Winged Prickly Ash tree is a member of the Citrus family Rutaceae. Tomar tree is indigenous to Eastern Asia to China along the Himalayas and few other parts of India. The essential oil is extracted from the seeds of this tree through steam distillation method. The naturally spicy, warm, woody, peppery, rich and floral aroma has made its use remarkable since the pre-historic period.

Ayurvedic system of natural healing has used Tomar seeds for treating numerous health conditions including oral problems and this is the main reason why this tree has been named as Toothache tree. This is a proven fact and is in practice even in today’s contemporary living. Popular Indian Ayurvedic toothpaste like Dabur Red toothpaste has Tomar seeds for its antiseptic and odor fighting potential along with other powerful herbs like pippali, kashni, lavanga, sunthi, pudina, maricha, karpoora, and hareetaki.

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Tomar tree is also known with other popular names like Toothache tree, prickly ash, suterberry, yellow wood, tumbru, darmar, tumru, timroo, tejphal and mukthrubi. The most common synonym for Zanthoxylum armatum is Zanthoxylum alatum. Tomar seed oil is pale yellow in color with an energizing aroma for which it has been mainly used in the making of apothecary perfumes, incenses, colognes, forest notes and certain other high class floral compositions.

Traditional uses: The time-honored use of Tomar tree includes its use by various communities across the globe. The social and ethnic groups in the Uttaranchal Himalaya use Zanthoxylum armatum for medicine, food and barter.  This tree is regarded to have religious importance and magical powers. Every part of the tree including the fruits, bark, stem and fresh leaves are used for various purposes. The decoction extracted from the bark or fruits or seeds of this tree were used as a sweet-smelling tonic for treating cholera, dyspepsia and fever.

Timur fruits are used as spices, condiments, medicine and as flavoring agents for soups and many other conventional dishes. It is used as a trusted remedy for treating cough, stomach problems, common cold, toothache and fever. It is also said that the Sino-Annamites used the fruits and leaves of this tree as emmenagogue, astringent and carminative. The branches of this tree are used as a natural toothbrush. A fresh or dried Tomar fruit is kept on the affected tooth for curing toothache instantly.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Tomar Seed Oil: Ayurveda strongly believes that human beings are a part of nature and the remedy for their illness should also be from nature. Ayurvedic principles state that the universe is made up of five elements like fire, water, earth, air and ether. Human body also has these five fundamental elements as a combination of doshas or the individual body types namely vata, pitta and kapha. A healthy lifestyle and harmony with nature’s law of living aids an individual to live a long, healthy and harmonious life according to Ayurveda.

This spiritual science also states that health is a combination of physical, mental and spiritual well-being and any disease is an indication that the body is in disharmony with nature. The most stunning fact about Ayurveda is that it treats the individual as a whole instead of the disease alone. It supports this common sense science to identify the root cause of an illness and treat it naturally and prevent it in the future also.

Ayurveda states that the tree of Tomar known as Tumburu or Gandhalu in the Ayurvedic world is yet another significant gift of nature to mankind. The essential oil extracted from the seeds of this tree are said to have healing properties like antiseptic, hepatoprotective, stomachic, disinfectant, deodorant, anthelmintic and carminative.

Effectiveness in treating hepatic diseases: Human liver is the major organ for governing the process of metabolism, excretion and certain other physiologic activities of the body. The most common disorder that affects the liver is hepatic diseases. Such hepatic damages are mainly due to toxins in the food, pharmaceuticals like CNS active agents and antibiotics, peroxides in edible oils, hepatotoxic chemicals like alcohol and certain other environmental pollutants. Ayurvedic medication has explored numerous natural remedies for treating liver diseases, which are still in use in many parts of India since centuries. When compared to modern medications like immunosuppressive agents and corticosteroids, these natural Ayurvedic remedies are claimed to grant better relief in a longer run.

Tomar seed oil is said to possess antioxidant properties and it also contains phenolic compounds. It is a proven fact that plants that contain antioxidant property is also said to exhibit hepatoprotective action. A renowned study on ‘Hepatoprotective Effect of Zanthoxylum armatum DC’ proved that the presence of ethanolic extracts in Zanthoxylum armatum showed hepatoprotective effect against liver damage by regularizing the increased levels of the hepatic enzymes and showed shielding effect on the plasma membrane of hepatocytes. This proved the effectiveness of using this herb in Ayurvedic treatment for liver disorders.

Natural insecticide: The essential oil of Tomar seeds yielded nearly 28 compounds and the major ones being monoterpenes and oxygenated monoterpenes. This oil also showed antifungal properties against 24 different fungi. It also exhibited repellent and larvicidal activity against three mosquito vectors, proving it as an effective natural alternative to chemical larvicides.

Other health benefits: This oil was trusted to give warmness to the body and was recommended for treating ailments like rheumatism, bronchitis, indigestion, asthma, varicose veins, toothaches and cholera. It was also proved that Zanthoxylum armatum showed spasmolytic effects that make it a natural remedy for treating cardiovascular, respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. Another research published in PubMed evidenced the antioxidant, antifungal, antiaflatoxin activity of this essential oil. Tomar seed oil has also been used as a gentle massage oil blended with carrier oils like coconut oil to treat fibrositis, rheumatism, leg cramps, varicose veins and certain other skin problems. It is also said to stimulate the mucous membranes, lymphatic system and promote blood circulation.

Disclaimer: All essential oils are highly concentrated liquids and applying them directly on your skin or taking it internally is not advisable unless and otherwise recommended by your Ayurvedic practitioner as per your health conditions.

Thought for the day:

Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order. – Goethe

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy & Herbalism by Julia Lawless
  2. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health – Beauty – a Safe Home Environment by Valerie Ann Worwood
  3. The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Essential Oils by Gill Farrer-Halls

Reference Links:

  1. Traditional Uses and Conservation of Timur (Zanthoxylum armatum DC.) through Social Institutions in Uttaranchal Himalaya, India by Conservation & Society Journal
  2. Hepatoprotective Effect of Zanthoxylum armatum DC by the Institute of Pharmacy and Emerging Science
  3. Safety assessment of Zanthoxylum alatum Roxb. essential oil, its antifungal, antiaflatoxin, antioxidant activity and efficacy as antimicrobial in preservation of Piper nigrum L. fruits by PubMed
  4. Chemical composition and larvicidal activities of the essential oil of Zanthoxylum armatum DC (Rutaceae) against three mosquito vectors by National Institute of Malaria Research