Tonka Bean

26 mins read

A tropical south american tree (dipteryx odorata) in the pea household, having pulpy, egg-shaped, one-seeded pods with fragrant seeds containing coumarin.

The seed of this tree, formerly extensively utilized as a flavoring for food or tobacco. Extracts from tonka beans have actually been banned as food additives in the united states. (1 )


Tonka bean is a tree. The fruit and seed are utilized to make medication.

Despite serious safety concerns, people take tonka bean as a tonic; to increase libido (as an aphrodisiac); and to deal with cramps, nausea, cough, spasms, tuberculosis, losing due to chronic illness, swelling brought on by an obstruction in the lymph system (lymphedema), and a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis.

Some individuals apply tonka bean directly to the afflicted location for mouth ulcers, earache, and aching throat.

In manufacturing, coumarin, one of the active constituents of tonka bean, is utilized as a flavoring and fragrance in different products in food, alcohol, tobacco, soap, and cosmetics.

In foods, the seeds are used to make a nutty-flavored drink. (2 ).


An exotic seed

The tonka bean pertains to us from south america and more particularly from venezuela, brazil and guyana. It is the fruit of a tropical tree with a complex name: the (dipteryx odorata willd), likewise commonly called coumaru or teak. This tree can mature to 30 meters high and grows generally in the tropical forests of south america, but it is now also cultivated in nigeria. Tonka beans are really the seeds of the fruit that grows on this tree. These fruits appear like large almonds and contain a distinct and valuable glossy black seed, which is generally 4cm long. Depending on the environment, a tree can produce between 15 and 75kg of fruit per year. (3 ).


There are no well-controlled research studies explaining the pharmacologic effects of tonka beans or their components. Coumarin is hazardous when ingested in high dosages.

Artificial coumarin has actually been established to change the natural product in some cases. Warfarin (eg, coumadin), a replaced coumarin, is a potent anticoagulant utilized in human therapies and rodenticides. Compounds isolated from the tonka bean have been studied in cancer chemoprevention and for acaricidal activity. (4 ).

Advantages of tonka beans

Despite severe safety concerns, people take tonka bean as a tonic; to increase sexual desire (as an aphrodisiac); and to deal with cramps, nausea, cough, convulsions, tuberculosis, wasting due to persistent disease, swelling brought on by an obstruction in the lymph system (lymphedema), and a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis. Listed below are usages and advantages of tonka beans in our every day life.

Discomfort relief

Coumarin, the main ingredient present in tonka bean is a lethal anticoagulant and has analgesic effects in which it can give natural pain relief after surgical treatment. It can also reduce persistent back pain, aching muscle discomfort and tension in the body. It is also being used as homeopathic pain medication in alternative medicine.

Impacts in injuries

Tonka bean important oil is not only reliable in pain relief but likewise used to recover bruises in athletics, open wounds and deep cuts injury quicker naturally. It’s likewise a homeopathic treatment for cleaning wounds and avoiding minor infections in conventional medicine. Tonka bean essential oil likewise lowers inflammation of the skin.

If there’s a snake bite, the application of tonka bean drawn out organic oil can bring little relief to the victim and avoid infections prior to taking the individual for medical care.

High blood pressure and stroke

Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter which is usually found in blood platelets and serum, and helps in restricting the capillary. Thereby, it prevents blood loss, boost vascular resistance, control body temperature as heat is kept.

Considering that it can manage blood pressure, it avoids damages to the brain’s capillary, particularly rupture and narrowing of the brain capillary which can block the supply of blood to the arteries leading to your brain- a quick trigger of stroke.


It prevents deep vein apoplexy naturally or the danger of embolism can be minimized with routine use of tonka bean extracts.

In addition, people experiencing persistent atrial fibrillation can be given cumarin-containing medication. Therefore, thrombi can be reduced in the atrium of the heart and also lowers the danger of suffering a stroke.


Tonka bean is also aphrodisiac as the oil drawn out from it can be used in cream and the smell can suddenly arouse your lover and turn him or her on. The fragrance it produced in fragrances can make your wife or husband enters the mood naturally without drugs or perhaps romance.

Bug and insect repellant

Coumarine present in tonka bean is known to be repellant to bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other insects. Because of the high coumarine value in tonka bean, it can be extracted in your area to produce homemade pest spray for houses and for animals just like tea tree oil, peppermint, lavender oil and other natural pest’s repellants. Tonka bean essential oil is not just a repulsive to pests however likewise healthy on the skin when utilized.

It can be used to safeguard infants from mosquito bites and prevent ecto parasites on animals like pet dogs, cats, horses and other domesticated mammals.

Detoxifying the body

Tonka bean can likewise assist you in eliminating germs from your body naturally and clean the system from germs.

When the fragrance of the tonka bean oil in inhaled, it activates the body to increase secretions and expel germs out of the body through mucous in the nose. This will likewise help in eliminating mucous from the lung passage, detox and clear it from mucous and cough, and also easing you from asthma.

Tonka bean vital oil is much efficient when treating queasiness, cough, spasms, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, asthma and earache. However it must only be used as instructed by doctor and you should notify your medical professional prior to any application of this medicine.

Results on the brain

Tonka bean has relaxing result on the brain. The herbs can help boosting your state of mind, making you feel relaxed and delighted when you’re stressed. Likewise, it helps treating extreme sleep (sleeping disorders) and positively affects the intestinal tract.


Tonka bean can be drawn out, and a little mix of it with nutmeg can be added to a smoking cigarettes mixture to clean up the lungs for cigarette smokers.

Little bit of tonka bean is rubbed off with the nutmeg grater and contributed to a cigarette smoking mix. The vanilla scent and almond scent as well as a hot note are particularly effective.

Skin health

Tonka bean is not just used in avoiding extreme heat loss from the skin or decreasing swelling and sensation of discomfort in the skin, it is likewise antiseptic and used in bath soap to get rid of bacteria from the external body.

Healthy hair

It can likewise be applied on the hair to eliminate scalp inflections and swellings. It also used in cosmetics industry to produce shampoo and hair oil to safeguard the scalp and avoid loss of hair as a result of infections.

Aromatic candles

Tonka bean is also drawn out and used in making aromatic candle lights because of the good odor that can make your space really interesting visitors and enjoyed ones. As the candle light melts, the fragrance spreads across the entire space, developing a relaxing, and romantic environment.

Conventional usages and advantages of tonka beans

  • The seeds can likewise be used in the treatment of stomach pain, cough, and dysentery.
  • Preparation, combined with the crushed whole plant of tonina fluviatilis, is utilized to prepare a baby fortifier.
  • They are considered to be anti-asthmatic, antispasmodic, cardio tonic and emmenagogue.
  • Decoction of the seed and sugar is used as a cold remedy.
  • Oil from the seeds is used to relieve stomach aches, to treat sores in the mouth, to strengthen the scalp and improve hair development.
  • It is said to be effective in controlling dysentery.
  • Cold water infusion of the leaves is used as an ear wash to treat earache.
  • Leaves are crushed to make a snuff powder.
  • The seed includes coumarin, which is utilized in fragrance and for flavoring tobacco and whisky.
  • Extracts of the plant have been used in standard medication as a tonic and to deal with cramps and nausea.
  • Seed extracts have actually been administered rectally for schistosomiasis in china.
  • Fluid extract has actually been utilized with advantage in whooping cough, however it paralyses the heart if used in big dosages.
  • Crushed tonka beans instilled in a tea or any herbal brew can help in treating a number of health problems, including disorientation, anxiety, self-destructive habits and confusion.
  • It may likewise be used to liven up the body immune system.
  • Preparation prepared from the cumaru tree bark is used for dealing with fevers.
  • Seeds are periodically distilled in rum and utilized topically for dealing with cuts, contusions, rheumatism and snake bites.
  • It is also utilized internally for dealing with coughs.
  • Fermented seeds are occasionally utilized in the form of a shampoo and likewise dropped inside the ears to treat earaches in addition to infections.
  • The bark of this tree is utilized to make a preparation and bathe individuals experiencing fever.
  • Brazilians make a cough tablet by balling up the crushed seed.
  • The plant is used in folk remedies for cacoethes, cancers, indurations, and growths, particularly of the diaphragm, abdominal area, liver, spleen, stomach, and uterus.
  • Tonka beans were when commonly used in medication as a treatment for cramps, nausea, cough, spasms, and tuberculosis.
  • Crushed tonka beans infused in tea cure number of illness including anxiety and suicidal behavior.

Culinary utilizes

  • Coumarin-like flavoring can be extracted from the seed through a process of fermentation.
  • It has been used commercially as a vanilla replacement in flavoring a wide range of foods consisting of baked items, ice cream, cocoa etc.
  • . The pulp inside the seedpod is consumed raw.
  • Seed can be consumed after boiling to get rid of toxic substances. (5 )

Further more

Tonka beans in gastronomy

British chefs utilize tonka beans in cocktail syrups and grate their shavings over pastries, while french cooking masters develop tonka bean– instilled ice creams and custards. The french are so obsessed with the taste of this bean that they even have a name for it: fièvre tonka, or “tonka fever.”.

Tonka bean used in perfumery

Everything started in 1793 when the cumaru fruit was first presented to the french people. This sensuous, vanilla-esque aroma is used in perfume because it both improves the life time of the fragrance in addition to enhances its varied notes. It is also commonly utilized as a substitute for musk. Tonka beans are essential to the chemical composition of guerlain’s renowned aroma, shalimar.

Tonka bean and shalimar fragrance

While the structure of asian perfumery depends on the pleasing, gently beguiling vanilla scent of the tonka bean, its influence is not exclusive to this element. In fact, the warm impact of coumarin can be determined nearly everywhere fragrance is created. The popularity of these beans, especially in manly and asian fragrances, lies in their complex, rich fragrance and their substantial adhesive properties.

The universal appeal of this flavorful bean can be seen (and breathed in) nearly all over in today’s vast marketplace. They are essential active ingredients in different customer sectors worrying gastronomic scents and personal care products, that include: hair shampoos, lotions, soaps, candle lights, cosmetics, bubble bath and incense. The tonka bean is a powerful scent ingredient that is both flexible and ageless.

Tonka beans work best in spicy and sweet fragrances including notes that are similar. These include: clove, vanilla, heliotrope, bitter almonds and cinnamon. They likewise mix well with notes of patchouli, sandalwood, increased, lemon peel and lavender.

Intriguing truths about the tonka bean

The tonka bean is rumored to have mystical residential or commercial properties.

In some cultures, the tonka bean is thought about an aphrodisiac, and is used as a “love-wishing bean.” It is likewise believed to have the power to summon both guts and cash. Some pagan cultures believed that crushed tonka beans in herbal tea increase the immune system, assistance to relieve depression, confusion and negativeness.

Tonka beans are a significant source of coumarin

According to the bbc, this questionable active ingredient is said to be the “most delicious active ingredient you never heard of.” Coumarin can be discovered in cinnamon (cassia), tobacco, e-cigarettes, cosmetics, antiperspirants, hand soap, shower gels, and cleaning agents.

The united states is the largest importer of tonka beans

Although lawfully prohibited in the united states because 1954, it is completely legal to add coumarin to tobacco and cosmetics. The united states import these beans practically exclusively for the tobacco industry.

The tonka bean has a powerful fragrance profile

Simply a sprinkle of shavings from this bean is enough to create an abundant and memorable scent. When utilized in food, some chefs claim that a single tonka bean can taste as many as 80 meals.

Tonka beans ought to not be consumed in large amounts

These beans can be extremely harmful and even lethal. Nevertheless, it is approximated that a minimum of 30 entire tonka beans would require to be consumed in order to approach toxic levels, which is about the exact same volume at which nutmeg and other everyday spices are considered possibly harmful.

Tonka beans have medical and aroma-therapeutic qualities

They are known to promote relaxation, decrease stress and anxiety, alleviate stress and depression and improve the body immune system. Tonka beans were once extensively utilized in medicine as a treatment for cramps, nausea, cough, convulsions, and tuberculosis.

Venezuela, brazil and columbia are the major manufacturers of tonka beans

Harvesting these beans has generated earnings for thousands of south american rural communities situated within varied forest ecosystems. They work as a buffer when other jobs are scarce.

The tonka bean gets its name from the galibi language

Spoken in a location of french guyana, the word, tonka, derives from the galibi (carib) tongue, which is spoken in french guiana. The galibi word, tonquaor tonquin translates to bean. In another language of the exact same area, tonka is likewise the name for the tree on which the seeds grow.

The tropical tree was initially cultivated for its lovely purple flowers

Each cumaru tree contains only one tonka bean. Its bark is also known as brazilian teak. It is a progressively popular wood utilized for flooring in the united states. It has a really appealing natural color variation and is thought about rather resilient.

90% of contemporary perfumes consist of coumarin

This fact can be quickly established by reviewing the list of ingredients found on perfume packaging. Experts speculate that every other perfume worldwide has more than 1% of coumarin. (6 ).

Side effects

Tonka bean is hazardous. It can cause negative effects such as queasiness, throwing up, diarrhea, dizziness, sleeplessness, and liver issues.

The us food and drug administration (fda) considers any food including tonka bean or tonka bean extract to be impure.

There isn’t sufficient details to understand whether it is safe to use tonka bean straight to the skin. (7 ).

Why are Tonka beans unlawful in the United States?

The answer is simple, at least to the fda: tonka beans are hazardous to your health. According to the fda, tonka beans include a chemical known as coumarin. When consumed in excess, coumarin can cause severe liver problems. As a result, back in the 1950s, the fda banned any active ingredient including the chemical from intake in the u.s. With that, chefs were forced to remove the tonka bean from their meals.

However, the atlantic suggests that the fda’s restriction on coumarin could be outdated, given that it would take eating about 30 entire beans for those coumarin levels to become seriously hazardous. Since one bean provides enough flavor for 80 meals, it’s highly unlikely that anyone casually consuming tonka beans would come across any medical concern. Still, the fda has actually stayed rigorous on its restriction, a lot so that the administration even robbed alinea, a chicago restaurant, in 2006 after reports struck that tonka beans were utilized in its menu. (8 ).

Tonka bean ice cream


  • 1 cup entire milk
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tonka bean, plus additional for serving
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place the milk and sea salt in a medium-sized pot. Grate the tonka bean using a great grater (a microplane works the very best for this) into the pot. Heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is steaming but not boiling. Let the milk mean 15 minutes to instill.
  2. 1 cup whole milk,1 pinch sea salt,1 tonka bean
  3. Blend the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Include a little of the warm milk to the egg yolks and stir it well to temper the eggs. (if you put the eggs straight into the hot liquid you will wind up with rushed eggs. Tempering them with a little of the hot milk assists prevent this.)
  4. 6 big egg yolks, 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. Slowly include the tempered eggs to the warm milk while stirring constantly. Location the pot on medium-low heat and stir it constantly up until it thickens. Eliminate the pot from the heat and stir in the whipping cream and vanilla.
  6. 2 cups heavy cream,1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  7. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized bowl. (this is to get out any bits of eggs that might have scrambled on the bottom of your pot.)
  8. Place the bowl in your fridge and provide it a stir every 10 minutes approximately until it is no longer hot, about a half hour. When the custard has actually cooled cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it in your fridge up until it is completely cold, preferably over night.
  9. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the producer’s directions.
  10. Grate a little extra tonka bean over top of the ice cream when you serve it.


Note: dish time does not include the time it takes to chill or freeze the ice cream. (9 ).


Being an outright oil it’s important that tonka bean is not ingested in any way. You should also test for skin level of sensitivity prior to using topically. Test on a little location of skin and wait a day approximately to check if you have any allergic reactions, and constantly water down with a carrier oil.

Always keep out the reach of children. Pregnant and breastfeeding females should not use this oil, neither should anybody being treated for a major health condition without medical clearance. (10 ).


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