Tonka Bean

26 mins read

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

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


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

Despite severe security issues, people take tonka bean as a tonic; to increase libido (as an aphrodisiac); and to treat cramps, nausea, cough, convulsions, tuberculosis, squandering due to chronic illness, swelling brought on by a blockage in the lymph system (lymphedema), and a parasitic illness called schistosomiasis.

Some people apply tonka bean straight to the afflicted area for mouth ulcers, earache, and sore throat.

In manufacturing, coumarin, among 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 utilized to make a nutty-flavored beverage. (2 ).


An exotic seed

The tonka bean concerns us from south america and more especially from venezuela, brazil and guyana. It is the fruit of a tropical tree with a complex name: the (dipteryx odorata willd), likewise typically called coumaru or teak. This tree can mature to 30 meters high and grows mainly in the tropical forests of south america, however it is now likewise cultivated in nigeria. Tonka beans are really the seeds of the fruit that grows on this tree. These fruits look like large almonds and include a special and precious shiny black seed, which is normally 4cm long. Depending on the environment, a tree can produce between 15 and 75kg of fruit per year. (3 ).


There are no well-controlled studies explaining the pharmacologic effects of tonka beans or their elements. Coumarin is harmful when consumed in high dosages.

Synthetic coumarin has actually been established to replace the natural product sometimes. Warfarin (eg, coumadin), a substituted coumarin, is a potent anticoagulant utilized in human therapeutics and rodenticides. Substances isolated from the tonka bean have been studied in cancer chemoprevention and for acaricidal activity. (4 ).

Benefits of tonka beans

Regardless of major security issues, individuals take tonka bean as a tonic; to increase libido (as an aphrodisiac); and to deal with cramps, queasiness, cough, spasms, tuberculosis, squandering due to chronic disease, swelling caused by a clog in the lymph system (lymphedema), and a parasitic illness called schistosomiasis. Listed below are uses and benefits of tonka beans in our every day life.

Pain relief

Coumarin, the main ingredient present in tonka bean is a deadly anticoagulant and has analgesic impacts in which it can provide natural pain relief after surgical treatment. It can likewise lower persistent pain in the back, sore muscle pain and stress in the body. It is likewise being utilized as holistic pain reliever in natural medicine.

Effects in injuries

Tonka bean important oil is not only effective in pain relief however likewise used to recover contusions in athletics, open injuries and deep cuts injury faster naturally. It’s also a homeopathic solution for cleaning up injuries and preventing small infections in standard medicine. Tonka bean vital oil also decreases swelling of the skin.

If there’s a snake bite, the application of tonka bean extracted natural oil can bring little relief to the victim and avoid infections prior to taking the individual for treatment.

High blood pressure and stroke

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

Since it can manage high blood pressure, it avoids damages to the brain’s blood vessels, especially rupture and constricting of the brain capillary which can block the supply of blood to the arteries resulting in your brain- a fast trigger of stroke.


It avoids deep vein thrombosis naturally or the threat of embolism can be lowered with regular use of tonka bean extracts.

Additionally, people struggling with persistent atrial fibrillation can be provided cumarin-containing medication. Hence, thrombi can be reduced in the atrium of the heart and likewise decreases the risk of suffering a stroke.


Tonka bean is also aphrodisiac as the oil drawn out from it can be utilized in cream and the smell can all of a sudden excite your fan and turn him or her on. The scent it produced in fragrances can make your better half or husband enters the mood naturally without drugs or perhaps love.

Bug and insect repellant

Coumarine present in tonka bean is understood to be repellant to bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other pests. Because of the high coumarine worth in tonka bean, it can be extracted locally to produce homemade bug spray for homes and for pets much like tea tree oil, peppermint, lavender oil and other natural insect’s repellants. Tonka bean essential oil is not just a repulsive to pests but likewise healthy on the skin when utilized.

It can be used to secure babies from mosquito bites and avoid ecto parasites on family pets like canines, felines, horses and other domesticated mammals.

Cleansing the body

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

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

Tonka bean important oil is much reliable when dealing with queasiness, cough, spasms, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, asthma and earache. But it needs to only be used as instructed by physician and you ought to inform your physician before any application of this medicine.

Effects on the brain

Tonka bean has relaxing impact on the brain. The herbs can help improving your mood, making you feel relaxed and delighted when you’re worried. Also, it helps treating extreme sleep (insomnia) and positively impacts the gastrointestinal system.


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

Little bit of tonka bean is rubbed off with the nutmeg grater and added to a smoking cigarettes mix. The vanilla fragrance and almond fragrance along with a hot note are particularly efficient.

Skin health

Tonka bean is not only used in preventing extreme heat loss from the skin or decreasing inflammation and sensation of discomfort in the skin, it is likewise antibacterial and utilized in bath soap to remove bacteria from the external body.

Healthy hair

It can also be applied on the hair to eliminate scalp inflections and inflammations. It also utilized in cosmetics industry to produce shampoo and hair oil to secure the scalp and prevent loss of hair as a result of infections.

Aromatic candle lights

Tonka bean is also extracted and used in making scented candle lights because of the good odor that can make your space truly attracting visitors and enjoyed ones. As the candle melts, the scent spreads out across the entire space, developing a relaxing, and romantic environment.

Conventional usages and benefits of tonka beans

  • The seeds can likewise be used in the treatment of stomach pain, cough, and dysentery.
  • Decoction, combined with the crushed whole plant of tonina fluviatilis, is utilized to prepare an infant fortifier.
  • They are thought about to be anti-asthmatic, antispasmodic, cardio tonic and emmenagogue.
  • Decoction of the seed and sugar is utilized as a cold solution.
  • Oil from the seeds is utilized to reduce stomach aches, to treat sores in the mouth, to fortify the scalp and enhance hair growth.
  • It is stated to be efficient in controlling dysentery.
  • Cold water infusion of the leaves is utilized as an ear wash to treat earache.
  • Leaves are squashed to make a snuff powder.
  • The seed contains coumarin, which is used in perfume and for flavoring tobacco and whisky.
  • Extracts of the plant have been used in standard medicine as a tonic and to treat cramps and queasiness.
  • Seed extracts have actually been administered rectally for schistosomiasis in china.
  • Fluid extract has actually been used with benefit in whooping cough, however it paralyses the heart if used in large doses.
  • Crushed tonka beans instilled in a tea or any natural brew can help in curing a variety of illness, consisting of disorientation, anxiety, suicidal behavior and confusion.
  • It may also be used to perk up the body immune system.
  • Preparation prepared from the cumaru tree bark is utilized for treating fevers.
  • Seeds are sometimes distilled in rum and used topically for treating cuts, contusions, rheumatism and snake bites.
  • It is also used internally for dealing with coughs.
  • Fermented seeds are sometimes used in the form of a shampoo and also dropped inside the ears to cure earaches in addition to infections.
  • The bark of this tree is used 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 tumors, particularly of the diaphragm, abdomen, liver, spleen, stomach, and uterus.
  • Tonka beans were once extensively used in medication as a treatment for cramps, nausea, cough, convulsions, and tuberculosis.
  • Squashed tonka beans instilled in tea treatment variety of health problems consisting of anxiety and self-destructive behavior.

Culinary uses

  • Coumarin-like flavoring can be extracted from the seed through a procedure of fermentation.
  • It has been utilized commercially as a vanilla alternative in flavoring a vast array of foods including baked goods, ice cream, cocoa etc.
  • . The pulp inside the seedpod is eaten raw.
  • Seed can be consumed after boiling to eliminate toxins. (5 )

Further more

Tonka beans in gastronomy

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

Tonka bean used in perfumery

All of it started in 1793 when the cumaru fruit was first introduced to the french individuals. This sensual, vanilla-esque aroma is used in fragrance since it both improves the lifetime of the scent in addition to boosts its varied notes. It is also extensively used as a substitute for musk. Tonka beans are integral to the chemical structure of guerlain’s iconic fragrance, shalimar.

Tonka bean and shalimar perfume

While the foundation of oriental perfumery depends on the pleasing, softly beguiling vanilla aroma of the tonka bean, its impact is not special to this element. In fact, the warm effect of coumarin can be discerned practically all over perfume is produced. The popularity of these beans, particularly in manly and asian scents, lies in their complex, abundant fragrance and their substantial adhesive homes.

The universal appeal of this flavorful bean can be seen (and inhaled) nearly all over in today’s large marketplace. They are crucial ingredients in different consumer sectors concerning gastronomic scents and personal care items, which include: shampoos, creams, soaps, candle lights, cosmetics, bubble bath and incense. The tonka bean is a formidable fragrance component that is both flexible and ageless.

Tonka beans work best in spicy and sweet aromas featuring notes that are comparable. These consist of: clove, vanilla, heliotrope, bitter almonds and cinnamon. They also mix well with notes of patchouli, sandalwood, rose, lemon peel and lavender.

Intriguing facts about the tonka bean

The tonka bean is rumored to have magical properties.

In some cultures, the tonka bean is considered an aphrodisiac, and is used as a “love-wishing bean.” It is likewise believed to have the power to summon both nerve and money. Some pagan cultures believed that crushed tonka beans in natural tea improve the body immune system, assistance to eliminate anxiety, confusion and negativity.

Tonka beans are a significant source of coumarin

According to the bbc, this controversial ingredient is said to be the “most tasty ingredient you never ever heard of.” Coumarin can be found in cinnamon (cassia), tobacco, e-cigarettes, cosmetics, deodorants, hand soap, shower gels, and cleaning agents.

The united states is the largest importer of tonka beans

Although lawfully banned 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 market.

The tonka bean has a powerful scent profile

Just a spray of shavings from this bean is enough to develop an abundant and memorable aroma. When utilized in food, some chefs claim that a single tonka bean can taste as numerous as 80 dishes.

Tonka beans need to not be consumed in large amounts

These beans can be extremely hazardous and even deadly. Nevertheless, it is approximated that at least 30 whole tonka beans would require to be consumed in order to approach hazardous levels, which is about the very same volume at which nutmeg and other everyday spices are thought about possibly harmful.

Tonka beans have medical and aroma-therapeutic qualities

They are known to promote relaxation, decrease stress and anxiety, eliminate tension and depression and boost the immune system. Tonka beans were when extensively used in medication as a treatment for cramps, queasiness, cough, spasms, and tuberculosis.

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

Gathering these beans has produced income for thousands of south american rural communities positioned within diverse forest ecosystems. They function as a buffer when other tasks are limited.

The tonka bean gets its name from the galibi language

Spoken in an area 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 very same area, tonka is likewise the name for the tree on which the seeds grow.

The tropical tree was initially cultivated for its gorgeous purple flowers

Each cumaru tree contains only one tonka bean. Its bark is also known as brazilian teak. It is a progressively popular hardwood utilized for flooring in the united states. It has a very attractive natural color variation and is thought about quite durable.

90% of modern-day perfumes consist of coumarin

This truth can be easily ascertained by evaluating the list of ingredients found on fragrance packaging. Specialists assume that every other perfume in the world has more than 1% of coumarin. (6 ).

Adverse effects

Tonka bean is risky. It can trigger adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lightheadedness, insomnia, and liver problems.

The us food and drug administration (fda) thinks about any food consisting of tonka bean or tonka bean extract to be impure.

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

Why are Tonka beans illegal in the US?

The response is basic, at least to the food and drug administration: tonka beans are damaging to your health. According to the fda, tonka beans consist of a chemical known as coumarin. When consumed in excess, coumarin can trigger major liver problems. As a result, back in the 1950s, the fda banned any active ingredient including the chemical from usage in the u.s. With that, chefs were forced to eliminate the tonka bean from their meals.

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

Tonka bean ice cream


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


  1. Location the milk and sea salt in a medium-sized pot. Grate the tonka bean utilizing a fine grater (a microplane works the best for this) into the pot. Heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is steaming but not boiling. Let the milk represent 15 minutes to infuse.
  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 pour the eggs straight into the hot liquid you will wind up with scrambled eggs. Tempering them with a little of the hot milk assists avoid this.)
  4. 6 large egg yolks, 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. Slowly include the tempered eggs to the warm milk while stirring continuously. Place the pot on medium-low heat and stir it constantly till it thickens. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the whipping cream and vanilla.
  6. 2 cups whipping cream,1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  7. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh screen 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 or two until it is no longer hot, about a half hour. Once the custard has cooled cover the bowl firmly with cling wrap and leave it in your refrigerator till it is totally cold, ideally overnight.
  9. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  10. Grate a little additional tonka bean over top of the ice cream when you serve it.


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


Being an absolute oil it is very important that tonka bean is not consumed in any way. You need to likewise test for skin level of sensitivity prior to utilizing topically. Test on a little area of skin and wait a day or so to examine if you have any allergic reactions, and constantly water down with a carrier oil.

Always stay out the reach of children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t use this oil, neither needs to anyone being treated for a serious health condition without medical clearance. (10 ).


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