Thanaka has been used for several thousand years in Myanmar. Only in the last few years, the interest from researchers around the world has grown rapidly. Following are shown results of topical scientific studies about Thanaka.

Is Thanaka safe?

The study examines beauty effects and the safety of Thanaka. It can be concluded that the water extract of Thanaka possesses significant antioxidation, anti-inflammatory and mild tyrosinase inhibition activities. The use of the Thanaka bark in the form of a watery paste as a skin care regiment is not only safe but also beneficial to the skin.


  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology 132 (2010) 466-472, Chulalongkorn University and University of London

Thanaka may help to prevent drug-resistant Malaria

The prevention and treatment of drug-resistant malaria is becoming increasingly difficult. Villagers combine traditional medicines to create their own tools for preventing dangerous mosquito bites. In Myanmar, villagers commonly use Thanaka cream, a paste made from the ground bark of the Thanaka plant and mosquito repellant, mixed into a topical skin cream. Thanaka paste offers locals cooling sun protection and cosmetic benefits such as reducing oiliness, tightening pores, and improving their overall complexion. Thanaka cream on its own can help cure acne, fungus, and prevent mosquito bites. So, when mixed with an additional mosquito repellent ingredient the potency and preventative qualities of this magical ingredient grow.

Researchers from European and Asian universities have studied this usage of Thanaka. On the Thai-Myanmar border multi-drug resistant strains of falciparum malaria are increasing and, because the malaria vector Anopheles bite outdoors during early evening, insecticide house-spraying or impregnated bednets provide only limited protection. Therefore, the protective efficacy of repellent formulations containing di-methyl bensamide (deet) and permethrin against local vectors was estimated, when applied to the skin, and their acceptability amongst pregnant Karen women who are at relatively high risk from malaria was assessed. Human landing catches of mosquitoes showed that almost complete protection was achieved using different formulations of 20% deet and 0.5% permethrin for up to 6 h. All-night collections from human subjects indicated that this repellent combination reduced exposure to malaria parasites by at least 65 and 85% for those transmitted by Anopheles minimus and An. maculatus, respectively, the two principal vectors in this area. Pregnant women in the camps preferred repellents which were mixed with Thanaka, a root paste made from pulp of the wood apple tree, Limonia acidissima, used locally as a cosmetic. Apart from a temporary warming sensation where repellent Thanaka was applied to the skin, the repellents were well tolerated. An intervention trial is currently in progress to determine whether deet mixed with Thanaka can protect pregnant women against malaria in this part of the world. Bioassays using a laboratory strain of Aedes aegypti demonstrated that Thanaka is itself slightly repellent at high dosages and the mixture with deet provides protection for over 10 h. This treatment would therefore also provide some personal protection against dengue, which is increasing locally, transmitted by Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus biting during the daytime.


Thanaka may protect from harmful UV-A radiation

Excessive exposure to UV-B and UV-A radiation can have deleterious effects on human beings, including sunburn, sun- damaged skin, cataracts, snow blindness, skin cancer, and immune system deficiencies. The study has shown that Thanaka’s active compound contains UV-absorbing chromophores, indicating that it could be commercially useful as a natural UV-A-filtering product.


  • Se-Hwan, J., Sang-Cheol, L. & Seong-Ki Kim (2004). UV Absorbent, Marmesin, from the Bark of Thanakha, Hesperethusa crenulata L. Journal of Plant Biology, 47(2), 163-165.

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