What Is a Candlenut?

Candlenut leaves have been used to treat stomach ulcers.
Traditional healers and others use the leaves of the candlenut tree to reduce fever.
The leaves of the candlenut tree have been used to treat gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease.
Candlenut leaves can be used to treat a headache.
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  • Written By: Celeste Heiter
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 March 2015
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A candlenut is the nut of a flowering tree of the species Aleurites moluccana. It gets its name from its ability to burn and give off light, like a candle, which is a result of its high oil content. The nuts have a bitter taste, and because they contain saponin and phorbol, they are mildly toxic and might cause gastric disturbances when eaten raw. Nevertheless, in addition to its use as an ingredient in Asian and Hawaiian and South American cuisines, the candlenut is valued for its medicinal properties.

In traditional Asian medicine and in Western alternative medicine, candlenut oil might be used as both a laxative and a treatment for diarrhea. The oil might also be used as a hair-growth stimulant, a cholesterol-lowering agent, a weight-loss supplement and an arthritis treatment. Extracts made from the candlenut also act as antibacterial agents. The leaves of the candlenut tree have been used to treat headaches, fevers, stomach ulcers and gonorrhea. The flowers and sap can be used to treat oral candidiasis, and the bark has been used to treat tumors.

No conclusive clinical studies have been conducted on the effects of candlenuts in humans. Therefore, their therapeutic benefits and toxicity are unknown. Regardless of claims made by Internet sites and producers of candlenut products, the ingestion of candlenuts should be supervised by a reliable health care professional.


Candlenut trees are indigenous to Southeast Asia and Hawaii and are cultivated in South America. The tree is a member of the spurge family, a group of plants in the genus Euphorbia, which have milky juice that may be poisonous. Also known as the candleberry tree, Indian walnut tree, kemiri, varnish tree, nuez de la India or kukui nut tree, it grows to a height of about 50 to 80 feet (15-25 m). Its spreading branches grow pale green, oval, or tri-lobed leaves, and the nuts it produces are 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches in diameter (4 cm to 6 cm), with a hard outer shell and a high oil content.

In Hawaii, the candlenut tree has many non-medicinal uses. Candlenuts are ground into a paste and used as a condiment. Its flowers are used to make leis. The wood is used to build boats, which are varnished with candlenut oil. The candlenut tree, because of its role in Hawaiian culture, has been designated the official state tree of Hawaii.



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Post 3
Because of its high oil content, candlenut oil is used as a base for many regional perfumes. It has recently been used as a fragrance and as a part of skin care creams and ointments by providers of free trade health care products and materials.
Post 2
What are the other uses for candlenut?

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