Tonka beans are the fruit of a South-American rain forest tree that belongs to the legume family. In South America these great canopy trees are a valued hardwood species whose timber is used in construction. In the rain forest various parts of the tree are also used medicinally, but internationally only the bean has ever attracted any attention. The crinkly black beans don't look like much, but they have a unique sweet and musky scent that is both dark and seductive. Their aroma is mostly due to a substance called coumarin, tiny white crystals that form a thin crust over the wrinkled surface of the bean. Coumarins are common in the Clover family. They also lend Woodruff and Sweetgrass their characteristic sweet aroma. Tonka bean extract has been used as a flavouring agent in numerous foods, cosmetics and tobacco. Although coumarin forms the basis of blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, it is toxic when ingested in large quantities. It is a suspected carcinogen and has been banned in many countries. However, Tonka bean extract is still sometimes used as a chemical base material for making cheap Vanilla substitutes.
Tonka Bean is no longer used medicinally in Western herbalism, though in the rainforest it is used to make an oil for ear aches and the seeds are fermented in rum and used to treat snakebites, cuts, rheumatism, bruises etc. They are also said to have anti-spasmodic properties and have been used to treat cough and asthma.
Tonka Beans are used in sachets and amulets to attract love or money. They can be used in incense blends for love or sex magic. They intensify the focus of one's magical intent and have a great drawing power - better be careful what you wish for though, you might get it!