Coconut oil is a popular nutritional oil derived from the meat of matured coconuts. Coconut has long been a primary source of food throughout the tropics. Its various industrial and cosmetic applications have made it a very viable commodity. Coconut oil is heat stable, making it suitable for cooking at high temperatures. It is slow to oxidize, resists rancidity and has a shelf life of approximately two years or more; virgin coco creme created through a wet-milling process has an indefinite shelf life.
See the NaturalNews InfoGraphic on coconut oil here (it’s beautiful!)
The composition of coconut oil
The coconut possesses a wide variety of health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, but it is the oil that makes it a remarkable source of food and medicine. It has definitely earned its reputation as the healthiest oil in the world despite the fact that its high saturated fat content was once falsely claimed to be unhealthy.
What makes coconut oil different?
Oils and fats are composed of molecules known as fatty acids. They are classified either according to saturation or based on molecular length and size of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are an example of the first class.
The second classification is based on molecular size or length of the fatty acid’s carbon chain. Long chains of carbon atoms consist of each fatty acid with an attached hydrogen atom. There are short chain fatty acids known as SCFA, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) such as coconut oil and long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Whether unsaturated or saturated, the majority of fats and oils in our diet are composed of long chain fatty acids. In fact, a majority of the fatty acids commonly consumed are LCFA.
Coconut oil is predominantly medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and the effects of the MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from the LCFA found in other foods. In fact, the saturated and unsaturated fat in milk, eggs, meat and even in plants and most vegetable oils are made of LCFA. Why is this relevant? It is important because our bodies respond and metabolize each fatty acid differently. It is the MCFA found in coconut oil that makes it special because these fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol. In fact, they are known to lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. There are only few dietary sources of MCFA, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil.
The liver and gall bladder do not need to digest and emulsify MCFA, resulting in instant energy, increased metabolic rate and subsequently more heat production as well as increased circulation. Anyone with an impaired fat digestion or removed gallbladder will benefit from coconut oil as this oil is easily digested. (http://www.naturalnews.com/022313_fat_oil_coconut.html)
Coconut oil has many health benefits which are attributed to the presence of lauric acid. When it is present in the body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them.
Monolaurin is effective for treating candida albicans, fungal infections and athlete’s foot. It also targets bacterial infections and viruses like measles, influenza, hepatitis C and even HIV. In fact, researchers from the Philippines are studying the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS due to its strong anti-viral properties. Moreover, lauric acid is non-toxic, making it a better alternative to modern drugs that are typically prescribed for viruses as well as fungal and bacterial infections.
Without lauric acid, monolaurin cannot be produced by the body. Breast milk is the only other source of lauric acid, which must explain the lesser incidents of infections with breast-fed infants. It has also been observed that regular consumption of coconut oil boosts immunity and reduces incidences of sickness.
Obviously coconut has many uses besides its obvious use as a cooking oil.
Here is a small list taken from Hybrid Rasta Mama’s list of 333 uses!
1. Moisturizer – simply scoop some out of the jar and apply all over your body, including neck and face.
2. Eye cream – apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags, and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.
3. Preshave – coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving.
4. Aftershave – coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores.
5. Deodorant – coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but even more effective in combination with cornstarch/arrowroot powder and baking soda!
6. Hair Conditioner/Deep Treatment – use as a leave in hair conditioner by applying a teaspoon of coconut oil to your ends and then running your fingers through your hair to distribute the rest! For a deeper treatment, rub in a tablespoon of coconut oil onto your dry scalp and gently work through to the ends. Put a shower cap on to prevent transfer onto bed linens and leave on overnight.
7. Hair Gel/Defrizzer – rub a little between your palms and either scrunch into hair (for curly hair) or finger comb in through from scalp to ends (for wavy/straight hair).
8. Toothpaste – there are numerous recipes out there but I just mix coconut oil and baking soda and dab a little of the mix on my toothbrush.
9. Make up remover – use a cotton swab and a dab of coconut oil and you would be amazed at how well it works!
10. Chapstick – just rub a little into lips and it not only acts as a softening agent but it also has an SPF of about 4 so you get a little protection!
11. Massage Oil – pretty simple; grab some and rub!
12. Lubricant – it is an all natural, perfectly safe personal lubricant. Not compatible with latex!
13. Sunscreen – see my post on natural sunscreen for more detailed information.
14. Stretch Mark Cream – coconut oil is great at nourishing damaged skin. It may not be the magic stretch mark cure but it will help.
15. Nipple Cream – works great to nourish cracked, sore, or dry nipples. Apply to a cotton ball and leave on your nipples between feedings.
16. Diaper salve – very comforting on a rashy bum with no harsh chemicals. Also safe for cloth diapers.
17. Cradle cap – having issues with dry skin on your baby’s scalp? Coconut oil will not only nourish your baby’s skin, it also helps eliminate cradle cap. Just rub a teaspoon onto scalp daily.
18. Body scrub – mix coconut oil and sugar together and rub all over! Rinse off and your skin will be super soft! You can add in essential oils if you would like a specific smell.
19. Healing – when applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. Plus, it smells a heck-of-a-lot better than anything from the pharmacy.
20. Bug Bites – when applied directly to a bug bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation as well as hasten the healing process.
21. Skin problems – coconut oil relieves skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
22. Swimmers Ear – mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.
General Health and Wellness
23. Stress Relief – relieve mental fatigue by applying coconut oil to the head in a circular, massaging motion. The natural aroma of coconuts is extremely soothing thus helping to lower your stress level.
24. Digestion – the saturated fats in coconut oil have anti-bacterial properties that help control, parasites, and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around.
25. Fitness – coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, while increasing muscle.
26. Nose bleeds – coconut oil can prevent nose bleeding that is caused by sensitivity to weather such as extreme hotness and extreme coldness. This condition happens when the nasal passages become dry because of cold or dry air resulting to burns and cracks in the mucus membranes so bleeding happens. To prevent this just put coconut oil in you nostrils. Coat your finger with coconut oil and then lie down and coat your finger inside your nose. Doing this will strengthen and protect the capillaries in the nasal passages. A Vitamin C supplement will also help prevent nose bleeding.
27. For breastfeeding moms, consuming 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil daily will enrich your milk supply.
28. Helps with weight loss & controlling cravings.
29. Helps keep blood sugar levels stable and/or helps with cravings in those with diabetes.
Health Problems (that coconut oil is known for aiding, relieving, or even curing when taken internally)
30. Eczema – in addition to taking it internally, many have success applying it externally, some don’t
31. Skin problems
32. Toenail fungus
33. Hot flashes
34. Bleeding hemorrhoids (can also be applied externally twice a day)
36. Head lice
37. Improvements in menstruation regarding pain/cramps and heavy blood flow
38. Migraines (with regular use)
42. Relieve gallbladder pain
43. Has helped some people improve symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland, results have shown subsequent thyroid blood tests becoming normal
44. Energy boost
45. Flaky, dry skin
46. May relieve acid reflux and indigestion when taken with each meal
47. Adrenal fatigue
49. H. pylori
50. Candida albicans
51. Asthma, even in children
53. Cholesterol – improves HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) to HDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) ratio in people with high cholesterol
54. Chronic fatigue
55. Circulation/feeling cold all the time
56. Stronger immune system
57. Mental Clarity
59. Helps with inflammation in Crohns
Health Problems (that coconut oil is known for aiding, relieving, or even curing when applied topically)
60. Athletes foot
61. Back pain/sore muscles
62. Canker sores
65. Herpes (applied topically and taken internally)
66. Genital warts (through topical application over 6 weeks, and coconut oil enemas twice a day depending on the location of the warts)
67. Circumcision healing – although I am personally against circumcision, I have read that coconut oil is a really great healer for this.
68. Use 1 cup to 1 cup ratio when replacing other oils/butter in recipes with coconut oil.
69. Replacement for butter/lard/Crisco/PAM in it’s solid form – greasing pans, pie crusts, etc.
70. Replacement for various oils in liquid form – baking, cooking, sautéing, etc.
71. Nutritional supplement – melt and add to smoothies.