Shhh...Stop Promoting The Benefits of Coconut Oil or There Won't Be Any More Coconuts
We have some ongoing humor in the natural health industry and it's intended as a consequence to successful educational campaigns for one of the best oils on Earth--coconut oil. There are now so many people who are fully appreciating the benefits of coconut oil, that we joke there may soon not be enough coconuts left. That's unlikely, but be cautious on the types of coconut oil you purchase as many are refined, bleached and deodorized. Choose wisely to maximize the health benefits from this amazing food.
When you start seeing coconut oil at Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart and other major retailers, you know that the world has caught on to its magnificent properties.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.
Coconut oil is:
Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother's milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
Anti-retroviral (kills HIV and HLTV-1)
Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
Nontoxic to humans and animals
Not All Coconut Oils Are Created Equal
The first thing to look for is a Virgin coconut oil. The less processing a food undergoes the higher the nutrient content and the healthier it is. Processing removes and destroys nutrients. Virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconut without high heat or chemicals.
The resulting product is less refined than RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized) oil and retains more of its natural phytonutrients, which give coconut its distinctive aroma and flavor. In RBD oil all the phytonutrients have been removed so it is tasteless and odorless.
Although virgin coconut oils, in general, are superior to RBD oils, not all virgin oils are of equal quality. In fact, there is a wide range of quality among them. There are many different ways to make virgin coconut oil. The methods and care used in the process determines the final quality of the product.
How can you avoid the "not-so-good" coconut oils? Appearances can be deceiving, that is if you don't know what to look for. When looking for the best quality oil the appearance is very important. The second thing you look for in a high quality coconut oil is purity.
If you are familiar with coconut oil you know it naturally has a high melting point. At 76 degrees F and lower it become solid, at higher temperatures it turns into a liquid. It's much like butter, when it's in the refrigerator its solid but if left out on a hot day it melts.
High quality virgin coconut oil should be snow white in color when it is solid and water clear when liquid. If you see any shade of yellow or gray it is of an inferior quality. Pure coconut oil is colorless. Any discoloration is a sign of contamination. Contamination can be from mold or smoke residue.
If old or sun-dried coconuts are used to make oil it will almost always contain mold. The mold isn't considered harmful because temperatures used in processing are high enough to essentially sterilize it. If the heat used comes from open flames from wood or gas fuel smoke can be absorbed into the oil.
The third thing to look for in a high quality coconut oil is aroma and flavor. Virgin coconut oils should always retain a coconut smell and taste. If not, they have been highly refined. If they have no flavor they are essentially RBD oil, even if they did come from fresh coconut.
The very best virgin coconut oils do not have a strong roasted or smoky taste or smell. They should have a very mild coconut aroma and flavor. The flavor should not be overpowering, but just mild enough to enjoy without altering the flavor of the foods it's used with.
The fourth criteria is price. You get what you pay for. Obviously, a very inexpensive oil is going to be of inferior quality.
The cheapest oils are the most disagreeable tasting, and usually tainted with residual contaminants.
There are hundreds of uses for coconut oil...here are just 80:
80 USES FOR COCONUT OIL
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 just mix coconut oil and baking soda and dab a little of the mix on your 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 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 31/2 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, sauteing, etc.
71. Nutritional supplement -- melt and add to smoothies.
72. Insect repellent -- mix coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and rub it all over exposed skin. Keeps insects off better than anything with Deet! Tons safer too.
73. Great for dogs and cats for general wellness. Just add a teaspoon to their water bowl daily.
74. Goo Gone -- just mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda into a paste. Apply to the “sticky” area and let it set for a minute. Then scrub off with an old toothbrush or the scrubby side of a sponge.
75. Chewing Gum in Hair Remover -- just rub some coconut oil over the stuck chewing gum, leave in for about 30 minutes, then roll the gum between your fingertip. Voila! It’s out!
76. Polish Furniture -- coconut oil with a little bit of lemon juice to polish wood furniture. However, I recommend you test it first on a very small, unobtrusive part of your furniture to make sure it works the way you’d like.
77. Polishing Bronze -- all you have to do is rub a little oil into a cotton towel and then wipe down the statue. It cleans and helps deepen the color of your bronze.
78. Seasoning animal hide drums
79. Seasoning cookware
80. Moisturizing and cleaning leather products
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.