Coconut Oil has been used in traditional medicine for a long time. Today people started realizing the enormous benefits of using the coconut oil. In this article I will try to portray and enumerate every benefit with facts proven in a variety of studies.
- Coconut and Coconut Derivatives
- 17 Health Benefits Of Using Coconut Oil
- #1 – Coconut Oil Can Help Brain Disorders
- #2 – Lowers risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
- #3 – Helps treating and preventing UTI, kidney disease and protects the liver
- #4 – Reduces Inflammation And Arthritis
- #5 – Boosts the immune system (anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral effect)
- #6 – Improves Energy and Endurance
- #7 – Improves Digestion, Reduces Stomach Ulcers and Ulcerative Colitis
- #8 – Improves Skin Issues (burns, eczema, dandruff, dermatitis and psoriasis)
- #9 – Prevents and Helps treat Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
- #10 – Prevents Osteoporosis
- #11 – Improves Type 2 Diabetes
- #12 – Help with Weight Loss and Losing Body Fat
- #13 – Prevents Hair Damage And Improves Hair And Scalp Condition
- #14 – Treat Candida and Yeast Infections
- #15 – Helps with balancing hormones
- #16 – As a stress relief
- #17 – Prevents premature aging
Coconut and Coconut Derivatives
The coconut tree is a member of the family Arecaceae and the only species of the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the whole coconut palm or the seed, or the fruit. The fruit is a drupe, not a nut like many people think.
Being a staple food in almost one third of the world, it’s amazing that Western countries are only beginning to understand coconuts and all their potential.
Coconuts have three layers: the exocarp, the endocarp and mesocarp which is the thick inside with a cream color.
Amazingly, coconuts are probably one of the most versatile foods because they have evolved into numerous forms and functions. It is also used in many ways.
One such form that coconuts exhibit is coconut water. The coconut water is the extracted water from young, green coconuts. This beverage is extremely low in calories, incredibly hydrating, and is rich with potassium. In just one drink there is more potassium than that of four bananas (2).
The combination of low calories, low sugar, and low sodium compared to commercial sports drinks makes it a first choice for many athletes who sweat by the drink because of its incredible hydrating potential.
Additionally, although sometimes confused with coconut water, coconut milk is an entirely separate creation.
To make coconut milk, the fleshy, white portion of a coconut is grated and soaked in searing water until the cream rises and can be skimmed off the top.
The liquid that remains is squeezed through a cheesecloth to separate the milk from the coconut residue.
To get a milky consistency, you have to repeat the process several times. Coconut milk comes directly from the ‘meat” the coconut. You get the same health benefits from eating pure coconut or drinking coconut milk. They both contain important amount of medium-chain saturated fatty acids, which helps you in boosting your metabolism. (3).
Every part of the coconut can be used for many purposes and in fact, many countries do not let any part of the coconut go to waste. They utilize the meat, husk, water, leaves, trunk, and even the roots.
A natural, fibrous substance called coir can be extracted from the outer husk to be used for floor mats, brushes, ropes and strings because of its durable nature.
Additionally, the actual husk and shell is routinely used as pots, or to create bowls and even fuels.
Finally, the use and consumption of coconut oil is essentially one of the most debated health topics out there because nutritionists and dietitians are only starting to understand its nutritional potential.
Coconut oil is uniquely made from the dried “meat” of the coconut called “copra” (4).
Usually, the copra is mechanically pressed to extract the oil from the “meat” to produce what we consider to be coconut oil.
This oil has been proven to provide a multitude of health benefits such as reducing inflammation, protecting hair damage, and supporting almost all processes of the body (5).
Coconut oil is over 80% saturated fat, which mainly consists of medium-chain fatty acids, rather than the long-chain fatty acids that most people consume regularly.
17 Health Benefits Of Using Coconut Oil
#1 – Coconut Oil Can Help Brain Disorders
One of the most noteworthy things about the coconut is that it contains large quantity medium-chain fatty acids. The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) are very important because they can be easily absorbed by the liver and can be metabolized quickly. This means they can be converted in ketones.
The digestion of MCFA’s by the liver creates ketones which are a readily accessible energy by the brain. Studies show that ketones have positive effects on people suffering from memory loss, such as in case of Alzheimer’s disease. (6)
Additionally, there are also unique phenolic compounds and hormones in coconut oil which may be able to prevent the aggregation of amyloid beta peptides. Amyloid beta peptides are part of a leading theory concerning the cause of Alzheimer’s.
One research has shown that the brain actually creates its own insulin to process glucose in order to provide power to brain cells. As the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient has lost the ability to create its own insulin, the ketones from coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function. (7, 8)
#2 – Lowers risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
According to several clinical studies, the increase of plasma cholesterol levels correlates with coronary heart disease due to high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Saturated fats not only increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in your body. The oil also helps to convert the LDL “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterols.
By Increasing the HDL’s in the body, it helps promote heart health, and lower the risk of heart disease.
By contrast, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) have been proven to have an inverse relationship with heart disease (9).
In a controlled study, virgin coconut oil (VCO) was compared to copra oil (CO) on its ability to affect lipid parameters.
Investigators discovered that the “concentration of cholesterol in serum, liver, and heart of the VCO-treated group was significantly lower compared to CO-treated groups.
#3 – Helps treating and preventing UTI, kidney disease and protects the liver
Coconut oil helps in preventing and healing urinary (UTI) and kidney infections. The medium-chain fatty acids in the oil work as a natural antibiotic. They disrupt the lipid coating on bacteria and killing them. Also there is a study showing that coconut oil directly protected the liver from damage. (10)
Coconut water also helps hydrate and support the healing process. Doctors have even injected the coconut water to clear up kidney stones.
Fortunately, coconut oil is a surprisingly effective preventative treatment for the kidneys and the liver.
When testing for the oil’s ability to protect against intentional toxic drugs on the liver, scientists concluded that the active components in coconut oil were able to adequately protect the liver from incurring severe damage from the toxins (11) (12).
#4 – Reduces Inflammation And Arthritis
There was a study in India, which results prove that the high levels of antioxidants in coconut oil, have the power to reduce the inflammation and helped in healing arthritis more effectively than some of the top medications. (13)
When the coconut oil effects were compared to the effects of the medications, the researchers came to conclusion that the oil increased antioxidant enzymes and decreased the decreased the expression of inflammatory genes like COX-2, iNOS, and IL-6 (14).
In another recent study, coconut oil that was harvested with only medium heat was found to suppress inflammatory cells. It worked as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
Another interesting fact is the coconut oil contains lauric acid. Lauric acid can help in reducing candida, and fight bacteria. Overgrowth of bacteria, fungal infections, viruses and parasites in the human body are the main causes for many of today’s diseases.
It is advisable to use coconut oil as a natural energy booster, when sick, and use it more instead of grains and sugar. Sugar feeds the growth of many bacteria, especially yeast infections.
Advice: Take 1 tbsp of coconut oil, three times a day when sick and consume a lot of vegetables.
#6 – Improves Energy and Endurance
Coconut oil is easy to digest. As mentioned before, the oil contains MCFA’s. These fatty acids are absorbed quickly and the liver converts them into ketones, or generally said into energy.
It also produces a longer sustained energy and increases your metabolism. When taking a quality non-processed coconut oil, you can get the most benefit.
Advice: You can make a homemade energy fuel by mixing coconut oil, raw honey and chia seeds together. Simply put together 1 tbsp of each and consume 30 minutes prior to exercise.
#7 – Improves Digestion, Reduces Stomach Ulcers and Ulcerative Colitis
To have a better digestion your body needs to absorb all the needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Coconut also improves digestion as it helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. When the coconut oil is combined in the same time with omega 3 fatty acids, the oil makes them two times more effective, helping them to be ready for digestion and used by the body.
Coconut oil can help improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida. Candida imbalance especially can decrease stomach acid which causes inflammation and poor digestion.
Several studies prove that MCFAs in the coconut oil actually promote the breakdown and complete digestion of lipids by improving the efficiency of enzymes related to metabolism (15).
#8 – Improves Skin Issues (burns, eczema, dandruff, dermatitis and psoriasis)
Coconut oil has many benefits for your skin. Starting from helping treat more difficult skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, up till natural moisturizer for your skin.
This specific oil has been proven to improve skin conditions like xerosis, which is characterized by rough, itchy, and dry skin – much like what a dry scalp may be characterized for someone suffering from dandruff (16).
Coconut oil has a unique ability to improve skin hydration and increase lipid levels on the surface of the skin.
In doing so, this oil is able to basically “moisturize” your head in order to eliminate the scratchy, dry scalp that causes dandruff.
As mentioned above, coconut oil is highly useful as a topical moisturizer due to its hydrating abilities.
One study researched the use of coconut oil as a moisturizer treatment for patients with atopic dermatitis. This is a condition marked by extremely dry skin and is highly prone to Staphylococcus aureus (SA) colonies (17).
Recently, researchers started to discover that many plants and oils contain natural substances that are able to act as natural “sunscreens.”
One such plant is coconut and the oil that is created from it.
A study published by Pharmacognosy Review concluded that coconut oil, along with peanut, cottonseed, and olive oil, block out about 20% of ultraviolet rays from the sun (18).
#9 – Prevents and Helps treat Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
In traditional medicine, “oil pulling” was a method used to prevent tooth decay, bleeding gums, and generally for strengthening teeth, gums, and the jaw.
Oil pulling works by detoxifying and cleansing the oral cavity, similar to the way soap gets your dirty dishes clean. It literally pulls the bacteria and toxins out of your mouth to create a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that is needed to prevent cavities and disease.
How to Oil Pull – Watch the video below.
Coconut oil doesn’t whiten teeth by bleaching but rather with lauric acid. This medium chain fatty acid helps get rid of that bacteria and plaque, major contributors to yellow teeth and has proven to provide both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This has been confirmed in a number of studies, including research published in April 2015 in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine. The experts looked at 60 volunteers who were between the ages 16 and 18 and used oil pulling as part of their oral hygiene over a period of 30 days. After just seven days of oil pulling, their levels of plaque and gum disease were dramatically reduced.
Studies which tested various types of oil pulling proved that the practice is an effective preventative procedure to maintain oral health. Specifically, it was analyzed how effective coconut oil was at reducing plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.
After a 30-day matched-pairs control trial, researchers found that there was a statistically significant decrease in the plaque formation for the treatment groups after the seventh day (19).
That being said, it has become apparent that coconut oil can be an alternative means for a mouthwash due to its antibacterial effects.
#10 – Prevents Osteoporosis
Oxidative stress and free radicals are the two biggest culprits of osteoporosis. Since coconut oil has such high levels of antioxidants which help fight free radicals, it is a leading natural treatment for osteoporosis.
Another benefit of the oil is that it increases calcium absorption in the gut. A study for osteoporosis concludes that coconut oil increases bone volume and structure in subjects, as well as decreases bone loss due to osteoporosis. (20)
#11 – Improves Type 2 Diabetes
A precursor of Type 2 Diabetes is Insulin resistance. This happens when cells don’t respond to insulin and can no longer take in glucose for energy. As a result, the pancreas produces even more insulin by trying to compensate. This leads to overproduction cycle.
The MCFA’s in coconut oil helps with balancing the insulin resistance in the cells and promote healthy digestion. The liver converts the MCFA’s into ketones and turns them in energy. They take off the strain on the pancreas and give the body a consistent energy source that is not dependent on glucose reactions which can prevent insulin resistance and Type II diabetes.
#12 – Help with Weight Loss and Losing Body Fat
As a good energy source, it is no wonder that the coconut oil it is beneficial in losing weight. It helps to burn fat, decrease appetite and especially helpful in losing belly fat!
A study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 1985, concluded that a single injection of capric acid resulted in “initially rapid, then gradual decrease in food consumption and a parallel loss of body weight” in male rats.
It might seem counterintuitive to assume that eating coconut oil (a fat) will contribute to fat loss, but it is actually quite logical. The key to understanding this phenomenon lays in the multidimensional ability of the MCFAs to control a variety of physiological processes.
In the same study, researchers found that capric acid shows significant improvements in thyroid function. Also assists your body in burning fat for energy.
The Obesity Research Journal published a study from Boston University Medical School that shows us why MCFAs have fat burning properties.
Testing the effects that MFCAs have on fat breakdown, adipose (fatty) cells in rats were pretreated with caprylic acid. They observed that fat breakdown occurred at such a significant level that it literally mimicked the characteristics of fasting.
When fasting, the body uses its energy reserves most effectively and speeds up the breakdown of needless fat reserves.
#13 – Prevents Hair Damage And Improves Hair And Scalp Condition
If you have dandruff or dry hair coconut oil has the perfect fatty acids to help improve these conditions. You can make homemade coconut lavender shampoo to improve your hair and use straight coconut oil as an all natural hair conditioner.
To get rid of dandruff and to thicken hair massage 1 tbsp coconut oil mixed with 10 drops of rosemary essential oil into your scalp for 3 minutes. Then shower 30 minutes later.
Oddly enough, coconut oil has been found to have beneficial impacts not only on your internal body, but on your external body as well.
The Journal of Cosmetic Science published a study examining the effects of various oils on protecting hair damage.
The study discovered that coconut oil was able to prevent combing damage to all different hair types (22).
When compared to various other oils such as sunflower oil and mineral oil, coconut oil had a substantially greater impact on reducing protein loss in hair.
The reasoning behind this certain preventative property lies in the oil’s structure.
Being a linear triglyceride, coconut oil has a strong affinity for hair proteins and is able to penetrate into the hair shaft because of its small size.
Therefore, coconut oil’s perfect combination of linear arrangement, low weight, small size, and high protein affinity makes it an efficient hair protectant.
#14 – Treat Candida and Yeast Infections
The coconut oil is a good antibacterial agent. What lies in the base of this are the famous MCFA’s.
A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found the capric acid and lauric acid in coconut oil were an effective natural treatment for candida albicans and yeast infections.
The most abundant and potent MCFA in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is eventually converted into a monoglyceride called monolaurin (1).
To effectively kill candida and treat yeast infections remove processed sugar and refined grains from your diet and consume plenty of healthy fats. Take 1 tbsp of coconut oil 3x daily as a supplement. (21)
#15 – Helps with balancing hormones
Because of coconut oil’s richness of saturated fats like lauric acid, it plays an important role in balancing hormones (22).
Studies have analyzed the effect of coconut oil on the hormones that are predominant in women during pre-menopause and post-menopause.
One of the studies established that the reduction in the hormone estrogen during menopause has an opposing effect on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in women.
However, high levels of high-density lipoproteins HDL have a protective effect on conserving estrogen. Coconut oil has been shown to have a positive effect on HDLs.
Coconut oil helps to increase the level of beneficial proteins that conserve estrogen in women during menopause, leading to healthier lipid profiles.
#16 – As a stress relief
Stress is a way that our bodies are under a lot of pressure and we need to strengthen our physical and mental states of individuals.
Therefore, relieving stress is a vital component of maintaining a healthy mentality.
Once again, the high medium-chain fatty acid content in coconut oil allows this particular substance to be especially beneficial to stress reduction (23).
#17 – Prevents premature aging
Many environmental factors affect your skin through the entire year. Also how you treat and care your skin also matters. Premature aging of the skin is a result of oxidation stress due to UV rays, environmental pollution, and injuries caused to the skin by rough handling and use of harsh chemicals. The skin on your face is the most affected because it is exposed to the environment all the time.
Coconut oil can prevent premature aging in several ways. It is gentle on the skin as a moisturizer and exfoliates without abrading the skin. When applied in a thin layer, it can act as a physical barrier to dust and other environmental pollutants, while sealing in skin moisture. Its antioxidant action reduces oxidative damage. It keeps the skin smooth and supple by promoting collagen formation.