Everyone loves a miracle drug or a super cure. But how many times have we overlooked the healing, curing, medicinal, and soothing properties of naturally occurring substances in favor of something more “modern” or “scientific”. But sometimes, simple is better, and coconut oil may, indeed, be one of those occasions.
Coconut oil, or copra oil, as it is sometimes called, is extracted from the kernel, or meat, of mature coconuts. It has a high fat content, but it is rather slow to oxidize, making it highly resistant to becoming rancid. Coconut oil, stored at temperatures of 75 degrees, will remain fresh and usable for up to six months.
But what exactly can this oil be used for? It can provide many health benefits when taken internally or applied externally. Many of its most important applications are remedies for various skin conditions. It can be used as a basic skin lotion which leaves you, leaving your skin naturally soft and supple. It may be used as an oil, or made into homemade lotion bars, which leave a lovely gloss of quickly absorbed oil as the warmth of the skin melts the surface of the bar. It is a natural deodorant, an effective and safe eye makeup remover, and a soothing lip balm. Coconut oil can help relieve the itch of mosquito bites, chicken pox, and poison ivy, as well as help heal cold sores. This multi-functional oil can be used topically to treat hemorrhoids, yeast infections, cracked heels and rough skin on the feet and elbows, and, rubbed into the cuticles, it can help to promote nail growth.
Coconut oil can be especially useful to pregnant women and new mothers. Taken as a supplement during pregnancy, it will help provide necessary fats to the developing fetus. Used as a supplement, about 3 to 4 tablespoons per day, by breastfeeding mothers, it can increase the milk supply, as well as the nutritional value of the breast milk. Using it on the skin during pregnancy can help prevent, or minimize, the occurrence of stretch marks. Once the baby is born there are even more uses. It can help the perineum heal after childbirth, and slathered on an infant’s bottom, it can be used to prevent diaper rash. Rub a small amount onto baby’s scalp, let sit, then wash with a warm cloth to remove cradle cap. And it’s a soothing treatment for sore nipples for those breastfeeding.
And let’s not forget the benefits of coconut oil when ingested. As a cooking oil it offers a high smoke point, and it’s rich in healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). This type of fatty acid goes directly from the liver to the digestive tract, where it provides a quick energy source, or is converted into substances known as ketone bodies, which are beneficial in the prevention of certain disorders of the brain, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Over a twenty-four hour period, ingesting 15-35 g of the healthy fats found in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure by about 5%, burning up an average of an additional 120 calories. This can eventually lead to a significant weight loss. Coconut oil is not beneficial to the skin only when used externally. It is a component in building and maintaining healthy skin, and reducing inflammation. Coconut oil is certainly easily introduced into your daily healthy diet. Sip green tea with coconut oil. Two superfoods in one serving! Use it as a coffee creamer in an emulsified version. You can make a homemade mayo out of it, and use it as a substitute for vegetable oil in your recipes. There are dozens of ways to incorporate coconut oil every day.
Coconut oil to be used externally is made from expelled “pressed” or other types of refined oils. Refined coconut oil does not retain any coconut taste or smell. Coconut oil taken internally should be unrefined virgin oil.