--- The health benefits of Coconut Oil ---

Coconut oil has a multitude of health benefits, which include but are not limited to skin care, hair care, improving digestion and immunity against a host of infections and diseases.

The oil is used not just in tropical countries, where coconut plantations are abundant, but also across the world. Coconut oil has been found to bring many benefits and uses:

Coconut oil is excellent massage oil that acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skin, including dry skin. Unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin from the application of coconut oil.

It helps in preventing degenerative diseases due to its well-known antioxidant properties. It also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. For that exact reason, coconut oil forms the base ingredient of various body care products like soaps, lotions, and creams that are used for skin care.

There is a misconception among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. In reality, it is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil does not lead to increase in LDL levels, and it reduces the incidence of injury and damage to arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis. Study suggests that intake of coconut oil may help to maintain healthy lipid profiles in pre-menopausal women.

Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, it increases the body's metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy and helping obese and overweight people lose weight.

It strengthens the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which research has supported as an effective way to deal with viruses and bacteria that cause herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. Coconut oil helps in fighting harmful bacteria.

Internal functions of coconut oil occur primarily due to it being used as cooking oil. It helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Candida, also known as Systemic Candidiasis, is a tragic disease caused from excessive and uncontrolled growth of yeast called Candida Albicans in the stomach. Coconut provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida, both externally and internally. Its high moisture retaining capacity keeps the skin from cracking or peeling off. Capric acid, Caprylic acid, caproic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid found in coconut oil help in eliminating Candida albicans.

When applied to infected areas, coconut oil forms a chemical layer that protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Coconut oil is highly effective on bruises because it speeds up the healing process of damaged tissues.

According to research, coconut oil kills the viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, and other serious health risks. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhoea. Finally, coconut oil is also effective in the elimination of fungi and yeast that cause ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, and diaper rash.

Coconut oil is often used by athletes, body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this is that it contains less calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps boost energy and endurance, and generally enhances the performance of athletes.

Using coconut oils has been shown to help with:

Stress relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying it to the head, followed by a gentle massage, helps to eliminate mental fatigue. According to research virgin coconut oil gives relief from stress and has antioxidant properties.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the development of bones. Thus, it is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental care: Calcium is an important component of our teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in developing strong teeth. It also stops tooth decay. Recent research suggests that coconut oil is beneficial in reducing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.

Use as Carrier Oil: Carrier oils are oils that easily penetrate or absorb into the skin and thus facilitate seepage or absorption of other oils (such as essential oils) and herbal extracts through the skin when mixed into it. It is easily absorbed through the skin's pores and thus is used as carrier oil. Furthermore, being one of the most stable oils, it doesn't go rancid, nor does it let the other oils, herbal extracts, or medicines spoil inside of it. It does not alter the properties of the oils and herbs mixed within it. It also protects the herbs and oils from microbial or fungal interactions.

More than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats along with traces of a few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

  • Saturated fatty acids: Most of these are medium chain triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well in the body's systems.
  • Lauric acid: is the chief contributor, representing more than 40% of the total, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin. Lauric acid is helpful in dealing with viruses and diseases.
  • Capric acid: It reacts with certain enzymes secreted by other bacteria, which subsequently convert it into a powerful antimicrobial agent, monocaprin.
  • Caprylic acid, caproic acid and myristic acid: They are rich in antimicrobial and antifungal properties
  • Unsaturated fatty acids: Polyunsaturated fatty acids- linoleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids- Oleic acid
  • Poly-phenols: Coconut contains Gallic acid, which is also known as phenolic acid. These polyphenols are responsible for the fragrance and the taste of coconut oil and Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in these polyphenols.
  • Derivatives of fatty acid: Betaines, ethanolamide, ethoxylates, fatty esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides and polyol esters.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals such as iron.