The Healing Benefits of Coconut Oil

Written by Joyce Smith, Staff Writer. Coconut oil has many health benefits as well as medicinal properties.

Coconut oil is finally overcoming its reputation as a “bad” oil as the public recognizes the many health benefits of this shining star. Research tells us that coconut oil is not only a “good” saturated fat, but one with exceptional health benefits as well.

Here are some examples of the many health benefits of this “good” saturated fat:

    • Antidepressant functional food: Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is rich in medium -chain fatty acids which increase antioxidant levels in the brain and decrease stress levels in the body, making it useful as an antidepressant functional food (1).
    • Alzheimer’s: Our bodies burn coconut oil to produce ketones that provide a good energy source for people with Alzheimer’s. This alternative energy source feeds starving brain cells and lessens the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thus improving cognitive function. (2)
    • Bone Health: A study showed that VCO was effective in maintaining healthy bone structure and preventing bone loss in estrogen-deficient post-menopausal rats compared to control. (3)
    • Heart Health: Medium-chain fatty acids (MCT’s) in coconut oil are absorbed quickly and transported to the liver where they are metabolized for energy. Research has shown that they help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.(4)
    • Hair Health: A study showed that coconut oil was superior to sunflower and mineral oils in that it was able to penetrate the hair shaft and significantly protect hair against protein loss as well as heat damage from blow dryers and chemical hair dyes. (5)
    • Head lice: When combined with anise spray, coconut oil was found to be significantly more effective (38.6%) than the insecticide permethrin in destroying head lice. (6)
    • Oil-pulling: This pilot study showed a statistically significant decrease in plaque formation and gingivitis after 7 days of oil pulling using coconut oil. The researchers concluded that oil pulling using coconut oil could help decrease plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis. (7)
    • NSAID Alternative: A study showed that coconut oil with its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and fever-reducing properties is a potential alternative for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. (8)
    • Medicinal Properties: Studies have shown that coconut oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties. It also helps protect the liver and supports stable blood sugar levels. (9)
    • Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis: Coconut oil significantly improved clinical severity, water loss, and skin hydration in children with mild to moderate eczema and atopic dermatitis. (10)

References:

1. Yeap SK, Beh BK, Ali NM, et al. Antistress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo. Experimental and therapeutic medicine. 2015;9(1):39-42.

2.  Hu YI, De la Rubia OJ, Selvi SP, et al. [COCONUT OIL: NON-ALTERNATIVE DRUG TREATMENT AGAINST ALZHEIMER´ S DISEASE]. Nutricion hospitalaria. 2014;32(6):2822-7.

3. Hayatullina Z, Muhammad N, Mohamed N, Soelaiman I-N. Virgin coconut oil supplementation prevents bone loss in osteoporosis rat model. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012.

4. Babu AS, Veluswamy SK, Arena R, Guazzi M, Lavie CJ. Virgin coconut oil and its potential cardioprotective effects. Postgraduate medicine. 2014;126(7):76-83.

5. Rele AS, Mohile R. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of cosmetic science. 2003;54(2):175-92.

6. Burgess IF, Brunton ER, Burgess NA. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. European journal of pediatrics. 2010;169(1):55-62.

7. Peedikayil FC, Sreenivasan P, Narayanan A. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis—A preliminary report. Nigerian medical journal: journal of the Nigeria Medical Association. 2015;56(2):143.

8. Intahphuak S, Khonsung P, Panthong A. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharmaceutical biology. 2010;48(2):151-7.

9. DebMandal M, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine. 2011;4(3):241-7.

10. Evangelista MTP, Abad‐Casintahan F, Lopez‐Villafuerte L. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double‐blind, clinical trial. International journal of dermatology. 2014;53(1):100-8.

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