The coconut oil multiverse

Featured Online First Wholistic Health

Coconut oil is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and moisturizing. Having become as common-place around the house as any fork or spatula, it’s gratifying to know the possible uses are many.

Primarily composed of nourishing fatty acids – specifically lauric acid – accounting for about 50 per cent of the fats in the compound – virgin coconut oil has antibacterial properties that can help treat, and possibly prevent, infections.

One test-tube study found that it stopped the growth of the intestinal bacteria Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. diff, which causes severe diarrhea. It also appears to fight yeasts.

Containing vitamin E, many natural skin remedies simply glow with coconut oil. It’s ideal to soften the skin on your legs, arms, elbows and cracked heels. It is a gentle and effective eye makeup remover. It can be used as a facial moisturizer, but if you have oily – or tricky combination skin – it might be better to avoid pores with a higher potential to clog.

Research shows that coconut oil improves dermatitis and other skin disorders at least as well as mineral oil and conventional moisturizers. A study in children with eczema found that 47 per cent of those treated with coconut oil noticed major improvements

Coconut oil actually offers some protection from UV rays. A study found that it blocks approximately 20 per cent of rays – with an SPF of about seven. The smooth, moisturizing quality also makes it an ideal lip balm. It is good to note that coconut oil does not provide the same sun protection factor as conventional sunscreen.

It can be beneficial for hair, protecting follicles and cuticles from damage. Once study compared the effects of coconut, mineral and sunflower oil on hair and found that only coconut oil significantly reduced hair’s protein loss when applied before or after shampooing. Apparently, it’s the unique structure of lauric acid that penetrates the hair shaft in a way most other fat cannot.

We have a standard notion that most fats should be avoided. However, coconut oil’s medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are a ‘Super-Fat’. The kind that provides an array of benefits. MCT are efficiently metabolized by the body to provide fuel and energy – which can enhance athletic performance and have been known to aid weight-loss (when consumed in a balanced moderation).

One study found that 15–30 grams of MCTs increased the number of calories burned by an average of 120 over a 24-hour period. There is some research that the saturated fats in coconut oil can help protect your liver from damage due to alcohol or toxin exposure – increasing the activity of beneficial liver enzymes.

Coconut oil can also be good for dogs. MCT can balance thyroid and weight. Improving digestion and nutrient absorption. Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis. It can clear up eczema, reduce allergic reactions, expel or kills parasites; create sleek and glossy coats, improve oral health and can be used to clean teeth. When applied topically – coconut oil promotes wound healing and can help with hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings.

Around the house, coconut oil can make a great toothpaste – a powerful weapon against the bacteria in your mouth that causes dental plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. In one study, swishing with coconut oil for 10 minutes — known as oil pulling — reduced these bacteria as effectively as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. In another study, swishing daily with coconut oil significantly reduced inflammation and gingivitis (inflamed gums). The strong antibacterial properties can make a great natural deodorant – containing no chemicals.

Commercial mayonnaise and salad dressings often contain soybean oil, sugar and preservatives – make your own mayo or dressing with coconut oil.

It can be used to get rid of carpets and furniture stains. One-part coconut oil / one-part baking soda – mix into a paste. Apply to the stain, wait and wipe away. As a furniture polish it seems to act as a dust repellent in addition to providing a high shine and pleasant aroma.