Coconut oil has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine since the period of Sushruta, the ‘father of modern surgery’. Coconut oil is revered for its healing properties and positive effects on the body and mind. Coconut oil benefits are numerous, and we’ll cover those in this article along with coconut oil uses and coconut oil quotes.
The ancient Ayurvedic master Sushruta referred to coconut oil as Narikela taila in Sutrasthana. He described coconut oil benefits as sheeta virya which means it’s a natural coolant. He also mentioned that it takes a long time to undergo digestion, it’s an aphrodisiac and promotes hair growth. It nourishes the body tissues, is a diuretic and pacifies vata and pitta dosha. It has wound healing properties and may be useful in other health conditions like emaciation, respiratory conditions, debility, diabetes and urinary disorders.1
Coconut oil has been used in both cooking and hair health for centuries. Its nourishing and strengthening qualities make it ideal for both hair and food. This oil is used in summer primarily due to it’s coolant property. It is soothing to the body and senses.
Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover in this article.
The Properties Of Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil Benefits
Why Coconut Oil Is Good For You
A Warning About Hydrogenated Oils
Miscellaneous Coconut Oil Uses
Coconut Oil Quotes
The Properties Of Coconut Oil
Properties (Qualities): Brighaniya (nourishing), Balavardhan (improves strength and immunity), Keshya (improves hair growth), Dantya (strengthens teeth)
Post-Digestive Taste: Sweet
Dosha Karma: Balances Pitta and Vata
Indications: Kandu (Itching), Kotha (Ringworm), Raktapitta (Bleeding disorders, nasal bleeding, heavy periods)
Most fats in the diet are high in long chain triglycerides (LCT). Coconut oil is high in fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT). These are metabolized differently than most other fats. These special fats are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of coconut oils.
Several populations around the world have thrived on coconut oil for multiple generations. Coconuts are a large part of tropical life. “The Tree of life” or the Kalpavriksha in Sanskrit provides a diverse range of benefits. Coconuts are a part of an Islander’s daily lives. From cooking it or cutting it open and drinking the water and then eating the fresh coconut, coconut oil has a variety of uses. Coconut milk can be simmered and the whole body can be soaked in raw coconut body oil. Some populations in the South Pacific islands used to eat over 60% of their dietary calories from coconuts. Studies have shown these Islanders to be in excellent health with very low rates of heart disease.2,3
“He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children” – saying from the South Seas
Coconut Oil Benefits
1. Coconut oil helps burn calories, reduces the appetite and helps in weight loss.
Burning calories and losing weight remains a top priority among many around the world. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil can increase how many calories you burn compared to the same amount of calories from long chain fats.4 Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.5
Coconut oil consists of medium chain triglycerides that can significantly reduce appetite. This may lead to reduced body weight over a long time. This effect may be due to the way that fats are metabolized. A few small studies carried out for a short period of time showed that those who ate the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average.6
Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch.7
2. Coconut oil is antimicrobial.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid (monolaurin), which is known to reduce candida, fight bacteria and create a hostile environment for viruses. Many diseases today are caused by the overgrowth of bad bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites in the body.
The 12-carbon lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. The fatty acids present in coconut oils can kill harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi.8
When lauric acid is digested, it also forms a substance called monolaurin. These substances have been shown to help kill the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.9,10
3. Coconut oil prevents heart disease and high blood pressure.
A few studies have shown that coconut oil can raise blood levels of HDL cholesterol, which is linked to improved metabolic health and a lower risk of heart disease.11 Coconut oil is a natural saturated fat. Saturated fats increase the healthy cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) in your body. They also help convert the LDL or “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps promote heart health and lowers the risk of heart disease.
4. Coconut oil benefits the skin and hair.
Coconut oil can also be used topically and is found very beneficial for the skin and hair. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, moisturizing and, according to research, great for atopic dermatitis. Many women love to use it as a nighttime moisturizer for their face. It can be used for a gentle facial massage all over the face and neck before bath in the morning or before bedtime at night. Wash off the residue or wipe off the face with a warm moist towel. If you are acne prone avoid this procedure unless you know your skin type and whether coconut oil is a right choice for you or not. You can also apply it topically directly to your skin or as a carrier for essential oils or blends.
Coconut oil deeply conditions your hair overnight. It tames frizzy hair and adds shine and prevents and minimizes dandruff.
5. Studies show, coconut oil reduces seizures.
Fatty acids in coconut oil turn into ketones and reduce seizures. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oils are transferred to the liver and turned into ketone bodies. They induce ketosis which in turn helps epileptic patients to reduce seizures.12 The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies. It can help reduce seizures in epileptic children. This diet involves eating very few carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood. For some reason, the diet dramatically reduces the rate of seizures in epileptic children, even those who haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.13
6. Coconut oil benefits brain function.
Researchers have speculated that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for malfunctioning brain cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In one 2006 study, consumption of medium chain triglycerides led to improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s.14
Keep in mind though that research is still early and there is no evidence to suggest that coconut oil itself helps with Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Coconut oil improves memory.
In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging, researchers found that the MCFAs in coconut oil improved memory problems in older subjects. Across all the patients there was a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking this fatty acid. MCFAs are absorbed easily in the body and can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin. Thus, they are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.15
READ MORE: How Golden Milk Benefits Memory
8. Coconut oil improves energy and endurance.
Coconut oil is easy to digest, produces a longer, sustained energy levels and boosts metabolism. When you take a quality unrefined coconut oil, you can get the most coconut oil benefits in the form of MCFAs which are sent directly to the liver to be converted into energy instead of stored as fats.
9. Coconut oil prevents gum disease and tooth decay.
Oil pulling with coconut oil has been used for centuries as a way to cleanse the mouth of bacteria and help heal periodontal disease. Coconut oil has a high saponification index. It contains lauric acid (MCFA) which can react with alkalis present in saliva such as sodium hydroxide and bicarbonates to form sodium laureth, a soap-like substance. This substance reduces plaque adhesion and accumulation and possesses a cleansing action.13
Oil swishing denatures bacteria and the bacteria adheres to the oil. Removing oral bacteria greatly reduces the risk of periodontal disease. Lauric acid has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties, prevents dental caries and is beneficial to oral health. In addition to this it also has a pleasant taste.
10. Coconut oil prevents osteoporosis and bone loss.
Oxidative stress and free radicals have been implicated in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. Therefore, antioxidant compounds have the potential to be used in the prevention and treatment of the disease. One research study observed the effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on bone microarchitecture in a postmenopausal osteoporosis rat model. VCO is a different form of coconut oil as it is rich with antioxidants. In conclusion, VCO was effective in maintaining bone structure and preventing bone loss in estrogen-deficient rat model.16/span>
Another of coconut oil benefits that is truly amazing is that it increases calcium absorption in the gut. Research on osteoporosis has found that coconut oil not only increases bone volume and structure, it also decreased bone loss due to osteoporosis.17
11. Coconut oil benefits candida and yeast infections.
Caprylic acid (MCFA) present in coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can kill candida and yeast. In a recent study, researchers found that coconut oil was active against species of Candida at 100 percent concentration, greater than the drug fluconazole.18 You can add one tablespoon of coconut oil to your diet, and apply pure coconut oil directly to affected areas twice per day until symptoms resolve.
12. Coconut oil for anti-aging.
According to research published in the medical journal Food And Function, coconut oil improves antioxidant levels and can slow aging. Coconut oil works by reducing stress on the liver and lowering oxidative stress.19
13. Coconut oil for hormone balance.
The healthy fats present in coconut oil help to lower cortisol and naturally balance hormones which support the adrenal and thyroid glands. Coconut oil helps in supporting healthy metabolism while suppressing inflammation, two things that are essential for balanced hormones. Studies have found that coconut oil may be an excellent fat to consume during menopause and also may have positive effects on estrogen levels.
14. Coconut oil fights inflammation.
According to one study, virgin coconut oil, prepared without high-heat treatment or chemicals, with regular consumption exhibits an inhibitory effect on chronic inflammation.20 As inflammation is one of the leading causes of many chronic diseases, it supports both a healthy liver and kidneys
Why Coconut Oil Is Good For You
Coconut oil uses and benefits may go beyond the scope of this article because it has diverse utilities in addition to the above health benefits.
Research has finally brought into light many secrets of this true super food. Around 62 percent of the oils in coconut are made up of three healthy fatty acids, and 91 percent of the fat in coconut oil is healthy saturated fat. The first three healthy fatty acids below in coconut oil behave in your body as real MCTs. This means that they bypass the metabolic burden of processing in the liver so they quickly become energy in your brain and muscles.
They are caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8, 6% of coconut oil is composed of caprylic acid), capric acid (C10, 9% of coconut oil is carpic acid) and lauric acid (C12, 50+% of coconut oil is lauric acid).
Together these are known as medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCFAS). The USDA nutrient database shows this fat composition is one of the most beneficial fats among all.
Unlike long chain fatty acids found in plant based oils, MCFAs are easily digestible, they are processed by the liver and immediately converted into energy instead of being stored as fats. It has antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects. This shows why this oil makes for a true superfood, and it’s why coconut oil benefits are so plentiful and amazing.
The benefits of coconut oil probably depend on your overall lifestyle, physical activity and diet. If you follow an unhealthy diet and don’t exercise, a high intake of coconut oil might be harmful to you. Consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or your health care provider for more information.
You should choose virgin, wet-milled, unrefined, organic coconut oil to ensure you’re getting pure coconut oil. Refined coconut oils are not as beneficial and are devoid of essential nutrients.
READ MORE: Ayurvedic Oil: Everything You Need To Know
A Warning About Hydrogenated Oils
Refined or processed coconut oil can be bleached, overheated past the preferred melting point and chemically processed to increase its shelf life. Processing the oil changes the chemical makeup, and the fats are no longer good for you. So avoid hydrogenated oils whenever possible.
Miscellaneous Coconut Oil Uses
So far, we have seen various ways coconut oil can be used internally, externally and as food. Is there anything that coconut oil can’t do? Here are some miscellaneous uses of coconut oil.
- Insect + Mosquito Repellent
- Nail Cuticle Oil
- Natural Throat Lozenge
- Personal Lubricant
- Natural Mouthwash
- Natural Deodorant
- Wound Salve
- Cellulite Solution
- Cold Sore Treatment
- Makeup Brush Cleaner
- Shoe Shiner
- Laundry Detergent
- Furniture Polish
- Rust Reducer
Coconut Oil Quotes
“The drugstore in a bottle” is how coconut oil is now called in the Philippines where virgin oil has been creating literally an “explosion” of the sick and not so sick treating every imaginable disease with this oil- and achieving,unbelievably rapid relief and cures” – 21 Conrado S. Dayrit, MD, FACC, FPCC, FPCP, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, University of the Philippines, College of Medicine
“Not only is coconut oil not a “dietary poison”, but it contains a remarkable fat called monolaurin. This medium-chain fat, first discovered in my laboratory, represents one of the most exceptional and inspiring group of fats found in nature. This is the same unique fat, available naturally from mother’s milk and coconut oil” –22 Jon Kabara, PH.D., Professor Emeritus, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Michigan State University
1. P.V.Sharma, Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana, ch-40, verse-120, pg-440.
2. I A Prior, F Davidson, C E Salmond, Z Czochanski, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 34, Issue 8, 1 August 1981, Pages 1552–1561.
3. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau Island studies
6. St-Onge M-P, Bosarge A. Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2008;87(3)621-626.
7. V Van Wymelbeke, A Himaya, J Louis-Sylvestre, M Fantino; Influence of medium-chain and long-chain triacylglycerols on the control of food intake in men, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 68, Issue 2, 1 August 1998, Pages 226–234.
9. .Ruzin A, Novick RP. Equivalence of Lauric Acid and Glycerol Monolaurate as Inhibitors of Signal Transduction in Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of Bacteriology. 2000;182(9):2668-2671.
10. Ogbolu, D O, et al. “In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan, Nigeria.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080.
11. Cardoso, D A, et al. “A COCONUT EXTRA VIRGIN OIL-RICH DIET INCREASES HDL CHOLESTEROL AND DECREASES WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE AND BODY MASS IN CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE PATIENTS.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Nov. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26545671.
12. Chomtho, K, et al. “Effectiveness of Medium Chain Triglyceride Ketogenic Diet in Thai Children with Intractable Epilepsy.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27249895.
13. Martin, K, et al. “Ketogenic Diet and Other Dietary Treatments for Epilepsy.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26859528.
14. Reger, M A, et al. “Effects of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate on Cognition in Memory-Impaired Adults.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336.
15. Galvin, James E. “OPTIMIZING DIAGNOSIS AND MANANGEMENT IN MILD-TO-MODERATE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437664/.
16. Hayatullina, Z, et al. “Virgin Coconut Oil Supplementation Prevents Bone Loss in Osteoporosis Rat Model.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23024690.
17. Hayatullina, Z, et al. “Virgin Coconut Oil Supplementation Prevents Bone Loss in Osteoporosis Rat Model.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23024690.
18. Ogbolu, D O, et al. “In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan, Nigeria.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S.
19. http://diabetes.diabetes journals.org/content/diabetes/58/11/2547.full.pdf
20. Intahphuak, S, et al. “Anti-Inflammatory, Analgesic, and Antipyretic Activities of Virgin Coconut Oil.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645831.
21. Conrado S. Dayrit, MD, FACC, FPCC, FPCP, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, University of the Philippines, College of Medicine.
22. Jon Kabara, PH.D., Professor Emeritus, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Michigan State University.