Coconut oil is a staple in my home, and has been ever since I discovered its amazing taste and therapeutic value about eight years ago. Today, I don’t cook with anything else. I also keep a jar in my kitchen, my bathroom, and by my bedside table.
I tell all my family and friends, and even people I don’t know, that they need to switch to this oil, and I cringe when I see anyone still cooking with vegetable oil.
There is a jar in the tack room for the horses, and a special jar for my dogs and cats. In fact, I now use so much coconut oil in my home that I am starting to purchase it in five-gallon containers (much cheaper this way for sure).
The eleven A’s
When people ask me why coconut oil is so amazing, I generally refer to what I have termed the eleven A’s – it helps me to remember all of the amazing properties of this natural wonder:
Antibacterial—Stops bacteria that cause gum disease, throat infections, urinary tract infections and ulcers in their tracks.
Anticarcinogenic—Keeps dangerous cancer cells from spreading while boosting immunity.
Antifungal—Destroys infection-promoting fungus and yeast.
Anti-inflammatory—Suppresses inflammation and repairs tissue.
Antimicrobial—Deactivates harmful microbes and fights infection.
Antioxidant—Protects from free radical damage.
Antiretroviral—Destroys HIV and HTLV-1.
Antiparasitic—Rids the body of lice, tapeworms, and other parasites.
Anti-protozoa—Kills protozoan infection in the gut.
Antiviral—Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, AIDS, hepatitis and more.
Absorption—Very easy to digest and makes nutrients readily available.
Allow me a little bit of whitespace to get granular about why you should not only eat coconut oil, but why it should become your new best friend.
Coconut oil is a healthy, natural fat
It may come as a surprise to you that eating foods high in saturated fat – such as grass-fed meat, milk, free range eggs, butter, avocados, coconut, raw nuts and real cheese – does not cause obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease, as was once thought. In fact, quite the opposite is true: you can and should enjoy these healthy fats as part of a well-rounded, real food diet.
Numerous studies have been conducted that have been unable to provide any conclusive evidence that consuming foods high in saturated fat leads to heart disease. One study that spanned the globe studied the diets of the Maasai tribe of Kenya, the Eskimos in the Arctic, and the tribe of the three atoll islands off the coast of New Zealand, and found that the diets of these tribes consisted of more than 66 percent saturated fat.
And yet, these tribes were found to have the lowest risk of heart disease. Some cultures that consume mostly saturated fat from natural sources don’t even have a word for heart disease – no need for a word when the problem does not exist, right?
Healthy saturated fats, found in traditional – not highly processed – foods, have been found to be of tremendous value to good health, in ways including but in no way limited to:
Liver support: Saturated fats help liver cells dump fat cells, which allows the organ to work better.
Immunity booster: Saturated fatty acids, like those found in coconut and butter, help white blood cells seek and destroy viruses and bacteria.
Hormone helper: Eating a consistent amount of healthy saturated fat helps to increase free testosterone levels, which repair tissue, improve sexual performance, and preserve muscle.
Nutrient absorption: Fats are sources of essential fatty acids that are necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. They also help keep your hair and skin looking great, and aid in proper cell function.
Coconut oil is loaded with healthy fatty acids
Coconut oil is loaded with a very powerful anti-microbial fatty acid called lauric acid, also found in breast milk. In the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal substance.
Because monolaurin is a monoglyceride, it can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes, and a number of pathogenic bacteria.
Coconut oil also contains another fatty acid: capric acid. Capric acid is present in very small amounts in goat’s milk and cow’s milk, but is abundant in tropical oils including coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
It is a medium-chain fatty acid that has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. In the body, capric acid is converted to monocaprin, a form that can readily fight viruses, bacteria, and the yeast Candida albicans.
The third fatty acid that coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, also found in breast milk. Also known as octanoic acid, this saturated fatty acid has a number of health-promoting properties. The Health and Science Institute tells us that caprylic acid has the innate ability to treat yeast-like fungus in the intestines.
This makes it great ammunition against Candida (more to come on that). The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements tells us that caprylic acid may also help those who suffer from Crohn’s disease, and has a beneficial impact on high blood pressure.
A Japanese study found that caprylic acid suppresses the secretion of IL-8, the gene present in the intestines of those suffering from Crohn’s disease.
Coconut oil is great for skin
So, not only have I replaced all other cooking oils with coconut oil, but I also feed my skin daily with this amazing gift from nature. I live in the high desert of New Mexico, and the arid climate really sucks the life out of my skin. To combat this, I use a light layer of coconut oil daily all over my body, especially after a shower.
Because coconut oil has been found to have antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, applying a thin layer to canker sores, acne, insect bites, minor burns, and other small wounds and skin irritations may help to heal them up faster, naturally.
A study conducted in 2008 at the Skin and Cancer Foundation in the Philippines compared virgin coconut oil and virgin olive oil in moisturizing dryness and removing bacteria from colonized atopic dermatitis skin.
The study, a double-blind controlled trial, found that coconut oil was more effective than olive oil in killing bacteria, mostly because of its lauric acid content.
A 2009 study performed at the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, looked at the antimicrobial properties of lauric acid and its potential to heal acne. The results were favorable for using lauric acid in place of antibiotics for the treatment of acne.
Not only is coconut oil an amazing moisturizer, but it can also help keep free radicals at bay. You know, those nasty things that promote wrinkles. Coconut oil could just be the perfect anti-aging serum you have been searching for, and at about half the cost of what you will find in the drug store.
The anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil help reduce puffiness, while the antioxidants help you maintain that youthful glow you’ve always wanted. For best results, rub a little bit of coconut oil into your skin day and night. Remember, you don’t need a lot – a little goes a long way.
7 Ways You May Have Never Thought to Use Coconut Oil
Here are just seven of my favorite ways to use coconut oil every day. Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its uses. There are literally hundreds of ways to put this oil to work for you.
Hair conditioner: The fatty acids in coconut oil nourish hair at the roots. You can replace expensive, synthetic products with coconut oil and your hair will be silky and shiny. To condition my hair, I pour 1 cup of hot water into a small bowl. I then add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil to the water.
Allow the oil to melt, and massage into damp or dry hair. Comb the oil through your hair and place a shower cap on your head. Let the coconut oil set for at least an hour, or even overnight. Wash your hair twice to remove excess oil.
Cut and wound relief: The antimicrobial action of coconut oil kill bacteria and harmful microbes while promoting healing. Clean the wound thoroughly, and when dry, apply a small amount of coconut oil to the affected area. I use this method for my kids and my pets.
Makeup remover: Conventional makeup removal products tend to dry the skin and can even promote aging. I find that if I dab a small amount of coconut oil on a clean cotton pad and gently wipe, my makeup comes off easily and my skin feels fresh and moisturized.
Toothpaste: I threw out commercial toothpaste a long time ago. You can bypass the glycerin and sodium fluoride by making your own healthy toothpaste blend. Simply mix 6 tablespoons of coconut oil with 6 tablespoons of baking soda, and add 25 drops of peppermint essential oil and 1 teaspoon of raw stevia for a sweetener. Use as you would regular toothpaste.
Chapstick: This is a must where I live ! Moisten and heal dry and chapped lips with soothing coconut oil. You can make a soothing lip balm by combining ⅛ cup of coconut oil with ¼ cup beeswax, ⅛ cup shea butter, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Melt the ingredients over low to medium heat, and pour into small containers.
Deodorant: As I mentioned, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which just so happens to be a great odor killer. You may think that coconut oil would stain your clothes – however, a light layer applied daily will not stain.
To make your own deodorant, mix ¼ cup baking soda, ¼ cup arrowroot powder, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 5 drops of sweet orange essential oil, and 4 drops of tea tree essential oil. Mix everything together well and put in a small container.
Moisturize leather: Don’t buy expensive leather moisturizer when you can use a little bit of coconut oil on a soft cloth. After cleaning your leather, use a little bit of coconut oil to moisturize any leather product. My daughter even uses coconut oil to keep all of her leather horse tack and boots looking (and smelling) great!
My 3 Favorite Coconut Oil Recipes
You will be amazed at how good your food tastes when you use coconut oil. You can switch out coconut oil in any recipe for any other type of oil – no fancy substitution rules needed.
I would assume, at this point, that you would be as amazed by coconut oil as I am. Perhaps, like me, you now feel obligated to share with others the good news about this once-demonized oil!
– Susan Patterson
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.