If you’d told a younger me that I’d be writing for a popular website extolling the virtues of coconut oil, I’d never have believed you. That’s because I always hated coconut oil. Despised it.
I lived with my grandmother and she used it for everything. She cooked with coconut, put it in salads, made sweets with it, used the oil to grease things, and slathered it topically on her aching joints. I grew to hate the very sight of a coconut and I particularly loathed the smell.
Then came the ultimate gross-out.
When my aunt started getting a bald spot, my grandmother somehow got it in her head that flies suspended in coconut oil was the best topical cure. Yes, that’s not a typo. Flies. I was too young to argue the efficacy of her recipe but I remember chasing after flies with a broom trying not to think about the witch’s brew I was helping to put together.
(I know you’re curious so yes, my aunt DID use it. I don’t think she knew what was in the resulting salve, and yes, her bald spot DID go away – though more likely because of stress reduction and the coconut oil rather than because of the extra ingredient.)
So my distaste for coconut was tangible.
But after spending much of my adult life getting sick and getting cured by a slew of natural remedies, I became more open-minded towards alternative treatments. When I stumbled upon oil pulling I was taken aback by anecdotal reports of how it could reverse tooth decay.
My teeth were in okay shape but I have a dread of dental work and guess what? After a couple of months of oil pulling my dentist marveled at how clean my teeth were and how healthy my gums were compared to previous visits. I can’t say I liked the taste much but I stuck with it and that compliment helped melt away a lot of my childhood anti-coconutism.
Later, virgin coconut oil would be my savior as I went down the keto path (long before it became a hot trend). Since then, I’ve always had a bottle or two of good coconut oil and have used it in a variety of ways. It’s had a transformational effect on my life and today I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.
- The Life-Changing Benefits of Coconut Oil
- Essential Oil Benefits: A Closer Look
- #1: It Helps Manage Your Body’s Stress Levels
- #2: It Boosts Your Brain And Cognitive Function
- #3: Protects You From Liver and Urinary Tract Infections
- #4: Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis Pain
- #5: Increases Your Energy Levels
- #6. Improves Digestive Tract Health
- #7: Reduce the Risks of Cancer and Its Side Effects
- #8: Helps with Pancreatitis Discomfort and Gallbladder Issues
- Other Practical Uses of Coconut Oil
- How Much Coconut Oil Per Day Is Safe?
- What’s in a Coconut?
- Summing Up
The Life-Changing Benefits of Coconut Oil
I’ve summarised a few great ways that coconut oil can help improve your health in this graphic. Feel free to use it on your website or social media! After the graphic I’ll go into more detail and provide sources for all these claims.
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Essential Oil Benefits: A Closer Look
#1: It Helps Manage Your Body’s Stress Levels
Coconuts are rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs), and these have been proven to be a natural way to balance your hormones. They support your body in creating, processing, and eliminating progesterone and estrogen. These two hormones are key when it comes to your stress levels.
Too much or too little of either can lead to increased anxiety, and this can lead to other health problems. It also increases the antioxidant levels in your blood, and these antioxidants fight free radicals. (Free radicals are stray particles that can lead to damage such as cancer.)
In turn, your body is more balanced and able to handle stress levels more seamlessly. (1)
How to Use Coconut Oil as a Stress Reliever
Eating a small amount of coconut oil each day will help to integrate it into your system. However, it is a fat, so it’s calorie-dense. You don’t want to eat more than one or two tablespoons.
Also, start small, so you don’t get an upset stomach. Try eating a teaspoon a day and gradually increase your intake until you get to higher doses.
#2: It Boosts Your Brain And Cognitive Function
Your liver digests the high levels of MCFAs in coconut oil, and your body turns them into ketones that your brain uses for memory. These ketones allow your brain to turn its glucose levels into energy without using insulin. (2)
Recent studies for Alzheimer’s disease showed that your brain works hard to create its own insulin. It takes this insulin and processes the glucose levels to turn it into energy. When someone has Alzheimer’s disease, their brain loses the ability to make insulin on its own. This is where coconut oil could help create an energy source to repair or restore brain function and improve memory. (3)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Memory Health
You can replace your normal vegetable oil with coconut oil to help improve your memory and brain function. It can be added to your dishes, desserts, and when you cook. All you need is two or three tablespoons to get the benefits. It also works if you add a tablespoon to your hot cereals or oatmeal in the morning.
#3: Protects You From Liver and Urinary Tract Infections
If you’re prone to kidney infections or urinary tract infections, coconut oil can be a powerful natural remedy. The high levels of MCFAs have antibiotic properties, and these properties destroy the bacteria’s lipid coating and kill them. (4)
Also, coconut water has hydrating properties, and it helps to flush toxins out of your liver. This can lead to improved liver function and a healthier liver overall. It can help to clear up stones as well and speeds up the healing process after trauma or infection. (5)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Liver and Urinary Tract Health
You can ingest coconut oil by eating one or two tablespoons a day or adding it to your cooking or baking. Start out with lower amounts and let your body adjust before you add more. Or you could take coconut oil supplements, but they need longer to work.
#4: Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition that currently affects over 350 million people around the world. Coconut oil is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, and studies have proven that its high levels of antioxidants can treat arthritis inflammation and pain better than some medications. (6)
People with arthritis may also have bacteria attacking their joints. The antibacterial properties that are naturally found in this oil can kill them and keep them away. It also has natural pain relieving properties. If all goes well you will notice less swelling and pain in and around your joints. (7) (8)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Arthritis
You can ingest the coconut oil, but you can also use it as a topical treatment. Take one or two tablespoons of coconut oil and gently massage it into and around your affected joints. It’s transdermal, so it’ll sink into your skin quickly to reach your affected joints.
#5: Increases Your Energy Levels
Coconut oil can speed up your metabolism and give you more energy. It’s easier to digest than other oils so your body can spend less energy on it. The content gets sent directly to your liver, and your liver converts it into energy to use everywhere.
This increased energy can decrease the amount of fatigue you have, and it can give you long-lasting fuel to sustain you throughout the day. You’ll be able to get a workout in or just go throughout your day without hitting a wall. This is why a lot of endurance athletes use coconut oil as a fuel source. (9)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Energy
It’s very easy to make a simple energy supplement from home that you can take everywhere. Mix a tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of coconut oil, and chia seeds together. Eat a teaspoonful around 30 minutes before you start your workout routine.
I bring a handful to the gym in a ziploc bag and snacking on a couple have saved me from pigging out on too much carbs after a strenuous workout.
#6. Improves Digestive Tract Health
Do you have digestive problems like ulcers, inflammation, or upset stomach? If so, coconut oil’s antibacterial properties can help destroy any bad bacteria in your stomach and regulate your levels of stomach acid. In turn, you’ll be able to digest your food easier and have less stomach upset. (10)
Candida imbalance in your stomach can cause your body’s natural levels of stomach acid to go down. This can cause your stomach lining to get inflamed, and it can eventually lead to ulcers. Coconut oil will help keep your stomach’s bacteria and acid levels balanced, and it’ll reduce ulcers or ulcerative colitis.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Digestive Tract Health
Taking one or two coconut oil supplement tablets a day can help it spread throughout your system. You can also eat a tablespoon or two a day, but you do want to be careful of the high fat count. If you eat hot cereal in the morning, you can mix a tablespoon in and eat it like that.
#7: Reduce the Risks of Cancer and Its Side Effects
Cancer cells, particularly tumor-causing cells, need glucose to spread and thrive. When coconut oil-produced ketones come in contact with cancer cells, the cancer cells can’t get to the energy inside. This means that the cancer cells have less “food” to spread with. (11)
Routinely ingesting coconut oil can also help to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. This can improve a cancer patient’s quality of life, and they can feel less sick as they go through their treatments. Finally, it can also reduce cell death and improve their immune systems. (12)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Cancer Risks and Side Effects
You can use coconut oil in supplements or in your cooking to get it into your body. Additionally, topical application can work as well if you don’t like the taste of the coconut oil. You can rub it into your skin where ever you have discomfort or pain, and it’ll soak through.
#8: Helps with Pancreatitis Discomfort and Gallbladder Issues
Coconut oil’s MCFA content doesn’t need to be broken down by the pancreas or pancreatic enzymes. This reduces strain on your pancreas, and it can reduce the chances of having a pancreatitis flare. (13)
Since it is easy to digest, it can ease any discomfort or issues you may be having with your gallbladder. It’s a natural lubricant, and this can help to ease any food or waste products through your intestines. As your gallbladder won’t have to work so hard, it’ll reduce strain. (14)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Pancreatitis Discomfort and Gallbladder Issues
Ingest as directed above. Or, you can add coconut oil to a smoothie to get it into your system quickly and easily. It has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor, and coconut oil can also make your smoothies come out creamier. Simply add a tablespoon to your favorite smoothie mix and blend it up once a day.
Other Practical Uses of Coconut Oil
In addition to everything listed above, coconut oil has the following benefits as well!
Coconut oil can help with a variety of skin problems including eczema, dermatitis, rashes, and dry skin issues. Its powerful antimicrobial properties combat the various bacterial strains that can cause some of these issues, and they include acne and contact dermatitis as well. (15)
Lotion – You can make an antimicrobial body lotion using coconut oil and use it every day or every other day to help clear up any skin issues. Simply take coconut oil and rub it into your skin after a shower or use it as a hand lotion. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to give it a great scent.
Hair and Scalp Health
Since coconut oil is so rich in vitamins and minerals, it makes a great tool to help you improve your hair and scalp health. It’ll add oils back into your hair and work on improving any dry spots you might have on your scalp. It also helps with dandruff and repairing dry or damaged hair. (16)
Coconut Oil Shampoo – A very simple coconut oil shampoo you can make yourself includes mixing 1.5 cups of coconut oil with 1.75 cups of aloe vera gel, and 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour them into a bottle and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Coconut oil is an excellent way to get rid of bad breath causing bacteria and bacteria that can cause tooth decay when you use it every day. Using coconut oil this way is known as oil pulling, and it’s been around for decades to help keep your teeth, tongue, and gums healthy. (17)
Coconut Oil Pulling – This is a very simple method, and all you have to do is get one or two tablespoons of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Spit it out, rinse with salt water, and brush your teeth as you normally would. Repeat this two or three times a week for best results.
You can quickly and easily substitute coconut oil for traditional cooking or vegetable oil when you bake or cook. It has a very stable chemical makeup, and it doesn’t break down in high heat like other oils. Add a few tablespoons to your stir fry, eggs, cakes, or other foods to get the nutrients.
Coconut oil benefits range from a variety of life-changing ones to more practical and everyday uses. You can incorporate this oil into your diet quickly and easily, and you should start seeing results rapidly.
How Much Coconut Oil Per Day Is Safe?
To enjoy the health benefits of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons is the most reasonable amount to take in, especially if you have other healthy fats in your diet from such foods as avocados or extra virgin oil. (20)
If you’re a first-timer, don’t forget to work your way up to this amount. Otherwise, you might suffer from nausea or loose stools and have an initial bad experience. Take 1 teaspoon (or less) in the beginning and gradually increase over a span of 1 to 2 weeks.
What’s in a Coconut?
Why the mighty coconut is so powerful.
Coconuts have a ton of nutritional value, and you can find it in their juice, meat, and oil. It has a very high saturated fat content at around 90 percent, and this high-fat content can raise your good cholesterol levels. (1) You’ll also enjoy the coconut’s antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs)
When we have fats in our diet, a lot of them are long-chain fatty acids. Long-chain acids are hard to digest, and your body has to break them down before it uses them. However, medium-chain fatty acids are different. Coconuts contain both short and medium chain fatty acids, and your body breaks these down easily. (19)
It sends these broken down acids right to your liver, and your liver turns them into useful things your body can use. Also, because they go right to your liver, your body doesn’t need to use any pancreatic enzymes or bile to break them down, and this makes them great for people with gallbladder problems and diabetics. (20)
Lauric acid has a variety of antimicrobial properties, and it’s found naturally in human breast milk. It contains properties that help to convert the body’s levels of monolaurin, and this helps to fight bacterial infections and increase your body’s immune system. Lauric acid is a common ingredient in various shampoos and soaps because of these antimicrobial properties. (21)
The good news is that coconut oil contains the highest natural amount of this acid possible at 40 percent. This acid can also help to reduce inflammation, which is great for people with arthritis. It goes to the joints and works to relieve any pain or swelling a person may be experiencing. (22)
This natural oil is also rich in several key vitamins. First up is niacin or vitamin B3. It acts to increase your cells’ energy levels as well as helping to lower high cholesterol levels. Vitamin B3 increases good levels of cholesterol in your body as well, and this is better for your cardiovascular system. (23)
You’ll also find high levels of vitamin B6, and this vitamin supports both psychological and physical functions. It helps to support brain development along with nervous system health. It also helps your body make and regulate the mood-based hormone serotonin, as well as norepinephrine, which fights stress. (24)
Other coconut oil benefits include high levels of minerals like iron, and it helps your body absorb iron better. Iron is important for hemoglobin production, and hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your system through your red blood cells. It helps you keep your cells healthy, both inside and out. (25)
You’ll benefit from higher magnesium levels with coconut oil as well. Magnesium can help your body regulate muscle and nerve function, as well as regulating your blood pressure and blood sugar. Tests have proven that magnesium can help older people have stronger bones, grip strength, and more. (26)
Believe it or not, I’ve only just skimmed the surface of coconut oil benefits. If there is anything that I haven’t mentioned and you’re suffering from it, use the power of Google to see if an application of coconut oil can help with your ongoing health issues.
Getting old doesn’t equate to getting sick and staying forever on maintenance medicines. My favorite story is probably my ortho-surgeon who told me that I would never run anymore due to arthritis. (I was crawling up stairs at the time so it wasn’t hard to believe.) But look at me now and my finished Couch to 5k app!
Healthy lifestyle choices are difficult in the face of laziness or lack of time for self-care, however, it’s up to you to start actively taking an interest in your health.