14 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Coconut Oil
By Sayer Ji
While coconut oil has dragged itself out of the muck of vast misrepresentation over the past few years as a “deadly saturated fat,” it still does not get the full appreciation it truly deserves. Not just a “good” fat, coconut oil is an exceptional healing agent as well, with loads of useful health applications.
Some examples of this “good” saturated fat’s therapeutic properties include:
- Fat-Burning: Ironic, isn’t it? A saturated fat which can accelerate the loss of midsection fat (the most dangerous kind). Well, there are now two solid, human studies showing just two tablespoons a day (30 ml), in both men and women, is capable of reducing belly fat within 1-3 months.
- Brain-Boosting: A now famous study, published in 2006 in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, showed that the administration of medium chain triglycerides (most plentifully found in coconut oil) in 20 subjects with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment, resulted in significant increases in ketone bodies (within only 90 minutes after treatment) associated with measurable cognitive improvement in those with less severe cognitive dysfunction.[i]
- Clearing Head Lice: When combined with anise spray, coconut oil was found to be superior to the insecticide permethrin (.43%).[ii]
- Healing Wounds: Coconut has been used for wound healing since time immemorial. Three of the identified mechanisms behind these healing effects are its ability to accelerate re-epithelialization, improve antioxidant enzyme activity, and stimulate higher collagen cross-linking within the tissue being repaired.[iii] Coconut oil has even been shown to work synergistically with traditional treatments, such as silver sulphadizine, to speed burn wound recovery.[iv]
- NSAID Alternative: Coconut oil has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and fever-reducing properties.[v]
- Anti-Ulcer Activity: Interestingly, coconut milk (which includes coconut oil components), has been shown to be as effective as the conventional drug sucralfate as an NSAID-associated anti-ulcer agent.[vi]
- Anti-Fungal: In 2004, 52 isolates of Candida species were exposed to coconut oil. The most notorious form, Candida albicans, was found to have the highest susceptibility. Researchers remarked: “Coconut oil should be used in the treatment of fungal infections in view of emerging drug-resistant Candida species.”[vii]
- Testosterone-Booster: Coconut oil was found to reduce oxidative stress in the testes of rats, resulting in significantly higher levels of testosterone.[viii]
- Reducing Swollen Prostate: Coconut oil has been found to reduce testosterone-induced benign prostate growth in rats.[ix]
- Improving Blood Lipids: Coconut oil consistently improves the LDL:HDL ratio in the blood of those who consume it. Given this effect, coconut oil can nolonger be dismissed for being ‘that saturated fat which clogs the arteries.’
- Fat-Soluble Nutrient Absorption: Coconut oil was found to be superior to safflower oil in enhancing tomato carotenoid absorption.[x]
- Bone Health: Coconut oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress within the bone, which may prevent structural damage in osteoporotic bone.[xi] [Note: Osteoporosis is a Myth, as presently defined by the T-Score]
- Sunscreen: Coconut oil has been shown to block out UV rays by 30%. Keep in mind that this is good, insofar as UVA rays are damaging to the skin, whereas UVB rays are highly beneficial (when exposure is moderate).[i] Make sure to check this list of other sun-blocking oils.
- Insect Repellant: Amazingly, coconut oil was found to be more effective than DEET at repelling insects. Read our article on the topic here: Coconut Oil Beats Toxic DEET at Repelling Insects.
Of course, when speaking about coconut oil, we are only looking at one part of the amazing coconut palm. Each component, including coconut hull fiber, coconut protein and coconut water has experimentally confirmed therapeutic applications.
References [i] Mark A Reger, Samuel T Henderson, Cathy Hale, Brenna Cholerton, Laura D Baker, G S Watson, Karen Hyde, Darla Chapman, Suzanne Craft . Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. PMID: 15123336 [ii] Ian F Burgess, Elizabeth R Brunton, Nazma A Burgess . Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Jan ;169(1):55-62. Epub 2009 Apr 3. PMID: 19343362 [iii] K G Nevin, T Rajamohan . Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2010 ;23(6):290-7. Epub 2010 Jun 3. PMID: 20523108 [iv] Pallavi Srivastava, S Durgaprasad. Burn wound healing property of Cocos nucifera: An appraisal. Indian J Pharmacol. 2008 Aug;40(4):144-6. PMID: 20040946 [v] S Intahphuak, P Khonsung, A Panthong. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharm Biol. 2010 Feb;48(2):151-7. PMID: 20645831 [vi] R O Nneli, O A Woyike. Antiulcerogenic effects of coconut (Cocos nucifera) extract in rats. Phytother Res. 2008 Jul;22(7):970-2. PMID: 18521965 [vii] D O Ogbolu, A A Oni, O A Daini, A P Oloko. In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):384-7. PMID: 17651080 [viii] Graciela E Hurtado de Catalfo, María J T de Alaniz, Carlos A Marra. Dietary lipids modify redox homeostasis and steroidogenic status in rat testis. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):163-8. PMID: 18549927 [ix] María de Lourdes Arruzazabala, Vivian Molina, Rosa Más, Daisy Carbajal, David Marrero, Víctor González, Eduardo Rodríguez. Effects of coconut oil on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in Sprague-Dawley rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;59(7):995-9. PMID: 17637195 [x] Lauren E Conlon, Ryan D King, Nancy E Moran, John W Erdman. Coconut Oil Enhances Tomato Carotenoid Tissue Accumulation Compared to Safflower Oil in the Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Aug 7. Epub 2012 Aug 7. PMID: 22866697 [xi] Mouna Abdelrahman Abujazia, Norliza Muhammad, Ahmad Nazrun Shuid, Ima Nirwana Soelaiman. The Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil on Bone Oxidative Status in Ovariectomised Rat. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:525079. Epub 2012 Aug 15. PMID: 22927879
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Originally published: 2012-09-03
Article updated: 2019-06-29
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