Dr Jess says: I love coconut oil! I have seen spectacular results when using it with patients, in treating everything from eczema in children, to preventing recurrent tooth abscesses in adults. Coconut oil should be a superstar natural medicine and food in every home. I use it every day to cook with, and also after brushing my teeth, to keep them healthy.
If you are going to be cooking and using coconut oil as a supplement, choose an organic oil, to minimise chemical toxins and look for one that is as unprocessed as possible, preferably raw and extra virgin.
Coconut oil is a staple in our pantry, medicine cabinet and also in our cosmetics.
An incredibly diverse and powerful oil for your health, coconut oil is amazing to eat, apply to your skin, use on your teeth and so much more. Although it looks like a solid fat, it quickly melts at body temperature and becomes a liquid.
coconut oil has been used in Ayurvedic, traditional tropical and Thai medicine for thousands of years for skin, hair and heart problems
Humans have cultivated coconuts for thousands of years throughout South East Asia and India.1 The coconut palm is called the ‘all giving tree’ in old Indian texts, because of its huge number of uses. Ayurvedic medicine describes coconut oil as cooling, strengthening for hair and for improving hair quality and growth. (Even today, it is sold alongside hair conditioners in Indian grocery stores!) Old texts describe coconut oil as deeply nourishing and good for debility, weakness, after illness and for respiratory (lung) conditions like asthma. It is believed that coconut oil also helps to treat urinary conditions, diabetes and is a skin moisturiser and softener that can help wounds to heal.2
research shows that coconut oil is very safe
Coconut oil is widely consumed as a food and cooking oil, and is therefore considered to be very safe.
coconut oil does not increase the risk of heart disease or increase weight. Small studies actually show that it increases HDL (good cholesterol)
The outdated view that saturated fat causes heart disease and increases our weight is finally changing. It is, in fact, sugar and carbohydrates that are the main dietary culprits that we need to thank for our societal weight gains and diseases. Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, definitely have a place in our diet. In patients with heart disease, adding extra virgin coconut oil to their diet for three months significantly decreased their waist circumference (they lost weight!) and they saw a significant improvement in HDL cholesterol; the good cholesterol that protects us against heart disease and stroke.3 It is also shown to increase HDL levels in healthy people,4 reducing their risk of developing heart disease.
coconut oil may help weight loss and appetite control
Coconut oil is anecdotally recommended as a weight loss aid – many recommend taking a spoonful between meals, to help weight loss and to stave off hunger. A recent study shows that when adding coconut oil to a weight loss programme, it can significantly help improve weight loss in obese women5 and reduce waist circumference in obese men.6
However, coconut oil may better be described as aiding weight maintenance and regulation. True to its use in Ayurvedic medicine as a nourishing oil, when used to massage underweight preterm babies, it helped them gain weight more effectively than any other oil.7 It also reduced their risk of serious infections and death.8
coconut oil is high in MCTs, which support a healthy gut
Coconut oil contains a high proportion of beneficial Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).9 These are healthy fats that have been shown to positively improve the health of your gut, influencing and lowering the risk of many diseases, including diabetes.10
coconut oil can improve mouth bacteria, tooth and gum health
Oil pulling, a way of rinsing the mouth with coconut oil, is a traditional Ayurvedic technique for keeping the mouth healthy. It is a natural, safe and effective way of preventing mouth infections.11
coconut oil can help skin problems, and is a good anti-fungal
It has been shown to improve mild to moderate eczema in children, more than other moisturisers12 and is an effective moisturiser for dry skin.13 In adults with eczema, coconut oil has been shown to be effective at stopping infection from bacterial or fungal causes.
other benefits of coconut oil
- Early, promising research indicates that coconut oil may help protect nerve cells from damage in diseases like Alzheimer’s.14
- Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties.15
- Eating foods that have been deep-fried with coconut oil is much safer than other cooking oils, as it has a naturally high smoke point, which means that it doesn’t break down into toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals.16
- Animal studies show that eating coconut oil may protect you against chemotherapy side effects, specifically kidney damage.17
how to use coconut oil
coconut oil pulling
An ancient Ayurvedic and proven technique for oral health. Take between a dessert spoon to a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth and pull (suck it) through your teeth for up to five minutes daily. Spit out when finished. This practice maintains your teeth and gums, and can help to reseat a healthy bacterial balance in your mouth.
cook with it
Coconut oil is great to cook with, as it has a high smoke point. It adds a pleasant taste to foods. It can be used for baking, roasting and frying.
Add a teaspoon of coconut oil (or the most beneficial fraction of coconut oil C8 MCT oil) and an optional teaspoon of grass fed butter to your morning black coffee whilst intermittent fasting to help with energy and hunger. Read more about the benefits of fasting here.
make coconut oil popcorn
Add one or two tablespoons of coconut oil to a large pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add half a cup of popcorn kernels. Quickly shake to coat them in the oil and cover with a lid. Once it starts to pop, shake every 10-15 seconds until the popping has stopped. Add a little pink Himalayan salt or sea salt to taste. This is great for both kids and adults alike!
use it on your skin
Coconut oil is a great moisturiser. Although solid when at room temperature, as soon as it comes in contact with your skin, it melts and is easily absorbed. Its antimicrobial properties make it great for skin health. It also makes an excellent make-up remover, even with waterproof makeup – use it with a cotton pad over eyes and other areas. It can also be used as a massage oil, as a lip balm or a cuticle cream.
chocolate coconut almond butter cups
Gently melt ¾ cup of coconut oil, ½ a cup of cocoa powder and 1tsp of vanilla essence in a pan. Fill a tray with mini cupcake cases and place a thin layer (5mm) of the mixture in the bottom of each. Add a teaspoon of organic almond nut butter (or any other nut butter, except peanut), then add more of the melted cocoa mix to cover. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and put in the fridge to set. Then eat and enjoy! These make great snacks for kids, that are low in sugar and are very nutritious. They are also great after a workout.
- Deep history of coconuts decoded: Origins of cultivation, ancient trade routes, and colonization of the Americas
- An English Translation of the Sushruta Samhita, With a Full and Comprehensive Introduction, Additional Text, Different Readings, Notes, Comparative … Vol. 3 of 3: Uttara-Tantra (Classic Reprint)
- A COCONUT EXTRA VIRGIN OIL-RICH DIET INCREASES HDL CHOLESTEROL AND DECREASES WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE AND BODY MASS IN CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE PATIENTS
- Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial
- Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity
- An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity
- Oil massage in neonates: an open randomized controlled study of coconut versus mineral oil
- Effect of emollient therapy on clinical outcomes in preterm neonates in Pakistan: a randomised controlled trial
- Variability in Fatty Acid and Triacylglycerol Composition of the Oil of Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) Hybrids and Their Parentals
- Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals
- The Effect of Coconut Oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans Count in Saliva in Comparison with Chlorhexidine Mouthwash
- The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial
- A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis
- Coconut oil protects cortical neurons from amyloid beta toxicity by enhancing signaling of cell survival pathways
- Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil
- Biological effects of short-term feeding to rats of repeatedly used deep-frying fats in relation to fat mutagen content
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of virgin coconut oil supplementation abrogate acute chemotherapy oxidative nephrotoxicity induced by anticancer drug methotrexate in rats