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While traveling through Thailand, my partner and I joked about buying a coconut plantation because it seems that everything nowadays is coconut based! Let’s see, you’ve got coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut shreds, coconut water, coconut milk and cream, coconut flour, and even coconut soy sauce (try it, it’s actually delicious)!

Coconut (C. Nucifera) belongs to the Arecaceae (Palmae) family and the subfamily Cocoideae.

The flesh of the coconut is very high in healthy fatty acids (1). The composition of fat varies depending on the type and processing of the oil. Medium-chain saturated fatty acids make up approximately 90% of coconut oil with a slight contribution of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

Coconut Oil 101: What’s So Good About Medium-Chain Fatty Acids?

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

Medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFA’s) are easily digested, absorbed, and utilized by the body, while freely crossing the blood-brain barrier in its unbound form, which means it can be used by the brain as an energy source but also for neurological health. (2)

What’s also great is that virgin (unrefined) coconut oil is affordable, readily available, delicious and completely natural. It’s also…

  • Anti-carcinogenic (prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
  • Anti-inflammatory (3)
  • Anti-microbial/ Infection-fighting (bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, parasites and protozoa)
  • An antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
  • Improves nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes fat-based vitamins more available to the body – ie. vitamin A, D, E, K)
  • Nontoxic to humans and animals

Coconut Oil Uses for Personal Hygiene and the Body

1. Age Spots

(Also known as liver spots). Applying coconut oil directly to the age spot will help it fade.

2. After Shave

Coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores. Great for razor burn!

3. Baldness

Combine coconut oil with lavender, rosemary, thyme, cedarwood, Jojoba oil, Grapeseed/castor oil and a little cayenne pepper. Apply three times a day (or before bed) to affected area of hair loss and massage in. Coconut oil and these essential oils support cell regeneration. (4)

4. Body Scrub

Mix coconut oil and salt together and rub all over! Rinse off and your skin will be super soft. You can add in essential oils if you would like a specific smell.

5. Bruises

Applied directly to the bruise, coconut oil enhances the healing process by reducing swelling and redness.

6. Bug Bites

When applied directly to a bug bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation as well as hasten the healing process.

7. Burns

Apply to burn site immediately and continue applying until healed. Will reduce the chances of permanent scarring and promotes healing. (5)

8. Chapstick


Just rub a little onto your lips. It not only acts as a softening agent, but it also has an SPF of about 4, so you get a little protection! Watch this video for a quick coconut chapstick DIY!

9. Cradle Cap

Having issues with dry skin on your baby’s scalp? Coconut oil will not only nourish your baby’s skin, it also helps eliminate cradle cap. Just rub a teaspoon onto scalp daily.

10. Dandruff

Coconut oil soaks into the scalp, moisturizing dry skin and relieving symptoms of dandruff. It also helps to control oil secretion from the scalp, another leading cause of dandruff. (6)

11. Deodorant

Coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but it is even more effective in combination with cornstarch/arrowroot powder and baking soda.

12. Diaper Salve

Very comforting on a rashy bum with no harsh chemicals. Also safe for cloth diapers.

13. Eye Cream

Apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags, and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.

14. Face Wash/Soap

Mix equal parts coconut oil with olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil and castor oil and use in place of soap when washing your face. Wet face, rub oil in and leave on for two minutes, rinse and pat dry. One teaspoon should be adequate.

15. Hair Conditioner/Deep Treatment

Use as a leave-in hair conditioner by applying a teaspoon of coconut oil to your ends and then running your fingers through your hair to distribute the rest. For a deeper treatment, rub in a tablespoon of coconut oil onto your dry scalp and gently work through to the ends. Put a shower cap on to prevent transfer onto bed linens and leave on overnight.

16. Hair Gel/Defrizzer

Rub a little between your palms and either scrunch into hair (for curly hair) or finger comb in from scalp to ends (for wavy/straight hair).

17. Healing

When applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria, and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. Plus, it smells a heck-of-a-lot better than anything from the pharmacy.

18. Lubricant

It is an all-natural, perfectly safe personal lubricant for masturbation and sex. Not compatible with latex!

19. Makeup Remover

Use a cotton swab and a dab of coconut oil and you will be amazed at how well it works!

20. Massage Oil

Pretty simple; grab some and rub!

21. Moisturizer

Simply scoop some out of the jar and apply all over your body, including neck and face. Often lotions are water-based and can dry out your skin even more. (7)

22. Nipple Cream

Works great to nourish cracked, sore or dry nipples. Apply to a cotton ball and leave on your nipples between feedings.

23. Acne Skin Fix

Prone to oily skin or an oily T-zone? Use a pea sized amount underneath makeup or alone to reduce oil gland stimulation. Often acne prone skin is actually too dry, which signals your glands to produce more oil and clogs the pores. (8)

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24. Pre-Shave

Coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving.

25. Skin Conditions

Coconut oil can relieve skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.

26. Stretch Marks

Coconut oil is great at nourishing damaged skin. It may not be the magic stretch mark cure but it will help. (9)

27. Sun Burn Relief

Rub liberal amounts of coconut oil into the affected area.

28. Sunscreen

It’s not high, but coconut oil does have an SPF of around 4.

29. Swimmer’s Ear

Mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.

30. Tattoo Healing and Moisturizer

Continued use of coconut oil on tattoos will help keep the pigment from fading. Used on new tattoos, coconut oil will hasten the healing process and decrease the chance of infection. Be sure to only use a very thin layer no more than twice a day, according to your tattoo artist’s instructions. Overuse can cause the ink to be lifted up.

31. Toothpaste

There are numerous recipes out there, but I just mix coconut oil and baking soda and dab a little of the mix on my toothbrush.

32. Wrinkle Prevention and Wrinkle Reducer

Rubbing coconut oil on wrinkles and sagging skin helps strengthen the connective tissues to bring back that youthful look! (10)

Coconut Oil Uses for General Health and Wellness

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

33. Breastfeeding

For breastfeeding moms, consuming 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil daily will enrich the milk supply.

34. Bones and Teeth

Coconut oil aids in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, leading to better development of bones and teeth. (11)

34. Digestion

The saturated fats in coconut oil help control parasites and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, making you healthier all around. (12)

35. Fitness

Coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat while increasing muscle. (13)

36. Insulin Support

Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose, making it great for both diabetics and non-diabetics. (14)

37. Lung Function

Increases the fluidity of cell surfaces.

38. Nausea

Rub some coconut oil on the inside for the wrist (PC 6) and forearm to calm an upset stomach.

39. Nose bleeds

Coconut oil can prevent nose bleeding that is caused by sensitivity to weather such as extreme heat and extreme cold. This condition happens when the nasal passages become dry because of cold or dry air resulting in burns and cracks in the mucus membranes, leading to nose bleeds. To prevent this, put coconut oil in your nostrils. Doing this will strengthen and protect the capillaries in the nasal passages.

40. Gum Health

Oil pulling with coconut oil offers a two for one health benefit!

41. Stress Relief

Relieve mental fatigue by applying coconut oil to the head in a circular, massaging motion. The natural aroma of coconuts is extremely soothing, thus helping to lower your stress level. (15)

42. Vitamin and nutrient absorption

Makes fat-based nutrients more available to the body – ie. vitamin A, D, E, K. (16)

43. Weight loss

The saturated fats contribute to weight loss and controlling cravings.

44. Mental Cognition and Productivity

Medium-chain triglycerides freely pass through the blood-brain barrier allows an alternate source of energy to improve cognition.

Coconut Oil Uses for Internal Health Problems

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

45. Acid Reflux/ Indigestion

If taken after a meal.

46. Adrenal and Chronic Fatigue

47. Allergies

Seasonal hay fever.

48. Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Read my research here

49. Asthma

Even in children

50. Autism (17)

51. Bowel function

Constipation, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), gut infections

52. Bronchial Infections and Cystic Fibrosis

53. Cancer

Has been shown to prevent breast and colon cancer.

54. Candida Albicans

In a 2007 study, coconut oil was proven to be 100% effective against the Candida microbe species. In fact, researchers recommended that candida can be treated with coconut oil instead of drugs, against which candida has become resistant! (18)

55. Cholesterol

Improves HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) to LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) ratio in people with high cholesterol.

56. Poor Circulation

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Feeling cold all the time or edema, especially in the extremities, apply coconut oil to the skin in a light circular pattern towards the heart. Similar to dry skin brushing

57. Colds and Flus

As an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent. (19)

58. Mild Depression and Cognitive Disease

In conjunction with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), fish oil and other treatment strategies.

59. Diabetes

Helps keep blood sugar levels stable and helps with cravings.

60. Epilepsy

Known to reduce epileptic seizures.

61. Flaky, Dry Skin

Poor oil intake often results in dry skin and dandruff.

62. Gallbladder Disease

Dietary oils can help increase bile flow, which can be helpful for gallbladder issues, but possibly harmful (ie. Gallstones).

63. Gas

Foul gas is often due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria. Coconut oil is a mild anti-microbial to help re-establish healthy gut flora.

64. H. pylori

Oral intake. Occasionally, antibiotic treatment may be necessary.

65. Heart Disease

Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis.

66. Hemorrhoids

Can be applied externally or internally twice a day.

67. Hot Flashes (20)

68. Immune System Builder

69. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Alternating diarrhea and constipation are key signs of IBS.

70. Jaundice (21)

71. Kidney Disease and Stones

Aids in dissolving small stones.

72. Liver Disease

73. Lung Disease (22)

74. Malnutrition (23)

75. Mental Clarity

76. Menstruation Relief

Regarding pain/cramps and heavy blood flow.

77. Migraines

With regular use.

78. Pancreatitis

79. Periodontal Disease and Tooth Decay

80. Prostate Enlargement

BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia. (24)

81. Stomach Ulcers

Helps soothe stomach lining and limit H. pylori growth.

82. Thrush

83. Thyroid Function

Can help regulate an overactive or underactive thyroid. (25)

Coconut Oil Uses and Topical Health Problems

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

84. Acne

Often acne prone skin is actually too dry, which signals your glands to produce more oil and clogs the pores.

85. Head Lice

Topical application.

86. Allergies/Hay Fever

Rub a little inside the nostrils for quick relief. The pollen will cling to the oil.

87. Athletes Foot

88. Toenail Fungus

89. Back Pain and Sore Muscles

90. Boils and Cysts

91. Cellulite

92. Circumcision healing

Although I don’t support circumcision, coconut oil may help with healing.

93. Decongestant

Rub coconut oil on the chest and under the nose when congested from a cold or allergies.

94. Ear infection

Place a few drops of coconut and garlic oil inside the ear twice daily for relief from pain. Also, coconut oil fights the infection itself. (26)

95. Genital Warts

Genital warts often go away on their own after 2 years of the initial infection. Additional topical coconut oil application over 6 months may be helpful.

96. Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Canker Sores

Use as a toothpaste or rub directly on gums.

97. Herpes

Applied topically and taken internally.

98. Hives

Reduces the itch and swelling.

99. Pink eye

Applied around and in the eye.

BONUS: Coconut Oil and Pets/ Animals

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

Always check with your veterinarian, but the average recommended dosage for animals is 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily.

100. Aids healing of digestive disorders

Like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis.

101. Aids in arthritis or ligament problems

102. Aids in elimination of hairballs and coughing

103. Promotes the healing

When applied topically to cuts, wounds, hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings.

104. Clears up skin conditions

Such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.

105. Disinfects cuts

And promotes wound healing!

106. Great for dogs and cats for general wellness

Just add a teaspoon to their water bowl daily.

107. Helps prevent or control diabetes

108. Helps sedentary dogs feel energetic

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older dogs.

109. Helps to reduce weight

Increases energy for more activity throughout the day. (27)

110. Improves digestion and nutrient absorption

111. Makes coats shine

Coat becomes sleek and glossy and deodorizes doggy odor.

112. Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections

Including candida.

113. Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health

114. Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs

115. Regulates and balances insulin and promotes normal thyroid function

BONUS: Other Uses for Coconut Oil

coconut oil, coconut oil uses

116. Chewing Gum in Hair Remover

Just rub some coconut oil over the stuck chewing gum, leave in for about 30 minutes, then roll the gum between your fingertip. Voila! It’s out!

117. Goo Gone

Just mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda into a paste. Apply to the “sticky” area and let it set for a minute. Then scrub off with an old toothbrush or the scrubby side of a sponge.

118. Insect repellent

Mix coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and rub it all over exposed skin. Keeps insects off better than anything with DEET! A lot safer, too.

119. Moisturizing and cleaning leather products

120. Oiling wood cutting boards and wood bowls

121. Polishing Bronze

All you have to do is rub a little oil into a cotton towel and then wipe down the statue. It cleans and helps deepen the color of your bronze.

122. Polish Furniture

Use coconut oil with a little bit of lemon juice to polish wood furniture. However, I recommend you test it first on a very small, unobtrusive part of your furniture to make sure it works the way you’d like.

123. Seasoning animal-hide drums

124. Seasoning cookware

125. Soap making

Coconut oil can be used as one of the fats in soap.

A Message From The Author

Did we miss any? Do you use coconut oil for something not on the list?

Please share this post on your social media wall and add your favorites with #101CoconutOil #healthyfats @DrAlisonChenND.

I am always excited to find new ways to implement coconut oil!

Sources:

[1] Lambert, M. S., Botham, K. M., & Mayes, P. A. (1996). Modification of the fatty acid composition of dietary oils and fats on incorporation into chylomicrons and chylomicron remnants. British Journal of Nutrition, 76(03), 435. doi:10.1079/bjn19960048

[2] Bach, A, and V Babayan. “Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Update.”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., 1982. Web. 5 June 2017. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/36/5/950.short

[3] Panthong, A., S. Intahphuak, and P. Khonsung. “Anti-Inflammatory, Analgesic, And Antipyretic Activities Of Virgin Coconut Oil”. Taylor & Francis. N.p., 2008. Web. 5 June 2017. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13880200903062614

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[4] Phaechamud, T., Katewongsa, P., Chuekaew, A., & Saengthongpinit, W. (2012). Non-Aqueous Virgin Coconut Oil Hair Gel. Advanced Materials Research, 506, 347-350. doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/amr.506.347

[5] Durgaprasad, S, and Pallavi Srivastava. “Burn Wound Healing Property Ofcocos Nucifera: An Appraisal”. NCBI. N.p., 2008. Web. 5 June 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792613/

[6] “How To Get Rid Of Dandruff: An Ancient Remedy That Actually Works”. Mighty Ambitions. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 June 2017. http://mightyambitions.com/how-to-get-rid-of-dandruff/

[7] Bright, Sierra. “10 Reasons To Start Putting Coconut Oil On Your Face & Skin”. Natural Living Ideas. N.p., 2016. Web. 5 June 2017. http://www.naturallivingideas.com/coconut-oil-face/

[8] Hubler, W. R. (1959). Unsaturated Fatty Acids in Acne. Archives of Dermatology, 79(6), 644. doi:10.1001/archderm.1959.01560180018005

[9] Clover, Katherine. “I Used Coconut Oil On My Stretch Marks For A Month & This Is What Happened”. Romper. N.p., 2016. Web. 5 June 2017. https://www.romper.com/p/i-used-coconut-oil-on-my-stretch-marks-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-7585

[10] Songkran, S., Sirikatitham, A., Sungkarak, S., Buaking, K., Wungsintaweekul, J., Maneenuan, D., & Oungbho, K. (2009). Characterization of Aromatherapy Massage Oils Prepared from Virgin Coconut Oil and Some Essential Oils. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 87(1), 93-107. doi:10.1007/s11746-009-1465-5

[11] Creswell, D. C., and C. C. Brooks. “Composition, Apparent Digestibility And Energy Evaluation Of Coconut Oil And Coconut Meal”. ACSESS. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 June 2017. https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/jas/abstracts/33/2/JAN0330020366

[12] Shilhavy, Brian, and Marianita Shilhavy. “Coconut Oil Benefits For Digestive Health”. Health Impact News. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 June 2017. https://healthimpactnews.com/2012/coconut-oil-benefits-for-digestive-health/

[13] Gunnars BSc, Kris. “How Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight And Belly Fat”. Authority Nutrition. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 June 2017. https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/

[14] Shilhavy, Brian. “Virgin Coconut Oil Effective In Treating Diabetes”. Health Impact News. N.p., 2012. Web. 5 June 2017. https://healthimpactnews.com/2012/virgin-coconut-oil-effective-in-treating-diabetes/

[15] Shilhavy, Brian. “Study: Virgin Coconut Oil More Effective Than Drugs In Combating Stress And Depression”. Health Impact News. N.p., 2014. Web. 5 June 2017. https://healthimpactnews.com/2014/study-virgin-coconut-oil-more-effective-than-drugs-in-combating-stress-and-depression/

[16] Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Coconut Oil Is Superior For Nutrient Absorption”. Mercola.com. N.p., 2012. Web. 5 June 2017. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/20/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats.aspx

[17] Gilbert, D. L. (2008). Regarding “Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation in Children with Autism: A Double-Blind Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study”. Biological Psychiatry, 63(2). doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.03.028

[18] Ogbolu, D.O. et al. “In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties Of Coconut Oil On Candida Species In Ibadan, Nigeria.”. NCBI. N.p., 2007. Web. 5 June 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080

[19] Intahphuak, S., Khonsung, P., & Panthong, A. (2009). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharmaceutical Biology, 48(2), 151-157. doi:10.3109/13880200903062614

[20] Smith, Jennifer. “Coconut Oil For Hot Flashes”. LIVESTRONG. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 June 2017. http://www.livestrong.com/article/290794-coconut-oil-for-hot-flashes/

[21] “Symptoms Of Liver Disease And How Coconut Oil Helps Make Them Disappear”. Coconut Oil Central. N.p., 2015. Web. http://www.coconut-oil-central.com/symptoms-of-liver-disease.html

[22] Clarke, S et al. “Fetal Growth And Fetal Lung Phospholipid Content In Rats Fed Safflower Oil, Menhaden Oil, Or Hydrogenated Coconut Oil.”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., 1988. Web. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/47/5/828.short

[23]  Gilani, G. Sarwar, and Anwar Nasim. “Impact Of Foods Nutritionally Enhanced Through Biotechnology In Alleviating Malnutrition In Developing Countries”. Ingenta Connect. N.p., 2007. Web. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/aoac/jaoac/2007/00000090/00000005/art00030

[24] Arruzazabala, M. D., Molina, V., Más, R., Carbajal, D., Marrero, D., González, V., & Rodríguez, E. (2007). Effects of coconut oil on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in Sprague-Dawley rats. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 59(7), 995-999. doi:10.1211/jpp.59.7.0012

[25] “Are The Dangerous Side Effects Of Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs All In People’S Heads?”. Coconut Oil. Web. 5 June 2017. http://coconutoil.com/

[26] Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Ear Infections: The Basics You Need To Know First”. Mercola.com. N.p., 2014. Web. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/29/ear-infection.aspx

[27] Creswell, D. C., & Brooks, C. C. (1971). Composition, Apparent Digestibility and Energy Evaluation of Coconut Oil and Coconut Meal. Journal of Animal Science, 33(2), 366. doi:10.2527/jas1971.332366x

Image Sources:

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Dr. Alison Chen
Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.
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