Right at that moment when you think you know everything there is to know about Coconut Oil, another study reveals yet another surprising, positive benefit gleaned from decades of research.
Coconut Oil is one of those carrier oils that just keep giving.
So where does it come from? No prizes here for guessing that it is a product extracted from the fruit of the coco palm tree.
It has a disparate variety of uses from some well-known some less so – you can find it used as a key ingredient in various foodstuffs such as pastries and chocolate, in beauty treatment products such as soaps, shampoos, moisturisers, deodorants and toothpastes and even used as bio-diesel fuel ingredient for vehicles and generators.
Coconut Oil is a food staple in many countries and particularly useful for cooking as it can withstand high temperatures without smoking. A study carried out on a Polynesian population in the South Pacific who use Coconut as their main energy source and with over 60% of their calories coming from Coconuts were found to be in good health with very low rates of heart disease.
Coconut Oil can be used to treat such a wide range of conditions and yet it is a simple, inexpensive ingredient. It is included in many of our products which are linked below.
2. What Can Coconut Oil Do For Your Skin?
We all know it is a good skin moisturiser – as evidence to back this up just take a look at this 2013 case study. In this trial Coconut Oil was used to treat a sample of people suffering with dry, itchy, scaly skin (known as Xerosis) and it was proved to work better than mineral oil in several ways, in use as a skin moisturiser, for improving skin hydration and increasing skin surface lipid levels.
Cosmetically it is deemed a safe ingredient and 2009 and 2016 studies both showed it as being effective against acne. The lauric acid having antimicrobial properties was able to reduce inflammation and the number of Propionibacterium acnes – look out for our new facial cleansing bar for oily and acne prone skin to be available soon.
A ‘Scientific Reports’ article published last year confirmed that Coconut fatty acids are active against a broad array of blood sucking arthropods including biting flies, ticks, bed bugs and mosquitoes, even protecting pastured cattle from biting flies for 96 hours in a hot summer.
It therefore comes as no surprise to find that it is included as an essential ingredient in our water-less bug repellent lotion bars along with 11 other active ingredients as found here.
4. What Use Is Coconut Oil In Hair Care Products?
Coconut Oil has numerous hair benefits, but it is not the ‘holy grail’ for hair care and should be used in moderation.
The lauric acid in Coconut Oil contains proteins that penetrate the hair shaft and add deep moisture and shine. But you will still need cationic polymers such as those in our Conditioner bar to actually ‘adsorb’ (not absorb) to the hair and enable the hair cuticle to lie flat – more on that here.
Again, in moderation, Coconut Oil is also found to nourish the scalp, helping with itching and dandruff, split ends and hair loss.
A small amount of organic Coconut Oil is added to our hair care bars and also many of our gentle hair care cleaning agents are based on Coconut extracts
5. What Other Great Benefits Are Found In Coconut Oil?
Again, there are a wide variety of other uses and applications being found for Coconut Oil throughout the world and, whilst we mention them here it is purely in an advisory capacity as we can only endorse the applications that we use in our specific products as mentioned above - you must draw your own conclusions on these.
Coconut Oil contains lauric acid, which is a medium-length, long-chain fatty acid and said to make up about half of the fatty acids found in Coconut Oil (also found in dairy and palm oil), which is actually a saturated fat.
Coconut Oil, through both caprylic acid and lauric acid has anti-microbial properties that are said to greatly improve your oral health. A 2016 study has shown that gargling with Coconut Oil it is as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash for the reduction of streptococcus mutans, the most common organism causing tooth decay.
Due to its anti-fungal properties, Caprylic acid has also been found effective in treating yeast infections, specifically Candida albicans.
There have been numerous other important ongoing studies involving Coconut Oil, such as one in Malaysia in 2013 that showed Coconut Oil reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, helping improve the functional status and the quality of life of breast cancer patients.
Unlike some other saturated fats, the majority of lauric acid it is sent straight to the liver and converted to energy rather than being stored.
Interestingly, saturated fat being a cause of heart disease has never been scientifically proven and is actuallynow refuted in many quarters.
It was thought that because saturated fats raised cholesterol in the blood, it caused heart disease, yet saturated fat also increases HDL ‘good’ cholesterol (which isn’t actually a cholesterol but a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol around the blood) as opposed to a LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, which now isn’t necessarily bad as it depends on the sub type (small, dense LDL that penetrates the arterial wall easily and drives heart disease and large LDL lipoproteins that don’t penetrate the arteries so don’t drive heart disease).
So, as you can see, this subject is quite complex and offers diverse arguments being put forward by various scientific factions before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
The main thing to take away from this is that Coconut Oil encourages the good lipoprotein; an eight week study published in 2016 among healthy, young Thai adults that ingested Coconut Oil daily, showed a marked increase in HDL cholesterol – the one associated with lower risk of heart disease - and improved their metabolic health.
Lauric acid in Coconut Oil has also been found to boost the brain function of those with mild forms of Alzheimer’s. This is because when Lauric acid goes to the liver it is either converted to energy or into ketones. As Alzheimer sufferers have a reduced ability to use glucose as energy in certain parts of the brain, it is thought that these ketones can actually provide an alternative energy source and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
A preliminary study with Alzheimer’s dementure patients published in 2014, found that those ingesting Coconut Oil daily found an improvement in their cognitive status.
Further detailed research is being carried out on ketones and their benefits for the brain, not only in Alzheimer’s patients but in reducing epilepsy seizures and other conditions – however, the effect of coconut oil on Alzheimer’s disease is unclear and more research is required before drawing any firm conclusions.
Whilst the scientific studies remain ongoing what we do know is that from what has been discovered already Coconut Oil really is an overall fantastic natural ingredient.