Cultures and countries across the world use and appreciate the coconut tree. Because of its nutritional and therapeutic values, it’s referred to as “Kalpavriksha” (the all giving tree) in India. As the name implies, the coconut palm is extremely versatile and used in many capacities. Everything from the coconut water, to the leaves, to the kernel hull have characteristics that are beneficial to human health.  Coconut oil, specifically, has become quite popular for cooking and even other uses. Let’s take a look at a few facts about coconut oil that you may not know.
1. The Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil isn’t All Bad
I’ve heard reports from people who are confused when they spot coconut oil at the grocery store, read the nutritional label, and see the high saturated fat content. “What gives?” they ask, “I thought this stuff was healthy?” Well, it is.
Unfortunately, the fat in coconut has been the subject of debate and misinformation. Although we’re told that saturated fat, across the board, is bad, the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids — these are different than saturated fat from animal sources — and do not degrade within the body. In fact, the human body uses them directly as energy and coconut oil consumption has even been associated with beneficial lipid profiles.  
Coconut oil is even better than other vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil. Those oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which aren’t good for the cardiovascular system. Many nutritional experts recommend switching to coconut oil to avoid the health risks. 
2. Coconut Oil is Great for Hair
Coconut oil is used in a staggering amount of shampoos, conditioners, and hair care products.  The reason for its inclusion is quite simple. With its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, coconut oil can effectively penetrate the hair shaft to reduce protein loss, leaving it nourished and healthy. 
3. And, It’s Great for Skin
Coconut oil is also very moisturizing and beneficial for the skin.  In many cultures, it’s used as a remedy for a great many skin conditions.  The reason? It’s chemical structure. The short-chain and saturated fatty acids, which prevent it from oxidizing and becoming rancid, are nourishing to the skin and have even been found to encourage wound healing. 
4. Useful Against Harmful Organisms
Perhaps one of the most astounding facts about coconut oil is how potent it is against harmful organisms.
- When a 2007 study evaluated the effectiveness of virgin coconut oil against candida, a 25% concentration of coconut oil was found to be 100% effective against candida. 
- Randomized and controlled research in 2010 found that a coconut oil and anise spray was effective against head lice. 
- Coconut oil has been found to repel mosquitoes. 
- Tungiasis, or sand flea disease, is a nasty problem not common in the United States but way too common elsewhere. Research earlier this year discovered that coconut oil may be an effective repellant to the flea that spreads the disease. 
5. Can Replace Milk in Ice Cream
Everyone loves ice cream but not everyone is keen on the milk fat used to produce it. What’s the alternative? Bland, fat-free ice cream? Maybe not. It seems that virgin coconut oil may be an acceptable replacement for milk fat in ice cream. Those who have tried it claim that the ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavor and an excellent appearance, texture, and aroma.  (If you’ve happened to try it, please leave a comment below and let us know the brand and what you thought.)
6. Massage Oil for Newborns
Did you know that giving oil massages to newborns has been found to improve thermoregulation and encourage healthy weight gain? A 2005 study evaluated the effect of coconut oil on the growth of newborns in India. Starting on the second day of their lives, an oil massage was given four times a day by a trained person until the baby was discharged, and then by the mother until the baby was 31 days old. The results? Coconut oil massage significantly increased weight gain and growth. 
7. Might be a Remedy for Poison?
It might be premature to call coconut oil an antidote for poisoning but a 2005 incident in Iran certainly suggests it may have something to offer. Hospital officials there reported of a young man who had attempted suicide by ingesting the pesticide aluminium phosphide. Upon admittance to the hospital, he was experiencing severe indications of toxicity and given several counteractive substances, including charcoal, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulphate, and coconut oil. The result? He survived, and coconut oil, while probably not deserving of all the credit, was labeled as an important part of the protocol. 
Do you know a coconut oil factoid that we missed? Or do you just have great things to say about coconut oil… or even constructive criticism? Please leave a comment below and join the discussion!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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