E-Mail Edition Volume 9 Number 4
Published Fall, 2012
Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.
Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org
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1001 Uses for Coconut Oil
It is said that there are a thousand uses for the coconut palm. Asian and Pacific Islanders use it for a multitude of purposes from building materials and clothing to food and medicine. Of all the products from the coconut palm the fruit—the coconut—is the most valuable. From the coconut you can get meat, milk, oil, water, and vinegar. Of these, coconut oil is the most versatile. In fact, it is the most useful and versatile of all the fats and oils.
Coconut oil and its components (fatty acids) are used in cooking and food preparation, infant formulas, enteral (tube feeding) and parenteral (intravenous) nutritional formulas for hospital patients, as carriers for transdermal delivery of medication, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral medications, skin creams and lotions, sunscreens, cosmetics, toothpastes, soaps and detergents, lubricants, biofuels, and numerous other pharmaceutical and industrial applications. In fact, there are literally thousands of uses for the oil.
I thought it might be interesting to identify some of the many uses and compiled the following list. Not all possible uses are included, as new uses are being discovered all the time, particularly in medicine, and there are some uses I am not yet aware of. I've limited entries to documented medical, nutritional, industrial, historical and common uses for coconut oil. If you know of other uses for coconut oil, feel free to let me know so I can add it to this list.
I haven't actually counted every item listed below. The list could easily swell to over 1001 items if every medical application were included. For example, coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties and could be useful in treating hundreds of health conditions associated with inflammation. I've only listed those that have been documented.
Can use in place of margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils in food preparation
Preservative (prevent oxidation/rancidity and bacterial and fungal contamination)
Extend shelf life of foods
Source of healthy fat
Can help balance essential fatty acid consumption
Egg preserver (see side bar)
Improve digestive health/function
Improve absorption of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fat soluble phytonutrients)
Prevent vitamin/mineral deficiencies (enhances nutritional value of the foods)
Improve athletic performance
Enhance fetal growth and brain development
You can extend the shelf life of fresh eggs by applying a thin coat of coconut oil to the unbroken egg shell. Liquefy the coconut oil (but don't make it hot), dip the egg into the oil or brush on a coat of oil over the egg surface then store in a cool place. The oil creates a seal that keeps oxygen from penetrating into the eggs. Eggs prepared this way are reported to remain edible for 9-12 months.
Some professional sports teams use coconut oil in training to boost energy levels and performance such as the UKs Bolton Wanderers rugby squad and the Leicester Tigers soccer team.
Improve lactation and milk quality
Acts as a protective antioxidant
Provide a quick and easy source of nutrition
Prevent/treat malnutrition (better than other oils)
Fortify infant formula
Fortify hospital feeding formulas
Enrich breast milk (nursing mother consumes the oil)
Help to keep blood sugars in balance (good for diabetics)
Moderates glucose release into bloodstream
Improves insulin secretion
Improves insulin sensitivity
Reduces steatorrhea (improves fat indigestion)
Helps heal damage caused by celiac disease, improving nutrient absorption
Miranda Kerr's Beauty
Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr claims that coconut oil is one of the secrets to her success. She says it is the key to her clear skin, shiny hair, and trim figure. "I've been drinking it since I was 14 and it's the one thing I can't live without," she says. "I will not go a day without coconut oil. I personally take four teaspoons per day, either on my salads, in my cooking or in my cups of green tea...Everyone is different, but that is what works for me and I prefer it as a substitute to other oils more readily used in day-to-day food preparation and cooking." In January 2011 she gave birth to her first child. She says coconut oil was instrumental in helping her quickly regain her supermodel figure and was back modeling just a few months after delivery.
Helps improve absorption of nutrients after partial surgical removal of the stomach or intestine
Used in parenteral nutrition (delivered by IV to prevent muscle breakdown in critically ill patients)
Used in enteral nutrition (nutrients delivered to patients by tube feeding)
Control sugar cravings
Improve body's utilization of EFAs (reduces the requirement for EFAs)
Quickly and easily absorbed by cells and converted into energy.
Reduces stress on pancreas (coconut oil reduces need for pancreatic enzymes and hormones)
Coconut Oil Can Aid in the Following:
Improve blood circulation
Improves sperm motility and fertility
Protect against cancer
Protect against seizures
Increase HDL cholesterol values (the good cholesterol)
Improve (lower) cholesterol ratio
Improve lipoprotein (a)/Lp(a) levels
Reduce risk of heart attack and stroke
Protect against heart failure
Protect against diabetes
Protect against metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, impaired fasting glucose)
Prevent catabolism/breakdown of muscle protein during fasting, dieting, or heavy exercise
Helps Prevent and Treat Bacterial Infections
Staph infections (including MRSA)
Gingivitis and periodontal disease
Dental cavities (see the article on coconut oil and dental cavities below)
Eye infections (conjunctivitis)
Coconut oil can be applied directly into the eye to treat infections and wash out dust, irritants and debris.
Coconut oil is perfectly safe for use in the eye. It does not sting or hurt. Heat coconut oil until it melts, but is not hot. Tilt your head back or lie down and using an eye dropper put a few drops of the oil in the eye.
Toxic shock syndrome
Urinary tract infection
Spirochetes (Lyme disease, syphilis, etc.)
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Helps Prevent and Treat Fungi/Yeast Infections
Ear fungus/itchy ear
Athlete's Foot Fungus
Helps Prevent and Treat Viral Infections
Herpes (fever blister/cold sore)
Vesicular stomatitis virus
Human lymphotropic virus
Parainfluenza virus type 2
Helps Prevent and Treat Parasitic Infections
Intestinal worms (tapeworms, pinworms, etc.)
Helps Prevent and Treat Neurological Disorders
Dementia (vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, etc)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Traumatic brain injury
Speeds Healing from Trauma/Injury
Shortens recovery time after surgery
Laceration, road rash
Bee and wasp stings
Spider, sand fly, ant, and other insect bites
Poison Ivy or oak
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Acute poisoning (antidote for numerous environmental, industrial, and biological toxins)
Sooths and speeds healing of tattoos
Helps stop bleeding
Reduces pain (analgesic)
Reduces fever (antipyretic)
Helps Ease Digestive and Malabsorption Disorders
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Muscular carnitine deficiency
Lipoprotein lipase deficiency/Congenital beta-lipoprotein deficiency
Abnormalities of protein metabolism
Primary intestinal lymphangiectasia (Waldmann's Disease)
Cholelithiasis (gallstone disease)
Primary biliary cirrhosis
Type V hyperlipoproteinemia
Biliary atresia, obstructive jaundice
Chyluria (milky urine)
Pancreatectomy (surgical removal of the pancreas)
Cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder)
Balance intestinal flora
Useful for the Treatment of Chronic and Genetic Conditions
Prevent/treat neuropathy (restore nerve function)
Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Rickets
Low thyroid function
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Peripheral vascular disease
Protects the liver from the effects of alcohol and drug abuse and infection
Reduce side effects of conventional cancer treatments (chemotherapy/radiation therapy)
Carrier for medications
Improve lipid-based drugs solubility in water
Remove ear wax
All the health benefits mentioned for humans also applies to animals. Many pet owners give their pets coconut oil to improve their health. People are using coconut oil to successfully treat animals with a wide variety of health issues such as diabetes, cancer, infections, skin diseases, and more. Some conditions associated with animals include:
Bad breath (doggy breath)
Improve shine on coat
Prevent birds from picking skin and feathers
Expel or kill intestinal parasites
Flea, tick, and mite repellent
Clear up hot spots
Use a an udder balm for goats, cows, and other animals
Soften and sooth dry, scaly, itchy skin
Prevent/lighten aging (liver) spots
Sooth chapped lips
Protect against UV radiation/sunscreen lotion
Suntan lotion (protects against burning while giving a light tan)
Prevent premature aging of skin
Sooth itchy skin
Soften cracked, callused heels
Prevent/treat bad breath
Prevent/treat cradle cap
Dissolve and remove ear wax
Prevent skin infections
Speed healing of wounds
Stop bleeding of wounds
Eases pain and inflammation caused by insect bites
Nipple cream when nursing
Treat diaper rash
Insect repellent (see side bar)
Hair styling agent (apply a small amount to hair for a healthy, glossy look)
Mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with 10-25 drops of lemon eucalyptus, regular eucalyptus, or citronella oil. Even if an insect does bite, you won't have a bad reaction because the oil sooths itchiness and irritation from the very start so no welt, blister or redness develops.
About 15 years ago
I was helping a friend load a moving truck. While lifting a metal bed frame up onto to truck, part of the frame slipped, fell, and hit me in the forehead. It bled profusely and left a noticeable inch-long scar. I had this scar for many years but never paid much attention to it because there was nothing I could do about it. Some years later I started using coconut oil in my hair fairly regularly. After several months I realized the scare was no longer visible. It must have been the coconut oil because I had the scar for many years and then almost suddenly it was gone.
Stretch mark cream
Scare remover ( see side bar)
Skin conditioner—balances skin pH, apply after bathing
Soap (highest quality, naturally disinfectant, antimicrobial, lathers up even in salt water)
Jet fuel (see Boeing 747 article below)
Engine lubricant/motor oil (see Coconut Motor Oil article below)
Hydraulic press fluid
Condition wood cutting boards
Lubricant (hinges, machinery, etc.)
Degreasing agent for machinery
Hand degreaser ( see side bar)
Dissolve grease under fingernails
Chewing gum remover (can dissolve gum stuck in hair, carpet, clothing, or shoe)
Useful in removing makeup and lipstick from clothing and carpeting
Remove labels from bottles (acts and an adhesive solvent)
Environmentally friendly fabrication of silver and gold nanoparticles for use in nanotechnology (See Acne Treatment with Nano-Bomb article below)
Provides basic material for producing oleochemicals used in making hundreds of products such as detergents, solvents, plastics, grease, resins, lubricants, etc.)
Grease and oil from engines and machinery are difficult to wash off using ordinary soap and water. Hardcore soaps like Lava remove part of your skin along with the grease or contain toxic solvents that are absorbed into your skin. There is a better, healthier solution—coconut oil. Coconut oil cuts through the grease, loosening and dissolving it so that most of it can be wiped off with a paper towel. Afterwards, wash hands as usual with regular soap and water to remove the excess oil and remaining softened grease.
Coconut Oil Powers Boeing 747
Coconut oil has been used to power diesel engines for decades. Using coconut oil in place of or as an additive to regular diesel fuel increases power, extends engine life, and dramatically cuts toxic emissions. Because of these advantages coconut oil is being tested as a jet fuel.
Virgin Atlantic Airlines carried out the world's first flight of a commercial aircraft powered with a biofuel made from coconut oil in 2008. The Boeing 747 flew from London to Amsterdam. Neither the jet nor the engines needed to be redesigned or altered for this test flight.
"This breakthrough will help Virgin Atlantic to fly its planes using clean fuel sooner than expected," Sir Richard Branson, the airline's president, said before the Boeing 747 flew from London's Heathrow Airport to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. He said the flight would provide "crucial knowledge that we can use to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint."
The flight was partially fueled with a biofuel mixture of coconut and babassu oil in one of its four main fuel tanks. The jet carried pilots and several technicians, but no passengers. The flight is another example of how the world's airlines are jumping on the environmental bandwagon by trying to find ways of reducing aviation's carbon footprint. These efforts have included finding alternative jet fuels, developing engines that burn existing fuels more slowly, and changing the way planes land.
Aircraft engines cause noise pollution and emit gases and particulates that reduce air quality and contribute to environmental pollution. Using coconut oil as a jet and diesel fuel can help keep our planet clean. ■
Acne Treatment Using
Coconut Oil and Nano-Bombs
Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid found in both coconut oil and human breast milk, is being developed into a new acne treatment at the Nanomaterials and Nanomedicine Laboratory at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Graduate student Dissaya Pornpattananangkul, has developed a smart delivery system capable of delivering lauric acid-filled nano-scale bombs directly to skin-dwelling Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes)—the bacteria that causes acne.
The antibacterial effects of lauric acid and other medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil have been well documented by numerous studies published over the past 50 years. Coconut oil is often used as a natural skin and facial cream. It is also known as an effective treatment for acne. Pornpattananangkul, a native of Thailand, grew up around coconuts and is very familiar with its use on the skin and its reported antimicrobial effects. She sought a method to enhance the germ fighting effects of lauric acid in the treatment of acne. The result—nano-bombs—tiny lauric acid filled bombs that destroy bacteria on contact.
In 2009 researchers at UC San Diego reported the effectiveness of lauric acid in killing P. acnes both in vitro and in vivo. In their
study, lauric acid effectively killed potentially harmful skin bacteria such as P. acnes, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), and Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis). They found that lauric acid was 15 times more potent in killing P. acnes than benzoyl peroxide, the most common drug used to treat acne. It was also more effective in easing swelling and inflammation caused by P. acnes. In addition, lauric acid was harmless to human cells causing no adverse effects. In comparison, benzoyl peroxide is often associated with dryness or peeling of the skin, slight stinging or burning, irritation, blistering, itching, redness, rash, and swelling. Lauric acid proved to be more effective with no adverse effects.1
In a follow-up study, the UC San Diego researchers attempted to enhance the delivery and effectiveness of lauric acid by encapsulating it in liposomes—minute spherical sacs of fat molecules enclosing a water droplet mixed with an active ingredient. Liposomes are used in medicine as carriers for drugs or nutrients. Liposomes can fuse with cell membranes thus delivering the contents of the liposomes directly to the target cells or organism. In this case lauric acid is delivered directly to P. acnes.
The researchers demonstrated that lauric acid was well maintained in the liposomes with enhanced efficiency in combating the bacteria. They showed that lauric acid-loaded liposomes could fuse with the membranes of P. acnes and release the carried fatty acid directly into the bacterial membrane thereby killing the bacteria effectively.2 "Liposomes," say the authors, "developed in this work holds great potential of becoming an innate, safe and effective therapeutic medication for acne vulgaris and other P acnes associated diseases."
One drawback with using liposomes, however, is that they tend to clump together, reducing their effectiveness. A way around this is to attach nanoparticles to the surface of the lauric acid filled liposomes or "nano-bombs". This keeps the liposomes from fusing together. The nanoparticles help the liposomes locate acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Once the nano-bombs reach the bacterial membranes, the acidic microenvironment causes the nanoparticles to drop off. This frees the liposomes carrying the lauric acid payloads to fuse with the bacterial membranes killing the bacteria.3
In the near future you may be able to buy an over-the-counter acne medication containing these lauric acid filled nano-bombs. But for now, you can use the tried and true method of simply covering the infected skin with a thin layer of coconut oil. Repeat two or three times daily until the skin is acne free, which may be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Don't be alarmed if after you start applying coconut oil you see new pimples develop. Sometimes there is a temporary flareup before the skin is sufficiently cleansed of the bacteria. Afterwards, your face will be acne free and better looking than it has in a long time. ■
Coconut Toothpaste Anyone?
Study Shows Coconut Oil Fights Tooth Decay
Eating too many candy bars and gummy bears might send you to the dentist. But adding coconut into your diet may save you that dreaded trip. Could coconut be the next miracle ingredient toothpaste manufacturers start putting into their products? Many people already brush their teeth with coconut oil to take advantage of its germ-fighting, anti-cavity effects. A new study adds more evidence to coconut oil's ability to ward of tooth decay.
Tooth decay, or dental caries is an infection that causes the breakdown and eventual destruction of the organic matter of the tooth, and it is one of the most common diseases in the world. New research from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland shows that the unique fatty acids found in coconut oil are able to attack bacteria that cause tooth decay. The findings were recently presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference 2012 at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
The research team tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in two states. In its natural state, and in a second state where they treated the coconut oil with enzymes to simulate a process similar to digestion, thus breaking down the oil into individual fatty acids. The oils were then tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria, common inhabitants of the mouth. What they discovered was that the enzyme-modified coconut oil (medium chain fatty acids) strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans—an acid-producing bacterium that is the primary causative agent in the formation of dental caries in humans.
This is not the first study to show that partially digested foodstuffs are active against microorganisms. Earlier work on enzyme-modified milk showed that it was able to reduce the binding of Streptococcus mutans to tooth enamel, which prompted the group to investigate the effect of other enzyme-modified foods on bacteria. Like coconut oil, milk is a natural source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs).
"Dental caries is a commonly overlooked health problem affecting 60-90 percent of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries," says Dr Damien Brady who is leading the research. "Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil (MCFAs) into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, particularly as it works at relatively low concentrations. Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection."
This study, however, is just the first step. The research group will further their study to examine how coconut oil interacts with Streptococcus bacteria at the molecular level and discover which other strains of harmful bacteria and yeasts it is active against. Further testing by the group at the Athlone Institute of Technology found that enzyme-modified coconut oil was also harmful to the yeast Candida albicans that can cause thrush a common oral yeast infection.
The work also contributes to our understanding of antibacterial activity in the human gut. "Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonize the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health," explained Dr Brady. "Our research has shown that digested milk protein not only reduced the adherence of harmful bacteria to human intestinal cells but also prevented some of them from gaining entrance into the cell. We are currently researching coconut oil and other enzyme-modified foodstuffs to identify how they interfere with the way bacteria cause illness and disease," he said.
This study is really nothing new. Studies published 40 years ago showed the same results. However, back then it didn't generate as much interest as it is today. A number of scientists are now taking notice of the remarkable potential of coconut oil and perusing useful studies with it. It seems that a new generation of scientists, who are more open-minded, are rediscovering the remarkable benefits of coconut oil. It is a shame that the anti-fat, anti-saturated fat mindset that prevailed in medicine over the past three decades caused scientists and doctors to ignore previous studies like these for so long. ■
Coconut Motor Oil
Coconut oil has long been used to power diesel engines and trucks, but could it also be used as an engine lubricant as well? Apparently it can. Motor vehicle owners in India are already using it.
In India the streets are littered with small three-wheeled taxis known as autorikshaws. One autorikshaw driver in the town of Cherupuzha has been using coconut oil in his vehicle for years. The driver, G. Rajeevan, says it makes an ideal substitute for conventional motor oil. Rajeevan's claims have been evaluated by the State Science & Technology Department, which has affirmed that coconut oil could be used as an effective alternative motor oil for small automobile engines stating, "There are no adverse effects on the engine parts or in the performance of the petrol engine." They have, therefore, recommended that coconut oil "can be used as an alternative to the commercial petroleum lubricant" in light commercial vehicles.
This endorsement came after Mr. Rajeevan sent a report about his innovation to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who Rajevan said, followed up with the State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment. The new lubricant is more environmentally friendly and less expensive than petroleum-based lubricants.
Mr. Rajeevan has been using coconut oil in his autorikshaw for the past 13 years, providing a long term test of the oil in a heavily used commercial vehicle. Autorikshaw drivers depend on their vehicles for their livelihoods. So it is imperative that their vehicles provide trouble-free performance for as long as possible. Coconut oil apparently has passed the test.
Mr. Rajeevan can now seek support of the automobile manufacturing units to profess his claims supported by the State Science & Technology Department. And the Department will be happy to come in support of his initiative to help provide an environmentally friendly source of motor oil and support local coconut farmers. Coconut oil is a clean, organic renewable resource. ■
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Copyright © 2012, Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.