By Michèle Duquet
Coconut oil: 5 fantastic reasons to love it!
As I was buying yet another tub of organic coconut oil, it dawned on me that I go through a jar rather quickly. When I make a mental list of its many uses, and why so many people love it, 5 definitely stand out. Some of these might even surprise you… so here goes.
1- Coconut oil for the skin, hair and as a sunscreen of 4 spf:
Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer, great for all kinds of skin conditions. It has a very long shelf life, 2 years being a conservative estimate, so adding it to your DIY (do-it-yourself) lotions helps them keep longer, especially if you haven’t added a natural preservative like grapefruit seed extract to your homemade recipes. Add your favorite essential oil blends for a super hydrating body lotion.
Coconut oil is known to have some natural sunscreen capabilities too, but at an spf of only 4 spf, I wouldn’t rely on coconut oil to prevent sunburns. If mixed with zinc oxide, at 30% of your mixture, you can reach what is called a ‘physical block’ from the sun, creating a sunblock with an approximate spf of 15-20. (Please ensure you use a mask when adding it to your lotions as airborne zinc oxide has respiratory toxicity and can irritate your sinuses – and never use it on pets as it is very toxic for our little loved ones).
Coconut oil is also known to reduce protein loss when used in hair. Since hair is mostly composed of protein (called keratin), and some studies have shown that a low protein diet can be associated with hair loss, a coconut oil hair treatment sounds like a good thing! It can also be a more economical alternative to argan oil, the oil usually associated with hair conditioning treatments.
2- Coconut oil can burn fat??
All saturated fats are not created equal. Coconut being of the natural variety, happens to be one of the richest sources of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs). This means their molecules are smaller and more easily digested and converted to energy.
What does that mean…? Eating coconut oil might actually boost your metabolic rate… who knew!
Have you also heard the latest rumors? Eating coconut oil can even help reduce fat in the most difficult body fat area, the stomach. Now I’m a healthy skeptic, I like to test rumors out for myself (even if the popular Dr. Oz says it works), and I would recommend taking a look at the overall diet and eating habits before running out to buy gallons of coconut oil, but… I confess… I’ve been adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to my spirulina smoothies just in case the rumors are true.
My coconut oil of choice for food is one that is certified organic (made without pesticides or hexane), virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed, non-deodorized, and non-bleached.
3- Cooking with coconut oil – My fave vegan ‘butter’ & kale chips recipes:
As a vegan, I love making a coconut and banana spread that I use as ‘butter’. I wait until the bananas are ripe and mushy, and then mix equal parts bananas and coconut oil. It’s a delicious spread on my fresh-out-of-the-oven vegan cranberry muffins, and looks/melts just like butter!
My other favorite recipe to make with coconut oil, is a simple one for kale chips. Coconut oil is wonderful for cooking because it is stable enough to withstand high temperatures. I prefer purple kale for my chips. I lay them out on a cooking sheet in the toaster-oven, cover them lightly with coconut oil, sprinkle them with Himalayan salt, cook for 7 minutes at 400 degrees, and voilà! A delicious crispy and healthy alternative to regular chips, without any of those nasty free radicals.
4- Oil pulling with coconut oil:
Ok, I admit, this one may be a bit too ‘out there’ for some, but I swear it works like nothing else to clear my sinuses.
(If I’ve already shared too much information, feel free to skip to next point which I promise is far more pleasant)
Every morning, first thing before breakfast, even before I let my dog Roxy out in the backyard, I take a teaspoon of coconut oil and let it melt in my mouth. Yes it feels gross, but once it melts, it’s somewhat bearable. Then as I let Roxy out, and go about my morning routine for the next 20 minutes, I swish it around my mouth. Yep, 20 minutes… Again, kind of gross, and it does feel long as I keep checking the clock, but you will be amazed at how well it works.
It will also pull toxins from your system, so make sure you don’t gargle or swallow it. Once the 20 minutes have thankfully passed, spit it out into your green bin or compost bin because coconut oil will clog your drain when it hardens. Make sure to rinse your mouth with water 2-3 times and you’re done.
This is based on the ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling with sesame oil, now more and more being replaced with coconut oil.
In his book, ‘Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing’, Dr. Bruce Fife says: “When you put it in your mouth and work it around your teeth and gums it “pulls” out bacteria and other debris. As simple as it is, oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Our mouths are the home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins… that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems.”
He had me at ‘billions of bacteria’… but parasites? Yuck! So I was very happy to learn that my 20-minute oil pulling efforts might be rewarded with whiter teeth, as coconut oil pulling apparently also helps to whiten teeth. And I have indeed noticed my teeth looking whiter since adding oil pulling to my daily routine!
5- Sensual uses of coconut oil:
For the passionate lover in you, this oil will delight your senses. Use it as a massage oil or personal lubricant for a wonderful natural experience.
As a massage oil, I prefer to use what’s called fractionated* coconut oil because it doesn’t solidify and has no odor. I love creating my own scent blends for added sensuality. My favorite is a simple mix of rose and sandalwood, although those essential oils are quite expensive. For an equally sensual blend but less expensive, you can do a lovely mix of ylang ylang and geranium rose (5 drops of each essential oil in 50ml of fractionated coconut oil). Or an even more economical option would be to add sweet-orange, a very hydrating, uplifting essential oil, and use the left-overs as a body lotion.
As a lubricant, coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the last few years. Commercial lubricants contain parabens, so many women are now turning to more natural lubricant such as coconut oil as a healthy alternative. One of the benefits of using coconut oil is that it washes off easily, thus helping to remove any bacteria more effectively, while also preventing any chemical interactions with condoms. I recommend the deodorized solid organic coconut oil, for obvious practical reasons.
So there you have it, my top 5 fantastic reasons to love coconut oil. Did some of them surprise you? There are so many more wonderful uses for it, I’d love to hear your favorites!
* Fractionated coconut oil: Fractionated coconut oil is literally a fraction of the whole oil. It is processed in a way that removes all the long chain fatty acids, leaving only the healthy medium chain fatty acids, high concentration of Capric acid and Caprylic acid, which gives it an amazing amount of antioxidant and disinfecting properties.
(DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be taken as any form of healing advice. Always do your own research or consult your health care professional before using any products you are not familiar with. Essential oils are for external use only. Always consult your health care professional if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or homeopathic remedies before using any essential oil products. Keep out of reach of children and pets, especially cats and birds. NEVER use essential oils on cats or birds.)