Hailed as a wonder supplement and superfood, virgin coconut oil (also known as VCO) is fast becoming known for its extraordinary healing properties and potential benefits. Unlike refined coconut oil, raw, organic, unrefined VCO retains essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that provide it with many health benefits.
So why should you use virgin coconut oil and how does it work?
High in lauric acid, it can help to fight off infections, reduce inflammations and maintain a healthy immune system. Lauric acid is a main component of breast milk and has long been recognized for its anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
As well as helping the body to absorb calcium, VCO helps to promote healthy teeth and gums when used in oil pulling (a method that involves swishing the oil around your mouth to remove toxins), as its anti-bacterial agents reduce existing bacteria and inhibit future growth.
Oil pulling with virgin coconut oil can also help to naturally whiten teeth (we’re not talking Simon Cowell here, but you should see some difference after a few weeks).
It’s claimed to be effective in regulating blood glucose levels, and numerous diabetics support this belief, with some stating that adding it to their diet has reversed their condition and enabled them to cease using prescription drugs. (Diabetics should always discuss dietary supplements with their doctor).
Whether you ingest it or use it topically as a hair treatment, it can have a dramatic effect on the condition of your hair, helping to strengthen it, prevent breakage and promote growth. It’s also thought that the anti-fungal agents can help to eliminate dandruff.
VCO can be used internally and externally as an effective addition to your skincare routine. Crammed with antioxidants and rich in vitamin E, it’s reported to treat skin ailments, including eczema and psoriasis, with astonishing success. Many acne sufferers also state that using it regularly has significantly improved their complexion by fading unsightly acne scars, minimizing inflammation and reducing the severity of breakouts (although it may cause acne to worsen initially, as toxins are expelled).
Other accounts assert that it has diminished stretch marks, ameliorated the appearance of sun-damaged skin and notably decreased wrinkles.
Packed with anti-inflammatory properties, it’s often used to treat sunburn, by relieving redness, soothing pain and preventing peeling. Some sun worshippers also vouch for its use as a suntan lotion, claiming it stops them from burning and promotes an even tan.
While medically unproven, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may impede the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and potentially reverse it; reports theorize that this is due to the medium-chain fatty acids in VCO that convert to ketones when metabolized by the liver. Studies have shown that ketone bodies provide an alternate fuel source for brain cells - vital to Alzheimer’s sufferers who gradually lose the ability to metabolize glucose in the brain, causing cells to die.
Good news ladies! Many women report that PMS symptoms, such as tiredness, pain, bloating and irritability, were greatly reduced after introducing VCO to their diet.
Studies indicate that the medium-chain fatty acids also increase metabolism, raise energy levels and promote satiety, decreasing the temptation to snack. Some people include it in their diet by using it to replace ordinary cooking oils, while others consume it as a supplement (I do both); however, it should be introduced gradually as it has a natural purging effect, which may initially cause digestive upsets, headaches or skin breakouts.
When included in the diet and also used as a massage oil, it may decrease cellulite. The anti-inflammatory agents and fatty acids are believed to help reduce the appearance of this condition by boosting metabolism and burning off unhealthy fat deposits beneath the skin.
Virgin coconut oil may not be a miracle cure for everyone, but it’s difficult to ignore the huge volume of testimonials that it’s attracted. I use it for cooking (it’s delicious), oil pulling, as part of my skin care routine and as a body moisturizer and after-sun lotion. Let me know if it works for you!