Coconut oil is one of the most debated dietary substance for its benefits and hazards. Coconut oil is used in Indian customs since thousands of years. The Coconut oil is in use since the time of Sushruta Samhita, around 2000 years back. But recent Dietary guidelines for Americans categorizes coconut oil as a food to be avoided. In this light, a comprehensive all-inclusive discussion will be helpful to clear the air.
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Coconut oil – Ayurveda details
Coconut and coconut oils are widely used in Ayurveda, in the form of –
- Food ingredient
- For external application
- For internal administration
Health benefits of coconut oil
Sushruta has described Coconut oil health benefits as follows –
- It is a natural coolant.
- It takes relatively long time to undergo digestion.
- Improves hair quality and strength. Promotes hair growth.
- It is a natural aphrodisiac.
- Nourishes the under-nourished body tissues.
- Useful in the treatment of certain diseases like emaciation, debility, respiratory conditions, diabetes, urinary system disorders.
- Coconut oil for skin: Quickens and helps in filling up of skin depression in wounds.
- Calms Vata and Pitta, Supports Kapha.
There are a number of Ayurvedic herbal medicines with coconut oil as the base, that are used predominantly externally and also internally for many health conditions. It is sweet in taste, bulk promoting and strengthening in nature, helps in nourishing hair and promoting hair growth also removes excess of pitta and vata dosha.
Example: (Caution: Meant only for information. Self medication is dangerous)
- Asana Eladi Kera Tailam (Asana Eladi coconut oil) – useful in the treatment of skin diseases and disorders related to head and ear.
- Chemparuthyadi Keratailam – useful in eczema, and paediatric conditions.
- Dhurdhurapatradi Keratailam – Useful in dandruff, itching and eczema.
- Eladi coconut oil – Useful in skin conditions.
- Karpooradi coconut oil – pains, cramps, rheumatic joint complaints.
- Kayyanyadi coconut oil – Used in the treatment of headache. Improves quality of hair.
Contemporary views about coconut oil
Different views regarding coconut oil –
- Coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acid, which is bad for the heart and increases cholesterol. Coconut oil is considered under solid fats, and is advised to be replaced with oils wherever possible.
- Coconut oil is a major source of Lauric acid, a fatty acid, which is claimed to benefit in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus.
- Though coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids, there is a structural difference. It is rich in medium size triglycerides.
- Wikipedia enlists two clinical trials with coconut oil –
- A single-blind randomized controlled trial on children with pneumonia at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center found that coconut oil accelerated the normalization of respiratory rate and resolution of crackles.
- A randomized double-blind clinical trial with 40 women exhibiting obesity found that supplementation with coconut oil promoted a reduction in obesity without causing dyslipidemia.
Coconut oil – good or bad? Discussion and conclusion
- According to Ayurveda, coconut oil is nourishing in nature, when taken internally. Hence used in emaciation, debility etc.
- Ayurveda also explains coconut oil’s benefits in respiratory condition, which is supported by the clinical trial proving its efficacy in Pneumonia in children.
- Ayurveda hails external use of coconut oil to promote hair growth, wound healing, as a natural coolant and in conditions like eczema.
- Coconut oil is processed with medicinal herbs and used in many diseases.
- Convincing research evidence is present to prove that coconut is not really the direct cause for obesity or high cholesterol. In Kerala, a southern state of India, coconut oil is used in almost all the dishes. (My favourite is Banana chips. Must admit, I love it. 🙂 )If coconut oil was really the cause for obesity, Kerala should have been the abode of obese people, which is not the case.
- Having said that, it is not advisable for people with obesity and high cholesterol to include coconut oil in the diet.
- For preparing hair oils, no other base is as good as coconut oil.
- Other uses of coconut oil are – skin moisturizer & softener.
- For a normal healthy individual, coconut oil is very good to be included in regular diet, but in limited quantities.
- Use it in limits and enjoy its benefits.
Non sticky coconut oil – I do not believe or endorse ‘thin’ and ‘non sticky’ coconut oil for hair. Natural form of coconut oil is the best form to apply to hair or to skin.
Coconut oil for diabetes
I do not recommend coconut oil as a remedy for diabetes, however, usage of a teaspoon per day, in diet, would help in improving blood sugar levels. Before using it, Take 500 ml of coconut oil in a pan, add 15 – 20 neem leaves or curry leaves (Kadi Pata) and heat the oil in mild fire for five minutes. Take care not to burn the oil. Then filter it. Use this oil for cooking. It helps to improve its effectiveness against diabetes.
If diabetic people have burning sensation in hands and feet, coconut oil can be applied to relieve it.
Coconut oil for piles (haemorrhoids) / fissure
Comment by Mr Amit:
Friends, the ultimate solution to piles/haemorrhoids and related problems…simply apply a good quality coconut oil in anus after evacuation of stools for three consecutive days and see the result. Earlier I used Himalaya and other allopathic ointments and Abhayarishtam and homeopathy medicines for couple of years. But every time I discontinued those, the problems like burning, bleeding and stinging pain came back. Sometime ago, while glancing through online write-ups regarding piles I came across one suggesting to use coconut oil. First I did not believe it. Then I thought of trying the coconut oil. Results were beyond my imagination: no pain, no bleeding and no burning. Now I can sit at one place and drive for hours. I apply coconut oil (Patanjali) only once a day and am no longer taking any medicines. I think home cooked coconut oil would be more effective. Just try this!!!
Coconut oil in cough and cold
Can coconut oil be taken when one has cough and cold?
As per Ayurveda, coconut oil is useful to balance down Vata and Pitta. It can increase Kapha Dosha.
Cough and cold symptoms are mainly due to Kapha dosha increase. So, taking coconut oil can worsen cough and cold.
if the person has cough and cold, it is best to avoid coconut oil till cough is relieved.
It is a medium-chain fatty acid, found in coconut oil. It is used for the treatment of epilepsy, tremors, seizures, chronic kidney diseases, gastritis. It can also lower blood pressure.
Best time to take coconut oil
What time of the day is recommended for coconut oil consumption?
Because it is rich in calories, it is best to take it in the morning or afternoon. The idea behind this is, you will be burning the extra calories throughout the day. It is good to mix coconut oil with hot and freshly prepared foods. It can also be taken along with or before or after a hot coffee / tea.
If you divide the day into three parts, morning is dominated by Kapha Dosha and afternoon is dominated by Pitta. So, if you take the coconut oil along with your lunch (mixed, or before lunch), it will be an ideal time. It helps to keep the dominant Pitta Dosha balanced.
Why is night not a good time for coconut oil intake?
Coconut oil is a highly nutrient rich and coolant oil. Some people with weak digestion strength, sinusitis, cold and cough may see their symptoms worsening when they take coconut oil at night.
For obese people also, night is not an ideal time, as it is rich in calories and those calories will be stored in the body, rather than being spent.
Read related: Night Food Is Very Important. Watch What You Eat At Night
For people who do not have these issues, for people with stronger digestion strength, for people seeking calm and deep sleep, they can still take coconut oil at night.
If you fear worsening of sinusitis, cough or cold, still if you wish to take it at night, then consider adding 1 – 2 pinches of ginger to it before taking.
Daily dose of coconut oil is 1 – 2 teaspoons per day.
Always remember to drink warm water or to consume warm, hot foods while taking coconut oil. It helps in its digestion.