Coconut Oil- Bad Or Good, Benefits, Ayurvedic And Contemporary Views

coconut oil

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. 

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.  

Caprylic acid

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.

Ayurvedic logic: 
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. 

36 comments on “Coconut Oil- Bad Or Good, Benefits, Ayurvedic And Contemporary Views

  • Daisy

    11/02/2011 - 11:48 pm

    Thank you. Very detailed Information….

    Reply to comment
  • Marianne

    12/02/2011 - 5:24 am

    I’ve been thinking about adding coconut milk to my diet. Thank you for the article.

    Reply to comment
  • Tripti

    24/04/2011 - 8:06 pm

    Hi Doctor,
    Just wanted to check with you on the usage of Asana Eladi Tailam . Are there any do’s and dont’s for applying this oil on the head.


    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      24/04/2011 - 11:15 pm

      Asana Eladi Tailam is an herbal oil prepared in sesame oil base. It is used for the application over head for the treatment of diseases like earache, headache, giddiness, and other diseases related to eyes, nose and throat. There are no big do’s and don’ts while using this oil. Just follow the doctor’s instructions.

      Reply to comment
  • PS

    12/09/2011 - 6:04 pm

    I am told oil extracted from fresh coconut or coconut milk has totally different properties from the oil extracted from copra (dried coconut). Is this true? Which one should we use?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/09/2011 - 11:07 pm

      The one prepared with fresh coconuts has more benefits than the coconut oil prepared with copras. Because The drying of copras is often done very rapidly with high temperatures. And copra-coconut oils are edible only after refining, bleaching and deodorizing.

      Reply to comment
      • PS

        21/03/2014 - 10:37 pm

        Thank you for your reply. To prepare from coconut milk, one must extract the milk and heat it for a long time — is this the correct method?

        Reply to comment
  • abhijit nair

    29/09/2012 - 10:09 pm

    i have problem of hair loss. is there any problem if i apply eladi coconut oil on head?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      08/10/2012 - 2:12 pm

      There are no problem or apparent side effect with applying eladi coconut oil. But it is usually not used for hair loss. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor for an advice.

      Reply to comment
  • Shereefa

    01/03/2014 - 11:37 am

    Thankyou for this lovely article. Is coconut oil good for massage and skin care routine for vata dominant people?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      01/04/2014 - 10:57 pm

      Because coconut oil is natural coolant, and Vata has coldness as one of its qualities, in cold condition, it is best to avoid in Vata imbalance conditions. If it is heated a little, then it is useful in vata dominant people.

      Reply to comment
  • Shereefa

    29/05/2014 - 8:55 pm

    Very nice article indeed. I know that some people make coconut oil at home by heating the coconut milk collected from fresh coconuts. Is this coconut oil as good or better than the commercial ones. Will the oil lose it’s beneficial properties by making it this way? It won’t be virgin but at least we know it is pure.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/08/2014 - 7:05 pm

      The home made is as good as virgin and better than any market available coconut oil.

      Reply to comment
  • Shereefa

    30/05/2014 - 8:14 am

    Is homemade coconut oil made from heating fresh coconut milk beneficial or does it lose it properties?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/08/2014 - 7:06 pm

      Heating process will not cause any harm to the oil.

      Reply to comment
  • Afreen

    12/08/2014 - 3:53 am

    Is homemade coconut oil ( made by cooking coconut cream until it leaves oil) good for skin or does it lose it’s benefits?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      12/08/2014 - 8:53 am

      It doesn’t lose its benefits. It is useful indeed.

      Reply to comment
  • Javid

    30/09/2014 - 11:32 am

    Hello Doctor, Using coconut oil or coconut chutney regularly can cause or increase in lepoma? I am addicted to coconut chutney and using it for a while mostly two times a day but now I found few lepomas in various parts of my body.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/10/2014 - 7:09 pm

      Hi, I do not think it causes increase of lipoma.

      Reply to comment
      • Mukul

        04/05/2021 - 8:57 pm

        What are your opinion about cold-pressed coconut oil? Is it good to use as a nasal drops?

        Reply to comment
        • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

          14/05/2021 - 2:28 pm

          It is useful in cases of excessive burning sensation in the eyes, nasal passage, during hot summer and autumn season, when Pitta dosha is high.
          It is not good to do coconut oil nasya when a person has cough and cold.

          Reply to comment
  • riyas

    08/11/2015 - 5:46 am

    coconut oil use hair direct apply hair or boil to use hair ,best?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      08/11/2015 - 8:50 am

      The market available coconut oil can be directly applied on hair.

      Reply to comment
  • Sanjeev Chauhan

    12/07/2018 - 11:24 pm

    In article, it is written, “For preparing hair oils, no other base is as good as coconut oil.” Can you give reference of this, from which text?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      10/08/2018 - 12:43 pm

      Hi, there is no such direct reference.

      Reply to comment
  • Sweta Gusain

    25/07/2020 - 6:53 pm

    Namaste! Can you tell if one should use cold pressed oils for cooking or refined oils are also equally good?

    Reply to comment
  • Radhavallabha Das

    26/09/2020 - 11:14 pm

    Does Ayurveda recommend dip fried banana chips? Some say only ghee is good for deep frying. Kindly clarify if oil is recommended for dip frying in Ayurveda.

    Reply to comment
  • srikumar

    30/11/2020 - 12:11 pm

    HI doctor, easy is safe to drink coconut oil everyday before going to sleep? or it should be consumed early morning on empty stomach. i am not able to sleep when i drink at night. i am pitta aata dosha.

    Reply to comment
  • Yogesh

    01/05/2021 - 11:07 pm

    Thanks. Doctor for a nice article and answers. I am a healthy person of age 50. I want to use coconut in my daily diet. Please suggest…fresh coconut giro or copra giri of oil…which one is best and how much. Regards and thanks

    Reply to comment
  • rajendar menen

    15/05/2021 - 2:18 pm

    Can you do a whole article on the benefits of cow urine? There is a lot of confusion about it.

    Reply to comment

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