Virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed from fresh, ripe coconut meat, has the highest saturated fat content of any common food oil, according to the "Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia." Although the nutritional health community does not fully agree on whether coconut oil is a particularly healthy food, there are several clinical studies that suggest medicinal uses for the oil. Other alternative medicine applications are grounded in centuries of tradition. Although coconut oil is generally considered safe, rare coconut allergies do exist, and allergic reactions can be severe.
According to "Coconut: Rediscovered as Medicinal Food," coconut oil has been used for centuries as a natural skin moisturizer in the tropical areas where coconut grows naturally. It remains a popular skin moisturizer today, and clinical studies have verified its ability to safely and effectively treat dry skin. A 2004 study conducted at the Makati Medical Center in the Philippines and later published by the National Institutes of Health found that extra-virgin coconut oil significantly improved skin hydration and suggested that it might do so more effectively than mineral oil, another common dry skin treatment. Organic Facts states that coconut oil is commonly used for other specific dry skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema and dandruff.
A "U.S. News and World Report" article says coconut oil is composed of medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, unlike most natural oils, which are generally composed of long-chain triglycerides. This medium-chain structure makes coconut oil more nutritionally valuable as a saturated fat because it is more readily digestible. One MCT in particular, lauric acid, might have powerful immune system benefits. Your body converts lauric acid into a compound that can attach itself to the lipid proteins of active viruses, preventing them from attacking healthy cells. This compound has demonstrated effectiveness against influenza, herpes simplex 1 and even HIV, according to "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," which adds that the compound can also fight against fungus, yeast, bacteria and worms.
The People's Pharmacy states that coconut oil is also safe and effective when used as a sexual lubricant and than it can help relieve dry vaginal tissues. Coconut oil should never be used in combination with latex condoms, however, as latex is only compatible with water-based lubricants. Coconut oil and other oil-based lubricants can cause latex to weaken and break. The book "Red Hot Touch: A Head-to-Toe Handbook for Mind-Blowing Orgasms" also advocates using extra-virgin coconut oil for lubricant as a means of avoiding yeast infections and the growth of other bacteria or fungus in the vagina. The book also notes that as a pleasant-tasting edible oil, coconut oil won't discourage oral sex as some synthetic lubricants might.
- Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia: Audrey H. Ensminger
- National Institutes of Health: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial Comparing Extra Virgin Coconut Oil With Mineral Oil as a Moisturizer for Mild to Moderate Xerosis
- Coconut: Rediscovered as Medicinal Food; Harald Tietze
- Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
- U.S. News & World Report: Do Coconut Oil and Coconut Water Provide Health Benefits?
- People's Pharmacy: Coconut Oil for Personal Lubrication
- PRNewswire: Monolaurin: A Wonder Immune Boosting Component