April 30, 2016

Coconut Oil

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What other names is Coconut Oil known by?

Aceite de Coco, Acide Gras de Noix de Coco, Coconut Fatty Acid, Coconut Palm, Coco Palm, Coconut, Cocos nucifera, Cocotier, Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, Fermented Coconut Oil, Huile de Coco, Huile de Noix de Coco, Huile de Noix de Coco Pressée à Froid, Huile Vierge de Noix de Coco, Narikela, Noix de Coco, Palmier, Virgin Coconut Oil.

What is Coconut Oil?

Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm. The oil of the nut (fruit) is used to make medicine.

Some coconut oil products are referred to as "virgin" coconut oil. Unlike olive oil, there is no industry standard for the meaning of "virgin" coconut oil. The term has come to mean that the oil is generally unprocessed. For example, virgin coconut oil usually has not been bleached, deodorized, or refined.

Some coconut oil products claim to be "cold pressed" coconut oil. This generally means that a mechanical method of pressing out the oil is used, but without the use of any outside heat source. The high pressure needed to press out the oil generates some heat naturally, but the temperature is controlled so that temperatures do not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coconut oil is used for diabetes, heart disease, chronic fatigue, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Alzheimer's disease, thyroid conditions, energy, and boosting the immune system. Ironically, despite coconut oil's high calorie and saturated fat content, some people use it to lose weight and lower cholesterol.

Coconut oil is sometimes applied to the skin as a moisturizer and to treat a skin condition called psoriasis.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Head lice. Developing research shows that a spray containing coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil appears to be effective for treating head lice in children. It seems to work about as well as a spray containing chemical insecticides.
  • Psoriasis. Applying coconut oil to the skin before treatment of psoriasis with ultraviolet B (UVB) or psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) light therapy doesn't seem to improve effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Heart disease. A study in India suggested that eating coconut or taking coconut oil doesn't seem to affect the chances of having a heart attack or developing chest pain (angina).
  • Obesity. Some developing research shows that taking coconut oil 10 mL three times daily might reduce waist size after 1-6 weeks of use.
  • Newborn weight gain. Some research shows that massaging premature newborns with coconut oil can improve weight gain and growth.
  • High cholesterol. Some research suggests that dietary use of coconut oil is linked to increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol, but does not increase levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. However, a study comparing a diet rich in coconut oil to diets rich in beef fat or safflower oil found that coconut oil can increase both HDL and LDL cholesterol.
  • Diarrhea. A study in children found that incorporating coconut oil into the diet can reduce the length of diarrhea, but another study found that it was no more effective than a cow milk-based diet. The effect of coconut oil alone is not clear.
  • Dry skin. Developing research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin twice daily can improve skin moisture in people with dry skin.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Crohn's disease.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Thyroid conditions.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate coconut oil for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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