Countless Uses for Coconut Oil
Article page |
Health page |
Fruits and Vegetables
Heroes & Incredible peoples
Coconut oil is a powerful inhibitor of a large variety of pathogenic
organisms, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa, largely due to its
naturally high lauric acid content
Besides internal health benefits, coconut oil has countless other
uses, from topical beauty applications, to oral health and first aid
treatments, to general household cleaning and sanitizing
Learn how coconut oil can replace 14 of your most commonly used
beauty products and beautify even hard-to-control hair
Ten simple first aid and medicinal uses for coconut oil are
reviewed, from treating ear infections and nosebleeds to soothing
hemorrhoids and cold sores, to combating head lice without toxic
Also included are 14 surprising uses for coconut oil around the
house, such as sanitizing and conditioning wooden cutting boards,
moisturizing leather goods and lubricating everything from squeaky
hinges to guitar strings
By Dr. Mercola
Coconut oil has been a dietary and beauty
staple for millennia. It’s a powerful destroyer of all kinds of microbes,
from viruses to bacteria to protozoa, many of which can be harmful, and
provides your body with high-quality fat that is critical for optimal
Around 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil
is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature. In fact, coconut oil
contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth.
Your body converts lauric acid into
monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses
such as HIV and herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and
protozoa such as giardia lamblia.
This is undoubtedly part of what makes it so
medicinally useful—both when taken internally and applied externally.
Coconut oil is comprised of medium chain
fatty acids (MCFAs) that are easily digested and readily cross cell
membranes. MCFAs are immediately converted by your liver into energy rather
than being stored as fat. This is in part why I recommend coconut oil as an
ideal replacement for non-vegetable carbohydrates.
Coconut oil is easy on your digestive system
and does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream, so for a quick
energy boost, you could simply eat a spoonful of coconut oil, or add it to
your food. In the video above, I also share my recipe for a scrumptious yet
healthful chocolate treat, courtesy of the healthy fat from coconut
To get more coconut oil into your diet, you
can add it to your tea or coffee, in lieu of a sweetener. It will also help
improve absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, so taking a spoonful of coconut
oil along with your daily vitamins may help boost their effectiveness.
Coconut oil is ideal for all sorts of
cooking and baking, as it can withstand higher temperatures without being
damaged like many other oils (olive oil, for example, should not be used for
cooking for this reason).
Furthermore, coconut oil does not go rancid,
which is a huge boon when you’re making homemade concoctions. Coconut oil
that has been kept at room temperature for a year has been tested for
rancidity, and showed no evidence of it. Since you would expect the small
percentage of unsaturated oils naturally contained in coconut oil to become
rancid, it seems that the other (saturated) oils have a powerful antioxidant
General Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
coconut oil offers a truly impressive array of health benefits when
included in your daily diet. In addition to its antimicrobial properties,
coconut oil is beneficial for:
Promoting heart health
Supporting proper thyroid function
healthy brain function
Strengthening your immune system
Providing an excellent “fuel” for your
body and supporting a strong metabolism that can aid in weight loss
Maintaining healthy and youthful
While coconut oil is an ideal food for
fostering health and beauty from the inside out, it also has a staggering
number of other uses, from topical beauty applications to first aid
treatments, to general household cleaning.1,
2 Once you’re done reading
through this article, you’ll probably be inspired to stock up for all
Coconut Oil Can Replace Dozens of Beauty and
Personal Care Products
One of the best personal care products
you'll ever find may be sitting in your kitchen cupboard right now. The
video above, featuring HolisticHabits3
blogger and coconut oil aficionado Sarah, recounts many of its beauty uses.
The second video includes a recipe making your own coconut oil-based
deodorant. A previous article by Delicious Obsessions4
also lists no less than 122 creative uses for this household staple,
including 21 DIY coconut oil skin care recipes.5
For example, coconut oil can be used to replace the following personal care
and beauty products.
Makeup remover: Swipe
on with a moist cotton ball. Wipe off with clean cotton ball or wet
Massage a dollop of coconut oil onto face and neck. Wash off with
wet washcloth and pat dry.
Body scrub: Mix equal
parts coconut oil with organic cane sugar in a glass jar. Use the
scrub on dry skin prior to your shower or bath.
Facial scrub: Instead
of sugar, mix coconut oil with baking soda, or oatmeal with a dash
of cinnamon, for a gentle facial scrub.
Shaving lotion: Apply
a thin layer of coconut oil on area to be shaved, and shave as
usual. The lauric acid in the coconut oil will also serve as an
antiseptic for cuts that result from shaving.
Face and body moisturizer:
You can use it either by itself, or add your favorite essential oil.
(Make sure you’re using a high quality essential oil that is safe
for topical application.) The featured article6
also suggests whipping the coconut oil with an electric mixer to
produce a fluffy moisturizer that stays soft and spreadable even in
When applied topically, coconut oil helps to reduce the appearance
of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep your connective
tissues strong and supple, and aids in exfoliating the outer layer
of dead skin cells, making your skin smoother.
Eye cream: Apply a
thin layer of coconut oil around your eyes to soften wrinkles and
counteract thinning, sagging skin.
Cuticle cream: Simply
rub a small amount of coconut oil around your cuticles to soften dry
Applying a small amount of coconut oil directly onto your armpits
can help keep odors at bay, courtesy of the oil’s antibacterial
properties. If you prefer, you can add a small amount of baking
soda, or make a homemade deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda
and arrow root powder. For directions, see the second video above.
DeliciousObsessions.com also lists additional deodorant recipes
using coconut oil as the base.7
Bath soak: Adding
coconut oil to your bath can help moisturize dry itchy skin (Make
sure to scrub your tub afterward to prevent slipping!). Make sure
the water is warmer than 76 degrees Fahrenheit though, otherwise the
oil will turn to a solid.
Coconut oil is one of the base ingredients in many
homemade soap recipes, such as this one by NourishingJoy.com8
You can either apply a small amount of
coconut oil, as is, or make your own lip balm using coconut oil as
one of the base ingredients. You can find all sorts of recipes
online, but here’s one by The Liberated Kitchen.9
Mixed with baking soda, coconut oil can
replace your regular toothpaste. The baking soda will gently cleanse
while the coconut oil’s antibacterial action may help keep harmful
bacteria in check. For recipes using essential oils to spruce up
your toothpaste, see
Mixing coconut oil with high-quality
essential oils may help keep biting insects at bay when applied to
exposed skin. Effective choices include: peppermint, lemon balm,
rosemary, tea tree oil, neem,
citronella (Java Citronella), geraniol, catnip oil (according to
catnip oil is 10 times more effective than DEET), and/or clear
Hair’s Best Friend
Coconut oil is also known for its hair
Most women seem to prefer using it as a pre-shampoo conditioner. Simply
massage the coconut oil onto dry hair and leave on for about an hour or
longer. You could even leave it on overnight. Just wear a shower cap to
protect your pillow. Then, wash and style as usual.
When applied in this manner, the coconut oil
inhibits the penetration of water into the hair strands, which would
otherwise cause the cuticle, or surface of the hair shaft, to rise, making
it prone to damage and breakage. Furthermore, when applied as a pre-wash
treatment, a small amount of the coconut oil is able to penetrate deeper
into the hair shaft during the wash, when the hair fiber swells slightly.
This can also explain why so many rave about
the oil's ability to prevent "the frizzies" in humid weather—this is another
feature of its hydrophobic activity. More porous types of hair may find
coconut oil particularly beneficial, such as African and chemically treated
hair, as well as those suffering with any type of scalp problems, including
Oral Health Benefits
As mentioned above, coconut oil mixed with
baking soda makes for very simple and inexpensive, yet effective,
toothpaste. It’s also a great alternative if you want a fluoride-free
toothpaste but don’t want to spend the extra money, since they tend to cost
more than most regular, fluoridated toothpaste brands.
Another oral health technique where I
believe coconut oil can be quite beneficial is oil pulling. This technique
has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer
between visits to the dental hygienist. (Adding fermented vegetables to my
diet has been another game-changer in my oral health.)
Oil pulling is a practice dating back
thousands of years, having originated with Ayurvedic medicine. When oil
pulling is combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, I believe
it can be a very powerful health tool. Sesame oil is traditionally
recommended, but it has relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils.
Therefore, I believe coconut oil is far superior, and, in my mind, it tastes
better. But from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, it is likely that
Oil pulling involves rinsing your mouth with
the oil, much like you would with a mouthwash. The oil is “worked” around
your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a
period of 15 minutes. If you are obsessive like me and want even better
results, you can go for 30-45 minutes. This process allows the oil to “pull
out” bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris. The best time is in the
morning before eating breakfast, but it can be done at any time. I try to do
it twice a day if my schedule allows. When done, spit out the oil and rinse
your mouth with water. Avoid swallowing the oil as it will be loaded with
bacteria and whatever potential toxins and debris it has pulled out.
When done correctly, oil pulling has a
significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing affect, not only for your
mouth and sinuses but for the rest of your body as well. Candida and
Streptococcus are common residents in your mouth, and these germs and their
toxic waste products can contribute to plaque accumulation and tooth decay,
in addition to secondary infections and
chronic inflammation throughout your body. Oil pulling may help
lessen the overall toxic burden on your immune system by preventing the
spread of these organisms from your mouth to the rest of your body, by way
of your bloodstream.
Coconut Oil to the Rescue
Besides its usefulness in the kitchen and
bathroom, coconut oil deserves a place in your medicine cabinet as
well—again courtesy of its antimicrobial and anti-viral activity. For
example, coconut oil may be helpful in the treatment of:
Ear infections: Place
a couple of drops into each ear canal. If the coconut oil has
solidified, you can easily liquefy it by placing a small amount in a
shot glass or other small container and placing it into a cup of hot
Skin rashes and irritations,
including chicken pox and shingles: Simply apply a small amount to
the affected area
Fungal and/or yeast infections,
such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. For fungal infections, you can
mix in a small amount of oregano oil or tea tree oil
Bug bites and bee stings
Cold sores: mix in a
small amount of oregano oil, and apply at the first signs
may be improved by regularly applying a small amount to the inside
of your nostrils
Hemorrhoids and piles:
You may add a small amount of lavender essential oil for added
Expectant mothers can use it to massage the perineum daily, starting
about a month or so before your due date, to help reduce your
chances of tearing and/or the need for an episiotomy
Coconut Oil—More Effective Than Permethrin for
According to research published in the
European Journal of Pediatrics,14
a combination of coconut oil and anise was found to be nearly twice
as effective as the commonly prescribed permethrin lotion for the treatment
of head lice. According to the authors:
“We designed a randomized,
controlled, parallel group trial involving 100 participants with active
head louse infestation to investigate the activity of a coconut and
anise spray and to see whether permethrin lotion is still effective,
using two applications of product 9 days apart. The spray was
significantly more successful (41/50, 82.0%) cures compared with
permethrin (21/50, 42.0%...). Per-protocol success was 83.3% and 44.7%,
respectively. Thirty-three people reported irritant reactions following
alcohol contact with excoriated skin. We concluded that, although
permethrin lotion is still effective for some people, the
coconut and anise spray can be a significantly more effective
alternative treatment.” [Emphasis mine]
Isn’t it wonderful to see how nature
provides us with so many effective solutions to so many of our ills? And
does so in a way that is oftentimes more effective than our
chemical drug concoctions! Another anecdotal Hawaiian head lice treatment15
is to first soak your hair in vinegar and leave it in to dry (don’t rinse).
Next, coat your hair with coconut oil over night. I’d recommend sleeping
with a shower cap to protect your bedding. The following day, the nits
reportedly comb out easily.
14 Surprising Uses for Coconut Oil Around the
Last but not least, coconut oil can be used
for a number of household tasks otherwise relegated to more costly, and
potentially toxic, alternatives. Following are 14 creative yet practical
uses for this fantastic oil:
1. Clean, condition and sanitize your
wooden cutting board. Use whenever the wood starts to look dry.
2. Use when making compost tea16
for your garden to reduce foam.
3. Use as a metal polish. Make sure to
test a small area first.
4. Moisturize and soften leather goods
as you would using other leather conditioners.
5. Season your cast iron pots and
using coconut oil in lieu of lard or corn oil.
6. Lubricate squeaky hinges and sticky
mechanisms with coconut oil instead of WD-40.
7. Clean and condition wooden furniture
in lieu of furniture polish. Make sure to test a small area first.
8. Lubricate your guitar strings.
9. Clean soap scum from your shower
using a small dollop of coconut oil on a damp cloth. Spray the area
with white vinegar and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth.
10. Clean your hands and paint brushes
with coconut oil after using oil-based paints, in lieu of mineral
11. Clean and condition the inside of
your car by adding a small amount to a soft lint-free cloth. Rub in
and wipe off excess.
12. Clean and sanitize your mouth guard
by applying a thin layer of coconut oil. Leave the coconut oil on
when not in use. Rinse before using.
13. Cleanse and add a glossy finish to
indoor plants by wiping the leaves with a small amount of coconut
oil on a lint-free cloth.
14. Remove chewing gum from virtually
any area, including carpets and hair.