By Farhana Omar Ali
In recent times, coconut oil or copra oil, has become increasingly popular. It is an edible oil extracted from the “meat” of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm and becomes liquid at temperatures above 24°C.
Coconut oil is commonly used for hair loss as its high lauric acid content protects hair by binding the hair proteins, protecting the roots, strengthening, moisturising and providing silkiness, softness and shine. This makes it particularly effective for thinning, limp, straw-like hair that falls out in clumps. Add a few drops of the oil after straightening or styling the hair for a touch of glisten and all day frizz prevention.
Scalp massages with coconut oil create an ideal environment for healthy hair growth as they increase blood flow to the scalp and increase circulation. A great hair treatment to try is by heating about four tablespoons of coconut oil in a container placed in hot water and then massaging your scalp gently with your fingertips in sections no more than two inches thick. This should be followed by lightly oiling the length of the hair strands from root to end to protect the hair from split ends and breakage.
Warm coconut oil massages are effective at reducing migraines, dulling headaches and stress related head pain when gently massaged onto the temples. Coconut oil is said to help grow eyelashes too, so ladies go ahead and apply with a clean spoolie brush on the outward lashes and get those long lashes you desire sansmascara!
When used in oil pulling, organic coconut oil is beneficial in dental health and hygiene. Oil pulling involves swishing around one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes first thing in the morning and then spitting it out followed by regular teeth brushing. This should be repeated three to five times per week for best results. Coconut oil is rich in Vitamin E, K and Iron and when ingested has numerous documented benefits for the body. For consumption purposes, organic/virgin, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil is recommended and is best consumed in the morning. Eating a level tablespoon of organic coconut oil on a daily basis works wonders for skin and hair and a few drops can even make that ordinary chocolate ganache taste heavenly! Another easy way to introduce coconut oil into your daily diet is to use it for cooking as it tastes delicious and adds a sweet earthy scent to the food.
The coconut oil variety doesn’t lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries and the lauric acid in it raises the levels of “good” cholesterol. It puts very limited strain on the digestive system and provides a quick source of energy. However, coconut oil used in excess is not advisable as it contains the largest concentration of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs).
Nevertheless, for hypothyroid sufferers, the MCFAs in coconut oil can help to speed up a sluggish metabolism and assist in weight loss. It also benefits Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) sufferers through aiding in the control of blood sugar levels and improving the secretion of insulin to help reduce the risk of diabetes which is closely linked to PCOS.
Coconut oil is known to kill harmful microorganisms and has anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It works as a great moisturiser by removing dead skin cells and helps to prevent dry, scaly skin and can moisturise dry chapped lips that follow in the winter months. The topical application of coconut oil can improve dermatitis and eczema as well as soothe irritated skin that has been stung or bitten by insects.
Organic coconut oil can easily be found in supermarkets and pharmacies locally but various brands are deceiving as they contain other mineral oils. Always look out for an oil that does not have a very strong scent; very strong smelling oils often have a mixture of other mineral oils and cannot be used for consumption purposes.