Coming from what is known as the “tree of life” in other countries, coconut oil is a valuable oil not only for its nutritional purposes, but also for its many other health benefits. From the Arecaceae or the Palmae family, coconuts have the botanical name of Cocos nucifera and belong to the plant family more commonly known as palm family. It is the only species of the Cocos genus, and the trees are large palms which can reach heights of up to 30 feet and grow in tropical countries. The word “coconut” is used for the fruit of this palm tree which usually grows in tropical countries, and coconut oil is also known as coconut butter.
In the Philippines, coconut trees are fondly referred to as the “tree of life” because of its many uses. The natives would use the wood as lumber, the leaves for making roofing materials, baskets, and brooms, and the fruits as well as the roots as food ingredients. These trees usually grow in beaches and even tourists are familiar with fresh coconut water or “buko juice” which is the refreshing content of the big fruit. Traditional healers also value this fruits for its medicinal healing properties.
Not only is this oil highly regarded in the Philippines, it is also valued in East Africa. The native population turns to this plant for medicinal purposes as well for several illnesses. Their native healers use palm kernel oil as a health tonic ingredient.
For the purpose of getting coconut oil, copra or the dried coconut meat from its seed is used. Its main chemical constituents include several good fatty acids such as stearic, oleic, palmitic, myristic, linoleic, lauric, capric, and caprylic. Coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, depurative, emollient, and immunostimulant properties when ingested or applied topically. It is also widely used as an ingredient for skin tonics and other cosmetic products aimed to help the skin.
Since a lot of people now want natural options for weight loss, there have been claims that adding coconut oil to the diet can increase energy, balances the body’s hormone levels and stimulates the function of the thyroid gland. Since this oil regulates the metabolism as well, it can help promote weight loss. It is also better for cooking because it contains good fats.
As a topical natural remedy, it can be used for damaged and dry skin, bruises, and minor cuts since it can help speed up the healing rate and fights infection formation as well. Coconut oil naturally penetrates the skin and is easily absorbed which helps fight the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. It also helps in exfoliation and can be used as a natural hair conditioner when applied to the hair for 15 minutes.
Dabbing a thin layer of oil to dry or damaged skin is enough to do wonders, and using coconut oil for food preparation purposes has no known negative side effects.