When you grow up in a country like India, it is unlikely that you haven’t been exposed to coconut in some or the other form. Oiling my hair with coconut oil was a weekly chore. Every Sunday we would get our hair oiled and head massaged before it was washed. The South Indians are well known for their thick, long and jet black hair.
The famous banana wafers from Kerala are prepared in coconut oil. In fact in South India, coconut oil is the only oil used for cooking. I cannot miss mentioning the traditional revitalising oil massages found in many parts in India where coconut oil is used.
It is only recently, however, that I understood fully the magical benefits of this oil when someone recommended “oil pulling” to me. For those of you who do not know what that is, let me explain. Oil pulling a wonderful oral hygiene method that makes your teeth whiter, gums healthy and pink and breath fresher. Benefits of oil pulling don’t just end there.
Research has shown that this simple technique is known to heal chronic diseases. I have been oil pulling for a few months now and recently when I visited my dentist for my annual check-up, he was quite impressed with the health of my gums and teeth.
What’s the magic in Coconut Oil? For the longest time coconut oil was considered dangerous and unhealthy due to its saturated fat content. It was believed to be responsible for cardiovascular diseases. This belief has gone through a lot of transformation since. Several health benefits are attributed to coconut oil. For example, strengthened immunity, improved digestion, benefits to skin and hair and so on. People are once again waking up to the magic of coconut oil and it is gaining popularity throughout the world.
Let’s try and understand how coconut oil benefits us:
Skin Benefits – Coconut oil is widely used in tropical countries for massages. It has moisturising properties and aids in slowing down aging of the skin by delaying appearance of wrinkles and drying of the skin. Due to its anti-oxidizing properties, diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and other skin infections can be prevented.
Benefits to Hair – Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for the hair. Applying warm coconut oil on the scalp using the tip of your fingers and massaging it offers many benefits such as blood circulation, no dryness, relief from dandruff, etc.
Nail Softener – It has been found that coconut oil is an excellent cuticle softener. Applying a few drops of the oil on your nails will soften them and protect them from the damage caused by excessive use of nail paints.
Healing infections – Coconut oil possesses anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. This helps it in fighting and healing infections, bruises and cuts. Applying the oil to the affected area creates a protective layer and aids in speedy healing.
Dental care – As mentioned earlier, using the oil pulling method, coconut oil keeps the teeth and gums health and the mouth bacteria free, thus promoting oral dental hygiene.
Stress Relief – Massaging your head with warm coconut oil provides relief from headache and gives relief from stress.
Builds Immunity – For the same reason coconut oil heals infections, it also helps build your immunity and protects it from harmful bacteria causing diseases.
Controlling Diabetes – Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.
Bone Health – Due to its ability aid the body in absorbing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, coconut oil is very good for the bones. Including coconut oil in your diet through cooking can facilitate the mineral absorption ultimately leading to strong and healthy bones.
There are several types of coconut oil available in the market and each has its own use and benefits:
- For cooking, it is advised to use refined coconut oil
- Extra-virgin coconut oils can be used for healing, health and weight loss purposes.
- For hair, virgin or refined oil may be used.
I use extra-virgin for my skin and nails. Coconut oil is easily available in local markets and online, particularly in tropical countries. They don’t cost that much since they are considered staple in India.
I hope you found this piece on coconut oil useful. I would love to hear from you on your experiences with using coconut oil. Do drop your feedback or comment at the bottom of the page.