Coconut oil – it’s so much more than the smell of your favorite sunblock lotion. In fact, coconut oil is quickly becoming known as a “superfood” here in the United States because of the positive effects on the body due to a unique combination of fatty acids. People have discovered wondrous properties of coconut oil – everything from cosmetic benefits (shiny hair and smooth skin) to immune health. In 2017, the United States consumed 402 metric tons of coconut oil.1 That’s a lot of coconuts!
The coconut is often seen as a tropical fruit that is filled with a savory, sweet juice. And yes, the juice is an excellent refreshment, but it’s in the “meat” of the coconut (the white part) where the benefits await, all due to some healthy fatty acids known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
One particularly powerful MCT found in coconut oil is Caprylic Acid which has amazing antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. What can these properties do for you? It can help fight candida (overgrowth of yeast in the body), battle against urinary tract infections (UTI), aid in digestion, and more.
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of coconut oil, and you’ll be introduced to Caprylic Acid – what it is and how it can help you, especially in regards to battling bacterial infections, such as UTIs.
The Amazing Drupe and Its Coconut Oil Benefits
Did you know that the coconut can be described as a fruit, a nut, and a seed?2 Officially, though, the coconut is a dry drupe (a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed). When the “meat” of the coconut is dried, called copra, it contains 60-65% of coconut oil.30 And within the coconut oil, over 60% is comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are fatty acids that, unlike longer-chain fatty acids, go straight to the liver where they can be used as an instant energy source.3 A fast energy source is less likely to be stored as fat, so coconut oil can be praised as the fat that doesn’t make us fat. Yay!
13 Coconut Oil Uses that Have Proven Benefits
1. NATURAL BRAIN BOOSTER AND HELPS ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS – When the MCTs in coconut oil get digested by the liver, ketones are created, and those ketones supply energy to the brain without the need of insulin (the brain produces its own insulin for energy).4 In Alzheimer’s patients, they lose the ability to produce their own insulin, so the energy provided by the ketones in coconut oil could help to improve brain function, as seen in a 2015 study found in the journal of Alzheimer’s Association.5 Of course, because research on benefits of coconut oil in Alzheimer’s patients is still in its early phases, further evaluation is still needed.
2. PREVENTION OF HEART DISEASE AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE – Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that increase the good HDL cholesterol in your body and may also help turn the bad LDL cholesterol into good cholesterol.4 In a study done on 40 women, it was shown that coconut oil reduced the bad LDL cholesterol while increasing the good HDL cholesterol when compared to soybean oil.6 If HDL is increased, this can have a ripple effect on overall heart health including blood pressure.
3. TREATS URINARY TRACT AND KIDNEY INFECTIONS – UTIs account for as many as 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers every year.7 Urinary tract infections (UTI) plagues both men and women, although women are more prone to them because their urethras are shorter than men’s. When bacteria travels up the bladder through the urethra and then clings to the urethra’s opening and multiplies, it causes discomfort or pain. Because coconut oil has antibacterial properties, which are found in the MCTs, it has been known to help the healing process of UTIs or kidney infections.4
4. REDUCES INFLAMMATION AND ARTHRITIS – Due to the antioxidants found in coconut oil, it can help to reduce chronic inflammation and relieve arthritis, as one study has proven.4, 8
5. AIDS IN CANCER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT – Coconut oil is quickly digested by the liver, and this results in the production of ketones, which is a type of acid that is used as energy. Tumor cells gain energy from glucose (sugar), but the tumor cells cannot gain energy from ketones.4 Therefore, the belief is that the more ketones in the bloodstream, the less energy source tumor cells have. In addition to the ketones produced with the ingestion of coconut oil, a recent study published in the Journal Cancer Research has found an active anti-cancer component in coconut oil. Lauric acid, one of the fatty acids found in coconut oil, has been shown in a University of Adelaide study to kill over 90% of colon cancer cells after just two days of treatment.9
6. IMPROVE ENERGY AND ENDURANCE – When you consume coconut oil, the MCTs go directly to your liver and converts to energy quickly.4 That energy can be sustained longer, which helps you to not feel fatigued easily.
7. IMPROVES DIGESTION – With its antibacterial properties, coconut oil can help improve digestion health by destroying bad bacteria found in the stomach. If taken at the same time as omega-3 fatty acids, it can make them twice as effective because they are readily available to be digested by the body.4
8. IMPROVES SKIN ISSUES – It’s become popular to use coconut oil for skin due to the natural moisturizer and antioxidant properties; it’s great for improving wrinkles and skin irritation. Also, it’s great for conditions like dermatophilosis and acne.10 Dermatophilosis is a skin condition caused by a bacterial infection that can result in painful, dry scabs. One natural remedy involves applying coconut oil directly to the affected areas; this can help fight off the bacterial infection and soothe the dry skin. When it comes to acne, coconut oil is often used as a homeopathic treatment. This is because it can fight the bacterial infections that sometimes cause acne.10 A 2014 study from Journal of Dermatological Science found that Caprylic Acid is effective at treating acne because of its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.11 As a topical agent, coconut oil works wonders on the skin.
9. PREVENTS GUM DISEASE – Oil pulling (swishing oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes) has been shown to prevent gum disease, like gingivitis. Coconut oil has a concentration of antibacterial properties, which results in improving gum health. In a 2015 study, 60 participants with gingivitis used coconut oil over 30 days, and the results showed that there was a significant decrease in plaque and gingival indices.12 Just swish a tablespoon of coconut oil a few times a week to keep those gums healthy.
10. IMPROVES TYPE 2 DIABETES – Some evidence suggests coconut oil can reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. A 2009 animal study found that a diet rich with medium-chain fatty acids, such as coconut oil, could help prevent obesity and fight insulin resistance — both of which lead to type 2 diabetes.13
11. HELPS WITH WEIGHT LOSS – As mentioned previously, coconut oil quickly converts to energy because it’s quickly absorbed by the liver. That energy is beneficial to weight loss because it helps to burn fat and calories and decreases appetite.4 The MCTs found in coconut oil can reduce hunger, possibly because the ketones created by MCTs have an appetite reducing effect.14 With your appetite reduced, it makes sense that it would help with weight loss. And an added bonus to your weight loss is that coconut oil appears to be effective at reducing belly fat, all thanks to those MCTs, which one study has proven.15
12. SHINY, HEALTHY HAIR – Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants and has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. When used on hair, it improves scalp health, fights infections and fungus, and supports hair growth, all while adding volume and shine without the common harmful chemicals used in store bought products.16 Those fatty acids found in coconut oil are nourishing and hydrating. Just add a teaspoon to a tablespoon (depending on your hair length) to your hair and massage into scalp. Leave in for 10-30 minutes and then wash it out. Enjoy your nourished locks!
13. TREATS YEAST INFECTIONS, INCLUDING CANDIDA – Did you know that there are many different types of fungi that live in and on our body? Yeast is a type of fungus, and one particular type called candida, which is usually found in small amounts in our mouth and intestines, aids with our nutrient absorption and digestion. However, when there is an overgrowth of this fungus, candida symptoms will flare up causing candidiasis. Nobody wants a fungal infection like candidiasis; however, candida is the most common cause of fungal infections in humans.17 Studies have concluded that the MCTs in coconut oil are effective in the treatment of fungal infections.18,19 *To effectively kill candida and treat yeast infections, remove processed sugar and refined grains from your diet and consume plenty of healthy fats. Take one tablespoon of coconut oil three times daily as a supplement.4
What is Caprylic Acid?
Have you ever heard of Caprylic Acid? It’s quickly becoming a superstar of the fatty acid world. Caprylic Acid is found in coconut and palm oil, as well as in human breast milk and cow’s milk. This remarkable medium-chain fatty acid has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an extremely helpful treatment for many conditions.
Caprylic Acid Benefits
There are many wonderful benefits to Caprylic Acid ranging from skincare to treating yeast infections to improving digestion. Not only that, though, it can also boost your immune system. Yes, Caprylic Acid is a natural immune-boosting powerhouse due to its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. These are all things that fight against common complaints, such as candida, various infections, skin conditions, and inflammatory digestive disorders.
- Fights Candida – Being a natural yeast-fighting agent, evidence has shown that Caprylic Acid is effective in decreasing the overgrowth of candida. In a 2011 study, it was concluded that Caprylic Acid taken orally or externally applied rapidly reduced symptoms of candida.19 This study also suggested that Caprylic Acid is even more effective when taken with a capsule of omega-3 fish oil, Amoxicillin, substance Z (oyster extract), and a cilantro tablet. Candida is generally not life-threatening, but if it’s left untreated, it can spread into the bloodstream and eventually affect vital organs, thus causing serious complications.
- Helps Prevent and Treat Yeast Infections – Other types of yeast, other than candida, can cause problems, such as vaginitis in women, jock itch in men, and ringworm. Like candida, though, Caprylic Acid is a good option to take due to its yeast-fighting component.20
- Treats Skin Infections and Acne – Caprylic Acid is very effective in treating certain skin conditions due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Thanks to those properties, bacteria can be killed off the skin. And because of the anti-inflammatory properties, Caprylic Acid can also be used as a natural remedy for conditions like eczema or psoriasis.10
- Helps Treat Inflammatory Digestive Disorders – Caprylic Acid helps protects the lining of your digestive tract, which offers optimal protection against toxins and micro-organisms.21] The anti-inflammatory component of Caprylic Acid can help treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disorder (chronic inflammation in the digestive tract); in addition, the antibacterial component may also help patients with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.10 However, consult your doctor before using Caprylic Acid or coconut oil to treat a digestive disorder. Both can sometimes cause stomach upset.10
- Reduces Risk for Antibiotics Resistance – People can build a resistance to an antibiotic over time, which then makes the antibiotic less effective. This is where Caprylic Acid may come to the rescue. A study in the Journal of Dairy Science found that Caprylic Acid was successful in reducing five different types of bacteria in contaminated milk.22 Further evaluation is needed regarding the efficacy of Caprylic Acid against bacterial pathogens, but it looks like a promising alternative to antibiotics.
- Helps Treat Urinary Tract Infections – Usually, UTIs are caused by E. coli.23 According to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, antibiotic resistance rates in E. coli are rapidly rising.24 Fortunately, recent students have shown that Caprylic Acid can fight off E. coli effectively.22 With its antibacterial properties, Caprylic Acid is a good choice for urinary tract health.
Additional Helpful Bacteria Fighting Ingredients
Along with coconut oil and its bacteria-fighting ingredient Caprylic Acid, there are some additional ingredients that can help with the battle against UTIs.
- Cranberries – Cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, so they are a great option in UTI prevention. Studies suggest that daily dosages of 240-300 ml of cranberry juice can prevent 50% of the recurrences of UTIs and can reduce bacteria, and that if the consumption of juice is followed up with ingesting two daily dosages of cranberries (36 mg of PAC- the natural ingredient found in the juice of cranberries), there may be an additional 24 hours of protection against UTIs.26
- The Magical Blue: Bilberries and Blueberries – Bilberries have strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, thus making them a good option to protect against UTIs. Drinking just 2-3 cups of bilberry leaf tea daily for a week can help if you have a UTI.27 Like cranberries, blueberries have the natural ingredient (PAC) that prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Plus, blueberries are loaded with vitamin C which can inhibit the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract.28
- D-Mannose Supplement– D-Mannose is a naturally occurring sugar found in a number of fruit (like cranberries and blueberries), and it is effective in treating and preventing UTIs because it attaches to the bacteria and prevents them from sticking to the urinary tract walls. The bacteria then is eliminated from the body through urination. *A recommended dose of D-Mannose is 500mg every 2-3 hours for five days.29 With all the positive effects of coconut oil, it’s no surprise that it’s quickly becoming a well-known superfood. Having just a little bit a day can give you that boost of support to improve, prevent, or treat a variety of common issues. So, grab a dollop and reap the benefits! We’d love for you to share any tips or healthy recipes you have about coconut oil. Share with the LifeSeasons community and support our belief that knowledge is power and our community our life source.
With all the positive effects of coconut oil, it’s no surprise that it’s quickly becoming a well-known superfood. Having just a little bit a day can give you that boost of support to improve, prevent, or treat a variety of common issues. So, grab a dollop and reap the benefits!
We’d love for you to share any tips or healthy recipes you have about coconut oil. Share with the LifeSeasons community and support our belief that knowledge is power and our community our life source.
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