Health and beauty uses and benefits of coconut oil

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
I've written about coconut oil in the past, but the longer I've had it around, the more I've come to appreciate all the uses and benefits of coconut oil. So I thought I'd devote an entire post to it! (Even though everyone and their cousin has written about it by now, I'm sure.)

As I mentioned in my Spring Clean post, I purchase my coconut oil from Trader Joe's at the price of $5.99 for one pound of the good stuff. I've been told that they sell huge vats of coconut oil at Costco's, which comes out to less than $5.99 per pound. I've also seen coconut oil at Target for $7.99 for about the same amount, and I'm sure Walmart has taken to selling the stuff by now.

So straight off the bat, I can tell you it's inexpensive. Especially once you learn how multipurpose coconut oil really is. I'll make it really simple -- I use it to:

1. Deep condition my hair
2. Hydrate extra dry spots on my face and body (use caution if you have acne-prone skin, as I've read that coconut oil is comedogenic)
3. Remove eye makeup
4. Spread it on toast (it's good for you -- supposedly slows down memory loss)
5. Lessen irritation from insect bites
6. Moisturize my cuticles
7. Include it in a wax-based lip balm, or on its own as a lip balm/gloss
8. Massage the scalp -- it also slows down hair loss and heals flaky/itchy scalp

You can also (I haven't tried these, so let me know if they've worked for you):
9. Use it as a cooking oil
10. Apply it to age spots to lighten them
11. Apply it on sunburns to soothe skin
12. Consume it to increase metabolism
13. Apply to skin to soothe poison ivy, chicken pox, eczema, psorasis
14. As a leave-in hair product for flyaways or pouffy ends (apply with a light, light, light hand)
15. Apply to feet to treat athlete's foot or fungus
16. Apply regularly to reduce signs of cellulose and varicose veins (I'll believe it when I see it!)

That's just a small sample of the things you can do with coconut oil. Basically what they're saying is ... it's a miracle oil. To me, I love it because it's inexpensive, smells nice, and has a nice soft, velvety (almost powdery) dry-down. Which means I can apply it to my face and not have to worry about it melting or dripping all over my face, or never drying completely. Plus, it's all natural!

I also love, love, love the results coconut oil has given my hair -- it almost completely changes the texture of my hair from dry and frizzy to shiny and manageable, for up to a week's time. I melt about a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage it into my hair and scalp, tie it up and put a shower cap on over it for an hour or two. Then I shampoo out (maybe even two or three times), and voila! Just be careful not to overdo it or you'll find yourself needing to shampoo your hair half a dozen times before it doesn't look like a grease ball anymore ... therefore undoing any benefits of the coconut oil.

A couple words of caution though: if you intend on consuming coconut oil, be sure to purchase virgin coconut oil -- preferably the unrefined kind. Coconut oil has a melting point of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it goes from a smooth-looking white solid to a clear oil. Don't worry about it melting and solidifying too many times, though. It's perfectly fine. If you're going to be applying it in your hair or on your skin, be aware that coconut oil is said to stain clothing. I haven't personally experienced this, but then again, I haven't worn anything but pajamas while applying coconut oil to my hair, face or body.

Coconut oil is naturally cholesterol-free and trans fat free, and contains something called lauric acid, which is a saturated fat used to treat viral infections, cold sores, genital warts, ringworm and even HIV/AIDS. It's also said to have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antibiotic properties. So this is some good stuff!

What other uses have you found for coconut oil? Have you found that your health has improved since beginning to use it?

Reading material:
+ WebMD: Coconut oil
+ New York Times: Once A Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World
+ Dr. Oz: The Surprising Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

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