Benefits of Coconut Oil
It seems funny how the benefits of coconut oil (Cocos nucifera) have come to be in vogue again! Not only accepted, but even praised as a "Super Food" due to its vitamins, fiber, minerals, and polyphenols! A number of years back it was criticized as being too saturated and movie theaters were pressured to change to a different popcorn oil.
Now the benefits of coconut oil have been discovered to include vasorelaxant effects and effective in reducing blood pressure http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129472. Evidently what's old is new again...
Most of the critique coconut oil received as a edible/consumable oil was due to its high (nearly 90%) saturated fat content. It had also been heavily hydrogenated, bleached, and deodorized which negated many of its internal health benefits. For oral consumption, people have been advised to seek the extra-virgin, unrefined coconut oil.
For a good overview of the benefits of coconut oil, please enjoy the following article from WebmedCentral which includes the anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and other healthy benefits. http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/3413
But for our sake, here at German Soap Box, we want to focus on the skin/topical application benefits of coconut oil!
Coconut oil is made predominantly of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), of which 87% are saturated fatty acids, 6% monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) and less than 2% polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid). The saturated fatty acid profile consists of lauric acid at 45%, myristic acid 17%, and palmitic acid 8%. It also contains vitamin E, tocopherol and tocotrienols, which are potent anti-oxidants to maintain healthy cell structure and function (anti-aging).
Benefits of coconut oil include the healing of wounds. In a 2008 article titled "Burn wound healing property of Coco nucifera: An appraisal", published in the Indian Journal of Parmacology, coconut oil was evaluated both as a single agent and as a mixture with silver sulphadiazine to treat burn wounds. The results showed it to be an effective burn wound healing agent.
Coconut oil has also shown anti-microbial benefits due to its lauric acid which can kill some bacteria. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11890570. This may also apply to its anti-fungal activity as has been demonstrated in a 2001 article in Mycoses http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11413921/ This effect may be the result of the capric acid also found in coconut oil.
The benefits of coconut oil also come from its rich polyphenol makeup. The polyphenolic rich extract from coconut was shown to be very effective against Leishmania amazonensis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15059625
Of course, the full range of anti-oxidant phytoconstituents such as polyphenols, saponin and flavonoids help to make this wonder of nature an effective anti-inflammatory agent. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10787-012-0135-7#page-1 Coconut oil appears to increase the production of interleukin-6 and tumore necrosis factor which aid in the management of inflammatory disease.
It's no wonder then, that people everywhere are rediscovering the benefits of coconut oil to keep their skin healthy! And since the molecule is smaller in size due to being MCTs (instead of long chain fatty acids) it is able to absorb easier into the skin and release all its amazing properties.