generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and
provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's
population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their
economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health
benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special
interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any
other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among
Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut
oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued
by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The
Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the
secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
Coconut In Traditional Medicine
People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races
scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source
of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people
have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of
years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide
variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma,
baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough,
dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular
or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition,
nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling,
syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset
stomach, weakness, and wounds.
Coconut In Modern Medicine
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating
many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show
that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health
benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C,
SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract
infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and
Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's
foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic
Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including
vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with
Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic
Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the
development of strong bones and teeth.
Helps protect against osteoporosis.
Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative
colitis, and stomach ulcers.
Improves digestion and bowel function.
Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
Supports tissue healing and repair.
Supports and aids immune system function.
Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of
Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus
protects against heart disease.
Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Functions as a protective antioxidant.
Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote
premature aging and degenerative disease.
Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils
Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them
Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia
Reduces epileptic seizures.
Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
Dissolves kidney stones.
Helps prevent liver disease.
Is lower in calories than all other fats.
Supports thyroid function.
Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being
stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to
ward of infection.
Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation
from the sun.
Helps control dandruff.
Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking
temperature like other vegetable oils do.
Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
Is completely non-toxic to humans.
See Research to read some of the published studies regarding the above
mentioned uses of coconut products.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and
nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated
fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and
different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving
properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious
Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That's
quite a remarkable statement. What makes coconut oil so good? What makes
it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?
The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of
molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty
acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation.
You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of
the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long
chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you
have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA),
and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately
of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain
The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are
saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of
long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids
you consume are LCFA.
The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our
bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending
on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are
distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our
foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately
medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found
in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are
composed of LCFA.
MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on
cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to
lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is
primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best
sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.
Copyright © 2004 Coconut Research Center
This website is for educational purposes only. The information supplied
here comes from a variety of sources and authors and not every statement
made has been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to
diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.