Salubrious Ingredient: Virgin Coconut Oil


Salubrious Ingredient: Virgin Coconut Oil
One of my favorite oils to use is virgin coconut oil. For those of you who are familiar with a lot of my bath product recipes, you've probably noticed that I use it in everything from my homemade deodorant to my creams, body butter and lotion bars/lip balms. The reason why I enjoy using virgin coconut oil so much is because it is loaded with things that are great for the body. This post explains some of the benefits of virgin coconut oil.

What is virgin coconut oil?

Virgin coconut oil, like virgin olive oil, is oil extracted from coconuts in its purest, or close to purest, form. Often you will see labels that say "cold-pressed," which means the same thing. It means the oil was derived without adding any or too much heat to the process, which can change the molecular structure of the oil. Arguably, coconut oil that has been processed further and mixed with additional additives could be cheaper, but it may also contain a bunch of extra additives that you don't need, and may have lost many of its beneficial properties in the refining process.

If you're confused by the label, you can determine whether you have virgin coconut oil when the oil is white and of a solid consistency at room temperature, and becomes liquid and clearer in color at higher temperatures.


What's the difference between virgin and extra virgin coconut oil?

"Extra virgin" would imply that the coconut oil is even purer than simply "virgin" coconut oil. However, unlike olive oil, I have not been able to find any official standard for a difference between processing "virgin" and "extra virgin" coconut oil.

What are the characteristics of virgin coconut oil?

Virgin coconut oil is said to have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a great oil to use internally as well as topically. It is also loaded with lauric acid, which, when ingested, is converted into a compound that has antiviral and antimicrobial properties that combats fungus, bacteria and viruses that could harm the body.

Virgin coconut oil also contains fat, but the good kind of fat. Specifically, saturated fatty acids, most of which are medium-chain fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids are beneficial because they increase the body's metabolism while also supplying it with good cholesterol. This is completely different than the kind of harmful fatty acids you might find in fried foods.

There is also vitamin E in virgin coconut oil, which as most people know, is great for the skin and hair.


What effects does virgin coconut oil have on specific parts of the body?

Skin:
Skin becomes very supple and soft when virgin coconut oil is topically applied regularly. The beneficial properties of virgin coconut oil help rejuvenate skin cells, which in turn also helps lighten blemishes and fade unsightly scars.

Hair:
When virgin coconut oil is applied topically to the hair, hair becomes highly moisturized and conditioned, preventing easy breakage. It also helps strengthen the roots and strengthens hair follicles, preventing hair from falling out. Just remember to only apply little, or to wash your hair thoroughly after application to avoid a greasy head.

Health:
When virgin coconut oil is taken internally, it is helps improve a number of bodily functions, including improving immunity by combating infections and inflammation, to improving digestion and metabolism. It is also said to help boost the function of certain organs, such as the liver and kidney, and protect against heart disease and high blood pressure.

All the things the virgin coconut oil helps with when applied topically are also true when the oil is taken internally, as it simply works in from the inside out.

Some people use virgin coconut oil in all of their cooking, others simply remember to eat a tablespoon a day. However, it is best to work you way up to that amount or more if you are new to consuming coconut oil. Try adding a half a teaspoon to your diet every day, perhaps by adding it to your coffee or cooking regimen, and increasing that amount to at least a tablespoon a day as your body adjusts to its properties.

Injuries:
As virgin coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be applied to wounds and injuries to keep the area properly protected and reduce the amount of scarring. Simply apply virgin coconut oil to the wound, wiping off the access, and cover it with a clean gauze. However, it is vital to remember to change the dressing often.

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