Monday, March 4, 2013

Captivated by Coconut Oil


Cocos nucifera; Coconut Palm

Early Spanish explorers deemed this tree, and more specific the nuts growing on this tree, cocos meaning "monkey face" because of the three indentations or eyes on the hairy brown inner shell of the fruit. Nucifera means "nut bearing".  So the name of this delightful tree is "nut bearing monkey face", which we have come to know as the coconut palm. This tree has been used by different cultures trans-globally since the beginning of time.  It has been used multi-culturally as food, medicine and as external treatments for the skin, hair, and nails.

Making Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil can be made through a "dry" or "wet" process. Dry processing requires the meat to be removed from the shell and dried using sunlight, fire (smoke), or by kiln.  This creates the Copra, or dried meat (kernel) of the coconut. The copra is then taken and grated, ground and boiled to release the oil from the fiber. The wet process includes using the raw coconut rather than dried copra.  The protein in the coconut creates an emulsion of oil and water. The difficulty lies in then extracting the oil from water. This is often done by prolonged boiling (as seen above) which can heat damage and discolor the end product.  Modern techniques include the use of centrifuges to force separation of oil and water, leaving the oil unharmed and true to its natural white color. 

Removing Husk of Coconuts

 Proper harvesting of the coconuts is vital to the efficiency of the oil making process.  Coconuts should be harvested in between 2 and 20 months of age.  This leads to the greatest amount of oil yield from the kernel.  Harvest before or after this age gap produces less quantity with inferior properties.

Coconut and Coconut Oil  in Liquid State

Pure Coconut Oil in Solid State

Not only is the coconut high in fiber but it is also rich in multiple vitamins and micro nutrients.  It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides numerous health benefits beyond its visible nutritional content. This fruit has been used by every culture along the equatorial band that Cocos nucifera is found.  The Pacific Islanders have considered it a "cure all" and deemed this palm "The Tree of Life".  It has a wide variety of traditional uses including but not limited to: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, coughing, dropsy, dysentery, earaches, fever, flue, gingivitis, gonorrhea, painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rashes, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothaches, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness and wounds.

Coconut oil has proven an ageless remedy for hair, skin and nails. Women (and men), since the dawn of time have been using this precious oil to lavish on their external bodies. The oil consists mainly of medium chain triglycerides which are of the perfect molecular structure to be absorbed by the scalp, hair follicles and dermal layer of skin.  This gives the follicles and cell structures nutritiously rich moisture to take in and absorb.  This oil carries an array of natural nutrition for the hair.  It helps in healthy growth and provides a shiny complexion for all hair types.  It is highly effective in reducing protein loss from chemically treated and damaged hair. Coconut oil contains a vast amount of Lauric acid, a fat which has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.  These properties destroy candida and other infectious viruses thus protecting the follicles from damage through free radicals which in turn  prevents hair loss in men and women alike. This Lauric acid also benefits the skin if used to help heal wounds of the flesh.  Coconut oil has been touted to be highly effective in speeding up the healing process of bruises and is very beneficial in the repair of damaged tissue. It is used frequently in treating various skin problems including acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. It has been shown to reduce and further prevent wrinkles, sagging skin, and ages spots.  All of this in an oil that is also solid when in temperatures below 74 degrees. 


Face Mask: 
Add a little bit of honey (also a natural antibacterial) to coconut oil and apply to face.  Leave the mask on for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

Deep Conditioner: 
An ancient Ayuvedic tradition: Warm coconut oil and apply to scalp and hair.  Wait for 15 minutes and then rinse.  This simple task will leave your hair lustrous, strong and healthy.  The women of India have done this multiple times per week with beautiful success.  After this deep conditioning treatment there is no need to use other conditioning substances.

As always we would love your input and to know your experience with this wonderful oil. Please post all questions and comments below.