10 Surprising Uses for Coconut (Apart from Cooking It!)

I’m a HUGE fan of coconut oil.

Everyone in our house takes it regularly (yep, Dog included)….and not just as a foodstuff.

1. Healing dry/damaged skin.

Stretch marks? Psoriasis? Dermatitis? Eczema? What do all these have in common? Answer: coconut oil, when taken internally and/or topically can relieve (and in some cases completely heal) these troublesome skin conditions.

yep, stay away from store bought moisturizers – those things cannot be trusted

I know from my own experience (I get hideously dry skin on my right hand – just the right, it’s weird I know – and coconut oil always helps) that the oil is great for dry, scaly skin. At the risk of sounding like a cosmetics commercial, it strengthens your skin’s tissues and helps remove dead cells on the skin’s surface.

2. Shiny, happy hair

Remember that hair commercial that had the tagline; “for hair so healthy it shines!”? Well, as is usually the case with marketing drivel, that contained a nugget of truth. Healthy hair is shiny hair. But the chemical-laden shampoos on the market won’t get you there. For a more natural alternative that actually promotes real health of the hair follicle, smear some coconut oil on your head.

DIY conditioner from deliciousobsessions.com

Here’s the science: coconut oil is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. Applying it to hair blocks water from seeping into each strand and weakening them. The result is sleek, smooth hair that doesn’t frizz. According to one study, coconut oil also has a ‘high affinity’ for hair proteins which is basically geek talk for saying it protects your hair’s structure.

If you’re wondering how to apply, take warning from this tester who says your hair needs to be shampooed thoroughly afterwards or you risk looking like a greasy unwashed malcontent (my words, not hers).

3. Getting greasy

Kids look away now. It’s about to get a bit…ahem…naughty. I’ll say this as plainly as possible: coconut oil is a natural and safe lubricant for those ‘personal’ times with your significant other. Unlike some other lubricants it won’t mess up the delicate bacterial composition of any intimate parts and, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s a great choice as it won’t damage sperm.

4. Knocking out infection

And speaking of bacteria, did you know that coconut oil is a powerful anti-bacterial agent? The oil halts most strains of streptococcus and has been used to fight tooth decayurinary tract infections and ulcers.

5. Kills tiny invaders

It’s one of life’s horrible but true facts that tiny creatures sometimes colonise our bodies and try to take over. If you think a revolution is brewing in your colon, reach for the coconut oil.

Round worms, tape worms, fungi and giardia (those guys love hanging out in the intestines) are all repelled by the fatty acids in the oil. Consuming coconut oil on a regular basis (I try for at least a tbsp a day) will help keep your gut sparkling clean.

6. Pet friendly

Admittedly I don’t give Dog the high quality stuff (as much as I love his furry face, he is a dog and that stuff doesn’t come cheap when you live on an island and pay scandalous amounts of duty on everything) but I do try to make sure he gets a tbsp of coconut oil every day. As some Facebook friends will know, Dog has been battling allergies since he entered his twilight years (watching that handsome face turn grey and scabby is a heartbreaking topic for another time) and there’s nothing better for an animal’s coat than coconut oil.

ol’ greyface

It’s still a little too early to say what the oil is doing for Dog but, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine, it improves skin, allergies, arthritis, energy levels and digestion in pets.

If you’re introducing it to your animal for the first time, go slowly and phase it in a little at a time. Sometimes pets can be sensitive to unfamiliar foods. Don’t be worried about having to force it down their throats though – Dog absolutely loves it. If it was a choice between slurping up coconut oil or rescuing me from down a well, he’d most definitely go with the former.

7. Feel the burn (or rather, don’t)

As lucky as I am to live in the Caribbean, the downside is that you have to be very vigilant about your skin. For those times when you accidentally fall asleep on the sun lounger, or foolishly go boating and leave the sunscreen at home, coconut oil is a lifesaver.

Smearing it on your tender parts not only dramatically reduces the soreness but also prevents peeling. It can also be used in a homemade sunscreen.

Get a jar in time for summer, limping around like a scabby leper is never a good look.

8. DIY face wash

Yes, cleaning your face with oil seems counter-intuitive, I get that. It feels greasy and slimy and takes a while to completely wash off but yikes, it makes your face feel newborn-baby-soft.

face wash from veganhousewives.com

Seriously, you will think the skin on your face has been brushed with fairy kisses and dusted with rainbows.

However, I’ll be totally honest with you – I did the coconut oil toner thing for a while but eventually stopped because it was making me break out in spots. I’m assured by other experimenters that this is just the initial phase (the toxins have to work their way out before the skin clears permanently) but I just couldn’t handle it. That’s more a reflection on me than the coconut oil though. I really would like to try it again, preferably when I can squirrel myself away for a week, like a pox-ridden hermit.

If you want to give it a go, this looks like a great facial scrub recipe.

9. Cleaning your pits

Remember back at #4 when I said coconut oil kills bacteria? (if not, go back and read it. I’ll wait)

let’s look at this homemade deodourant while we wait (photo courtesy http://www.healthextremist.com)

Well that’s a very good thing for your armpits where stinky bacteria sit around and get all odourous (yet another wonderful feature of our complicated bodies).

There are numerous recipes for homemade coconut oil deodourants out there. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a few of the best:

10. Oil pulling

And so we come to the final entry in the list (are you as sad as I am, or just exhausted at how long this post is?!). Oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic remedy for headaches, tooth pain, allergies, congestion, bad breath and a whole heap of other conditions (see here for a good list). It basically involves taking a tbsp of the oil first thing in the morning and swishing it around your mouth like a mouthwash.

See here for a more detailed guide. You don’t have to use coconut oil – sesame is also a good choice – but it makes sense when you consider its antiviral, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Weigh in: Do you use coconut oil for any of the above? Did I miss anything? Are you convinced about its benefits?

*Obligatory disclaimer: I have no medical qualifications, I am merely passing on information. If you suffer from any of the above complaints please do your own research and, if you think it necessary, seek professional help.

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