I have been around coconut trees ever since I could remember. In fact, when I was growing up in one of the seaside towns in the Philippines, we had coconut trees in our backyard, and my father used to tell me that he planted the trees to remind him of the coconut trees in his backyard when he was growing up. I also remember visiting a Filipino folk healer or “albolario” as my mother used to call her, when my brother fell out of a guava tree and broke his wrist. The Albolario smelled of coconut oil and herbs and I recall my mother telling me that the witch doctor was over a hundred years old. It was only when my family moved to Canada 30 years ago, that I lost sight of the sea, coconut trees, and mystic healers who lived in tree houses….
However, with my re-evaluation of what healthy living means for me, I have gone back to basics…to a basic ingredient that I had taken for granted all those years in the Philippines. In my research, I have been pleasantly surprised how coconut oil is now considered a miracle cure for almost everything! So, in the past few months, I have slowly started to integrate coconut oil into my diet and health. I am still experimenting on some seemingly outlandish claims (including those that say that coconut oil helps in weight loss!) but for now, there are 5 things about coconut oil that I can totally vouch for!
1. Creamer in your morning java
I normally take my coffee black but recently, I started adding a little bit of coconut oil for an added energy boost in the morning. It contains medium chain tryglicerides (MCT) which are fatty acids that are metabolized differently and it goes directly from the digestive track to the liver for a quick source of energy. I know what you must be thinking…who really wants to see a floating oil slick in your morning coffee? But don’t give up on it too easily. I found that just a little bit (say, 1/8th of a teaspoon or even less to begin with…not the teaspoon that most websites seem to say!) is enough to give me that extra boost in the morning.
2. Popping popcorn
Olivia and I just started staying in and watching movies on Netflix instead of going out to the movie theatre. It is way cheaper for one, and we can pause the movie whenever we want. So what is a movie without popcorn? We have been trying to move away from microwave popcorn (Sorry, Mr. Orville Redenbacher! ) and just pop our own popcorn the old fashioned way.
To pop popcorn over the stovetop, put coconut oil and popcorn in a pot. Again, don’t go overboard…1/4 teaspoon or less for 1/3 cup of popcorn always seemed to work for us. Put the lid on, turn the stove to medium and give the pot a little shake to coat the popcorn as the oil melts. Leave a little sliver to let the steam escape. Wait for the popping extravaganza and give the pot a few more shakes. Once you hear the popping slow down, turn the stove off. The last few kernels may still pop so give it a minute.
Who could ever forget the teenage years when out of the blue, you get that really annoying zit that never seems to go away! Well, now, when I see one coming up, I put a dab of coconut oil on it and in a day or two, it’s gone. That’s likely because coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that helps the healing process and it contains lauric acid that helps to kill bacteria that causes acne. Try it and see if it works for you as well.
4. Oil pulling
I’m going to be honest with you, this one is going to take a while to get used to. Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and just involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. This has to be done first thing in the morning before you do anything. Take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it on the side of your mouth to let it melt, and once melted, start swishing around your mouth. It you think you are going to start gagging, pause and then start again. If you need to, spit it out and get a new tablespoon of coconut oil. Once you are done swishing, spit it out in the garbage, not down the drain. It will clog your drains over time.
I have been doing this for a month now and while I don’t see a difference with how white my teeth are (apparently, coconut oil whitens your teeth too…but I can’t vouch for that. I can’t see a difference with my teeth), I do feel the difference in terms of my sensitivity to hot or cold liquids.
I still plan to go to the dentist though for normal cleaning and checkups but I’m definitely continuing to do oil pulling everyday. Who knows, maybe my teeth will get whiter over time…
5. Hair care and dandruff
Have you ever seen those commercials of pretty Tahitian women with long flowing dark hair? Well, I’m thinking they use coconut oil in their hair! I can totally vouch for putting coconut oil on my hair, leave it for an hour and then wash it off with my normal shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes, I would put peppermint oil and tea tree oils with it and it smells wonderful. I find that when I do that at least once a week, my hair is soft and silky and I don’t ever have dandruff.
Also, when I colour my hair to cover my grays and the whole house smells like chemicals (I know, I have to find a better way to cover my gray), I use a blend of coconut oil and rosemary after I wash the colour off and leave it for half an hour. By doing so, I never get that itchy allergic reaction and my hair smells wonderful.
I have read that if you use coconut oil with lemon and put it on your hair, it helps with blending your grays….hmmm, maybe I will try that next time.
The coconut oil I use is the organic virgin coconut oil kind. The less refined, the better.
So there you have it, 5 uses of coconut oil that I can totally vouch for.
Try it out and let me know if you agree!