Coconut Oil and Its Therapeutic Properties
Last Updated: March 20, 2019 | First Published: August 2, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Ahmed Zayed, M.D.
Understanding How Coconut May Benefit The Human Body
For decades, the consumption of saturated fats was considered bad for the human body. More recent studies have proven this to be wrong, and instead provided evidence that the consumption of unprocessed types of saturated fats seems to play an important role in the maintenance of an overall healthy body. These studies have contributed to a large number of publications and further studies focusing on the benefits that coconut oil has to offer the body.
Healing Properties of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains a number of compounds that have now been shown beneficial. Medium chain fatty acids found in the oil is often the primary focus of studies, but the lauric acid and capric acid contents in coconut oil also possess potent medicinal properties that can be used for a number of different purposes.
These compounds have been shown to help the body fight against infections, to boost the immune system, to improve energy levels, to help regulate healthier blood sugar levels, and to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Coconut oil also improves the skin’s texture and may even be used as an anti-aging regimen – it has been found that this oil can reduce the appearance of age spots, wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Capric and Caprylic Fatty Acids
Medium chain triglycerides are converted to medium-chain fatty acids, including capric fatty acids and caprylic fatty acids. Medium chain triglycerides, a substance contained in coconut oil, is the result of laboratory processing of coconut into an oil. The compound is sometimes used as medicine for celiac disease, steatorrhea, digestion problems, and absorption issues. Many people have started to cook with coconut oil to increase their intake of medium chain triglycerides due to the potential health benefits associated with this compound. The substance is known to aid in weight loss and may also be useful in boosting physical and sports performance.
Medium chain triglycerides contain fewer calories than long-chain triglycerides, and the body is able to absorb this compound easier. The liver mainly processes these triglycerides.
Lauric acid (Ref #1) is another important compound found in coconut oil that is known to possess potent antimicrobial properties, which is why this compound is often used to assist with the treatment of bacterial infections (Ref #2), as well as antibiotic resistance.
Side-Effects of Coconut Oil
While numerous benefits have been associated with the consumption of coconut oil, it is important to recognize that certain side-effects may also develop. The medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil have been linked to side-effects (Ref #3) like stomach discomfort, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal gas.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-915/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts
Laruic Acid. PubChem Open Chemistry Database. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/lauric_acid
Nakatsuji, T., Kao, M. C., Fang, J.-Y., Zouboulis, C. C., Zhang, L., Gallo, R. L., & Huang, C.-M. (2009). Antimicrobial Property of Lauric Acid Against Propionibacterium acnes: Its Therapeutic Potential for Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 129(10), 2480–2488. http://doi.org/10.1038/jid.2009.93