People take dietary coconut oil for myriad reasons, including the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer complications, boosting the immune system, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lowering cholesterol, thyroid conditions, and weight loss. It can be applied topically as a moisturizer to help eczema, psoriasis, and neonatal health. Coconut oil is also found in beauty products that claim to prevent hair damage.
But, just because people use trendy homeopathic treatments, it doesn’t mean they’re effective. So, what does the science say about the benefits of coconut oil?
Applying unprocessed (or “virgin”) coconut oil to affected areas twice daily for eight weeks is roughly 30% more effective than using mineral oil in children with eczema, according to recent research.
A pilot study has indicated that swishing coconut oil in the mouth in statistically significant in reducing plaque and sores caused by gingivitis in adolescent boys and girls.
Coconut oil contains high amounts of lauric acid, which is a proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent.
Preliminary research suggests that ingesting coconut oil daily may improve quality of life in some, but not all, women with breast cancer.
Research is mixed on the effectiveness of coconut oil in reducing the length of diarrhea in children. One study found that it can, while another showed that it was no more effective than a milk-based diet.
In some studies, coconut oil was shown to reduce “good” cholesterol without changing levels of “bad” cholesterol. But other studies suggest that, compared to diets rich in safflower oil and beef fat, coconut oil can increase both types of cholesterol.
A spray comprising coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang-ylang oil may be as effective in treating head lice as chemical insecticides.
Newborn Weight Gain
Massaging premature newborns could possibly improve weight gain and growth.
Applying coconut oil to the skin twice daily is thought to improve skin moisture, but research is lacking.
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic Fatigue
- Crohn’s Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Thyroid Conditions
Dietary coconut oil, in reasonable amounts, is unlikely to interfere with medications or cause lasting harm to humans. However, before incorporating any dietary supplement, you should consult your doctor.