There’s been a lot of hype about coconut oil lately, and there are so many claims being made that it sounds nothing short of a miracle. Well it’s really not a cure-all, and what works for other people may not work for you, but it still is pretty dandy to have around. With a little bit of resourcefulness and a dash of creativity, you can find over one hundred everyday uses for coconut oil.
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1. Moisturize Your Skin: The very first thing on this list, before even delving into the “edible” benefits of coconut oil, has to be moisturizing. In lieu of your regular lotion, coconut oil delivers a refreshing, healing, burst of moisture that penetrates your skin and works to truly heal it (not just soak in and dry up!) It can feel oily at first, but that’s why it’s important to only use a little-it goes a long way. Give it a minute and it will dry beautifully. Use as you would regular lotion.
2. Conditioner: When the teeny tiny overlapping plates that make up our outer hair shaft get rumpled and out of whack, coconut oil is there to smooth those tiny little cells right back into place, and hold them there. You can use it on your entire scalp/head for deep conditioning, but you can generally just use it on your ends, where it’s the hardest for the body’s natural oils to reach, and where the most breakage occurs.
3. Make Homemade Soap: If you’re interested in soap making, coconut oil serves as a wonderful pure base that can simplify ingredients, add hardness to the soap, and help break down grease and oils. It can break them down so effectively, in fact, that too much will have a drying effect (when in soap form.) To prevent this, you need to “superfat” your soap-that is, adding more oil than the lye turns to soap. All you need is coconut oil, water, and lye. Don’t be shy of lye. While it should be handled with care, I find it essential to soap making, and it eliminates a slew of other chemicals that you would need to add to recreate its effects.
4. Weight Loss: Coconut oil and weight loss-what’s really going on? Well, if you sit around eating coconut oil, you aren’t going to lose weight. However, if used to substitute other fats, it can help you drop the pounds by taking the place of those other calories. Unlike most saturated fats, it’s mainly comprised of medium chain fatty acids, versus long chain fatty acids. This difference in molecular structure means that it doesn’t get packed away as fat as easily and instead is sent straight to the liver to be metabolized, giving you a boost in energy. This energy in turn makes exercising easier, and the exercise in turn helps you lose weight. Another major factor that it plays is as an appetite suppressant. Craving something you shouldn’t be? Have a tablespoon or 2 of coconut oil, and that sensation won’t last long!
5. Energy Booster: If weight loss isn’t your goal, just run with the fact (no pun intended) that it gives you a great boost in energy-and who doesn’t need some help in that department every now and again? Some people also feel it helps boost their mental alertness.
6. Itchy Dogs: My pup has atopic dermatitis, also known as the world’s worst allergies. He gets goopy eyes, scabby ears from scratching them too much, and will literally scratch himself raw and bloody without treatment. In addition to his daily care regime, he gets coconut oil. From the inside out, coconut oil can help nourish the dry, irritated, or inflamed skin that is the result of the inappropriate response to various allergens. It did not cure him of his allergies, though there are people who say it has gotten rid of their dog’s allergies completely, but it does help reduce the itching. If your pup chews their paws and stains them red/pink/brown it can help in that department as well, as that is also a sign of allergies. Start with ½ teaspoon a day and work your way up to 1 tablespoon for 40+ pound dogs, and 1-2 teaspoons for dogs that weigh less. They usually go crazy for it!
7. Fungal Infections: The medium chain fatty acids found abundantly in coconut oil are incredibly effective natural fungicides. In a (coco)nut shell, they naturally insert themselves into the fungal membrane, which is crucial to maintaining the life of the fungus. This destruction of the membrane leads to the destruction of the fungus as a whole and voila! The fungus is eradicated. It is important to be diligent with applications of the coconut oil until your symptoms have cleared.
8. Cold Sores: Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, generally type 1, and as such they have no cure. If you harken back to science class, you’ll recall that bacteria can be wiped out, while a virus cannot. So how can coconut oil possibly help? It doesn’t wipe out the virus, but it can inhibit its assembly and how it spreads. Coconut oil contains a substance known as lauric acid. When combined with glycerol, it creates a substance known as monolaurin. Studies done so far have shown that monolaurin affects the lipid envelope of the virus, and prevents the virus from reproducing how it normally would. In turn, it is not able to spread as efficiently and tends not to last as long. Apply a bit of coconut oil directly to the sore several times a day.
9. Coffee Creamer: In replacement of higher calorie coffee creamers (such milk and sugar) stir a little coconut oil into your coffee for a sweet (but not “too sweet”) and healthy touch. Make sure to stir it in well! If you notice it floating to the top, try stirring partway through your drink, or just add a little less next time. Make sure your joe is piping hot when you add it in, otherwise you might get some unwanted unmelted coconut oil popping up.
10. Healthy Wood Polish: Most wood polish coats surfaces in a slick layer of synthetic chemicals, which makes the wood look all sleek and shiny…for a little bit. Coconut oil, on the other hand, sinks into the wood and keeps it looking “healthy” longer. The appearance is much more natural, and it stays that way. It may not look as dramatic as a store bought polisher, but I find it a much more pleasant and effective option to keeping wood looking it’s best.