Coconut oil gotten from Cocos nucifera belongs to the palm family and is the only species belonging to the Cocos genus. The coconut palm is commonly called “tree of life” because every bit of the coconut can be used to produce drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils amongst others. In the 16th century, Sir Francis Drake called coconut “nargils”, which was the common term used until the 1700’s when the word coconut was established. The name is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish word “coco,” meaning “head” or “skull,” because of the three indents that resemble the placement of the eyes and nose on a human head.
Although being called a tree, the coconut palm is not scientifically one since it has is no bark, no branches, or secondary growth. It is a woody perennial monocotyledon with the trunk being the stem. Also, coconuts are not really “nuts” but are rather classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe (A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word “drupe” meaning overripe olive). The coconut we buy in the store does not resemble the coconut you find growing on a coconut palm. An untouched coconut has three layers. The outermost layer, which is typically smooth with a greenish color, is called the exocarp. The next layer is the fibrous husk, or mesocarp, which ultimately surrounds the hard woody layer called the endocarp. The endocarp surrounds the seed. Generally speaking, when you buy a coconut at the supermarket the exocarp and the mesocarp are removed and what you see is the endocarp.
The 3 visible holes on the innermost layers are commonly referred to as “eyes,” which tend to make the Coconut look like a bowling ball. These holes are germination pores. Two of the pores remain plugged and non-functional, leaving only one pore to be functioning, and it is through this one pore that a shoot will sprout once growing conditions are favorable.
How to make your coconut oil
Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the edible, fleshy “meat” of a coconut in various ways which include the dry process (cold/expeller press), the wet process and solvent extraction. You can produce your own coconut oil using the following simple steps:
1. Crack open the coconut(s) and remove the copra/meat (white edible part). Pour the coconut water into a bowl.
2. Rinse the coconut meat with little of the coconut water, chop into small pieces and place in a blender. Pour the coconut water into the blender and blend till the meat has been completely pulverized.
3. Pour the resulting mixture into a large bowl, squeeze the mixture together and leave to stand for 2-3 hours.
4. Place a washcloth over a bowl and pour the coconut mixture into it. squeeze completely till as much liquid as possible has been successfully
5. Cover the bowl with the cover liquid and leave for about 48% at room temperature. Afterwards, place the liquid in the refrigerator for 3-8 hours where it will solidify and separate.
6. Pour the mixture over a strainer to get out the solidified oil and you can discard the liquid.
7. Store the oil in a Mason jar and store in a cool dry place.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil owes its numerous benefits to its many constituting fatty acids. The main chemical constituents of Coconut Carrier Oils are: Lauric Acid, Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid, Linoleic Acid (Polyunsaturated Fats), Oleic Acid (Monounsaturated Fats), Polyphenols (Virgin Coconut Oil only), and Medium-Chain Triglycerides. Before applying coconut oil to your skin or even face, I advise you apply coconut oil to the same spot on your skin for a few days to know of you would have an adverse reaction to it.
Coconut Oil for Face Washing
You can wash your face with coconut oil, or a combination of oils, using a protocol called the oil cleansing method. Using the principle of “like dissolves like” – the basic concept is this: the natural oil you massage into your skin dissolves the oil that has hardened on your skin with impurities and/or clogged your pores. When you apply steam from a warm wash cloth to your face, the pores open and the natural oil lifts any dirt or makeup out of pours, which can be easily wiped away. Depending on your skin type, you can use just coconut oil, which is a carrier oil, or a combination of a carrier oil and an astringent oil, which is great for deeper cleansing.
Coconut Oil for Moisturizing
You’ve probably read a lot of back and forth about coconut oil for moisturizing. So, let’s put speculation aside, and look at the literature. There are four studies that have looked at the moisturizing effects of coconut oil. When looking at treatment for conditions associated with dry, itchy skin, studies show coconut oil significant improves dryness, and does so better in comparison to other oils because of its antibacterial and emollient effects.
Studies also show that coconut oil reduces protein loss remarkably for both damaged and undamaged hair because of its molecular weight, and straight linear chain. Lastly, coconut oil has been found to improve collagen cross-linking and increase antioxidant enzyme activity when applied regularly. While these studies don’t prove that coconut oil works for everyone, it does show coconut oil is an effective, and superior moisturizer for face and body. I recommend applying coconut oil directly, or making coconut oil whipped body butter for a more luxurious experience.
Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks
Because coconut oil improves collagen cross-linking and can restore lipid barrier function, it also may be an effective treatment for stretch marks. While there is no scientific literature that exists that shows coconut oil improves stretch marks, the beneficial properties of coconut oil, and the empirical data that exists suggests coconut oil can reduce or prevent stretch marks. I recommend applying coconut oil directly to stretch marks, or making a homemade tiger salve for added nourishing effects.
Coconut Oil for Acne
Preliminary research suggest coconut oil may be an effective treatment for certain types of acne, including Propionibacterium acnes, and has the potential to act as an alternative treatment for acne vulgaris. Because of its antimicrobial properties, coconut oil was found to be 15 times more effective at inhibiting bacteria growth associated with acne over benzoyl peroxide (BPO), a popular topical antibiotic medication for mild to moderate acne. Studies have also found coconut oil effectively reduces inflammation and swelling associated with acne because of its anti-inflammatory properties. While this does not mean coconut oil is the solution to acne, it does suggest coconut oil might help improve acne for some people. If you’re looking to experiment with using coconut oil for acne, I recommend first using coconut oil as a face wash. You can also apply coconut oil directly to acne as a moisturizer, which may also improve collagen cross-linking (wound healing), antioxidant enzyme activity, and lipid barrier function.
Coconut oil has a comedogenic rating of 4 while fractionated coconut oil has a comedogenic rating of 2-3. If you know you are prone to comedogenic acne, or – experience comedogenic acne with unrefined or refined coconut oil, you’ll want to use a non-comedogenic oil like liquid coconut oil, which doesn’t contain solidifying fatty acids.
Coconut Oil for Skin Conditions
If you suffer from skin conditions associated with dry skin such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), or xerosis, studies show coconut oil can improve skin hydration and lipid barrier function, and reduce skin infections. Coconut oil was also found to improve wound healing by increasing collagen cross-linking and antioxidant enzyme activity, which suggest coconut oil might be a sufficient way to treat minor cuts, scraps, and abrasions. Personally, this is why I recommend applying coconut oil to many common skin conditions such as razor burn, ingrown hairs, and yes – pimples that have been “picked at.”
Coconut Oil for Hair
As hinted at above, coconut oil is a fantastic way to build healthy, luscious locks. Because of coconut oil’s molecular weight and shape, coconut oil is able to penetrate deeply into hair, which reduces protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair. Coconut oil may also improve dandruff and dry scalp because of its antimicrobial properties. Got lice? Coconut oil, in combination with anise spray, was found to be significantly more effective than pediculicide for eliminating lice. Hopefully, this will never be information you’ll have to put to use.
Which coconut oil is best?
There are three main types of coconut oil: unrefined coconut oil, refined coconut oil, and liquid coconut oil.
Unrefined coconut oil is coconut oil that has been extracted from fresh coconut meat, using methods such as wet-milling or quick drying. This process keeps all the naturally occurring phytonutrients and polyphenols intact.
Refined coconut oil is oil that has been extracted from previously dried coconut meat with chemical solvents or through physical extraction methods. Coconut oil produced this way must be purified through refining, which means some of the beneficial nutrients in coconut oil are lost.
The last type, liquid coconut oil also called fractionated coconut oil, is coconut oil with lauric acid removed. What’s left is two other medium-chain fatty acids with lower melting points.
Organic, unrefined coconut oil is the best coconut oil for skin care because it contains all the naturally occurring phytonutrients and polyphenols. Look for coconut oils described as “virgin,” “cold pressed,” or “raw.”
Here at Anike natural, we pride ourselves in having pure unrefined cold pressed coconut oil
Well, that wraps it up for me. How do you use your coconut oil? Share your thoughts, comments and questions