Coconut oil seems to be everywhere – not just in food but also in skin products, hair products, it’s even been used as mouthwash.
We can thank the paleo diet for the boost in popularity. Apparently coconut oil was included in the diet of cavemen, which meant that when the paleo diet hit peak popularity in 2012-2013, things like coconut oil were suddenly on the must-have shopping list for health junkies. So what is it that makes coconut oil such a super-substance?
Some of coconut oil’s potential benefits include:
- increased metabolism and weight loss
- lower cholesterol levels
- improved immune system
- improved tissue healing and repair
- blood glucose level stabiliser
- improved digestion and nutrient absorption
- improved skin function (especially for psoriasis and eczema sufferers)
- a reduction in epileptic seizures
- protection against kidney disease
As with many single superfoods, the jury is still out on just how miraculous coconut oil is, but if you want to find some ways to include it in your life, here are a few of the weird and wonderful uses for coconut oil:
1. Oil pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes a day. It has to be done first thing in the morning, and 20 minutes is actually a really long time to swish oil around your mouth. But if you can get past that, the oil is meant to absorb toxins held in the salivary glands. Among loads of other things, oil pulling is said to detoxify your body, whiten teeth, prevent insomnia, reduce arthritis inflammation and reduce the severity of migraines. Surely worth a try …
2. Remove make up
This sounds a bit more straightforward. Dab a little coconut oil onto a cotton pad and wipe off makeup effortlessly. It even works on waterproof mascara and red lipstick, and will add hydration to your face at the same time. Rinse your face with warm water after using the oil.
3. Condition your hair
Use coconut oil as a leave-in mask prior to washing your hair and notice the difference. Hair will be softer, shinier and more manageable. Apply about a tablespoon of oil and massage well into the hair and scalp. Leave to work for at least 10 minutes (longer if you can), before washing as normal.
4. Condition your skin
Use the coconut oil as a mask for your face and body too. Apply a small amount and massage into the skin, focusing on needy areas like knees, elbows and the back of your hands and neck. Leave for at least 10 minutes before washing with your regular cleanser.
5. Tame the frizz
Slick a little coconut oil on flyaway ends and frizzy curls. The oil tames the frizz and adds a nice shine.
6. Scrub yourself nice
Combine a tablespoon of coconut oil with a tablespoon of demerara sugar (the nice, grainy stuff) and rub, rub, rub it into your skin. It exfoliates and moisturises simultaneously, leaving skin feeling blissfully smooth. You can also try adding it to salt for extra scrub-power on feet.
7. Scrub your teeth clean
Add coconut oil to bicarbonate of soda to make a thick paste. Scoop some up with your toothbrush and shine those teeth back to white.
8. Smell fresh
Rub coconut oil into your armpits or feet as a natural deodorant. You can also mix it with arrowroot, shea butter and essential oils for added pong-busting power. Find out how to do it at Wellness Mama.
9. Soften your cuticles
I’m quite fascinated by our society’s pressing need to soften cuticles, but if softening is your goal, coconut oil is your striker. Rubbing coconut oil into those pesky cuticles twice a day does the trick.
10. Get a smooth shave
Use a light basting of coconut oil as a shaving aid and not only will you achieve smooth legs, but you’ll also save some cash as the coconut oil helps your razor last longer.
11. Soothe sunburn
After the initial heat of sunburn has abated, a gentle stroke of coconut oil will assist the skin to heal faster and help prevent peeling.
12. Relieve congestion
Add a little eucalyptus or menthol to 1/2 cup of coconut oil and use as a chest rub when congestion is present. You can also add the mix to a hot bath or burn in an oil burner to relieve symptoms. Adding a teaspoon of coconut oil into hot water with lemon is also said to be good for fighting a cold.
13. Aid healing
A light application of coconut oil on cuts and scrapes protects the wound from bacteria and aids healing. Coconut oil can also be applied to bruises to reduce swelling and damage.
14. Soothe bites and stings
Apply directly to insect bites or stings to relieve the burning sensation and prevent itchiness. It can also reduce swelling and redness.
15. Fight smelly feet
If you (or someone else, of course) are plagued with stinky feet, rubbing coconut oil into your feet morning and night should keep them fresh and odourless. Coconut oil will also reduce the burning of Athlete’s Foot and heal toe fungi.
16. Make a healthy snack
Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Stir melted coconut oil through you favourite granola ingredients and bake for 20 minutes.
17. Relief from hay fever
A small dab coconut oil on the edges of your nostrils is said to help relieve the symptoms of hay fever. Apparently the dust and pollen clings to the oil and doesn’t enter the nose.
18. Soothe nappy rash
Coconut oil gently relieves nappy rash. Stroke it over the rash and wrap as usual. Use at each nappy change as a preventative, but remember to do a small patch test first to check that it’s suitable for your baby.
19. Soften cradle cap
After doing a patch test to ensure your baby tolerates coconut oil (most do), massage a generous amount of coconut oil into the head, leave for a few minutes and rinse away.
20. Scare away the head lice
You can make a natural lice treatment out of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Drench the hair well in the apple cider vinegar, don’t rinse out and allow to dry (this apparently dissolves the ‘glue’ that binds the nits to the hair). Once dry, apply a generous helping of coconut oil and massage through the whole head and scalp. Leave for as long as you can (the longer the better, overnight is ideal). Comb through with a nit comb as usual and then shampoo and condition the hair. You may need to shampoo twice to get rid of the oil, but your child’s hair will be beautifully soft and shiny thanks to their hair treatment.
21. Teething pain reliever
Gently rub a little coconut oil directly onto your baby’s gums as a relief from teething.