21 weird but wonderful uses for coconut oil
It’s safe to say that coconut oil is the latest ‘must have’ product for home, health and beauty. It’s in hair products, it’s in face cream and people are even glugging it down by the cupful as a morning pick-me-up.
Hang on a minute … wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that coconut oil was the junk food villain that made cholesterol levels hit the roof? Isn’t it 90 percent loaded with dreaded saturated fat? Why the sudden change from baddie to good guy?
It all started with the paleo people. Not as far back as the real paleolithic people, you understand, but rather a few years on from the days of woolly mammoths and cave-dwelling, when various friends, neighbours and colleagues elected to bring out their inner cavemen and eat only what cavemen used to eat. Apparently that includes coconut oil. (Incidentally, if you want to find out more about the paleo way of life, click here.) As the paleo diet grew in popularity – and certainly in media attention – so did the reputation of coconut oil as a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) oil with potential health and wellbeing benefits including:
- 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
Of course, as with any health claim of a single ‘miracle food’, the jury is still out on the credibility of coconut oil. Many swear by it and the internet is flooded with good news stories, but the medical and research boffins are quick to point out that claims are anecdotal only and further research is needed to establish its benefits.
Still, it all sounds very promising, doesn’t it? Worth a try? If you decide to get into coconut oil, here are 21 weird and wonderful ways to give it a go.
1. Oil pulling
Not quite the strangest use for coconut oil, but certainly up there, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes a day. Apparently the oil absorbs toxins held in the salivary glands, turning it viscous and white in the mouth. Sound yummy? 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
Dab a little coconut oil onto a cotton pad and wipe off make up effortlessly. It even works on waterproof mascara and red lipstick. 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. 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.
13. 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.
14. Scare away the head lice
I can attest that this one works well, having recently used it on my six year old. You’ll need 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.
15. Make a healthy snack
These easy and yum recipes all use coconut oil to amp up the health factor and the flavour.
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast idea. Find a simple Coconut oil granola recipe here.
- Polish your halo with this party treat that’s had a coconut oil makeover. Yum. Find a Healthy chocolate crackle recipe here.
16. Relief from hay fever
Dab a small amount of coconut oil on the edges of your child’s nostrils to help relieve the symptoms of hay fever. Apparently the dust and pollen clings to the oil and doesn’t enter the nose.
17. Teething pain reliever
Gently rub a little coconut oil directly onto your baby’s gums as a relief from teething.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. Relieve congestion
Add a little eucalpytus 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.
This article was written by Maxabella for Kidspot.com.au and has been adpated for Kidspot.co.nz