How to Heal With Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries.
Coconut oil has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Coconut oil is a tropical vegetable oil derived from the dried fruit of the coconut palm tree. In traditional medicine, coconut oil is used internally and externally to treat a wide variety of ailments including coughs, colds, weight gain, hypotension, nausea and tumors. While modern medical science fails to support many of these claims, clinical evidence suggests coconut oil possess healing, antibacterial and moisturizing properties when applied topically.

Apply coconut oil to superficial cuts and wounds. Coconut oil’s ability to promote wound healing is largely based on traditional use and anecdotal evidence. However, according to Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2010 study, virgin coconut oil significantly reduces the healing time of excision wounds in young rats. Tests showed that virgin coconut oil increases collagen production and antioxidant levels to promote faster healing.

Massage coconut oil into skin to relieve dry skin conditions. Topical applications of coconut oil improves skin hydration and increases skin surface lipid levels, thus improving skin barrier function. Virgin coconut oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate xerosis (dry skin), according to a 2004 study published in the official journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Use coconut oil to treat skin infections, since it has proven antiseptic properties. Virgin coconut oil successfully reduces the Staphylococcus aureus virus colonization on skin affected by the inflammatory skin disorder atopic dermatitis, according to a 2008 study published in the official journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Tips & Warnings

  • Virgin coconut oil is available at most local and online health food stores.
  • Coconut oil can cause skin irritations in individuals with sensitive skin. Perform a 48-hour skin patch test by applying a small amount of coconut oil to the wrist to test for a reaction.
  • Coconut oil is classed as an alternative therapy and has not undergone the rigorous scientific research required for approval as a medical treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, the effectiveness, safety and purity of coconut oil products are unknown.

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