April 8, 2019 6:58 am Leave your thoughts
You might well have a jar of coconut oil on your kitchen shelves. This beautifully soft and fragrant fat is immensely versatile in the kitchen: you can fry with it, roast with it, bake with it and add it to smoothies and other recipes. Full of the right kind of saturated fat and antioxidants, it’s hugely popular amongst those looking for good, clean nutrition.
But do you also have a jar of coconut oil on your bathroom shelves? Or in your first aid kit? This month Naturally Good Food is taking a look at Nature’s First Aid Kit – at the herbs, spices, leaves, oils and foods that grow naturally all round us and that can help alleviate or prevent certain health conditions. Coconut oil isn’t just for your insides – it might help remedy external ailments too.
Coconut oil moisturizes
Coconut oil makes a splendid moisturizer, sinking in beautifully, with a delicate aroma. It moisturizes skin, but also hair, lips and nails, keeping them strong and supple. It’s these moisturizing properties that give it a reputation as a healing product too, for certain complaints. Let’s take a look at two of these in particular: eczema and psoriasis. Can coconut oil help these conditions?
Coconut oil for ecezma
Around 2% of adults and 15% of children suffer from eczema, an ailment that causes patches of skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. According to its many fans, coconut oil is great at soothing these inflamed areas. You simply massage some lightly into the patches, just after a warm bath or shower, when skin is most receptive to moisture. The inflammation will look worse immediately after application, but will calm down as the skin cools.
For severe eczema, you might like to rub the oil into a bandage, which you can then wrap around the affected area for an extended period of time.
Coconut oil doesn’t just moisturise eczema: it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, so should help reduce swelling. It also has some anti-microbial and antibacterial properties, providing protection when dealing with broken skin. In addition, those who have scars from old eczema say that applying coconut oil to these lessens their appearance.
(If coconut oil doesn’t work for your eczema, you might like to try out another natural remedy: an old pair of tights filled with porridge oats, left in a warm bath. The milkiness of the oats gently seeps out, making a bath that’s silky smooth and very soothing!)
Coconut oil for psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin condition, characterised by the development of red, flaky, crusty patches of skin, covered with silvery ‘scales’. Its severity varies between sufferers, who themselves tend to have periods when the condition clears up and times when it worsens. It’s thought to affect about 2% of the population.
Treatment for psoriasis usually includes topical steroids, creams and ointments, phototherapy and more intense, systemic injections. However, those suffering from it are often keen to find natural ways of improving their condition too – and many turn to coconut oil.
As with eczema, coconut oil is massaged into the affected area, soothing and moisturising the flaky, peeling patches, loosening scales and reducing itching and swelling.
It’s best to apply it after a warm bath or shower and leave it in place for about half an hour. If you’re applying it to your scalp, wrap your head up in a hot towel to increase its effectiveness. After half an hour, rinse it off, massaging your head gently.
Other medicinal uses of coconut oil
What else can coconut oil do for your outsides? It’s reputed to have all manner of special powers. As well as treating eczema and psoriasis, some people use it to limit the inflammation, itchiness and infections of acne. Others use it to improve the elasticity of their skin, softening the appearance of stretchmarks and wrinkles. It’s a popular natural remedy for dandruff too.
Thanks to its antibacterial properties, coconut oil is used by some people on cold sores, for minor fungal and yeast infections and on small wounds and burns. These properties are behind the popularity of ‘oil pulling’ too, where you swish a small amount of the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes, with the aim of removing bacteria from your mouth, gums and teeth.
It’s well worth a try for all of the above. And if it doesn’t work for your particular ailment – well, you can always simply eat it!
The best, purest coconut oil
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This post was written by Yzanne