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What Is Virgin Coconut Oil?

What Is Virgin Coconut Oil?

In recent times, there has been a buzz around the world about virgin coconut oil (also known as VCO) and its various medical and day-to-day basis usages. This article provides some information about this oil, and the common methods used for its extraction and its uses.
HolisticZine Staff
In India, Philippines, and other tropical countries where coconut trees are abundant, numerous applications of coconut tree and its parts, and also various usages of coconut oil (also known as coconut butter) as food, medicine, and even as a cosmetic product are known to people, which is why they call the coconut tree as the 'Tree of Life'.

In the last couple of years, VCO has become a subject of interest for many doctors and scientists around the world for its chemical composition and miraculous effects on one's health. Unlike most other oils, which cause saturation of cholesterol and formation of blockages in blood vessels or development of harmful fat in the body leading to deterioration of one's health, this oil has proved to work in exactly the reverse way. Among the numerous health benefits of VCO are weight management, prevention of heart diseases, strengthens the immune system, and acts as an efficient carrier oil in various medical treatments, to name a few.

Definition

Oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat using different methods such as mechanical or natural methods. This oil is different in its chemical composition, from the oil extracted from dried coconut (also known as copra). Pure VCO is always colorless, sediment free, has natural fresh coconut scent, and tastes lighter.

Methods of Extraction

Drying
This technique is widely used to derive virgin coconut oil from coconut meat. The coconut meat is dried (by applying pressure) in order to extract oil. However, oil obtained using this method is not considered for medical use as the chemical composition of the fatty acids found in it are different as compared to VCO derived by using cold-press or wet-milling process.

Wet-Milling
Fresh coconut meat is used to derive oil without drying it. Coconut milk is derived as a first step of the process by squeezing out coconut meat, which is then further processed to separate oil from water. There are various methods used to separate oil from water, namely boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes, and by centrifuge.

Fermentation
Fermentation is the traditional method of deriving oil from coconut meat. The milk extracted from coconut meat is fermented for specific number of days depending upon the practice followed by oil producers (generally it varies from 1 to 4 days) and allowed to get separated from water and solid. Heat treatment is used on the extracted oil in order to reduce the moisture content and help improve its shelf-life.

Uses

For last couple of years, scientists have turned their attention to this oil and its health benefits. Dr. Bruce Fife and Filipino doctor Conrado Dayrit are known for their extraordinary contribution, extensive research, and belief in VCO and its miraculous powers.

This oil is known for its use in heart-related problems which includes lowering of triglycerides, lowering of cholesterol, etc. It contains lauric acid (medium chain fatty acid), which is found in mother's milk that helps the newborn's body fight against various diseases and helps build their immune system. Once the body digests the lauric acid, it is converted or transformed into monolaurin acid which is known for its antiviral, antibacterial, antiprotozoal, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and its action against lipid-coating of viruses. It also contains other important acids such as caproic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, and oleic acid, etc. Because of these acids, this oil is known to have effective use against viral diseases such as AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, influenza, and various bacteria-generated diseases.

It is also known for its effective use in healing injuries (internal as well as external). From ancient times, people in India, Philippines, and other tropical countries have used it as a protective and healing lotion for injuries.

In recent research studies, it has been found out that people who are affected by herpes and HIV type of viruses can take help of virgin coconut oil in order to get some relief. HIV viral load has been found to lower after the use of lauric acid, as it directly breaks down the protective lipid-coating of the HIV, hence killing it efficiently rather than just stopping it. This has given a new hope to people affected by these diseases for which there is no permanent cure available.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.