Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coconut Oil, a gift from the "Tree of Life"

Coconut is the Renaissance Man of the oil world. The coconut tree is known as the “Tree of Life,” and with the varied and wonderful properties of the oil produced from the coconut, the name seems appropriate. Coconut oil’s main component is lauric acid, which has antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. This oil has been linked to health benefits such as sustained weight loss, improvement in cases of diabetes, and resistance from viruses. It can be used in cooking to replace other oils, and includes both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated components but no trans fat or hydrogenation. It does miraculous things for skin- it combats dryness, wrinkles, psoriasis, eczema, and can help to heal infections or wounds by providing a naturally clean barrier that simultaneously aides in damaged tissue repair.

Because of the natural resistance and healing provided by coconut oil, it is an excellent choice of natural diaper cream. It can be used on rashes and has been shown to have some effectiveness against yeast and thrush. Coconut oil may also be used with every diaper change as a preventative measure. Because it is completely safe to handle and even ingest, there is no harm in prolonged use. In fact, there are cultures who rely on this wonder oil daily.

Because it is water soluble, coconut oil is one of the best options available to a cloth diapering parent. It can be used without worry of decreased absorbency in your diapers, or discoloration of the cloth. There is no need to worry about using a liner to protect your diaper when you choose coconut oil!

Sounds great, right? Now what?

You want to choose an organic virgin coconut oil. You may find other coconut oils being touted for their health benefits, but if the are not organic and virgin, you can bet they will be processed and the natural health benefits will be decreased if not stripped completely. Your coconut oil will likely be in its solid state, as the melting point is 76 degrees fahrenheit. You can take the oil straight out of the jar if you desire! It has a shelf life of over two years, so there is no need to worry if you can only find a large jar. It will remain fresh and safe to use- you will go through the jar before the jar goes bad!

I split a jar of Spectrum virgin organic coconut oil with Anna, a fellow American living in Germany. It cost us just over $6 for our 14 ounce jar. My stock is being kept in a small reusable plastic container with a lid. It remains solid, but soft- it is quite easy for me to swipe a finger across the top and get a small amount of oil, which almost instantly melts as I spread it on my son’s diaper area. Owen has had some skin irritation from my experiment with using Tide powder on my diapers (as it turns out, he has incredibly sensitive skin!) and the coconut oil is really helping me to get that irritation under control. My husband has been using it on a patch of dry skin on his face and he said he could feel an improvement after only a few applications. I have been putting the oil on my hands where they get dry and flaky, and it helps to seal in moisture without being greasy. Anna reported an improvement in a burn mark after she used the coconut oil. In addition to these great results, it smells divine. My husband says it reminds him of buttered toast, which apparently is meant to be high praise. For me, it feels like a little tropical pick-me-up every time I change a diaper. Not a bad outcome at all.

I highly recommend coconut oil to everyone- not just people using cloth diapers. With all of the positive attributes it is a great alternative to so many of the questionable cooking oils available, and to the chemical-loaded creams and salves on the market today. Give it a try and I doubt you’ll be disappointed!

Find more information at http://www.coconutoil.com/index.html ; http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html ; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645831

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