A Guide to Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Black Cohosh has been used by Native Americans for more than two hundred years after they discovered the root of the plant helped relieve menstrual cramps and symptoms of menopause. These days it is still used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes/flushes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances. It is also used for PMS, menstrual irregularities, uterine spasms and has been indicated for reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuralgia.

Reduce Menopausal Symptoms:

Herbal researcher Dr. James Duke has this to say about Black Cohosh; “Black cohosh really should be better known in this country, especially with our aging population and the millions of women who are now facing menopause. Recognized for its mild sedative and anti-inflammatory activity, black cohosh can help with hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that dramatic change of life called menopause. It’s also reported to have some estrogenic activity. Herbalist Steven Foster refers to a study that compared the effects of conventional estrogen replacement therapy with black cohosh. That study looked at 60 women, younger than 40 years old, who had had complete hysterectomies and were experiencing abrupt menopause. In all groups, treatment with black cohosh compared favorably with conventional treatment.”

“Native Americans used the roots and rhizomes of this member of the buttercup family to treat kidney ailments, malaria, rheumatism, and sore throats. Early American settlers turned to it for bronchitis, dropsy, fever, hysteria and nervous disorders, lumbago, rattlesnake bites, and yellow fever. It’s also reportedly well known for easing PMS and menstrual irregularities.”

This estrogenic activity, notes Dr. Duke, can contribute to a ‘mastogenic’ effect; the natural enlargement of the breasts. Black Cohosh has also been used to induce labor and should not be used during pregnancy.

Research:

A dozen studies or more conducted throughout the 1980’s and 1990s confirm that the long-standing use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms has scientific validity. For example, in a German study involving 629 women, black cohosh improved physical and psychological menopausal symptoms in more than 80% of the participants within four weeks. In a second study, 60 menopausal women were given black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or diazepam (a leading anti-anxiety medication) for three months. Those who received black cohosh reported feeling significantly less depressed and anxious than those who received either estrogens or diazepam. In another study, 80 menopausal women were treated for 12 weeks with black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or placebo. Black cohosh improved anxiety, menopause, and vaginal symptoms. In addition, the number of hot flashes dropped from 5 to less than 1 average daily occurrences in the black cohosh group compared to those taking estrogen in whom hot flashes dropped from 5 to 3.5 daily occurrences.

Given these examples, and results of other studies, some experts have concluded that black cohosh may be a safe and effective alternative to estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for women who cannot or will not take ERT for menopause.

Preliminary studies also suggest that black cohosh may help reduce inflammation associated osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In a review of scientific studies, researchers concluded that a combination of black cohosh, willow bark (Salix spp.), sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.), guaiacum (Guaiacum officinale) resin, and poplar bark (Populus tremuloides) may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

black cohosh

Latin Names:

Actaea racemosa L, Cimicifuga racemosa, Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica, Cimicifuga foetida

Also, Known As:

Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Squawroot, Bugwort, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Richweed, Cimicifuga, Sheng Ma, Chinese Black Cohosh

 Properties Of Black Cohosh:

Mild sedative, relaxant, and anti-inflammatory. Contains glycosides (sugar compounds), isoferulic acids and, possibly, phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens). Diaphoretic, antipyretic, antifungal and antibacterial.

Medicinal Use:

Menopause; Hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances PMS Menstrual irregularities Uterine spasms.

Reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Neuralgia.

Black cohosh has an estrogen-like effect, and women who are pregnant or lactating should not use the herb. Large doses of this herb may cause abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Women taking estrogen therapy should consult a physician before using black cohosh.

Large doses of black cohosh cause symptoms of poisoning, particularly nausea and dizziness, and can also provoke a miscarriage.

Black cohosh should not be used by those who have full-blown measles or those who are having trouble breathing. It should also not be used by those with excess in the upper regions and deficiency in the lower part of the body.

Side Effects and Precautions:

  • United States Pharmacopeia experts suggest women should discontinue use of black cohosh and consult a health care practitioner if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. There have been several case reports of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), as well as liver failure, in women who were taking black cohosh. It is not known if black cohosh was responsible for these problems. Although these cases are very rare and the evidence is not definitive, scientists are concerned about the possible effects of black cohosh on the liver.
  • Some people taking black cohosh have experienced side effects such as stomach discomfort, headache, or rash. In general, clinical trials of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms have not found serious side effects.
  • Although concerns have been raised about possible interactions between black cohosh and various medications, a 2008 review of studies to date concluded that the risk of such interactions appears to be small.
  • It is not clear if black cohosh is safe for women who have had hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer or for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  • Black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), which has different properties, treatment uses, and side effects than black cohosh. Black cohosh is sometimes used with blue cohosh to stimulate labor, but this therapy has caused adverse effects in newborns, which appear to be due to blue cohosh.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

All About Exotic Tamanu Nut Oil

The tamanu nut tree, whose kernels yield the natural tamanu nut oil, is botanically termed as Calophyllum inophyllum meaning the beautifully leafed tree in Greek. This species is native to southeast Asia and is found growing in abundance along the seashores as well as in upcountry regions having tropic climatic conditions. While scientists are yet to undertake a study to ascertain the differences between the oil yielded by the tamanu nut trees growing in the coastal regions and the inland, natives of Polynesia asset that the oil obtained from the trees growing in the coastal regions is more useful compared to the oil extracted from the nuts of the trees growing inland.

Hence, it is not surprising that manufacturers of tamanu nut oil depend more on the nuts produced by trees growing in the coastal regions. It is interesting to note that the oil obtained from the tamanu nuts is somewhat mystifying. This is primarily owing to the fact that when the nut is taken out of the inedible fruit of tamanu nut trees, the light-colored kernel does not give any indication that it has any oil content. This is true even when the kernels are squashed or pulverized. Nevertheless, once the kernel is dried out for a period of a month or two on a rack, its color changes to profound chocolate brown and it is coated with muggy loaded oil that can be extracted mechanically without much effort using a screw press. It may be noted that scientists have still not been able to find the process of such a transformation of the tamanu nut kernel.

The tamanu nut tree is native to the Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. Laborers manually collect the nuts of the tamanu trees growing in the coastal regions since the oil extracted from the nuts produced by these trees are said to be of superior or best quality. In may be noted that the oil extracted from tamanu nuts (Oil of Tamanu) is absolutely wholesome and a natural extract from the tamanu nut tree, which the locals consider being ‘sacred’. This natural oil does not enclose any synthetic chemicals, preservatives or additives.

Manufacturers of tamanu nut oil still follow the traditional practices and use manual labor to crack the nuts and dry the kernels out in the sun until their color changes to golden brown. When the kernels have been dried out for about a month or two and they possess a chocolate brown color, they are cold pressed to extract the enclosed natural oil. The cold press using screw press does not involve any heat or addition of chemicals and yields the best quality, unadulterated, loaded, deep green and luxurious tamanu oil.

Tamanu nut oil possesses outstanding therapeutic attributes and the indigenous people of Polynesia and Melanesia have been holding this natural oil in high esteem since ages. The natives of Polynesia and Melanesia consider this wonderful oil as a sacred gift of nature and occasionally talk about it as the ‘Green Gold’ or the ‘Sacred Oil of Tamanu’.

The exclusive attitude of this natural oil is to stimulate the formation of new tissues; this is the real therapeutic power of tamanu oil. The oil’s ability to encourage new tissue formation actually speeds up the healing process of any wound and, at the same time, results in the healthy skin growth. Hence, it is not surprising that this natural oil works as an effective anti-aging agent. Scientifically, this process is known as ‘cicatrization’. In fact, our skin is the largest organ in our body and is composed of three stratum – the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. A number of other layers lie within these three layers and each of them performs particular functions. Since tamanu oil penetrates deep into the core connective tissues of the skin and encourages the growth of new tissues, it is effective in accelerating the healing of any type of wound.

The Islanders, as well as the practitioners of local medications, have been conventionally using tamanu oil to stimulate the regeneration of tissues and, hence, this action helps in the regeneration of healthy skin. This natural oil not only helps the growth of new tissues but also makes the skin new and glowing.

The natural oil extracted from tamanu nuts therapeutically has a number of external applications. Generally, tamanu oil is applied generously to any scrape, cut, burn injury, abrasions, diabetic sores, psoriasis, anal fissures, blisters, eczema, sunburn, insect stings and bites, herpes sores, dry or scaly skin, athletes foot as well as lessening the foul odor of the body, especially the foot. In effect, tamanu natural oil is an excellent deodorant for the underarm also. It is common among the natives of Vanuatu to massage tamanu oil or the natural oil extracted from the nuts of Calophyllum inophyllum on the skin to get relief from the excruciating pains associated with conditions, such as rheumatism, neuralgia, and sciatica. Many of them also use this oil to treat the baby rash caused by the use of nappies.

Several studies have revealed that the oil extracted from the tamanu nuts encloses three primary lipid categories – neutral lipids, glycolipids, and phospholipids. In addition, the oil of tamanu also encloses a distinctive fatty acid known as chlorophyllic acid as well as an unusual antibiotic called lactone. It also contains calophyllolide – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. The therapeutic benefits of this natural oil are attributed to the above-mentioned substances and anti-inflammatory coumarins. On the basis of the identified actions of the familiar elements of this natural oil, it is obvious that the oil of tamanu is not only anti-bacterial but also anti-inflammatory.

Tamanu nut oil also possesses an exceptional cicatrizing (healing by the formation of new tissues over any wound) properties, but scientists are yet elucidated on this aspect in the available scientific literature. Nevertheless, this unique attribute of the oil extracted from tamanu nuts is not only proven but also accepted by all concerned. The same thing may be said regarding the anti-neuralgic properties of the oil of Tamanu. In fact, there is adequate evidence that this natural oil is effective in providing relief from neuritis (a condition marked by tenderness or continuous pain in a nerve, accompanied by paralysis and disturbance of the senses). Again, in this case, too, scientists are yet to ascertain the elements responsible for this specific property of the oil as well as the manner in which they function to alleviate the condition.

It is interesting to note that scientists in Asia, the Pacific Islands and Europe started undertaking researches on this natural oil in their hospitals only in the 1930’s following a report by a French nun Sister Marie-Suzanne, who was working in Fiji at that time, that external application of Dolno (as tamanu nut oil is known locally) on patients suffering from neuritis accompanied by leprosy showed amazing effects. The research undertaken by these scientists demonstrated that external application of the oil of tamanu is also an excellent remedy for healing skin conditions. In addition, their findings also showed that this oil possessed properties that were effective in providing relief from nerve pains. They also proved that tamanu nut oil possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant as well as anti-microbial attributes.

While the oil of tamanu has been studied by scientists for nearly eight decades now, the tamanu nut oil has been marketed commercially for the last 10 years as an element in first aid purposes as well as cosmetics.

The oil of tamanu is a traditional medication in the Pacific Islands where people apply it topically to cure all types of skin disorders that one can think of, such as acne, scrapes, cuts, insect bites, burns, sunburn, ulcers, eczema, blisters as well as aches caused by herpes – genital pains and cold sores. In addition, natives in the Pacific Islands also use this natural oil to treat arid and scaly skin. Tamanu nut oil has the aptitude to get rid of or significantly diminish scarring caused by burns, acne as well as other skin conditions. On the other hand, the indigenous people of Polynesia also apply this oil topically to lessen foul body and foot smell.

External application of tamanu nut oil to the neck also helps in getting relief from a sore throat. As aforementioned, this natural oil extracted from the nuts of the tamanu plant possesses properties that help in alleviating pain and the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands have been using it traditionally to get relief from nerve pain or neuralgia, sciatica as well as arthritis. Native women also use this oil topically on their skin for clear and flawless skin. This natural oil is also beneficial for infants and it is used to treat nappy rash as well as other skin disorders in babies. It has been established as well as accepted that the compounds enclosed by tamanu nut oil possess noteworthy anti-inflammatory properties and are effective in diminishing pain as well as swellings related to the above-mentioned health conditions when applied topically.

In addition, the oil of tamanu also possesses numerous potent anti-microbial properties and, hence, it has been established that this natural oil is effective in treating several conditions caused by pathogens that are responsible for numerous epidemics and deaths in the present times. It also has the potential to prevent MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) – a bacterium that enters the body via the open wounds on the skin and is resistant to most of the available antibiotics. Currently, this oil has been creating lots of headlines as it is helpful in preventing this morbid bacterium. In comparison to amoxicillin and ampicillin, the elements present in tamanu nut oil have been found to be equally effective against this bacterium. In addition, the findings of several types of research have confirmed that the anti-microbial and anti-fungal elements enclosed by this natural oil may be used to effectively treat skin and eye contagions, together with ringworms (any skin infection caused by certain parasitic fungi and distinguished by the formation of eruptive patches in the shape of rings).

As discussed earlier, the oil of Tamanu possesses significant antioxidant attributes, particularly in slowing down the breakdown of lipids by oxygen (a process called peroxidization). It may be noted that the membranes of the cells are made up of lipids and, hence, this natural oil facilitates the inhibition of any harm caused to the skin due to oxidation. While the tamanu nut oil is viscous as well as full, it is soaked up by the skin completely without leaving any slippery excess or a greasy feeling. In addition, this natural oil also possesses a gentle and pleasant scent and provides a comfortable experience making it a perfect ingredient for creams, lotions, ointments, balms and other cosmetics.

Although the therapeutic use of tamanu nut oil was started in the Pacific Islands where it is used extensively even to this day, presently this natural oil is being used by people in different countries for remedial purposes. People in Indonesia call the tamanu nut tree as nyamplung and use its leaves to cure inflammation of the eyes as well as heatstroke. While the trunk of this tree is used by them to construct boats, people in Indonesia launched a large-scale program to plant this tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) throughout their country to acquire the tamanu nut oil that is used as an alternate for diesel. Then again, people in Malaysia know this tree by the name penaga laut and use the oil obtained from its nuts.
Inhabitants of the island nation Vanuatu, a republic in the Pacific Ocean, use this natural oil as a remedy for several skin conditions, including cuts, burns, insect bites, stings, blemishes, rashes, and sores.

According to numerous people familiar with the therapeutic properties of the oil of tamanu, it is a marvel of nature since it is effective in treating numerous skin conditions, including inflammation and irritation, as well as pains associated with arthritis and rheumatism. Some of the condition-specific benefits of unadulterated tamanu nut oil are mentioned below.

  • Tamanu nut oil is extremely beneficial for people having dry, coarse and flaking skin as its regular application on the skin makes the skin soft and helps it to retain moisture. While applying the oil of tamanu directly to the skin is the most common practice, as an alternate process, one may also add a few drops of this natural oil to their lotion or moisturizer and use the blend daily.
  • Topical application of the oil of tamanu is effective in preventing as well as healing pimples and eruption of acne. The best way to apply this natural oil is to lightly touch this natural oil on the affected areas prior to retiring to bed.
  • Apart from lessening the blemished tissues as well as stains/ discoloration of the skin, the oil of tamanu has proved to be an effectual remedy for wrinkles and stretch marks.
  • A clinical trial undertaken to treat observable blemished tissues found that the oil of tamanu was effective in diminishing the size of such damaged tissues and, thereby, make them appear less obvious. The participants of the research applied this oil topically on the affected skin areas two times every day for nine weeks continually.
  • Besides being a useful remedy for almost all types of skin disorders, tamanu nut oil is also effective in relieving health conditions like muscle aches, neuralgia, neuritis, rheumatism, and arthritis.
  • The oil of tamanu is used for healing other conditions too, especially in preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth. It has been established that tamanu nut oil has the aptitude to penetrate deep into the hair follicles strengthening them, which, in turn, facilitates the prevention of hair fall or a receding hairline. This natural oil works to clear the uncleanness and rubbish on the scalp and reinstate as well as nurture the scalp while increasing its shine. Tamanu nut oil may be applied directly on the scalp or, added with one’s regular shampoo or hair conditioner before application. Alternately, the oil of tamanu may be applied on the scalp after blending it with other natural oils, such as olive oil, neem oil, and/ or jojoba oil.

In addition to the remedial uses of tamanu nut oil mentioned above, this natural oil is also useful for treating skin conditions like sunburn, psoriasis (a widespread chronic, inciting skin ailment distinguished by formation of flaking patches), dark spots and rosacea (a chronic type of acne that affects the nose, forehead and cheeks and marked by red pustular lesions). This oil, extracted from the nuts of the tamanu nut tree (Calophyllum inophyllum), is also a useful cure for poison ivy. Researchers conducted on animals have shown that the oil of tamanu may also prove to be effective in healing health conditions like yeast Candida, cancer, and HIV.

Benefits and Uses of Coconut Oil

HISTORY OF COCONUT OIL

Cocos nucifera, better known as the Coconut, sets itself apart from other fruits by virtue of its higher than average water content, also referred to as its juice, for which it is commonly known to be harvested; however, as illustrated by its historical uses, the various parts of this versatile nut, as well as the tree from which it comes, have countless other benefits aside from offering drinkable water.

The Coconut tree belongs to the Palm family and is the only species belonging to the Cocos genus. For centuries, the oil produced from coconuts has been a staple ingredient in beauty products that were made and used by communities all around the world. Due to its ability to moisturize and condition the hair, boost its growth, and leave it looking lustrous, Coconut Oil continues to be used cosmetically – typically as a moisturizer, and in soaps – to enhance the look and feel of hair and skin.

Despite its name, the Coconut is not a nut – it is a drupe, which is a fleshy, thin-skinned fruit with a stone at its center that contains the seed. Throughout history and even today, mature coconuts are processed so that oil can be obtained from the kernel, charcoal can be obtained from the hard shell, and the fibrous outer husk can be used to create rope and matting.

The use of Coconut Oil has been a prolific and fundamental aspect in the lives of many societies all around the world, especially in tropical and coastal regions such as South and Central America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Micro-, Mele- and Polynesia, and most of Asia. The uses for this oil were so respected that as early as 1500 BC they were recorded in Sanskrit for Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for illnesses of the mind, body, and spirit.

Over the centuries, coconuts have been mentioned in both fictional and historical accounts, being mentioned in both 9th-century reports about the Chinese using it to make fibers as well as in the 1,001 Arabian Nights story about Sinbad the Sailor. The first coconut sighting was possibly from a 5th century A.D. Egyptian traveler known as Costas, who recorded a finding of an “Indian Nut” that scholars believe to be the Coconut.

In South Asia, Coconut Oil was frequently used in hair products to keep it lustrous, moisturized, thick, and dark. It was used on the skin to facilitate the speedy healing of burns, bruises, cuts, and wounds as well as to soothe aching muscles and joint pain. In Zanzibar and India, Coconut Oil was used in the candle making process and to provide light. Even the British explorer Captain Cook wrote favorably about the attractiveness of communities that surrounded the Pacific Ocean and that used Coconut Oil extensively.

For native Samoan healers as well as for Central and South American healers and Ayurvedic medicine practitioners, Coconut Oil was used as a remedy for treating illnesses and healing wounds. Many mothers on the island used Coconut Oil to massage their children in order to promote the growth of strong bones, to protect their skin against blemishes, and to prevent illness and infection.

Coconuts finally got their name from the Portuguese in the 1700s after receiving countless other names, including the name “Nux indica,” which Marco Polo dubbed them in the year 1280 and the name “Nargils,” which Sir Francis Drake gave them in the 1600s. The name is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and the Spanish word “coco,” meaning “head” or “skull,” because of the three indents that resemble the placement of the eyes and nose on a human head.

In the countries to which coconuts are native, people used them to make baskets, utensils, and musical instruments. They found a greater number of uses when they learned that the flesh could be used for more than just food and drink, at which time they began extracting the oil of the coconut by boiling the milk. They applied this oil as a natural sunscreen, a moisturizing conditioner for dry and damaged skin and hair, and as a treatment for head lice, among other uses.

BENEFITS OF USING COCONUT OIL

The main chemical constituents of Coconut Carrier Oils are Lauric Acid, Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid, Linoleic Acid (Polyunsaturated Fats), Oleic Acid (Monounsaturated Fats), Polyphenols (Virgin Coconut Oil only), and Medium-Chain Triglycerides.

LAURIC ACID is believed to:

  • Assimilate quickly and completely into the body, as it is a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (Saturated Fat)
  • Eliminate and prevent various viruses
  • Exhibit smoothing properties and textures when used in body butter, soaps and salves

CAPRIC ACID AND CAPRYLIC ACID are believed to:

  • Assimilate quickly and completely into our bodies, as they are Medium-Chain Triglycerides (Saturated Fats)
  • Contribute antimicrobial and antifungal properties
  • Stimulate hair follicles with natural proteins
  • Repair and strengthen damaged hair while adding shine
  • Prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, making it effective for use on acne-prone skin

LINOLEIC ACIDS are believed to:

  • Moisturize hair and promote its growth
  • Facilitate wound healing
  • Be effective emulsifiers in the formulation of soaps and quick-drying oils
  • Exhibit anti-inflammatory properties
  • Soothe acne and reduce chances of future outbreaks
  • Promote moisture retention in skin and hair
  • Make oils feel thinner in consistency, thus being beneficial for use on acne-prone skin

OLEIC ACIDS are believed to:

  • Maintain the softness, suppleness, and radiance of skin and hair
  • Stimulate the growth of thicker, longer, and stronger hair
  • Reduce the appearance of aging, such as premature wrinkles and fine lines
  • Eliminate dandruff and thereby support hair growth
  • Boost immunity
  • Exhibit antioxidant properties
  • Prevent joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain

POLYPHENOLS are believed to:

  • Contribute scent and antioxidant properties to Coconut Oil
  • Soothe inflammation
  • Repair dry, damaged skin
  • Improve skin elasticity, especially for prematurely aging skin
  • Enhance moisture levels in skin
  • Protect skin against UV rays
  • Enhance skin cell growth
  • Boost circulation to the skin
  • Increase hair growth

MEDIUM-CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES are known to:

  • Eliminate harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Offer intense moisture
  • Condition the hair and eliminate dandruff
  • Boost hair growth

Used cosmetically or topically in general, Coconut Oil can penetrate the skin easily, due to the small size of its molecules, which are almost as small as essential oil molecules and which allows essential oils to be readily absorbed into the skin when combined with Coconut Oil. Without clogging pores, Coconut Oil offers excellent emollience to dry, itchy skin and hair, remaining suitable for sensitive, inflamed and irritated skin. In providing hydration, it creates a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, locking in moisture to soften, lubricate, and cool skin and hair while preventing future dryness as well as fungus. Used in a topical cream, Coconut Oil soothes and cools irritated areas of skin such as those affected by the discomforts of conditions like Athlete’s Foot, Psoriasis, and warts. It effectively soothes sunburns and blisters, removes dead skin, and promotes the growth of newer, healthier skin for a glowing complexion.

Used therapeutically, Coconut Carrier Oil is reputed to be effective for boosting metabolism and promoting the burning of more energy. It is believed to be able to control blood pressure and cholesterol while soothing discomfort caused by liver and kidney problems. It is often used to improve digestion and insulin secretion and to control blood sugar. It can also promote stress relief when used in a relaxing massage.

 Coconut Carrier Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:

  • COSMETIC: non-comedogenic, emollient, protectively hydrating, lubricating, cooling, soothing
  • MEDICINAL: regulating, balancing, stress relieving, digestive, anti-fungal, detoxicant

CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING QUALITY COCONUT OIL

The origin of Coconut Palm Trees is still unclear; however, the generally accepted belief is that they originated in the region between India and Indonesia and that coconuts dispersed themselves throughout the world when they fell into the Indian Ocean and floated around to other countries on the ocean’s currents. This belief comes from the fact that the name for the Coconut in the region of Malaysia and Indonesia – “nyiur/nyior” – is similar to the name given to it in Polynesia and Melanesia – “niu” – and to its Philippino and Guamanian name – “niyog.” Both of these names are based on the Malay term. Coconut Palms grow in dozens of other countries around the world and produce approximately 61 million tons per year, mostly in the tropical regions of Asia. 73% of total world production is from Indonesia, the Philippines, and India, collectively. There are two modern-day species of Coconut: the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Coconuts are derived from the Cocos nucifera botanical, which is a large palm tree that can grow up to 30 m (98 ft.) tall. Its long leaves are pinnate and its trunk is smooth. Coconuts can be further classified into Tall and Dwarf types. The Coconut is not a true nut; rather, like other fleshy fruits that have thin skin and a seed-filled inner stone in their centers, it is a drupe much like an almond, cherry, olive, or plum. It is made up of 3 layers: the exocarp, the mesocarp, and the endocarp. The first two layers are the outermost and are commonly referred to as the Coconut’s husk. The mesocarp has a fibrous texture and is called “coir.”

coconut_parts_01

 

 

When the husk is removed, there are 3 visible holes on the innermost layer, the endocarp. These holes are commonly referred to as “eyes,” which tend to make the Coconut look like a bowling ball. These holes are germination pores. Two of the pores remain plugged and non-functional, leaving only one pore to be functioning, and it is through this one pore that a shoot will sprout once growing conditions are favorable. The pores each represent a coconut flower’s carpel. A full-sized coconut weighs approximately 1.44 kg (3.2 lbs.).

For optimum growth, the Coconut Palm requires sandy soils, the absence of overhead canopies of trees, generous amounts of direct sunlight, high humidity, and consistent rainfall. They are able to thrive in regions with low precipitation, as long as they remain warm and humid. They are highly receptive to salinity, which makes it easy for them to grow along tropical shorelines. They can continue to thrive in brief temperature drops to 0 °C (32 °F) and cannot withstand severe frost, but they have sometimes been able to recover from temperatures of −4 °C (25 °F). In some colder areas, although they might grow, they will not yield fruits.

Aside from coastal sandy terrains, Coconut trees can also grow in soils that are alluvial, loamy, laterite, and in soils of marshy low lands that have received reclamation treatment. They require the absence of rock or any hard, underlying rock layer within 2m of the surface; the presence of water within 3m; good water-holding capacity; and adequate drainage. In dry climates without proper irrigation, Coconut trees will not unfurl their leaves. Older leaves will become dehydrated and shrivel, and their fruits will naturally fall off.

With proper care and in ideal growing conditions, a Coconut Palm produces its first fruits within 6-10 years of growth and reaches peak production after 15-20 years. From the inflorescence stage (better known as the flowering stage) to the stage of the full-grown nut, a coconut takes 12 months to mature. Typically, there is a period of 45 days between each time the coconuts are cut down. It is believed that the best oil yield is produced by the nuts that naturally fall to the ground when they are mature. These are also the coconuts with the highest amount of Lauric Acid. A Coconut Palm produces coconuts all year long, growing approximately 100-120 Coconuts per year, as Coconuts can be found growing in bunches of 5-12 fruits with a new bunch growing and maturing each month. Some growers will pick coconuts much earlier than they reach maturity and will use chemicals to extract their oils with the intention of increasing oil production.

HOW IS COCONUT OIL EXTRACTED?

Coconuts are first collected and the ones used for “copra,” that is the dried inner flesh or the “meat,” are split open in the field with an ax. The Coconut’s meat is scooped out, amassed, and taken to a drier, which can be as simple as solar drying or a rack over a fire. It can also be as sophisticated as a kiln. The drying process can take up to 4 days. To produce 1 ton of copra, approximately 6,000 fully mature coconuts are required. The copra is bagged and taken to a large-scale industrial oil-seed mill by which time the copra will have gone rancid, especially if the mill is overseas. At this point, the extraction process begins.

Coconut Oil can be extracted by one of the following methods

THE DRY PROCESS (COLD / EXPELLER PRESS) involves extracting the coconut meat and drying it by either fire, sunlight, or in kilns to create copra. The duration of the drying is approximately 2.5 hours and takes place at a controlled temperature. This copra is then either Cold Pressed, Expeller Pressed, or dissolved using solvents, which results in the Coconut Oil as well as a soft, spongy mass referred to as “copra meal.” This byproduct is high in protein and fiber, yet it is not of high enough quality for humans to consume. As there is no further process for extracting the protein from this mass, it is fed to ruminant animals. Copra derived from coconuts that are not fully mature is more difficult to work with, as it yields a lower amount of oil and produces an inferior product. The oil passes through a filter press to remove any sediment and the result is a clear, raw Coconut Oil. Historically, this processing method produced Coconut Oil that was known as “Poor Man’s Oil” or “Dirty Oil.”

THE WET PROCESS involves the use of raw coconut instead of the dried copra. The Coconut’s protein content produces an oil and water emulsion, which leads to a process of separating the emulsion to collect only the oil. This process uses techniques such as centrifuges or pre-treatments that apply cold, heat, acids, salts, enzymes, electrolysis, shock waves, or steam distillation. Sometimes there is a combination of these processes.

SOLVENT EXTRACTION is a method that extracts up to 10% more oil than the amount produced using only rotary mills and expellers. It achieves this through the use of a solvent such as Hexane. The resulting oil undergoes refinement to remove certain free fatty acids, to reduce the oil’s susceptibility to rancidity, and to increase its shelf life.

VIRGIN COCONUT OIL can be produced out of fresh coconut milk, the coconut meat, or the residue. If it is produced from the meat, it can be extracted by grating the fresh meat, drying it to reduce its moisture content to 10–12%, and then manually applying a screw press to the dried residue to extract the oil. When the oil is produced from the Coconut’s milk, the meat is first grated then mixed with water and squeezed to obtain the oil. To use another technique, the milk can also be fermented for up to 2 days, the oil can be collected, and then the “cream” can be heated to remove any lingering oil. The third method of extraction involves the use of centrifugal force to separate Coconut Oil from the other liquids. The dry residue that remains after the production of Coconut Milk can also be used to extract the oil. Virgin Coconut Oil retains its natural aroma. The entire process of producing Virgin Coconut Oil takes place within one hour of the coconut being cracked.

COPRA COCONUT OIL – REFINED, BLEACHED, AND DEODORIZED (RDB) OIL is a variety of Coconut Carrier Oil that is derived from the copra with the use of a heated hydraulic press. The pressing process yields essentially all the oil present in the copra but remains in a crude state that is brown in color and that contains contaminants, thus it requires further heating and filtering to refine, bleach, and deodorize it.

Refining the oil produced from the copra requires chemicals and heat in order to result in a product that is suitable for commercial sale and use. It involves the use of a weak corrosive soda solution to remove the 3+% of Free Fatty Acids (FFA).

Deodorizing the oil involves passing steam through the oil at a temperature of 230 C (446 ᵒF).

Bleaching the Coconut Oil involves lightening its brown color to make it whiter.

Because the refinement process removes the fragrance and therapeutic benefits of the Coconut Oil, Copra Coconut Oil is vastly different from the quality of Virgin Coconut Oil. RBD Coconut Oil does not retain its natural aroma but is ideal for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes.

FRACTIONATED COCONUT OIL is also referred to as Liquid Coconut Oil. There are 3 basic types of fatty acids: short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain. The long-chain fatty acids have more carbon atoms and this means they require higher temperatures to melt and are thus solid at room temperature. In this variety of Coconut Oil, hydrolysis and steam distillation remove the long-chain fatty acids, such as the healthy saturated fat known as Lauric Acid, while the medium-chain triglycerides such as Caprylic Acid and Capric Acid remain. These are beneficial for medicinal and therapeutic applications, cosmetics, and as a carrier oil for essential oils. Despite the moisturizing and cleansing benefits that long-chain fatty acids have on skin, removing them allows the Coconut Oil to remain liquid at room temperature and extends its shelf life. The medium chain fatty acids still retain their moisturizing properties, while the protective and rejuvenating natural antioxidants and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E continue to exhibit their valuable properties.

coconutfractionation

 

 

USES OF COCONUT OIL

The uses of Coconut Carrier Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, lotions, soaps, shampoos, sprays, and candle making.

Used topically, Coconut Oil cleanses and nourishes skin, leaving it soft and silky. While healing and relaxing the body in a massage, it quickly and deeply hydrates the skin, locking in moisture. To cleanse the skin while moisturizing and reducing the appearance of aging, a small amount of Coconut Oil can be gently massaged into the face. This method works as a lotion that simultaneously removes makeup while nourishing the skin. For a massage to reduce the appearance of cellulite, Coconut Oil can be mixed with essential oils before being massaged into the affected areas. Its high fatty acid content makes Coconut Oil deeply moisturizing and, by massaging a generous amount into feet, damaged heels will enjoy intense hydration.

Coconut Oil can substitute commercial cosmetic highlighting products by simply being massaged into the cheekbones, eyelids, and the arches of the eyebrows for a healthy glow. This method has the added benefit of reducing the amount of makeup used. To hydrate chapped lips naturally, Coconut Oil can be melted and blended with moisturizing essential oils to make a nourishing lip balm. To eliminate and prevent ingrown hairs from forming and leading to dull areas of skin, a body scrub can be made with Coconut Carrier Oil, an exfoliant, and essential oils. The disinfectant properties of Coconut Oil make it effective in eliminating bodily odors, thus it makes an excellent deodorant when combined with anti-bacterial essential oil blends.

Used in hair, Coconut Oil can protect the scalp against the discomfort of dryness and the formation of dandruff. Lustrous hair and a healthier scalp can be achieved by mixing Coconut Oil with essential oils that are known to have hair benefits. When shaving, Coconut Oil can be used to prevent skin irritation. Whether on its own or mixed with essential oils, it can be used as a shaving cream or as a soothing aftershave that protects skin against itchiness and dehydration while preventing the need for additional moisturizing products.

Used medicinally, this anti-oxidant is known to also exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is known to help balance blood pressure as well as blood-sugar levels, cholesterol, and hormone levels. Coconut Oil has traditionally been used to soothe wounds, rashes, and burns. It can treat fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot and can repel bugs and insects such as bees, flies, and mosquitoes. The high level of Lauric Acid content in this anti-fungal oil helps eliminate the harmful bacteria inside cold sores. Applying it directly to a sore will relieve itching and pain while promoting faster healing. By hydrating skin and promoting the growth of newer, healthier skin that is more elastic, Coconut Oil helps reduce the appearance of discoloration caused by stretch marks and dark blemishes. Massaging Coconut Carrier Oil into the hands and cheeks can help prevent the appearance of age spots. It is gentle enough to be used on baby skin, making it suitable for relieving diaper rashes and other skin irritations. For a cold remedy, Coconut Oil can be mixed with Peppermint or Spearmint Essential Oil and rubbed into the chest to relieve congestion and boost circulation.

A GUIDE TO COCONUT OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS

COCONUT OIL VARIETY & BOTANICAL NAME COUNTRY OF ORIGIN BENEFITS OF OIL
Coconut (Virgin) Carrier Oil

Cocos nucifera

Found in:

  • Philippines
Believed to:

  • fight inflammation
  • maintain bone structure
  • cleanse and moisturize skin and hair
  • remove dead skin cells and promote the growth of newer, healthier skin
  • facilitate healing of wounds
  • soothe infection while promoting faster healing
  • control and relieve skin discomfort caused by eczema, psoriasis and other skin problems
  • strengthen hair
  • boost immunity
  • demonstrate antibacterial and antifungal activities
  • reduce the appearance of stretch marks
Coconut Carrier Oil (RBD)

Cocos nucifera

Found in:

  • Malaysia
Known for:

  • being odorless/having a neutral scent
  • retaining the benefits of Coconut Oil’s fatty acids
  • being free of impurities
  • having a longer shelf life than Unrefined Coconut Oil
Coconut Fractionated Carrier Oil Medium-Chain Triglyceride 60/40 

(MCT 60/40)

Found in:

  • Malaysia
Known for:

  • being odorless
  • penetrating quickly and deeply into the skin, making it feel silky and moisturized without leaving a greasy residue
  • having a high essential fatty acid content
  • having a long shelf life
  • being refined, clarified, and deodorized
  • remaining liquid regardless of temperature
  • retaining the same emollient and moisturizing properties as Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut Organic Carrier Oil (Refined)

Cocos nucifera

Found in:

  • Philippines
Known for:

  • being odorless/having a neutral scent
  • retaining the benefits of Coconut Oil’s fatty acids
  • being free of impurities
  • having a longer shelf life than Unrefined Coconut Oil
Coconut Virgin Organic Carrier Oil

Cocos nucifera

Found in:

  • Philippines
Believed to:

  • repair damaged skin and hair
  • prevent wrinkles and strengthen hair while making it lustrous
  • penetrate quickly and deeply into the skin, making it feel silky and moisturized without leaving a greasy residue

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR COCONUT OIL

Carrier oils are for external use only. Individuals who use Coconut Oil to soothe acne on skin that is not very oily to begin with will likely enjoy the anti-bacterial properties of the Lauric Acid content; however, individuals with excessively oily skin are likely to experience what might appear to be aggravated skin. This reaction will likely occur due to the detoxifying properties of Virgin Coconut Oil that are powerful enough to purge layers of toxins from deep beneath the skin’s surface. This reaction will make skin appear as though the condition has worsened, but the irritation and inflammation will be temporary and will eventually decline in a matter of a few weeks – depending on the amount of toxin build-up – as the skin heals, improves, and clears up. To prevent the skin from flaring up in this manner, another possible option for acne-prone skin is to use Coconut Oil as a carrier for skin-soothing essential oils that are known to relieve acne.

Although it is a rare occurrence, Coconut Oil may potentially cause an allergic reaction that could involve anaphylaxis, eczema, facial swelling, hives, lightheadedness, nausea, rapid heart rate, rashes, or vomiting. Children with peanut or tree nut allergies are less likely to experience an allergic reaction to Coconut Oil, as coconuts are considered to be fruits rather than nuts; however, it is highly recommended that a doctor is consulted before these individuals use Coconut Oil. Children with hypothyroidism should refrain from using Coconut Oil or any related products without first consulting a medical practitioner, as it might aggravate the condition.

IN ESSENCE…

    • The Coconut sets itself apart from other fruits by virtue of its higher than average water content.
    • The oil produced from Coconuts has been a staple ingredient in beauty products made and used by communities all around the world, especially in tropical and coastal regions.
    • The name “Coconut” is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish word that means “head” or “skull,” because of the three indents that resemble the features of a human head.
    • Coconut oil is beneficial for use in cosmetics, typically as a moisturizer, and in soaps.
  • Historically, Coconut Oil was used as a remedy for treating illnesses and infection, healing wounds, promoting the growth of strong bones, and protecting skin against blemishes.