About a week ago I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. My roommate used to have coconut oil in the house all the time for cooking purposes, but for the past several years I have been all about the EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and I use it in pretty much everything so I never gave much thought to other vegetable and nut oils. It was olive oil, or nothing. But it seems like everyone I know is posting things on pinterest about the benefits of coconut oil, or 101 uses for the stuff, and some of it actually sounds pretty interesting.
One of the great things about having more free time, is being able to follow up on whims and projects… I hopped in my car and headed to Trader Joes for a few random groceries, and of course some in-expensive coconut oil.
And here I am, a week later, kind of obsessed with the stuff… I’m using it in cooking, on my face, even for the dog. Here are a few of my top uses for coconut oil.
First and foremost, I purchased coconut oil so I could begin oil pulling. It is rooted in Ayurvedic tradition (something that fascinates me) and I had been wanting to try it for a long time. Essentially you swish vegetable oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, and it starts to stimulate the mucus membranes, and is a great way to detoxify the body. I suffer from chronic tonsillitis, and every time I get sick, it manifests in my tonsils, so really anything that would help pull toxins from the body and give my tonsils a break sounded like something worth a try. Even if detoxification wasn’t in the mix, pulling is thought to help whiten teeth, improve gum health and help with bad breath. (who doesn’t want all of those things?) I’m an avid coffee drinker, and lately I’ve also been drinking a lot of green tea (supposedly as staining to your teeth as coffee) so whitening seems like an added bonus. Supposedly, pulling also helps with migraines, skin ailments, joint pain, fatigue, and so and so forth. The thing that makes the most sense to me, is that our mouths are filled with bacteria, and the mouth is the gateway to a lot of other systems in the body (plaque in the mouth is the same plaque that causes heart issues etc.) Starting to detoxify the body, even if it is just the mouth seems like it would naturally have a lot of health benefits… right? So I decided to try it, and I’m kind of obsessed. You can use any type of vegetable oil, but when I tried using olive oil, I found it was too spicy, and was hard to keep the oil in my mouth for an extended period of time. ( I think sesame oil is also recommended, but also kind of gross). I like using coconut oil because the flavor is really mild. At first 15-20 minutes seemed like a REALLY long time, but being an infamous multi-tasker, I just decided to “pull” while I was in the shower and getting ready for the day, and the 15-20 minutes go by a lot faster than you think. You don’t need very much oil (a very small spoonful, the coconut oil will melt in your mouth) and you do not want to swallow the oil as it will be loaded with bacteria. After the time is up, spit the oil in the toilet or, as I do, into a plastic cup. (I suppose you could spit in the sink, but I used to work at an olive oil tasting room, and I’ve seen what excess olive oil can do a septic system… I’m inclined to think that coconut oil wouldn’t be that different… I plan on pouring my cup of coconut oil out in some back corner of the yard…) I’ve been pulling for a week, and I’m still going strong. My mouth feels healthier, and I’ve noticed my tongue looks a lot cleaner… my skin is also looking great, but that could be the fact that I’m also putting coconut oil on my face. Really, I want someone else that I know to try this, and then we can compare notes…
As a moisturizer: I will admit, I was skeptical to start putting oil on my face. My entire life I’ve had combination skin, so I’ve been walking that fine line between excessively oily, excessively dry, or that weird shiny but flaky look that plagues us combination skin types. Haven’t people been telling us our whole lives that its all the excess oil that is trapping the skin cells on our face and causing clogged pores? Well, after doing a little research, it made a lot of sense to me that trying to remove excess oil from your face with cleansers actually makes your body produce more oil, since your skin is trying to compensate. This leaves skin not only parched, but then saturated with extra oil… great… good to know I’ve just been exacerbating the problem for years. I’m not a science minded lady, but it does makes sense to me that like dissolves like, so why we expect that washing our face with water would help get rid of oil is a mystery. But perhaps adding oil to oil… now we are getting somewhere… Putting “clean” oil on your face helps dissolve the “bad” oil and can help remove any build up in your pores… So not only have I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer, but I’ve also adopted the OCM (Oil Cleaning Method) and have started using oil to wash my face.
At first I was a little terrified… but when I saw how great my skin looked after the first “wash” I was sold… granted it has only been a week, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time during this experiment, but for the time being, I’m sold. My skin has a healthy glow (and not the oily kind), and my pores appear way smaller… all I have to say to that is Halleluiah! I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my pores… ask me one thing I could change about my body, and I don’t even think about the cellulite or the shape of my thighs…(I mean I do a little, but when it comes to my body, I always figure if I REALLY wanted to make a change, I would work a little harder, exercise a little more… overall I’m happy with my shape…) if I could change one thing about my body I would have smaller less visible pores… who knew that all it would take would be adding some oil to my skin? Currently I’m actually using a blend of caster oil and olive oil to “wash” my face, and am then finishing up by putting coconut oil around my eyes and on any dry areas. This post is getting a little long, so I won’t go into full detail, but I found the instructions on the Full Moxie, and she has some great explanations, and links to other blogs to get you started. My only suggestion would be that, you should in fact use a hot wash-cloth over your face afterward to help open up the pores and remove the excess oil, otherwise it can be a little challenging/ a little messy to try and wash off in the sink. The only downside of this whole method is that I’m having to wash my hand towels more frequently (so maybe it’s actually a good thing).
In food/cooking: I’ve only tried using coconut oil in a few culinary endeavors, but after reading about the health benefits, I’m excited to start using it more. Its supposed to be great for the Thyroid, good for boosting the metabolism, good for the immune system, good for your skin, good for reducing stress, good for your bones, etc. etc. I’ve been adding a spoonful to my green smoothies in the morning, and it definitely enhances the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind the taste of green smoothies… but every now and then, they are just a little too green (I blame the raw kale) but the coconut oil adds a subtle flavor boost. I also added a bit of coconut oil to my quinoa the other day (I usually make a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week, and then re-heat and enhance as necessary for a quick meal.) I usually re-heat the quinoa in a pan on the stove, so I tossed a little coconut oil in, and it was delicious. I’ve also been using coconut oil to make popcorn… (its especially good if you are wanting a little bit of sweetness).
For the Dog: Toby, like me, has rather sensitive skin… I used to put olive oil in his food to help with his skin and fur… But, being a bit of an olive oil snob, it was getting a little pricey to be adding good olive oil to his food (he’s like my kid… but I don’t think he really appreciates the nuances of the flavor of the koroneki olive oil… and I’m on a tight budget) but over the past few days I have been mixing a little coconut oil in with his meals. I’ve also been using coconut oil to soothe this dry nose, and have been putting a small amount into his nose rope. Those of you with bulldogs know that they are prone to yeast infections in their face rolls, and cleaning out his wrinkles is a daily grooming ritual. Coconut oil is supposed to have antimicrobial properties, and said to be good for treating yeast infections… (though I might just let the dog try that one out) The coconut oil hasn’t completely alleviated his yeast problems, but it has definitely slowed down the growth rate, and over all his snout seems healthier and happier.
On my hair: I’ve been growing out my hair for what seems like forever, and I’ve been doing occasional hot oil treatments to help stimulate my scalp and hair growth. Yesterday I used coconut oil on my scalp and hair as a moisturizing treatment. Today my hair feels great, but I will say it looked a little greasy yesterday even after I washed it. As a disclaimer, I have never been the kind of girl who can pull off shampooing every other day. I know it is supposed to be better for your hair, and I’m sure that if I actually toughed it out and got through the initial week of greasiness, I would really love the results… but I’m just not that girl. Its fine when I’m camping… but back here in the real world, I like to wash my hair… I remember being a little girl sitting at the dinner table and my mom looking at me and suggesting that maybe I should wash my hair twice the next time I showered… she wasn’t trying to be mean, I know it was coming from a place of “I don’t want my kid to be the greasy un-bathed child on the playground” but I think it has lead to a life-long insecurity about having greasy hair. (sorry mom, I don’t hold it against you) Not to mention the fact that pretty much every morning when I wake up, I look like the cross between Tarzan and a rat terrier. I shower every day… and I wash my hair everyday… call it my fatal flaw. I’ve always been jealous of the women who could go for days without washing their hair (I have always had these types of women for roommates… and I’m full of envy). I’m getting a little off-topic I know… but what I’m getting at, is that the coconut oil left my hair looking a little greasier than I would have liked… but, I still think using it as a hair treatment is a great idea, but maybe I’ll just do it on the weekends.
Ok, this post is getting long, and I don’t want to bore you with my new found love of coconut oil. Just a quick list of a few of the other things I’ve been using it for
-to protect and moisturize my tattoo
-as a lip balm
-on my eczema patches (with mixed results)
-on my cuticles