The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Life!

July 13, 2014

Crack open the power of the coconut

Now let’s get this straight …

  We know about Parrotheads. And Cheeseheads. But when did Coconut Heads become cool?

Move over, argan — you are so last season. Another exotic oil is taking lead role in everything from shampoo to weight-loss supplements. That cast-iron skillet seasoning, stretch-mark banishing essence of the hour is — coconut oil.

“I use it in my coffee as creamer!” “I use it as a natural tooth whitener!” A quick Internet search of coconut oil reveals its accolades falling just shy of achieving world peace.

Some slather it on. Some swish and spit (called “pulling” or “kavala”) to detox. Others ingest it. From claims of acne and scar-free faces to reductions in wrinkling, coconut-oil aficionados have begged off expensive creams forever.

And if that doesn’t butter your toast, then butter your toast with it. Calorie-counters may cringe at the 130 calories per tablespoon, but the oil considered a healthy fat and cholesterol reducer is giving butter a good churning as rival cooking and flavoring agent. Coconut oil, from its former entry-level career as base for lipsticks and lotions (yawn), is now upper-level management.

Natalie Wilson, owner of Miracle Spa LLC of Beckley, stocks very versatile jarred organic coconut oil and coconut oil supplements, swearing by most of the proclamations from her own experience or from client testimonials. She does, however, ask the enthusiastic to exercise a little restraint, limiting ingestion to either a supplement or a couple of tablespoons a day, maximum.

“It’s important to choose only extra virgin, 100 percent organic coconut oil, and only purchase in a glass jar. The oil can absorb chemicals from plastic containers,” Wilson said, for starters.

“So many people use it now to replace butter. It has a delicious flavor — no GMOs (genetically modified organism); it’s also vegan and organic.”

With a consistency Wilson describes as “like Crisco,” coconut oil easily emulsifies, allowing for a quick moisturizing rub for the body, on its own or combined with salt or sugar, coffee grounds or citrus to use as a rinse-off scrub, or a convenient straight-out-of-the-jar conditioner.

“It washes out of your hair just like normal conditioner,” stated Wilson.

So why exchange one edible oil or body preparation for another? Unlike organic coconut oil’s scuzzy cousin who gained notoriety as the chief ingredient in snack cakes, pure, unadulterated coconut oil is good for you.

“It can actually lower your cholesterol, increase your metabolism and it burns instead of stores,” Wilson said, adding that many who use it swear by natural coconut oil’s ability to curb the appetite when consumed in moderation.

“The body can use coconut oil more efficiently (than other oils),” she stated.

With a pleasantly coco-nutty flavor, and with a scent vaguely reminiscent of a tanning salon, coconut oil might well be the closest to a panacea an oil can get — at least according to its growing fan base.

The list of benefits continues, including a natural sun-protection enhancer (the equivalent of SPF 4, alone) and some you’ll just have to try to believe, including better sleep, healthy thyroid functioning and a non-irritating personal lubricant.

“If you put it on like a topical cream, it can even help with yeast infection,” said Wilson.

Inquiring minds and the middle-aged want to know: If we rub it on our skin, will we live forever?

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com

 

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