Coconut oil- bad or good, benefits, Ayurvedic and contemporary views

Coconut oil is one of the most debated dietary substance for its benefits and hazards. Coconut oil is used in Indian customs since thousands of years. The Coconut oil is in use since the time of Sushruta Samhita, around 2000 years before. But recent Dietary guidelines for Americans categorizes coconut oil as a food to be avoided. In this light, a comprehensive all-inclusive discussion will be helpful to clear the air. coconut oilCoconut oil-  Ayurveda details –

Coconut and coconut oils are widely used in Ayurveda, in the form of  –

  • Food ingredient
  • For external application
  • For internal administration.

Sushruta has described Coconut oil  health benefits as follows –

  • It is a natural coolant.
  • It takes relatively long time to undergo digestion.
  • Improves hair quality and strength. Promotes hair growth.
  • It is a natural aphrodisiac
  • Nourishes the under-nourished body tissues
  • Useful in the treatment of certain diseases like emaciation, debility, respiratory conditions, diabetes, urinary system disorders.
  • Coconut oil for skin: Quickens and helps in filling up of skin depression in wounds.
  • Calms Vata and Pitta, Supports Kapha.

There are a number of Ayurvedic herbal medicines with coconut oil as base, that are used predominantly externally and also internally for many health conditions.

Example: (Caution: Meant only for information. self medication is dangerous)

  • Asana Eladi Kera Tailam (Asana Eladi coconut oil) – useful in the treatment of skin diseases and disorders related to head and ear.
  • Chemparuthyadi Keratailam – useful in eczema, and pediatric conditions.
  • Dhurdhurapatradi Keratailam – Useful in dandruff, itching and eczema.
  • Eladi coconut oil – Useful in skin conditions.
  • Karpooradi coconut oil – pains, cramps, rheumatic joint complaints.
  • Kayyanyadi coconut oil – Used in the treatment of headache. improves quality of hair.

Contemporary views about coconut oil –

Different views regarding coconut oil –

  • Coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acid, which is bad for heart and cholesterol. Coconut oil is considered under solid fats, and is advised to be replaced with oils wherever possible.
  • Coconut oil is a major source of Lauric acid, a fatty acid, which is claimed to benefit in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus.
  • Though coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acid, there is structural difference. It is rich in medium size triglycerides.
  • Wikipedia enlists two clinical trials with coconut oil –
  • A single-blind randomized controlled trial on children with pneumonia at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center found that coconut oil accelerated the normalization of respiratory rate and resolution of crackles.
  • A randomized double-blind clinical trial with 40 women exhibiting obesity found that supplementation with coconut oil promoted a reduction in obesity without causing dyslipidemia.

Coconut oil is good or bad? Discussion and conclusion:

  • According to Ayurveda, coconut oil is nourishing in nature, when taken internally. Hence used in emaciation, debility etc.
  • Ayurveda also explains coconut oil’s benefits in respiratory condition, which is supported by the clinical trial proving its efficacy in Pneumonia in children.
  • Ayurveda hails external use of coconut oil to promote hair growth, wound healing, as natural coolant and in conditions like eczema.
  • Coconut oil is processed with medicinal herbs and used in many diseases.
  • Convincing research evidence is present to prove that coconut is not really the direct cause for obesity or high cholesterol. In Kerala, a southern state of India, coconut oil is used in almost all the dishes. (My favourite is Banana chips. Must admit, I love it. 🙂 )If coconut oil was really the cause for obesity, Kerala should have been the abode of obese people, which is not the case
  • Having said that, it is not advisable for people with obesity and high cholesterol to include coconut oil in the diet.
  • For preparing hair oils, no other base is as good as coconut oil.
  • Other uses of coconut oil are – skin moisturizer & softener.
  • For a normal healthy individual, coconut oil is very good to be included in regular diet, but in limited quantities.
  • Use it in limits and enjoy its benefits.

Non sticky coconut oil – I do not believe or endorse ‘thin’ and ‘non sticky’ coconut oil for hair. Natural form of coconut oil is the best form to apply to hair or to skin.
Coconut oil for diabetes:
I do not recommend coconut oil as a remedy to diabetes, however, usage of a teaspoon per day, in diet, would help in improving blood sugar levels. Before using it, Take 500 ml of coconut oil in a pan, add 15 – 20 neem leaves or curry leaves (Kadi Pata) and heat the oil in mild fire for five minutes. Take care not to burn the oil. Then filter it. Use this oil for cooking. It helps to improve its effectiveness against diabetes.
If diabetic people have burning sensation in hands and feet, coconut oil can be applied to relieve it.

Coconut oil for piles (hemorrhoids) / fissure: 
Comment by Mr Amit:
Friends ultimate solution to piles/hemorrhoids and related problems…simply apply good quality coconut oil in anus after evacuation for three consecutive days and see the result. Earlier I used Himalaya and other allopathic ointments and Abhayarishtam and homeopathy medicines for couple of years but every time I discontinued those the problems like burning, bleeding and stinging pain came back. Sometime ago while glancing through online write-ups regarding piles I came across one suggesting to use coconut oil. First I did not believe it. Then I thought trying the coconut oil. Results were beyond my imagination: no pain, no bleeding and no burning. Now I can sit at one place and drive for hours. I apply coconut oil (Patanjali) only once a day and am no longer taking any medicines. I think home cooked coconut oil would be more effective. Just try this!!!

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  1. Thank you. Very detailed Information….

  2. I’ve been thinking about adding coconut milk to my diet. Thank you for the article.

  3. Tripti says:

    Hi Doctor,
    Just wanted to check with you on the usage of Asana Eladi Tailam . Are there any do’s and dont’s for applying this oil on the head.


    • Asana Eladi Tailam is an herbal oil prepared in sesame oil base. It is used for the application over head for the treatment of diseases like earache, headache, giddiness, and other diseases related to eyes, nose and throat. There are no big do’s and don’ts while using this oil. Just follow the doctor’s instructions.

  4. I am told oil extracted from fresh coconut or coconut milk has totally different properties from the oil extracted from copra (dried coconut). Is this true? Which one should we use?

    • The one prepared with fresh coconuts has more benefits than the coconut oil prepared with copras. Because The drying of copras is often done very rapidly with high temperatures. And copra-coconut oils are edible only after refining, bleaching and deodorizing.

  5. abhijit nair says:

    i have problem of hair loss. is there any problem if i apply eladi coconut oil on head?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      There are no problem or apparent side effect with applying eladi coconut oil. But it is usually not used for hair loss. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor for an advice.

  6. Prasanna says:

    Can pregnant women use eladi coconut oil ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Yes, it can be used for external application, for a very limited time period, in small quantities.

  7. Shereefa says:

    Thankyou for this lovely article. Is coconut oil good for massage and skin care routine for vata dominant people?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Because coconut oil is natural coolant, and Vata has coldness as one of its qualities, in cold condition, it is best to avoid in Vata imbalance conditions. If it is heated a little, then it is useful in vata dominant people.

  8. eleganta says:

    Can eladi kera thailam be used as a daily massage oil for skin on the face and body?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Yes, it can be used as daily massage oil. If you find it costly for daily use, you can mix equal quantity of sesame oil / coconut oil to it.

  9. katmaeda says:

    Is coconut oil recommended before bed to provide energy to the body so it sleep

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Not just before bed, it will be helpful, for a normal healthy person, if taken around 6 – 7 pm.

  10. Shereefa says:

    Very nice article indeed. I know that some people make coconut oil at home by heating the coconut milk collected from fresh coconuts. Is this coconut oil as good or better than the commercial ones. Will the oil lose it’s beneficial properties by making it this way? It won’t be virgin but at least we know it is pure.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      The home made is as good as virgin and better than any market available coconut oil.

  11. Shereefa says:

    Is homemade coconut oil made from heating fresh coconut milk beneficial or does it lose it properties?

  12. Afreen says:

    Is homemade coconut oil ( made by cooking coconut cream until it leaves oil) good for skin or does it lose it’s benefits?

  13. Hello Doctor, Using coconut oil or coconut chutney regularly can cause or increase in lepoma? I am addicted to coconut chutney and using it for a while mostly two times a day but now I found few lepomas in various parts of my body.

  14. lakshmi says:

    Dear Dr Hebbar,

    please refer to virgin coconut oil ,it is being hailed as a miracle for many chronic ailments in modern era .


  15. Jayanth says:

    This is a very good and educative article.
    In what form should Coconut oil be used for Diabetes and Asthma?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      If diabetic people have burning sensation in hands and feet, coconut oil can be applied to relieve it.
      I do not recommend coconut oil as a remedy to diabetes, however, usage of a teaspoon per day, in diet, would help in improving blood sugar levels. Before using it, Take 500 ml of coconut oil in a pan, add 15 – 20 neem leaves or curry leaves (Kadi Pata) and heat the oil in mild fire for five minutes. Take care not to burn the oil. Then filter it. Use this oil for cooking. It helps to improve its effectiveness against diabetes.
      I do not recommend using coconut oil for treating asthma.

  16. Hi doctor, is coconut oil good to remove sun tantan from.body and face? If yes, what is the correct way to use it?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, coconut oil is very good to remove sun tan. Take an ounce (30 ml) of coconut oil and mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it.
      If available, you can add 20 drops of Kumkumadi oil to it. Mix well and apply, 30 minutes before bath, everyday.
      Kumkumadi oil is available online in India here – (aff) –

  17. Sir, pl tell us about a gud virgin coconut oil. The company or brand.

  18. Hi Doctor,
    Can kayyunadi Kera tailam be useful for hair growth as well? Will it be helpful to make much difference in case of hair growth?

  19. Hi doc,
    I started doing my own coconut chutney, can you eat it in the winter?

  20. Can I use coconut oil my hair daily

  21. coconut oil use hair direct apply hair or boil to use hair ,best?

  22. Sir, how to take coconut oil internally for nourishment of body tissues?

    • Dr Malini Bhat says:

      Sir, you can inculcate coconut oil in the foods when it comes to taking it internally. There is no specific indication of taking the coconut oil as a whole internally.

  23. Prajaktu says:

    How do i get rid of pigmentation? Will coconut oil help?

  24. Rajesh says:

    Have been reading articles regarding coconut oil a cure for alzheimer disease. What is your say on this. Can it be tried on my obese mom.

  25. Sir, can we put 1-2 teaspoon coconut oil on food in the same way we put ghee on dal-rice?

  26. Hemanth says:

    I have premature greying of hairs can I eat one table spoon of coconut oil and sweet neem leaves in the morning empty stomach

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