Safety and Dangers of Coconut Oil

by Megan O'Malley

Coconut oil is one of those miracle products that have numerous uses. It comes from the nut of the coconut tree and can be used in medicines, make-up and cooking. With all the hype about coconut oil, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. While coconut oil does have its benefits, there are some precautions to think about when using products that involve coconut oil in its pure form.

Beauty Products

The FDA has deemed coconut oil a safe product to be used in place of cocoa butter. This is in terms of cosmetics. According to the website Cosmetics Info, coconut oil can be found in shaving creams, suntan products, skin and hair care products, eye make-up and lipsticks. After being reviewed by a panel of experts, coconut oil was deemed safe because it caused minimal skin irritation on human subjects. It is proven to soften skin and hair. In particular, soaps naturally made with coconut oil provide no danger to its users. If skin does become irritated while using a natural soap, stop immediately and try switching to a product with a different oil base, such as olive oil.

Medicine

According to Web MD, coconut oil has been used to help treat diabetes, Crohn’s disease, thyroid issues, irritable bowel syndrome and heart disease. It can also help treat head lice and psoriasis. Doctors have determined when coconut oil is used as part of medical treatment, it is safe as long as the amounts being used are the same as the amounts found in food. In pregnant and nursing women, it is important to keep the amounts relatively the same because doctors are unsure of the effects if the amounts are exceeded. Currently there are no known dangerous interactions between medications and coconut oil. Using coconut oil in medical treatments is still relatively new as of 2010, so studies are still being conducted to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Cooking

Coconut oil has been used in cooking and baking for centuries, particularly in Asian countries. Its long shelf life and unique taste has made it perfect for any kitchen. The fact that it is lower in calories and fat content than other oils makes it a safe choice for health-conscious cooks. It also helps to increase metabolism. According to Omega Nutrition, coconut oil can be used to replace butter, lard or shortening in baking. Often, stores do not sell cooking-grade coconut oil; instead they offer cosmetic grade oil. While the cosmetic grade still suitable, Omega Nutrition suggests seeking out a cooking grade. Currently, as of 2010, there are no dangers associated with the use of coconut oil in cooking.

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