Coconut Oil

This waxy substance is coconut oil and it melts at about skin temperatureCoconut oil is very useful for the creation of ointments, balms, unguents and solid scents.  This is because it is very stable and because most  types of coconut oil are semi-solid, melting at about skin temperatures.  It will also take high temperatures without loosing its properties or breaking down.

Coconut oil has not escaped the natural healing and nutrition trends.  You will find an abundance of overly hyped information on the "miracle" abilities and cures of coconut oil.  Yes, it is a fairly good moisturizer and can be an excellent part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it is not perfect.  Like most things in our world, coconut oil has advantages and disadvantages.  Let's explore some of its real strengths:

Dietary

Coconut is high in saturated fat and should be used in moderation.  It does however contain an interestingly high amount of short and medium chain fatty acids such as lauric acid (44%) and myristic (16.8%) acids.

Although lauric acid is not entirely heart friendly, myristic can be beneficial, and a meta-analysis of over sixty studies indicates that coconut oil may increase cholesterol levels, both HDL and LDL.

For high temperature cooking, coconut oil is probably a better choice than lard or hydrogenated fats.  In addition, the shelf and temperature stability of coconut oil make it a good choice for cooking due to the lower risk of rancidity and oxidation.  Both rancidity and oxidation of oils can cause serious health problems.1,2,3

"Rancid oil forms harmful free radicals in the body, which are known to cause cellular damage and have been associated with diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions. Rancid oils can also cause digestive distress and deplete the body of vitamins B and E. In his book "8 Weeks to Optimum Health", Dr. Andrew Weil says rancid oil can also cause damage to DNA, accelerate aging, promote tissue degeneration and foster cancer development. While rancid oil may taste bad, it doesn't normally make you sick, at least not in the short term. Rancid oil does contain free radicals that might increase your risk of developing diseases such as cancer or heart disease down the road."Australian Olive Association publication "Health Effects of Rancid Oils

Skin Health:
Unclog Pores, Clean Skin & Remove Makeup

For skin health, coconut oil makes an excellent cleanser.  You can incorporate it into homemade soap or make a creamy exfoliating cleanser.

Coconut is a fair to good skin moisturizer.  It is not the best, but at the same time it wont leave too much oil residue on your skin. The real advantage of coconut oil is its high lauric acid content, very similar to sebaceous gland secretions.  Coconut oil will dissolve much of the accumulated dirt and grime on your skin that gets trapped in the sebum.  This is where coconut oil really shines in the skin care department!  Removing built up sebum, grime and dead skin cells will help prevent acne and premature aging.

Because it melts at about skin temperature and has a less slippery feel than some oils, it feels as if it is penetrating deep into skin.  Try one of the recipes below to use the advantages of coconut oil's ability to cleanse and moisturize.

Coconut Oil Skin Cleansing

This works for makeup removal, cleansing pores and leaves a light moisturizing barrier.  To make a steam towel, simply run very hot water over a washcloth and wring it out so it isn't dripping.  You want it to be about 100 °F-108 °F (38 °C-42 °C).

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Scoop out about a tablespoon of the waxy oil from the jar and rub it between your palms to warm and melt.
  • Gently massage into face and neck with your fingertips.
  • Lay a steam towel over face for 30 seconds, then rub gently but vigorously with the towel.  The harder you rub, the more you exfoliate.
  • Splash face 3 times with cold water and pat dry.

Melt the oil in your hands and massage gently into skin.Coconut Oil & Sea Salt - Skin Cleansing & Exfoliation

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Scoop out about a tablespoon of the waxy oil from the jar and hold it in the palm of one hand so it begins to melt.
  • Add a teaspoon of sea salt to the semi-melted coconut oil and rub it between your palms to mix the oil and salt while warming and melting.
  • Gently massage into face and neck with your fingertips.
  • Lay a steam towel over face for 30 seconds, then rub gently but vigorously with the towel.  The harder you rub, the more you exfoliate.
  • Splash face 3 times with cold water and pat dry.

Get Fancy - The $50 Facial Scrub

As you can see from these two recipes above, it is a simple matter to make an excellent, high end skin cleanser.  Melt your coconut oil over very low heat (see instructions for ointments in the PaganPath Academy online herbalism course).  Do not let it get too hot, just melted.  Add your essential oils and sea salt if you desire.  Pour into containers and allow to cool before use.

I recommend starting with four ounces of coconut oil (113g.) and a half teaspoon (2.5ml) of pure essential oil or your own oil blend.  Rosemary, lavender, clary sage, sweet basil, elemi, spearmint (use sparingly), chamomile and tea tree are all good oils to begin with.  If you decide to try a blend of several types of essential oils, be sure to only add a half teaspoon of all the oils combined.  Then try your cleanser before adjusting your formula.  With some experimentation, you will create your own custom blend.

When purchasing coconut oil, it is best to use cold pressed, unrefined types.  Do not use fractionated, hydrogenated or RBD (Refined, Bleached and Deodorized).  You want to select an oil with as much of its original constituents as possible such as vitamins, minerals and fatty acids such as lauric, oleic and linoleic.  The coconut oil you'll want to use is often labeled as Virgin Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Expeller Pressed or Cold Pressed.

It is easy to scoop coconut oil out of the jar while it is cold.Magical Correspondences

Not surprisingly, coconuts are often associated with protection and purification.  These are also the functions of the oil on the skin!  They are also associated with water, the moon and are considered "feminine".  It is quite interesting that we are discovering the anti-microbial and anti-viral properties of coconut oil when it has been used for centuries for "purification and protection".

Coconut oil is extracted from the white, meaty portion (kernel) of the fruits of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).

Infused Oils

With these magickal properties, and the ability for coconut oil to remain stable at high temperatures, you have the perfect infusion oil.  Steep your herbs in warmed oil for several hours (or a moon cycle if your spell indicates) and then strain out the herbs for a beautiful infused oil.

References & Resources

  1. Journal of Nutrition: "Some Factors Affecting the Growth and Development of Rats fed Rancid Fat"Samuel M Greenberg and A. C. Frazer with the technical assistance of B Roberts, Department of Pharmacology, Medical School, University of Birmingham England
  2. Journal of Biological Chemistry: "Inactivation of Biotin by Rancid Fats" P. L. Pavcek and G. M. Shull
  3. "Chemical Properties and Cytotoxicity of Thermally Oxidized Oil" Nagao Totani, Miho Yawata, Yuko Ojiri (all three from the Faculty of Nutrition, Kobe-Gakuin University) and Munkhjargal Burenjargal (Faculty of Chemistry, National University of Mongoli)
About the Author
Friday
Author: FridayWebsite: http://PaganPath.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Author & Academy Instructor
Friday is devoted to writing books and articles on a variety of Pagan subjects, and is the instructor of the online PaganPath Academy. She has studied and practiced the Craft since 1987, and worked as a professional tarot reader and vice president of a national psychic network for several decades. Currently, she is now a practicing herbalist and ordained minister. As a Master Gardener with a deep interest in permaculture, she is developing the PaganPath Sanctuary with her partner. This long term community project is an edible landscape demonstration, orchard and educational facility for future generations.

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