Flickr/Phu Thinh Co
Coconut oil has some surprising health benefits, like treating damaged hair, healing chapped lips and ameliorating skin problems such as stretch marks.

20 Unusual Uses for Coconut Oil

Darla Antoine
12/12/13

I’ve been using coconut oil as my go-to cooking oil for several years now. With a high smoking point it is perfect for cooking and it also has healthy medium chain fatty acids—the kind of fat that is immediately converted into energy rather than being stored. It also is antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.

I’ve recently discovered, however, that coconut oil is good for a lot more than just adding healthy fat to your diet. It has hundreds of everyday, practical uses that make it almost indispensible. The best part? It’s all natural. If you’re concerned about toxins, synthetic hormones, artificial coloring and other additives put into our body products then you might be pleased to discover that coconut oil can probably replace a whole shelf of products in your bathroom. Maybe even two or three shelves.

Here are my top 20 tips for using coconut oil outside of the kitchen. Of course it also has a number of uses in the kitchen, from seasoning cast iron skillets to replacing butter and making yummy desserts (melt coconut oil and mix with cocoa powder and honey to taste. Pour over ice cream and let it sit for a minute for your own all-natural “magic shell” ice cream topping)

RELATED: Avoid Toxins; Look to Your Pantry for Natural Cleaning Agents

1. Healthy gums— Use coconut oil to “oil pull” toxins out of your mouth and improve your dental health. Just swish around a spoonful of the oil for at least 10 minutes. Spit the oil out in the toilet (it has a lot of toxins and germs in it now) and brush your teeth. Do once a day or several times a week for optimal results.

2. Body scrub—Mix coconut oil and sugar together and get to scrubbin’!

3. Lip balm—Bonus! Coconut oil has a natural SPF of about 4

4. Eye makeup remover—one of my favorite uses

5. Massage oil

6. Relieve burns and bug bites

7. Diaper cream (safe for cloth diapers too)

8. Body lotion

9. Eye cream (avoid using all over your face as it could clog pores)

10. Cuticle cream

11. Blended into tea or coffee as a dairy alternative (surprisingly delicious)

12. Smooth away fly-aways and split ends

13. Nipple cream for nursing mothers

14. Natural and inexpensive toothpaste—just mix with a little baking soda

15. Prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

16. Use on the feet to help combat Athlete’s foot

17. Aftershave lotion

18. Reduce the redness and swelling of bruises

19. Cradle crap—rub a teaspoon into your infant’s scalp daily to help eliminate this pesky skin condition

20. Burns—apply immediately and continue to apply until healed. It also helps reduce the appearance or risk of scarring.

Darla Antoine on a recent visit to Washington State (Courtesy Darla)

Darla Antoine is an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band in British Columbia and grew up in Eastern Washington State. For three years, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the Midwest, reporting on issues relevant to the Native and Hispanic communities, and most recently served as a producer for Native America Calling. In 2011, she moved to Costa Rica, where she currently lives with her husband and their infant son. She lives on an organic and sustainable farm in the “cloud forest”—the highlands of Costa Rica, 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation, the conditions for farming and gardening are similar to that of the Pacific Northwest—cold and rainy for most of the year with a short growing season. Antoine has an herb garden, green house, a bee hive, cows, a goat, and two trout ponds stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.

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Emma Forsberg's picture
Emma Forsberg
Submitted by Emma Forsberg on
...and head lice don't like coconut oil - use coconut conditioner to prevent lice if there is an outbreak at your child's school or daycare

Renee Earwood's picture
Renee Earwood
Submitted by Renee Earwood on
I use coconut oil on my face everyday and I think it's done wonders in the anti-aging dept. I have naturally dry skin so it may clog pores if your skin is oily.
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