If you're reading my blog because you're a mom interested in greening her lifestyle, you may have at least heard about using coconut oil as a diaper rash ointment. This remedy is extremely effective for some moms and babies. For Jem (who has very sensitive skin and is prone to rashes) straight coconut oil tends to work only on milder redness. I've found the best remedy for him is CJs Spritz o' Butter Plus, which contains mostly coconut oil but with added sesame and neem oils...works like a charm!
In my house, coconut oil isn't just for rashes. In fact, the last time I bought coconut oil I bought a quart, and next time I plan to purchase a gallon. Why? Well, due to its unique properties, coconut oil (once given a bad rep for containing saturated fats: read about this here) is not only excellent for your skin but in your diet as well. It contains medium chain fatty acids which are essential to your health, in particular lauric acid, which the body converts to monolaurin. Monolaurin has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and is a component of human breast milk. In fact, as far as I know breast milk and coconut oil are the only sources of monolaurin for human consumption.
Here is a list of what we have been using coconut oil for in our house (other than diaper rashes):
~ Jem's milk: I make Jem a homemade goat milk formula (I'd list all the ingredients, but that's for a future post), and include a couple of tablespoons of organic coconut oil per half gallon. Since coconut oil solidifies and clumps when cold, I still have to serve his milk warm, but I don't mind the extra time it takes to keep giving him the benefits of monolaurin! Especially since I'm only breast-feeding him once a day now.
~ Cooking! Because unsaturated fats like olive oil can convert to hydrogenated (trans) fats when cooked at high heats, we have switched to using coconut oil (a healthy saturated fat) for most of our cooking. We've been using organic expeller-pressed RBD (refined, bleached and deodorized) coconut oil for this because it's mostly tasteless and odorless and made by mechanical processes (versus chemical processes), however we are considering switching to organic virgin centrifuge-extracted coconut oil. This oil retains a little bit of the coconut taste and scent but is a more pure oil. RBD oils are made by first drying the coconut meat in the sun, which can lead to bacterial growth (ew), hence the need for refining and bleaching. Virgin centrifuge-extracted oil uses the fresh, wet meat of the coconut, separating the oils through a refrigeration process. Sounds a bit more appealing, doesn't it?
~ Lip balm: My lips have been rather dry lately, and I'm not a fan of most commercial lip balms (wasted little tubes of plastic filling up landfills, and most of them contain chemicals I'd prefer not to have near my oral cavity). So I bought a little glass roll-on perfume bottle, filled it with coconut oil and a touch of aloe vera and vitamin E oil, and voila, lip balm. Bingo, works like a charm!
~ Massage oil: I may not have mentioned this on this blog yet, but before I became Jem's mommy I was a full-time licensed massage therapist (I specialize in pre-natal massage). Since I plan to get back to work soon (part-time...very part-time) I will need extra coconut oil handy to mix up my own homemade massage oils. Its unique property of being solid at room temperature yet liquid when warmed makes it the ideal massage oil, especially because of its ability to soothe and nourish dry, damaged skin.
~ Toothpaste: If you didn't already check out my toothpaste recipe on this blog, today you can see it featured on one of my favorite websites, Keen for Green! I was so flattered that they asked me if they could include this on their site!
I have a feeling this list will get longer in the coming months. I plan to try using coconut oil to make homemade deodorant soon (as per the recipe I found on My Baby's Green). Does that make me a dirty hippie? Well...maybe. :-) Stay tuned, and maybe pick up your own jar of coconut oil to try!