10 Myths about Coconut Oil That Just Need to Die

I love coconut oil.  Coconut oil has so many uses!  I was writing a post for tomorrow about how useful coconut oil is. However, while I was fact-checking, I came across some disturbing myths about coconut oil that just need to die, so here’s the top 10 worst myths about coconut oil that I’ve seen today:

Myth 1. It cures Alzheimers. Just… no.

Myth 2. It helps you sleep. I’m pretty sure the top two Google results for “uses of coconut oil” just made this up to fill out numbers. As someone with bipolar disorder and the chronic insomnia that accompanies mania, I can PROMISE you that this does nothing unless you’re susceptible to placebo.

Myth 3. It contains an SPF. This has been categorically disproved in empirical scientific tests but it’s still in all the “uses of coconut oil” articles online. It’s all well and good claiming “oh it’s SPF4-6 so you won’t notice it” but it doesn’t have any SPF.  The experiment everyone refers to is riddled with errors and is not repeatable. The main clue is that the person doesn’t actually test coconut oil or other vegetable oils, they’ve only tested herbal oils (and their method contradicts itself), their results section proves this, but they discuss coconut oil in the conclusion, claiming to have found an SPF of 7.1.  I’ll believe it when I see a repeatable published paper on the topic.  Get yourself some Piz Buin and stay safe in the sun! This myth needs to die before more people get skin cancer.

Myth 4. You can use it in place of laundry powder in a modern washing machine. While people claim coconut oil is all traditional and natural and whatnot, our modern washing machines are not designed to flush out oil. It will get stuck in all the pipes, especially if you use the environmentally friendly “cold wash” and even if it gets out of your washing machine, it can block your drain just the same as if you pour oil down your drain for any other reason. Unless you don’t use a washing machine, coconut oil is not an appropriate detergent (and even then, I’m not convinced).

Myth 5. You should put it on your Vajayjay regularly. It’s an oil. Oil harbours bacteria, providing the bacteria with protection and food, so it can multiply and make you ill. Oil protects bacteria because it’s hard to wash out of nooks and crannies (especially if you avoid soaps/sulphates, which are specially designed to remove oil). The result? Infections.

Myth 6. It’s a good sex lubricant. In addition to the things mentioned in myth 5, you should also know that because coconut oil is an oil, it does the same as every other oil-based lubricant – it degrades condoms and silicon toys. Don’t bother unless you want to get pregnant. Anally speaking, it’s too thin to be effective and will be absorbed by the colon too soon, leading to nasty friction burns up there.

Myth 7. It’s an antifungal. antiviral, antimicrobial. C’mon, dumbass content “creators” you can’t even pick one? These three terms contradict one another, nothing does all three. All our antibiotics are fungus-derived (that’s why antibiotics can give people thrush) and all our antifungals are bacteria-derived. There’s no “all natural” miracle cure in coconut oil otherwise the “big bad pharma” that everyone loves to hate would have subsituted all their usual products for coconut oil and nobody would get sick or die. Ever. The reason it works on some fungal infections is because it allows bacteria to grow, but it’s not safe because this could be ANY bacteria rather than the safe ones such as in clotrimazole (Canesten) cream.

Myth 8. It’s an anti-ageing treatment. It’s good at moisturizing the skin, but the idea that, from the surface of the skin, it can cause collagen production to kick it up a notch, is a blatant lie. If this was true, Elemis could save a lot of money by substituting the ingredients in their pro-collagen marine cream with coconut oil.

Myth 9. It’s a cure for osteoarthritis. HOWEVER, vitamin K is an important and oft-overlooked component needed to reduce arthritis and associated problems, and vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means a source of fat (which doesn’t also contain vitamin E, which will prevent K absorption) is essential to absorb vitamin K. Coconut oil doesn’t contain anything which can prevent bone density loss.

Myth 10. You should clean make-up brushes with it. Remember what we said in Myth 5 and Myth 6 about how oil is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria? There was a woman in the news last year who is now in a wheelchair and paralysed because she used her friend’s make-up brushes and caught her staph infection. The first woman’s immune system fought the infection and she was fine after a few days. The second woman didn’t recover so well; it spread to her central nervous system. She’s paralysed now.

As you can see, the consequences for believing some of the claims about coconut oil can be pretty severe. Personally, I’ll wait until controlled studies have been done before I believe any of the above claims. There are some beauty bloggers and lifestyle bloggers, usually of the “I don’t actually know what natural means and I’m scared of parabens” variety, who love to embellish. They don’t care if you die of infection, they’re going to tell you “coconut oil is better than antibiotics” because it makes them out to be an authority when they have no understanding of the damage they can do.

coconut oil myths
This story contains all the elements of a good “natural healthcare” anecdote: We’ve got a disapproving doctor (what doctor gives a damn if you want to feed a patient coconut oil unless they’re nil by mouth, c’mon), we’ve got a patient allegedly at death’s door, and we’ve got someone who didn’t know anything about coconut oil until the above story took place (the everyman, the Mary-Sue)… but is now giving their personal recommendation for the dubiously named “coconut research center.” Mmyeah that sounds legit.

 

I hope this article prompts someone, somewhere, to read “natural healthcare” and “natural beauty” articles more critically – after all, if it sounds too good to be true and the writer is unable to explain themselves when you ask (e.g. they don’t have any contact details, they fob you off or just don’t answer comments or emails) they’re probably lying, or they’re uncritically repeating what other people say, or they’re a paid shill of the multi-billion-dollar “natural healthcare” industry. I have to put that phrase in quotation marks because there’s nothing natural or caring about the practises of the people who give alternative medicine a bad name.

Sources (copy and paste into url bar or google):
phcog.com/article.asp?issn=0973-1296;year=2009;volume=5;issue=19;spage=238;epage=248;aulast=Kapoor
everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses
wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil
swansonvitamins.com/blog/natural-health-tips/using-coconut-oil
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

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Author: MsAdventure

I am a twentysomething travel, photography and beauty blogger who occasionally writes about other topics. Within travel, I tend to write mostly about Europe because all the other travel bloggers seem to write about South East Asia. As a writer, I have written articles that are published in Offbeat Bride and on Buzzfeed, and as a photographer, I have taken photographs that are published in local and national news outlets in the UK. I have a blog at www.delightandinspire.com

10 thoughts on “10 Myths about Coconut Oil That Just Need to Die”

  1. Thank you for posting this, coconut oil has been exaggerated and misrepresented for so long. The points in your blog are what I found as I slowly researched the “pros and cons” of it. It’s a breath of fresh air that the myths are out in the open.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree- I remember looking up the SFP for it and I saw that it was extremely low.. and I just thought, “Oh… well this isn’t going to work.”

        Liked by 1 person

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