When you think of a coconut, you probably picture tropical beaches and swaying palm trees, but this mighty food (also classified as a nut or seed) has been making quite a few headlines as an essential superfood.
For centuries, indigenous cultures have used and revered the coconut for a long laundry list of health concerns. And as of late, more and more scientific studies are showing that these cultures may have known the true value of the coconut for such things as cardiovascular and brain health, and as studies show, even for such things as depression and relieving the damaging effects of stress.
Once again, however, the mighty coconut has revealed yet a new and quite amazing health benefit—its potent antifungal properties that may literally save lives.
Tufts University researchers concluded that coconut oil can take on the hard to control and highly opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans.
While the study was conducted on mice, researchers have high hopes the results can be transferred to humans, in which C. albicans is considered the most common human pathogen, with a terrifyingly high mortality rate of about 40 percent when it leads to systemic infections.
Although C. albicans is normally present our gastrointestinal tract, things like antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria that normally keep Candida populations in check.
Other issues that can result in an overgrowth of this fungi is a compromised immunity.
Researchers stated that “Systemic infections caused by C. albicans can lead to invasive candidiasis, which is the fourth most common blood infection among hospitalized patients in the United States according to the CDC.”
Natural Treatment To Reduce Candida Infection
Typically, doctors treat this infection with anti-fungal drugs, which themselves carry significant risk of serious side effects, and like repeated antibiotic use, repeated use of anti-fungal medications can lead to the increase of drug-resistant strains of the fungal pathogens.
For this reason alone, finding a less invasive, more natural treatment is essential to saving lives and halting this nasty fungus.
So, when researchers found that coconut oil can indeed reduce the candida infection in mice, it was very exciting. The results, which were reported on ScienceDaily:
“The team, led by microbiologist Carol Kumamoto and nutrition scientist Alice H. Lichtenstein, investigated the effects of three different dietary fats on the amount of C. albicans in the mouse gut: coconut oil, beef tallow and soybean oil. A control group of mice were fed a standard diet for mice. Coconut oil was selected based on previous studies that found that the fat had antifungal properties in the laboratory setting.”
The researchers ultimately found that:
“A coconut oil-rich diet reduced C. albicans in the gut compared to a beef tallow-or soybean oil-rich diet. Coconut oil alone, or the combination of coconut oil and beef tallow, reduced the amount of C. albicans in the gut by more than 90% compared to a beef tallow-rich diet.”
Add 1 Tbsp of Coconut Oil To Your Diet
What was even more exciting according to researcher Carol Kumamoto, Ph.D., who is a professor of molecular biology and microbiology:
“Coconut oil even reduced fungal colonization when mice were switched from beef tallow to coconut oil, or when mice were fed both beef tallow and coconut oil at the same time. These findings suggest that adding coconut oil to a patient’s existing diet might control the growth of C. albicans in the gut, and possibly decrease the risk of fungal infections caused by C. albicans,”
Kearney Gunsalus, Ph.D., the first author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Sackler School in Kumamoto’s lab, reiterated the importance of the study’s implications for people suffering from Candida:
“We want to give clinicians a treatment option that might limit the need for antifungal drugs. If we can use coconut oil as a safe, dietary alternative, we could decrease the amount of antifungal drugs used, reserving antifungal drugs for critical situations.”
Bottom line, it looks like coconut oil can be a very powerful antifungal and something anyone at risk for candida or other yeast infections should consider.