Arthritis is a disabling condition of the bone and joints which affects anyone including children and adolescents.
There are many different types of arthritis namely, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Juvenile arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, etc.
The chief and most common symptoms of any type of arthritis are a pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness of joints.
These are usually treated with the help of physical exercise, painkillers, diet modification, physiotherapy, etc.
Some foods like red meat, margarine, soda, etc. , are known to aggravate the symptoms of arthritis and some foods like olive oil, fruits, green leafy vegetables, etc. , are known to be beneficial for the symptoms.
Research states that coconut oil use may prevent arthritis and it could also benefits the symptoms of arthritis.
Before we discuss the benefits let us find out more about this oil.
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is a product obtained from the coconut palm by using heat or by applying high pressure.
It is different from other vegetable oils in a manner that it has high saturated fats (90%).
Coconut oil contains 45-50 percent of lauric acid that is proven to have anti-inflammatory action. Coconut oil is easily available oil that is used mainly for cooking and cosmetic purposes.
One of the good properties of coconut oil is that it does not undergo oxidation and polymerization which makes the oil rancid. This property makes it a very good option for use in cooking.
Coconut oil is also used for a variety of conditions like heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
It is also used for its immune boosting properties.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Arthritis
Benefits of coconut oil in arthritis can be due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, analgesic and anti-oxidant properties. Coconut oil is generally safe to be taken orally and applied on to the skin. It contains lauric acid that helps in reducing the inflammation. It can also improve the blood circulation in the joints by its excellent lubricating effects. Although, there needs to be some strong evidence by some trials in humans to establish the effects of coconut oil in arthritis.
1. Coconut Oil Reduces Inflammation
Coconut oil is known to reduce inflammation in arthritis.
A study conducted by Lisa Norman proved the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil supplementation in healthy volunteers. This effect was achieved by the reduction of inflammation-causing chemicals in the body.
Animal studies have also proven the inflammation reducing properties of coconut oil.
Lauric Acid present in coconut oil could be responsible for the anti-inflammatory action. This effect could also be attributed to the Vitamin E content present in coconut oil.
Ayurvedic therapy for arthritis also makes use of the coconut oil massages for the treatment of arthritis symptoms.
It is also used in certain oral formulations which exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
However, clinical trials in arthritis patients are lacking. These trials are necessary to provide strong evidence on the anti-inflammatory activity of coconut oil in arthritis patients.
What does this mean? Coconut oil contains lauric acid that can impart anti-inflammatory properties and reduce inflammation in arthritis.
2. Coconut Oil is an Excellent Lubricating Agent
Coconut oil has been used for a long time in pain relief balms as a carrier or base and this is due to its lubricating properties.
Coconut oil can be applied on to the joints and massaged which will help in better blood circulation to the joints and provide relaxation to the ailing joints.
What does this mean? Coconut oil can be used in the painful joint and massaged for it lubricating properties which can improve blood circulation in the joints.
3. Coconut Oil Maintains Oxidation Reduction Balance
An animal study conducted by Abujazia MA showed that coconut oil has antioxidant properties.
It is known to contain chemicals that impart this antioxidant effect which could benefit arthritis patient.
Another animal study also demonstrated the antioxidant effect of virgin coconut oil by increasing the antioxidant enzymes in the body.
Painkiller or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs used for arthritis have been known to associate with a reduction of antioxidants in the body. Coconut oil can help in replenishing antioxidant levels in the body.
What does this mean? Antioxidants can be reduced in arthritis patients and it can be replenished with the use of coconut oil.
4. Coconut Oil Intake Has Anti-Stress Effects
Stress can be one of the main problems in arthritis. Using coconut oil internally alleviates stress as demonstrated by an animal study.
Massage is one of the best non-medical therapies for arthritis.
The use of coconut oil for massage helps in rejuvenating and refreshing the mind and body which could help in better management of arthritis by reducing stress.
What does this mean? Arthritis is associated with stress and coconut oil intake or massage can help in relieving stress.
5. Coconut Oil Can Reduce Pain
Virgin Coconut oil can also exert analgesic properties which have been well demonstrated in animal studies. It could impart mild analgesic properties which can benefit in arthritis.
Altogether, strong evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials (the best type of trial to prove the efficacy of a substance) in humans is awaited to consolidate this effect in arthritis patients.
What does this mean? Coconut oil can also reduce pain to some extent. But, strong evidence from human studies is still awaited.
6. Coconut Oil Has Cardio-protective Effects
Cardiovascular disease can be a complication of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Coconut oil, in moderate quantity, has been proven to be cardioprotective despite its high content in saturated fats.
Another animal study has demonstrated that coconut oil reduces oxidative stress in the heart which prevents cardiovascular diseases .
Therefore, coconut oil can prevent or delay the chances of cardiovascular diseases in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
What does this mean? Coconut oil has cardio-protective effects which can alleviate or delay the heart diseases which is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
7. Coconut Oil Has Anti-Infective Properties
Infective Arthritis is a type of arthritis which results from an infection in some other part of your body . Infection can also be one of the factors for triggering Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Some studies have shown a fair association of arthritis with infection.
Coconut oil is known to have remarkable anti-infective properties. It could be used to prevent infections which can help in infective arthritis and prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
What does this mean? Arthritis can sometimes be associated with infections and coconut oil is proven to be an excellent anti-infective oil.
The dosage of Coconut oil for Arthritis
There is no prescribed dosage of coconut oil for arthritis.
Oral intake of coconut oil of 2 grams per day has been effective in the reduction of inflammation.
As far as safety is concerned, intake of 10ml of coconut oil 2-3 times a day up to 12 weeks has been rendered safe.
Coconut oil can be used as an alternative to other cooking oils. It is a popular cooking oil in India.
For topical usage liberally take coconut oil and gently massage into the skin or joints. It is easily absorbed in the skin.
Precautions with Coconut Oil
Pure coconut oil is rarely known to cause any allergic reactions when applied to the skin.
Coconut oil contains components that can increase cholesterol levels in the body. There should be only moderate use for these benefits. The increased amount can lead to high cholesterol levels.
It is better to take advice from your health care professional before taking coconut oil internally along with your regular medication.
Coconut oil is one of the most commonly available edible oil that can have some benefits in arthritis patients. The presence of lauric acid can impart some anti-inflammatory effects.
Coconut oil can also provide mild analgesic properties as well as anti-stress effects. Coconut oil is a potent antioxidant and wonderful lubricating agent that can improve circulation.
It also has anti-infective properties that can benefit from infective arthritis.
Coconut oil is generally safe to be used internally and topically as well. It can be well tolerated in most patients.
However, it must be noted that there is no strong evidence from clinical trials proving the benefits of coconut oil in arthritis patients.
Some studies have been conducted in humans without arthritis and numerous animal studies that have confirmed these effects which can be used to derive the benefits in arthritis.