Coconut trees can be found in almost all of the 7, 107 islands of the Philippines - a hot, humid, and tropical country located in Southeast Asia.
For centuries, the inhabitants of these islands have turned to the coconut tree - the so-called "Tree of Life" - as a source of materials for shelter, food, and alternative medicine. The coconut tree is called "Tree of Life" because almost all of its parts can be utilized. The trunk is used as lumber; the woven leaves are used for roofing; and even midribs from the stems are brought together to form a native broom.
Another natural product that comes from the tree is the coconut oil.
This oil is derived from fresh coconut meat to produce a food supplement known as Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO).
Using the "cold press" method, the coconut oil is extracted by grating the fresh coconut and by squeezing the coconut meat. The coconut milk is put into a sanitary container, covered, and allowed to stand for about 24 to 36 hours.
The "virgin" coconut oil which naturally separates from the water content of the coconut milk is then transferred to another container. At that stage, the VCO is ready for consumption without cooking, heating, or any other process that might take away some of the nutritional properties of the virgin oil.
Lately, the coconut oil has been given much attention not only for its use in cooking but also for its value as a hair and skin care product.
The VCO is actually used as a hair tonic and skin moisturizer. Many Filipinos use the coconut oil to maintain a youthful, wrinkle-free skin. VCO can also be used to treat sunburned skin.
Research findings show that VCO is an effective ingredient for skin care treatment. The virgin coconut oil is high in antioxidants that penetrate into the concealed tissues of the skin. The oil helps protect the body against the formation of free radicals which are molecules that rob electrons from the millions of cells in the human body.
Free radicals damage and destroy these cells including the body's connective tissues. These tissues are responsible for keeping the skin elastic and flexible. VCO helps to strengthen these connective tissues and aids in the prevention of skin sagging and wrinkling. VCO softens and moisturizes the skin, and removes dirt from the outer layer of the skin making it shiny and smooth.
Many skin care solutions in the market are made from vegetable oils that have gone through various refining processes, making these products prone to free radical generation. These processes have stripped these products of most of the essential antioxidants.
Virgin coconut oil is still a very good skin care treatment alternative since it has retained its antioxidant properties. The antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties of VCO are from the presence of lauric acid in the oil. Lauric acid helps prevent disease-causing bacteria that may lead to skin infections.
Medical experts now advise people to take at least two tablespoons of VOC a day as a preventive measure against bacterial infection. VCO kills many forms of viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia, ear and throat infections, and other illnesses. Instead of taking antibiotics and other synthetic drugs, people should now consider the use of VCO as a food supplement and over-all health aid.