Is Coconut Oil Antibacterial?

Fresh coconuts, oil, and white powder on a table

The short answer is, yes, coconut oil has antibacterial properties. Let’s start at the beginning and learn about what coconut oil is, how it’s made, and how it can benefit our health.

What Is Coconut Oil and How Is It Made?

Coconut oil is an oil that is high in different medium-chain fatty acids. It is made by pressing the raw or dried meat of the coconut. Typically, virgin coconut oil is made from the raw meat, and refined coconut oil is made from the dried meat. There are two types of coconut oil, virgin, unrefined coconut oil, and refined coconut oil.

The Fats

Coconut oil is mainly saturated fats, which makes it solid at room temperature, but it becomes liquid when heated. This quality makes it great for cooking because it is similar to butter in consistency. So, you can whip it up to make a fluffy cookie dough, or melt it down for a stir-fry. A semi-solid state is also good for making moisturizers. It also contains a small amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats. Here are the fatty acids found in coconut oil:

  • Lauric acid
  • Myristic acid
  • Caprylic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Capric acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Stearic acid

Many of these fats make up a small portion of the coconut oil, but lauric acid makes up about 47-49% of the composition. Unlike butter, coconut oil contains no cholesterol. This can make coconut oil a healthier choice to include in your daily diet.

Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil is Antibacterial

Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that fights the growth of harmful microorganisms. Because lauric acid makes up almost half of its content, coconut oil is considered antibacterial. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial for skin that can prevent and help clear up skin infections as well as moisturizing. The conditions that it can help with range from acne, to athlete's foot, to cellulitis, to folliculitis, and other bacteria and fungi that affect the skin. Coconut oil also contains a small amount of capric acid that has been shown in studies to have antifungal properties.

Coconut Oil for Acne and Inflammatory Skin Disorders

As we mentioned, the antibacterial lauric acid in coconut oil is effective for preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Some studies have shown that it may even be more effective than benzoyl peroxide. But, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil are not the only reason people use it to fight breakouts. Coconut oil has also been found to reduce skin inflammation in animal and test tube studies by improving the body’s antioxidant status. This can be helpful for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis.

Everyone has their own unique skin type, and coconut oil may not be the best option for people who have oily skin. When using coconut oil for acne, apply it directly to affected areas. If the condition worsens, stop use and try another treatment. As with all skin products, it’s a trial-and-error process to see what works best for your specific skin type.

A person rubs lotion on their hand with beauty products in the background

Hydrating Moisture

Besides being antibacterial, coconut oil gives natural hydration for skin that is dry and irritated. It can be used as a daily moisturizer for normal dry skin and to help relieve the extreme dry, itchy skin symptoms of eczema. Coconut oil can be applied directly to the skin, or it can be combined with other ingredients to make a fragrant, whipped body butter. Studies have shown coconut oil to be more effective at reducing the severity of eczema symptoms than mineral oil. Keeping your skin healthy with coconut oil fortifies its natural antibacterial function.

Coconut Oil for Wound Healing?

The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil for skin suggest that it may help speed up the healing of wounds and prevent infection. One study on wound healing in animals found that coconut oil improved antioxidant status and raised levels of collagen that were produced, a protein that aids in wound healing. It also helped speed up the wound healing time for the animals.

Tasty Uses for Coconut Oil

While the antibacterial parts of coconut oil might not have any use in the kitchen, coconut oil still makes a great cholesterol-free butter alternative. It can be used as a substitute in all sorts of dishes like baked goods, stir frys, soups, dressings, and more. Slather it straight on toast, add it to your coffee as a dairy-free cream-like substitute, or dip fresh fruit in it. The possibilities are practically endless.

Visit Wildly Organic for delicious, healthy recipes that use coconut oil in drinks, meals, snacks, and desserts. There are different types of coconut oil, and some are more affordable and better suited for use in moisturizers, soaps, hair conditioners, and other non-edible DIY projects. Our bulk craft coconut oil is perfect for making beauty products. Browse our organic coconut oils today!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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