It’s amazing how much we derive from the simple coconut. The meat of each coconut is a delectable addition to everything from drinks to desserts. In cooking, coconut oil is among the healthiest for sautéing, and because of its ability to remain solid at warm temperatures (relative to other oils) can serve as a healthful replacement for butter, margarine, or shortening. Most recently, coconut oil is being propagated as the new cure-all; purportedly it can treat ailments ranging from asthma to autism (and everything in between). The latest allegations tout hair loss as yet another thing coconut oil can help. But how much truth is there to that assertion?
Myth vs. reality
It’s always wonderful to find something that will make various maladies magically disappear. Human beings are desperate and hopeful about a variety of ailments, and will seize upon anything touted as a cure, at least for a little bit. Hair loss is no different than any other ailment in this regard; even though it’s not physiologically detrimental to someone’s health, individuals’ self esteems, confidence, and anxieties are so affected by it that sufferers will undergo any number of dramatic treatments – from magic pills to surgery. Coconut oil is the latest trend in this department, but unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that coconut oil will help combat hair loss.
Supporters suggest that it will encourage hair growth, whether topically applied or ingested. If either were the case, we would need to look at people who tan using coconut oil as well as cultures that use coconuts as a dietary staple, and see whether either of these groups has more hair than anyone else. Spoiler: they don’t.
There are two drugs for treating hair loss that have been approved by the FDA: Minoxidil (better known by its brand name, Rogaine), and Finasteride (better known by the brand names Propeica and Proscar). Minoxidil, applied topically, has had success at preventing further baldness and stimulating hair growth in men under age 40. It has also been used by chemotherapy patients of both sexes with some degree of success. Finasteride is a hormone blocker that’s taken in the form of a pill; the hormone it blocks is excess testosterone, which ultimately is the cause of most baldness in men.
Benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil’s status as the trendy way to cure anything does not diminish its actual positive effects. It works wonders on skin in many ways.
It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is also effective at fighting inflammation, thanks to its primary saturated fat, lauric acid. Lauric acid – and thus, coconut oil – can be used to treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Coconut oil has many benefits, but stopping hair loss and/or promoting hair growth are not among them. Hair loss sufferers would be better served to talk to their medical practitioners and/or naturopaths for guidance regarding what treatment options are available and right for each individual. But while coconut oil may not accomplish your goal of stopping hair loss, it can certainly moisturize the hair that you have, leaving it looking shiny and healthy.