It is the emblematic tree of the tropical shores, it is probably native to Southeast Asia but is now found in all tropico-equatorial countries.
It has been disseminated by man but also by the currents and the marine winds, thanks to the astonishing resistance of its fruit, the coconut, perfectly packaged in a thick, flexible and waterproof stuff, carrying 1/2 to 1 liter of water necessary for its germination and a rich almond which will be digested by the young seedling.
The coconut tree is not a real tree, its trunk is a stipe that elongates but does not grow in concentric circles, on the contrary the more it grows the more it is thin.
In the middle of the plume of leaves, whole when they are young and deeply divided once developed, we find the terminal bud, unique, a delicacy of choice: the coconut heart.
The coconut (fruit) evolves: very young it is empty then its shell hardens and the interior cavity fills with a transparent liquid; the albumen then makes its appearance, a soft layer resembling egg white.
At this stage, the nut is green, the liquid (coconut water) is slightly sweet, sometimes a little sparkling, perfect as a drink. Maturation ends when the thickened albumen is oiled.
The nut falls spontaneously on the ground and later, it forms inside a spongy mass which transforms the almond in nutritive substance to feed the embryo, then the young seedling.
All populations highly dependent on the coconut tree for their survival give a name to each stage of the development of the nut, and generally associate it with a particular use:
- obtaining oil,
- food for the animals,
- harvesting the internal spongy mass etc.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
LA NOIX DE COCO
L'enveloppe de la NOIX VERTE renferme beaucoup de tanins (astringents, antiseptiques, anti-hémorragiques) qui deviennent brun en s'oxydant quant on ouvre l'enveloppe de la noix, ils peuvent tâcher les doigts ou les vêtements.
The envelope of the GREEN NUTS contains a lot of tannins (astringents, antiseptics, anti-haemorrhagic) that turn brown by oxidizing when you open the shell of the nut, they can stain your fingers or clothes.
When the coconut is green, the composition of the coconut water is as follows:
- 93.5% water
- 2% glucose,
- 4% levulose,
- traces of inulin,
- and proteins,
- Group B vitamins
- a little mineral salts (calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc) but significant amounts of potassium (250 mg per 100g) and sodium (100mg per 100g).
It is a normally sterile, almost isotonic, slightly diuretic liquid.
It can be used in situations of extreme urgency and geographical isolation by intravenous infusion (coconut infusion water was used sporadically during the Pacific War on isolated atolls and also apparently by red kmers in Cambodia).
In reasonable quantity (1 to 2 liters spread throughout the day) coconut water is a diuretic very well supported; Diuresis can be doubled without serious ionic disturbance.
BUT CAUTION drinking several liters of coconut water in a short time can lead to hyperkalièmie (too much potassium in the blood), which can cause serious neurological disorders even a heart failure especially in people with already cardiovascular disorders or kidney problems.
ALMOND COCONUT NUTS or COCONUT PULP, COCONUT OIL.
At maturity, the fresh almond, very white, loaded with lipids, contains on average:
L'HUILE DE COCO contient donc principalement (90%) des corps gras saturés avec très peu de corps gras insaturés.
C'est donc une huile diététiquement déséquilibrée car elle n'apporte pas à l'organisme les acides gras indispensables à son bon fonctionnement.
On remarque néanmoins la présence de triglycérides à chaine moyenne (caprylique, caprique et laurique) qui de par leur structure chimique sont plus faciles à digérer et à absorber que les triglycérides à chaine longue (C14 et plus) .
L'huile de coco ne contient pas de pigments caroténoïdes, elle est translucide, très claire et se fige en dessous de 20- 25° sous forme d'un corps gras très blanc.
COCO OIL contains mainly (90%) saturated fats with very little unsaturated fats.
It is therefore an oil dietary imbalance because it does not bring the body fatty acids essential to its proper functioning.
However, the presence of medium chain triglycerides (caprylic, capric and lauric), which by their chemical structure are easier to digest and absorb than long chain triglycerides (C14 and above).
Coconut oil does not contain carotenoid pigments, it is translucent, very clear and freezes below 20-25 ° in the form of a very white fatty substance.
The inflorescence of the coconut tree bears flowers that attract foraging insects (especially bees). If you cut the end of the inflorescenceof it flows a weakly sweet liquid that can be concentrated on low heat to get a syrup or left to ferment.
A "coconut beer" is thus obtained at about 5 ° of alcohol which can subsequently be distilled.
The coconut tree has a very dense and superficial root network. The roots contain astringent medicinal tannins, antiseptic and useful to calm and dry inflammed mucous membranes, stop bleeding, clean a wound.
Coconut milk is used in all tropical countries, it is an emulsion of oil obtained by grating the almond, mixed it in a little coconut water or common water and squeezed using a cloth.
Coconut milk is high in fat but also contains protein and carbohydrates, it is an energy food.
In small quantities, this "milk" is very digestible and accomode all kinds of dishes: raw vegetables, raw or cooked fish, meat, vegetables (breadfruit, taro, yam, plantain, sweet manioc), fruit salad, pastry.
The intake of fish in the food whose flesh or liver contain unsaturated fatty acid triglycerides helps to rebalance the deficiency in essential fatty acids of coconut fats.
If you Fast and drink coconut nut in quantity, it becomes a mild laxative, purgative in some people:
Dosage: milk of one coconut in one go.
After a while, the coconut milk separates into two fractions: a very fat supernatant, the coconut cream (used in cooking), and an opalescent liquid containing mostly water.
By simplifying a little we distinguish several types of coconut oil:
- The virgin coconut oil extracted from the fresh coconut.
- Industrial coconut oil is extracted from dried almond (copra) by processes using high pressure, heat, or sometimes extraction-facilitating chemicals (hexane), it is usually filtered, thinned and deodorized .
- Hydrogenated coconut oil : coconut oil is modified by a chemical process (conversion of unsaturated fatty acids (oleic and linoleic) into satured lipids).
This modified coconut oil is very stable and stays a long time without rancidity.
- Fractionated coconut oil where only short and medium chain triglycerides (C6 to C10 and sometimes C12) are kept, this particular coconut oil is useful as a dietary supplement in people who do not digest fats (lipids ) it is also used in the cosmetic industry.
EXAMPLE OF RECIPE TO OBTAIN VIRGIN COCONUT OIL :
- Finely grate the fresh coconut almond, mix with a little water, then extract the coconut milk by squeezing the coconut mixture and water.
- Let stand for 12 to 24 hours in a glass or stainless steel container in an enclosure maintained at 50 to 60 °C (example: a cooler with hot water bottles).
- Coconut milk separates by gravity and some substances ferment (sugars and proteins). We obtain three levels: an upper crust then a small layer of oil and then an aqueous liquid.
The "upper crust" is carefully removed and preserved, and the oil which is supernatant is recovered from the aqueous liquid.
- This virgin oil is filtred until obtaining a perfectly translucent oil, it is then heated for 1 to 2 hours in a water bath without exceeding 60 °C to "sterilize" it.
- The supernatant layer also contains oil that is extracted by heating it to 40-50 °C, to dehydrate it and then pressing it. This oil is of lower taste quality, but once filtered can be added to pure virgin oil.
- The treatment of the virgin coconut oil must be repeated (filtration and light heating) if the oil obtained is a little cloudy or if a deposit is observed, otherwise the unfiltered particles will ferment and give a bad smell .
It is sometimes necessary to filter and heat the virgin coconut oils found in tropical markets at 60 ° C to ensure their good preservation.
COCONUT OIL AND DIETETIC
In recent years, two groups have been fighting each other:
- those who consider coconut oil as an almost perfect oil, not promoting arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure. An anti-inflammatory oil that protects against cancer, degenerative diseases, diabetes, infections etc,
- those for whom coconut oil is dangerous for health and just good at making (good quality) soaps and cosmetic preparations.
It is undeniable that coconut oil does not bring to the body unsaturated fatty acid triglycerides that are essential for the proper functioning of our metabolism.
But coconut oil contains a lot of MEDIUM CHAINS TRIGLYCERIDES (50 to 60%) that the body absorbs quite easily, which are mainly transported by HDL lipoproteins (the good cholesterol) and are used quickly by the cells of the liver (disappearing thus of the blood circulation and giving quickly energy to the body).
In addition, studies suggest that these medium chain triglycerides are anti-inflammatory and locally limit bacterial growth.
One of the arguments of pro-coconut oil is the scarcity of cardiovascular diseases in traditional ethnic groups living on isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean and who consume daily coconut milk (and therefore oil).
The counter argument is that these populations also eat daily large amounts of lipid-containing fish that protect them against cardiovascular disease.
The many recent studies on coconut oil suggest that it is not as atherogenic and hypertensive as it was thought to be BUT that the combination of a high calorie diet (too much fatty food especially coconut oil) with a contribution of artificial sugars (sweet drink, biscuit, industrial jams ..) and in the absence of physical activity will suddenly cause obesity and diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
MEDICINAL USES OF COCONUT OIL
SKIN AND HAIR CARE
The virgin coconut oil produced industrially has good cosmetological qualities: softening the inflamed integuments (erythema), protecting against bad weather or small skin lesions, moisturizing dry skin or dry by wind or sun.
It can be used as a base for preparations combining other oils, plant extracts or essential oils.
The Polynesian people use for a very long time and daily the "monoï" to keep a beautiful skin and beautiful hair: the "MONOI" is traditionally made by harvesting the coconut oil which separates coconut milk by exposure to the sun during some days . Aromatic plants (especially "tiare" flowers but also sandalwood chips) are then added to the oil, which are macerated for several days and then removed by filtration.
Polynesians use (traditionally) coconut milk to nourish and beautify hair, like a hair lotion.
A few drops of coconut oil can be applied daily to certain dry dermatosis: dry eczema, psoriasis, skin tending to wrinkle or desquamate.
Stop this treatment in case of intolerance reaction.
COCONUT OIL AND MASSAGE
Virgin or industrial coconut oil is a very good massage oil, it can be combined with essential oils (like that of wintergreen) or balms (like tamanu oil) to improve its properties of massage oil .
TOOTHING MOUTH BATH
An extended mouthwash of coconut oil, by circulating the oil well and emulsifying it with saliva, helps to limit the development of caries-causing bacteria (especially Streptococcus mutans).
The medium chain triglycerides of coconut oil are apparently responsible for this antimicrobial action, the emulsified oil acting as a soap.
To have the advantages of this mouthwash without the "oily" disadvantages, you can make a COCO OIL TOOTHPASTE, this is a recipe among many others:
- Mix in equal amounts powdered sodium bicarbonate (or baking powder for baking) with coconut oil, add a few drops of essential oils that will perfume the toothpaste and accentuate the antibacterial effect. choice mint, eucalyptus, tea tree , orange, clove, bay leaf etc.).
The mixture becomes rather runny and hangs in a glass jar. To be used as a commercial toothpaste.
Coconut oil is an effective laxative-purgative: 1/2 coconut oil to 1 nut in children and toddlers, up to 2 walnuts in adults, or one to two tablespoons coconut oil in children and 4-6 tablespoons in adults.
OTHER MEDICINAL USES OF COCONUT TREE
The SPONGY BALL which develops at the time of germination is rich in Vitamin C, for some isolated populations of atolls without food crops, it is sometimes the only source of Vitamin C.
The ENVELOPE OF GREEN COCO crushed, moistened and pressed, gives a liquid rich in tannins used as anti-haemorrhagic, anti-infectious (coral wounds for example), antidiarrheal.
COCONUT SHELL is used to make a very good quality vegetable charcoal, absorbing toxic intestinal gases and certain bacterial toxins present in the digestive system.
YOUNG ROOTS coconut crushed:
in a prolonged decoction (a handful of young roots in one liter of water) give a liquid (astringent) which calms the serious dysenteric disorders (with bloody stools) and also the digestive disorders secondary to intoxication by the flesh of coral fish frequent in the tropics (CIGUATERA).
in infusion they are diuretic but constipate.
COCONUT CHOIR, is used to make rope (braided in traditional polynesian boat building), caulking material, brushes, potting compost.
COCONUT WOOD, is used on isolated coral islands to build houses and even sailing cargo boats (example dhoni in Maldives archipelago).
The coconut palm is cultivated everywhere in the tropical and equatorial areas, in gardens and sometimes on large surfaces and sometimes in association with cattle breeding, The Philipines are the main producer.
It is a plant that is not very demanding on the soil but requires heat, water, very humid air and even salty water.
Outside the tropics the coconut tree can grow but will not give coconut.
In temperate regions it is essential to protect it during the cold season.
COCONUT TREE EMBLEMATIC TROPICAL TREE WITH COSMETOLOGICAL AND NUTRITIOUS OIL
Coconut tree make houses, boats, baskets or mats, it is the only source of vitamin C on the coral atolls,its sweet sap ferments to make beer, but the coconut tree is important for its fruit, coconut, nutritious and oleaginous.
The chemical composition of coconut oil is perfect to make a liniment, calm and protect irritated skin or beautify the hair.
In high doses it is purgative.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel