Virgin coconut oil has been studied and found to hold promise for everything from reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease to providing healthier skin. Now, in the first study of its kind, researchers in India have found that the antioxidant compounds unique to coconut oil may ease the inflammation of arthritis, the hallmark of the disease. It is a common cause of pain and disability, especially among older adults. Almost 50% of adults 65 and older have been diagnosed with arthritis.
In the new study, arthritic rats were injected with natural antioxidant compounds, called polyphenols, from virgin coconut oil. The researchers found that inflammation was reduced and that antioxidant enzymes, important for preventing damage to cells in the body, were increased. The coconut oil compounds were even more effective in improving the animals’ arthritis symptoms than a commonly prescribed anti-arthritis drug and without the common side effects [heartburn, ulcers, high blood pressure, sleep problems, bruising and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)].
Of course, the study was in animals, not in people, and the compounds were injected, not eaten. But it does suggest that virgin coconut oil has the potential to benefit those with arthritis by providing potent antioxidant and anti-inflammation compounds that target the inflammation of arthritis.
Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D.