Our expert this month is Dr. Bruce Fife, a naturopathic physician and certified nutritionist and president of the Coconut Research Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the author of Coconut Cures (Piccadilly, 2005) and The Coconut Oil Miracle (Avery, 2004).
Q. How does coconut oil work against yeast infections?
A. Coconut oil has several unique properties that make it an excellent treatment for yeast infections.

Among the most potent natural yeast-fighting substances are lauric acid and caprylic acid, both derived from coconut oil.

All medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil kill yeast, viruses and bacteria.

Some of these substances are stronger against one type of organism and some work better against others, so when all these elements combine forces in this unique type of oil, they become a daunting weapon against dysbiosis.

When I began researching coconut oil, I noticed that many patients mentioned they were getting relief from a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, irritability and recurrent bladder infections.

Of course, you’re aware that people suffering from candida infections often complain of precisely these symptoms.

That’s when I realized that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil must be killing candida in the intestinal tract.

Medium chain fatty acids penetrate cell membranes. They’re used as food to produce energy in beneficial cells of all sorts. But when they’re absorbed by an organism that is not beneficial, they penetrate the cell membrane and weaken the cell, so it just disintegrates. Then white blood cells go in a gobble up the waste material.

I recommend taking a good quality coconut oil if you’re suffering from yeast problems because it contains a full spectrum of antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that can handle the many varieties of organisms that may be affecting you.

Many people get very good results taking about 3.5 tablespoons of a high quality organic extra virgin coconut oil daily.

If you have been suffering from candidiasis for a long time or if your case is particularly severe, it may be necessary to combine your coconut oil regimen with prescription antifungal medications.

Of course, you’ll need to adhere to the basic anti-candida diet, since diet and medications are the only methods assured to stop fungal overgrowth.

Q. Will coconut oil cause die-off like other anti-fungals?

A. If you’re familiar with candida, you’ll also be familiar with the term “die-off.” This refers to the flu-like symptoms some people experience when they start to detoxify and large numbers of fungal organisms begin to die and release their toxins into your bloodstream.

This is a sign your treatment plan is working and it should encourage you to continue. However, many people give up at this stage, thinking their condition is worsening.

For some people, the symptoms of die-off can be quite intense while, for others, the disturbance is minor.

Die-off rarely lasts more than a few days and can be managed by increasing your fluids and planning a light schedule for those first days.

Q. What are some other conditions that coconut oil can help?

Coconut oil is also a very effective remedy for fungal infections of the skin.

Diaper rash, usually caused by candida organisms, can often be cleared completely with external application of coconut oil.

It’s also a good flu prevention measure if you begin taking a tablespoon of coconut oil every two hours at the first sign of flu symptoms. In most cases, the flu will disappear overnight.

Q. Will coconut oil complement the anti-candida diet?

A. Absolutely, and I have a detoxification program that will psweed up your recovery.

If you’re suffering from candida overgrowth, I strongly recommend the coconut oil detox described in my latest book, Coconut Cures.

I’ll warn you, this is an intense detoxification, but it can produce equally powerful improvements.

On this seven-day fast, you’ll eat primarily coconut oil throughout the day. You may add a little unsweetened yogurt and a couple of drops of stevia and a little sugarless lemonade to help promote the cleansing.

In seven days, people achieve fantastic results, killing off all the harmful microorganisms and leaving the beneficial ones alone.

The cleanse is not only good for candida infections, it can also help clear up serious digestive problems.

I know of one medical doctor who suffered from Crohn’s disease (a potentially life-threatening intestinal disorder) for two years, trying every available remedy.

When he finally tried the coconut oil detox, his symptoms disappeared within a week.

Q. How can I tell if I’m getting the best coconut oil?

A. When you’re buying coconut oil, be sure to look for organic extra virgin food grade varieties. Others are highly processed and won’t give you the same benefits.

If you are familiar with coconut oil you know it naturally has a high melting point. At 76 degrees F and lower it becomes solid, at higher temperatures it turns into a liquid. It’s much like butter, when it’s in the refrigerator it’s solid, but you leave it out on a hot day, it melts.

High quality virgin coconut oil should be snow white in color when it is solid and water clear when liquid. If you see any shade of yellow or gray, it is of an inferior quality.
Pure coconut oil is colorless. Any discoloration is a sign of contamination which can come from mold or smoke residue.

If old or sun-dried coconuts are used to make oil it, will almost always contain mold. The mold isn’t considered harmful because temperatures used in processing are high enough to essentially sterilize it.

If the heat used comes from open flames from wood or gas fuel smoke can be absorbed into the oil.

In choosing a coconut oil, consider aroma and flavor. Virgin coconut oils should always retain a coconut smell and taste. If not, they have been highly refined. If they have no flavor, they are essentially refined and processed oil, even if they did come from fresh coconut.

Finally, consider the price. You get what you pay for. Obviously, a very inexpensive oil is going to be of inferior quality. From my experience, the cheapest oils are the most disagreeable tasting, and usually tainted with residual contaminants.

A word of caution: Classification is voluntary at this point. So anyone can claim to have “extra” virgin coconut oil. Some brands that say “extra virgin coconut oil” are not raw or centrifuged. Again, take the taste test to find out.

Q How can I use coconut oil in my diet?

A Among the beauties of coconut oil is that you can cook and fry with it, bake with it and use it as-is.

Many people like to blend it into a morning health drink or smoothie and enjoy the light coconut taste. Coconut oil can be used in tea or coffee and blended into soups and casseroles.

Because coconut oil is naturally solid at room temperature, it’s not a good choice for salad dressings unless it’s mixed with another oil such as olive oil.

It is also a stable oil that can sit on your shelf for months without becoming rancid.

I’ve had patients express concern about the extra calories they are taking in using coconut oil—probably more than 300 calories a day.

However, this should not be a worry, since ample clinical research shows that a single meal containing coconut oil actually helps raise the metabolic rate by as much as 48% for a full 24 hours after you eat it, burning calories faster and actually helping you lose weight.

In fact, if you have weight concerns, as do many people suffering from yeast overgrowth, coconut oil is probably one of the best additions you can make to your diet.

Coconut oil has actually been shown to help you feel full sooner and stay full longer, keeping you from feeling hungry between meals.

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