In what may the first study of its kind, researchers in India extracted the antioxidants unique to virgin coconut oil from the oil and injected them into rats with induced arthritis. They found that the unique coconut oil antioxidants reduced inflammation associated with arthritis more effectively than current pharmaceutical drugs.
The authors of the study write that their motivation to examine the antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil in relation to inflammation caused by arthritis is due to the ineffectiveness and serious side effects of current pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for arthritis:
Arthritis is one of the most pervasive diseases that cause disability. Arthritis encompasses over 120 diseases and conditions that affect joints, surrounding tissues and connective tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by chronic inflammation of synovial joints and subsequent progressive erosive destruction of articular cartilage. The consequent morbidity and mortality have a substantial socioeconomic impact and epidemiology of arthritis in female:male is 3:1. Most of the patients with aggressive disease evolution become clinically disabled within 20 years.
At present the drug used to treat RA range from non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to more potent disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) . The lack of reliable treatment for early RA is a major problem in modern medicine. Most of these treatments cause severe side effects such as stomach problems, heartburn, ulcers and bleeding in the case of NSAIDs and cataracts, high blood pressure, sleep problems, muscle loss, bruising, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), weight gain and susceptibility to infections in the case of DMARDs. There is therefore a need to develop effective antiinflammatory drugs with fewer side effects. The main objective of the present study is to evaluate the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of polyphenolic fraction isolated from virgin coconut oil (VCO) on experimental arthritis.
The study found that antioxidants extracted from virgin coconut oil were more effective in reducing the inflammation in arthritis induced in rats, than Indometacin, a popular prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) often prescribed for arthritis.
While this study was obviously motivated to create new patent-able drugs or supplements from virgin coconut oil antioxidants, it should encourage those who consume virgin coconut oil, knowing the effectiveness of the unique antioxidants present in some virgin coconut oils has wonderful health benefits. This is yet another benefit of virgin coconut oil that can be added to the already impressive long list of benefits associated with coconut oil, much of it related to the medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid.
It is important to note, however, that when discussing antioxidants present in coconut oil, that not all coconut oils are equal in amounts of antioxidants present. Refined coconut oils would have little or none, and not all virgin coconut oils are produced the same way to have the highest amounts of antioxidants. The virgin coconut oil used in this study was produced using the wet-milling method and heat.
Previous research has shown that antioxidants are most present in virgin coconut oils produced using the wet-milling method, and that they are released in more abundance into the coconut oil when some heat is used in the processing. Many virgin coconut oils on the market today are actually produced with no heat, or “cold pressed.” While this is an advantage in the olive oil industry, it is a disadvantage in producing high quality coconut oils.
y Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News