Coconuts

New research coming out of the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland has identified the antibacterial action found naturally occurring in coconut oil as capable of providing a chemical-free and highly effective alternative in blocking the growth of certain bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Presented at a recent conference for the Society for General Microbiology being held at the University of Warwick in England, the researchers shared their discovery, which identified a decreased presence of Streptococcus mutans-the major bacteria that causes tooth decay. Tooth decay affects between 60 and 90 percent of both adult and child populations in industrialized countries. The antibacterial action of coconut oil was found to be particularly potent when it had been treated with certain enzymes in a process mimicking digestion. The coconut oil was also effective against the yeast candida albicans, which can lead to thrush, an infection of excessive yeast in the mouth that can be difficult to treat.

The research team says this could support efforts to market coconut oil as an antimicrobial agent in dental hygiene care, particularly as a growing number of consumers are seeking natural, chemical free products for themselves and their families.

Additional enthusiasm over the research surrounds the increasing issue of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Coconut oil’s natural anti-bacterial properties (it is also anti-fungal and anti-viral) makes it an important alternative in treating serious infections that have shown to be untreatable with common antibiotics. Using a natural alternative like coconut oil also significantly decreases the risks of certain side-effects common when taking antibiotics.

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Image: Jill Ettinger