Are non-drugs, like virgin coconut oil, a safer and more effective alternative to stress and depression?
A new study conducted in Malaysia looked at the effects of consuming high-antioxidant
virgin coconut oil on mental health.
Published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine and believed to be the
first study of its kind, researchers evaluated the anti-stress and antioxidant effects of
virgin coconut oil in mice with stress-induced injuries. The title of the study is “Anti-
stress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo.”
The researchers performed several stress tests on groups of mice. Control groups
included untreated mice and mice not subjected to stress and virgin coconut oil was
compared to a commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, Diazepam.
Their results were quite impressive, and suggest that using a high quality virgin coconut
oil can rival antidepressant drugs without the dangerous side effects. The researchers
attributed the success in treatment to the unique mixture of medium chain fatty acids
found in coconut oil rich in saturated fats, and to the antioxidants present in higher
grade, less processed virgin coconut oils.
While we do not endorse the supposed “science” behind psychiatric drugs, which
attempts to measure such things as “neurotransmitters” and “biochemical profiles” as
true indicators of mental health that can be altered by chemical drugs, it is encouraging
to see researchers consider natural foods as alternatives, given the fact that they do
not have all the serious side effects that psychiatric drugs do.
One of the more interesting tests conducted in this study was a measurement of
“immobility time” after a forced swim test. The researchers found that the untreated
mice had a longer immobility time than mice treated with virgin coconut oil. They
attributed this to the high medium-chain fatty acid content of coconut oil, which is
known to produce thermogenesis and increased energy.
One area where virgin coconut oil (VCO) really outperformed the drug Diazepam was in
the area of oxidation and elimination of free radicals. This is something that can be
measured with lipid peroxidation (MDA) and antioxidant enzyme SOD levels. Stress is
known to increase oxidation and the creation of free radicals, leading to neuronal cell
damage and death. Antioxidants, on the other hand, reverse this trend and help
prevent further neuronal damage.
The researchers found:
VCO was able to reduce lipid peroxidation and increase the activity of SOD in the serum
of mice undergoing the forced swim test and the brains of mice subjected to chronic
cold restraint. It was previously reported that VCO is rich in polyphenols and these
antioxidants may contribute to the increased levels of antioxidant enzymes, which
subsequently reduce lipid peroxidation and inflammation in VCO-treated mice.
Restoration of antioxidant levels in the brain may help prevent further neuronal damage
and avoid subsequent depletion of monoamines, including DA. In conclusion, the
present study demonstrated the potential of VCO in preventing exercise- and chronic
cold restraint stress-induced damage and restoring the antioxidant balance. This
promising anti-stress activity may be attributed to the polyphenols and medium-chain
fatty acids present in VCO.
It is high time for a new paradigm in mental health. Drugs are not the solution to stress
and depression. Non-drug alternatives are not only safer, but can be more effective
than pharmaceutical drugs as well.
Anti-stress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo. Experimental and
Therapeutic Medicine – Jan 2015; 9(1): 39–42