1.1 What is a coconut?
The coconut may mean the whole coconut palm or the seed, or the fruit. The coconut tree (botanical name: Cocos nucifera, also known as cocoanut or coconut palm; Chinese Pinyin: Ye Zi, Simplified Chinese: 椰子), is a species of perennial, erect, large, flowering, fruit bearing tree in genus Cocos in the palmae family, Arecaceae. The flowers are yellowish (both the female and male flowers on the same inflorescence). The edible drupe is nearly spherical to oval shaped, medium in size between 15-25 cm long with greenish skin. The plant can grow up to 30 m tall. Native to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean (there are two origins of cultivation of the coconut according to the recent DNA analysis on Pacific and Indian Ocean coconuts) and extensively cultivated in tropics and subtropics, habitats of coconut include coastal alluvial plains, river alluvial soil and sandy soils (usually found from between 0 to 50 meters in elevation). Characteristics of coconut include tolerance for salt-affected soils and flooding, and great versatility.
Other simplified Chinese names for coconut include: 可可椰子, 越王头, 胥余.
1.2 How does a coconut taste?
The edible parts of a coconut include coconut water and the white raw coconut flesh. Good coconut flesh or coconut meat have a fibrous, chewy, firmed, dense texture with a flavor that is mildly sweet and oily; Fresh coconut water which should be clear with a light white color has a taste that is refreshing, sweet and possibly a little salty.
1.3 How do I tell if my coconuts are ripe?
Normally it take a whole year (12 months) for coconuts to ripen fully after the first emergence of the fruits. The fruits should be fully ripe if they are intended for oil pressing. If the coconuts are to be served as fruits, they should be harvested 1 or 2 months before they become totally ripened when the coconut flesh is still relatively soft and be separated easily with a spoon.
1.4 How is coconut used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The coconut water is considered to have sweet, warm and nontoxic properties; the coconut flesh is considered to have sweet, neutral and nontoxic properties; both of them are to be associated with the stomach, spleen and large intestine meridians. They are used as antidiabetic drug, carminative, tonic and antidipticum in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as weakness and extreme fatigue.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Coconut & Medical Formulas
2.1 Prevent Heart Disease
Coconut is rich in dietary fiber (soluble fiber) which is the edible part of a plant that is indigestible and it is known to improve health in a number of ways. A Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers concluded that a high total dietary fiber intake was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (Rimm 1996). Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women (about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths), therefore it is important to keep a high dietary intakes of soluble fiber which may help to prevent various heart diseases and coconut is an excellent food source for soluble fiber!
2.2 Enhance Immunity
Specific fats found in coconut meat, i.e. caprylic, capric and lauric fatty acids, are antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal. These fat can assist our immune system and destroy pathogens. Another important compound found in coconut is monolaurin (a mono-ester that is formed from the combination of glycerol and lauric acid, it is also a key component found in breast milk), may be significantly useful for killing viruses.
2.3 Promote Weight Loss And Better Metabolism
Coconut oil (also known as copra oil), an edible oil contain the kernel or meat of mature coconuts, is a healthy oil with a lot of benefits. Though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is a kind of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which can boost cellular energy, support healthy growth and development and help to lose weight. According to Bruce Fife, N.D., author of The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil, (Piccadilly Books, 2000) “All fats, whether they be saturated or unsaturated, from a cow or from corn, contain the same number of calories. The medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), however, are different. They contain a little less and actually yield fewer calories than other fats.” Studies also show that medium-chain triglycerides are a good weight loss supplement in term of increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation and reduce body weight in animals and humans (Geliebter 1983). Therefore, coconut oil can actively promote weight loss and enhance metabolism.
2.4 Reduce Tiredness
[CTM Formula] Coconut chicken soup ia a tonic soup that help to promote the production of urine, invigorate spleen and stomach , reduce tiredness and internal heat.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
Geliebter A, Torbay N, Bracco EF, Hashim SA, Van Itallie TB: Overfeeding with medium-chain triglyceride diet results in diminished deposition of fat. Am J Clin Nutr 1983; 37: 1– 4 [PubMed]
Rimm EB, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Vegetable, fruit, and cereal fiber intake and risk of coronary heart disease among men. JAMA. 1996;275:447-51.