I grew up on a coconut farm, not far from Bangalore, India. We would drink tender coconut water, pluck the coconuts when they were ripe, and go to the local market in our Tata Sierra to sell them off in the market.
I never gave the coconut trees any more thought than that.
Nearly twelve years later, someone said three words to me: virgin coconut oil.
I was intrigued: I had heard of virgin olive oil of course. But what ever was virgin coconut oil?
Thus began two years of research on what virgin coconut oil really was, and how it was different from what I had thought was the only form of coconut oil that was possible to make. I began to make some at the farm – experimenting with hot boxes, a fridge converted into a light box, and using up all the steel vessels that were reserved for heating milk at home. Much to mother’s chagrin, she would come home to find a huge hot box inside the kitchen, with wires dangling out. A strange fermented smell emanating from it, and a frothy, creamy mass inside.
The research was astonishing. I learnt that coconut oil was the next best thing to mother’s milk. That it was a potent immune-boosting agent, and that it was now being consumed in developed countries by the gallon. But right here in coconut country, mother’s doctor was busy telling her not to eat coconut chutney and coconut based foods because it was ‘fattening’ and ‘artery-clogging’. What was going on?
I visited a leading Ayurvedic research center – I-AIM, where I was shown Ayurvedic texts dating back 2000 years, that mentioned the use of virgin coconut oil – made from coconut milk – for babies, for eczema, for burns, for cuts, and in medicines. I was told of a highly respected heart physician – Dr. B.M. Hegde – India’s champion for the benefits of the humble coconut. I had the honour of meeting him, and he told me just how wonderful virgin coconut oil was for our health and well-being.
The final straw, was my dog. Don’t snigger. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, and at 13 years of age, the doctor said she wouldn’t make it through an operation. I had nothing to loose, so I started giving her one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil each day in her food. Amazingly, in four months, her tumours had reduced in size, some had even disappeared. She was as fit as a 13-year-old dog can be. She live for another two years before her kidneys gave up. Her vet was amazed at the reversal of the tumours, and ever since, he recommends Pet Coco to his patients most in need of an immune booster.
I decided it was time I began to re-respect the coconut as the ‘Kalpavriksh’, or the tree of life, as it was known since time immemmorial: something we have sadly forgotten in our race towards modernity, the latest fads and a fast-paced life.
Kaavya is the managing director of Coconess.