By Cathy Burkemper



Can You Tell Me About The Healthy Benefits

Of Coconut Oil & Prickly Pear Cactus?


Q: Can you please tell me what the benefits of coconut oil are?

A: Coconut oil (CO) has many benefits for health and beauty.  First, let me explain that CO is a fatty acid.  It is actually a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT).  When we think of triclycerides, we think they are bad for us; however, MCT’s are actually very good for us.  They have very powerful energy-producing properties.  Other dietary fats are stored in the body as fat to provide a back-up energy supply.  The MCT’s in CO are caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid, all of which have health benefits.  Because CO is metabolized immediately; the body gets an instant energy boost.  This burst of energy has a stimulating effect on the entire body, which increases your metabolism, thereby helping you to lose weight.  CO is also heart healthy.  It has been shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol).  It makes a wonderful moisturizer for your hair and skin.  Simply apply to your face and notice fine lines and wrinkles diminish.  It has healing benefits for sunburn and rashes.  Use as a hair mask for soft, smooth, luxurious hair.  You can take CO by the spoonful.  Take one tablespoon per fifty pounds of body weight even though benefits have been reported by taking as little as one tablespoon per day.  You can cook with it (bake, sauté or make grilled sandwiches).  It also makes a delicious spread rather than using butter.  For the freshest flavor, look for cold-pressed, extra-virgin coconut oil.


Q: I have been told that prickly pear cactus can help me with my blood sugar levels.  I am willing to try this, but I am not sure how it is sold and what form it comes in.

A: Prickly Pear is the commonly known name for Nopal.  It is native to Mexico and the southwest.  It is widely used to help regulate blood sugar levels.  It works with the liver and pancreas, both which contribute to insulin production.  Studies have shown that maximum blood sugar-lowering effects last from 4-6 hours after ingesting.  Nopal is a very rich, easily digested protein, in the form of 17 amino acids.  It also contains insoluble plant fiber, which provides a feeling of fullness.  It is also a good source of beta-carotene, and vitamins B1, B2, niacin and C.  It comes in capsule form that contains the dried cactus.

This herb information is for health education purposes only.  It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners.  Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins?  Send them to Cathy Burkemper, CNHP and Certified Herbalist.  Write to:  Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO  63011.