Cocos nucifera

scientific name: 
Cocos nucifera L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Solitary palm up to 30 m tall. Trunk stout, straight or leaning, prominently ringed; leaves pinnate 3-6 m long, pinnae numerous, somewhat drooping in one plane, stiff linear acuminate 50 -70 cm long; inflorescence in the axis of the leaves; male flowers, creamy-white 0.7 – 1.3 cm x 0.5 - 0.7 cm, female flowers 20-40, globose 2.5 –3 cm in diameter; fruit ovoid, slightly triangular, 30 cm long and 20 cm in diameter with a white fleshy endosperm.

Voucher(s)

Jiménez,1512,JBSD

Girón,270,CFEH

Balland,45,HVB

boil:

fruit oil with fresh

urinary infection:

fruit water, fresh, orally5

boil:

fruit oil, cataplasm

burning:

fruit oil, cataplasm2

arthritis (joint pain):

fruit juice, natural, local application with massage1

asthma:

fruit oil, orally2

flu:

fruit oil, rubbed on chest4

kidney stone:

fruit water, fresh, orally2-3

riñones:

fruit water, fresh, orally2-3

The fruit (seed, mesoderm) and the juice (water) of Cocos nucifera is widely used for human consumption.

TRAMIL Research31

For asthma:

Drink 15-30 mL (1-2 spoonfuls) of coconut oil 2-3 times a day.

For urinary ailments:

Drink 250 mL (1 cup) of coconut water 4-6 times a day31.

For arthritis, nacíos (boils), flu and burns:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

According to available information:

Use for asthma, asthenia and weakness is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should asthma last more than 2 days, seek medical attention.

There is no information available on this resource for asthmatic crisis.

Use for urinary infections is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Due to the health risks involved with asthma, urinary infection or renal stones, an initial medical evaluation is recommended.  The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment, unless it is contraindicated.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should urinary infection symptoms last more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use as an orally administered medicine during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

External use for arthritis, flu, burns and nacíos (boils) is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)6 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Limit traditional use only to superficial burns (skin injury) that are not extensive (covering less than 10% of body surface) and are located away from high risk areas such as face, hands, feet and genitals.

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should boils persist for more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

TRAMIL Research34

The lyophilized aqueous extract, obtained by decoction of the fruit oil, was administered orally (0.2 mL/day per mouse) for 7 days to 10 Swiss mice (5 males with average weight of 26.28 + 0.62 g and 5 females with average weight 22.76 + 0.50 g) The control group of 10 similar mice received distilled water (0.2 mL). Observation continued for another 7 days after the end of the administration period. The amount of ration consumed by the treated animals did not statistically differ from the controls, nor were there significant differences between the weights of the animals from the two groups. There were no deaths nor were any signs of intoxication. Ultramicroscopic autopsy revealed no internal alterations.

TRAMIL Research35

The lyophilized aqueous extract, obtained by decoction of the fresh fruit, was administered orally (5 g/kg) daily for 5 consecutive days to 10 Swiss mice (5 males with average weight of 18.58 + 0.84 g and 5 females with average weight 17.92 g + 0.59 g). The control group of 10 similar mice received distilled water (0.2 mL). Observation continued for another 7 days after the end of the administration period. No deaths were recorded during the test but, at the end of the first week of the test, there was a decrease in the average body weight of the female group (17.62 ±0.67 g) which differed significantly (p < 0.05) from that of the control group (20.24 ±0.19 g). The differences in body weight persisted until the end of the trial, the treated group weighing on average 20.68 ±1.35 g against the control group which weighed on average 28.42 ±0.89 g. All of the other parameters that were evaluated showed no change and the macroscopic autopsy did not reveal internal alterations.

Trabajo TRAMIL36 (will be translated in 3rd Edition)

El aceite del fruto (decocción 7.24%) liofilizado, fruto fresco, usado puro, vía oral, (10000 mg/kg/día) a 20 ratones Hsd:ICR de 21.07 + 1.77g (10 machos y 10 hembras) durante 65 días con 14 días adicionales de observación, no presentó mortalidad, según el protocolo EPA.OPPTS.870.3100. El control se realizó con agua (0.3 mL/20 g de ratón) a otros 10 ratones de la misma cepa y características. Durante el ensayo ni en el periodo de observación posterior no se evidenció ningún signo de toxicidad (Test Polidimensional de Irwing), a excepción de piloerección leve en la mayoría de los machos durante las semanas del 3 hasta la 11. No se observaron cambios en los pesos corporales más que los normales en la curva de crecimiento. La autopsia macroscópica no evidenció alteraciones en los órganos.

Trabajo TRAMIL37 (will be translated in 3rd Edition) El aceite del fruto, puro, vía tópica durante 4 horas diariamente durante 5 días consecutivos a 3 conejos New Zealand, 0.5 mL en un cuadrante de 5 cm2 con pelo cortado del lomo, control contralateral sin nada, protocolo EPA 870.2500, no provocó edema ni eritema durante el ensayo ni en los 11 días adicionales de observación.

The seed oil (300 µg/mL) showed cytotoxicity in a culture of colon carcinoma CA-COLON-HT29 cells27.

The fixed oil of coconut added to mouse feed (4-8%) for 52 weeks inhibited ornithine-decarboxylase, increased capillary permeability and induced the development of experimental tumors initiated with dimethyl-anthracene and promoted with benzoyl peroxide28-29.

The juice (water) of the dried fruit by intravenous administration in dog at 3 mL/minute caused arrhythmogenic effects; at 5 mL/minute, it caused tachycardia, hemotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and respiratory stimulation, while at 10 mL/minute, it proved to be hypotensive24.

The seed oil administered orally to human and dog evidenced hypercholesterolemic properties30.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

The juice from the fruit contains sugar: sorbitol; organic acids: malic acid; amino acids and an amino purine.  The copra (fermented and dried seed) contains carbohydrates, 20%; proteins, 8%; and lipids, 65%: glycerides from lauric, myristic, caprylic and capric acids7-8.

The endosperm contains sorbitol9; amino acids: alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, serine, valine, hydroxyproline10 and linamarase11; alkanol: 2,3-butan-diol; lactones: δ-decalactone, δ-dodecalactone, δ-octalactone; fatty acids: decanoic, lauric, octanoic acids; alkaloids: 2,3,5-trimethyl amino-pyrazine; C4 ketones: acetoin, 2-3-butan-dione8 and carbohydrates: galactitol9.

The seed oil contains the following substances, among others:

triterpenes: α-amyrin, ß-amyrin, squalene, cycloartenol, 24-methylene cycloartenol; steroids: campesterol, ß-sitosterol, stigmasterol; alkanes: n-docosane, n-dotriacontane, n-eicosane, n-heneicosane, n-hentriacontane, n-heptacosane, n-heptadecane, n-nonacosane, n-nonadecane, n-octacosane, n-octadecane, n-pentacosane, n-triacontane, n-tricosane7; lipids: caproic acid12; vitamin E13.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of unripe fruit14: calories: 77; water: 84%; protein: 1.4%; fat: 3.6%; carbohydrate: 10.3%; fiber: 0.4%; ash: 0.7%; calcium: 42 mg; phosphorus: 56 mg; iron: 1 mg; sodium: 51 mg; potassium: 257 mg; carotene: 0 µg; thiamine: 0.04 mg; riboflavin: 0.03 mg; niacin: 0.80 mg; ascorbic acid: 6 mg.

TRAMIL Research15

Coconut oil administered orally (0.1, 0.2, 0.4 and 0.8 mL/kg of weight) to anesthetized native rabbit diminished pulmonary resistance to air at a statistically significant extent at doses of 0.4 and 0.8 mL/kg.

TRAMIL Research16

Coconut oil, administered orally (0.5, 1 y 2 mL/kg), significantly reduced the number of gastric ulcers caused by pyloric ligation in Wistar rat.  Gastric volume declined while hydrochloric acid slightly increased.

TRAMIL Research32

Neither the decoction of young fruits nor of mature ones showed any activity in vitro at a concentration of 1000 µg/mL against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella gallinarum, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans orMycobacterium smegmatis.

TRAMIL Research33

The lyophilized decoction of fresh fruit was administered orally at a dose of 1 g/kg to 10 Swiss mice (5 males and 5 females) previously maintained without food for 6 hours. The control group, otherwise under identical conditions, received distilled water (0.3 mL/20 g body weight). With active carbon as a marker and making an observation one hour after administration of the extract, no statistically significant alteration of intestinal transit time was seen.

TRAMIL Research38 (will be translated in 3rd Edition)

El aceite del fruto (obtenido por licuado de 2.6 kg de masa con 1.09 L de agua de coco fresco y 410 mL de agua destilada, colado y hervido a 96 ºC hasta obtener el aceite por decantación y centrifugación, rendimiento 7.24% p/p), administrado, por vía tópica, en ambas caras de la oreja derecha 4 mg/oreja, en un volumen de 10 µL de solución de aceite en acetona (200 mg/mL), modelo de inflamación inducida por 10 µL solución en acetona de acetato de tetradecanoiforbol (TPA 0.125 mg/mL) durante 4 horas, en ratón Hsd:ICR (CD-1), grupos de 6 machos y 6 hembras, el control negativo recibió acetona (10 µL/oreja) y el grupo control positivo fue tratado con solución de indometacina (25 mg/mL) 10 µL/oreja, se observó una inhibición significativa de la inflamación en los grupos tratados con el extracto.

The tincture of the dried fruit (10 g plant material in 100 mL of ethanol) did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro on an agar plate (30 µL/disk) against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, while showing weak activity against Escherichia coli17.

The ethanolic extract (95%) of the dried shell showed antifungal activity in vitro againstMicrosporum audouini, M.canis, M. gypseum, Trichophytum menthagrophytes, T.rubrum, T.tonsurans andT.violaceum at 100 µg/mL, and against Epidermophyton floccosum at 200 µg/mL18.

The seed oil (0.05 mL) showed antifungal effects in vitro against Absidia corymbifera, Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, Penicillium nigricans andCandida albicans19.

The root tincture did not induce in vitro growth of Neisseria gonorrheae20-21.

The decoction of the dried fruit administered orally (1 g/kg) to rat induced diuretic effects22.

Tap water, glucose solution 4%, glucose solution 4% with 61 millimoles/L of KC1 or fruit water were orally administered (50 mL/kg) to forty Wistar rats (200-250 g of body weight).  Measurement of urine volume at 30-minute intervals showed that coconut water caused a diuretic effect significantly higher than tap water.  The effect of the 4% glucose solution was lower than that caused by fruit water and similar to that caused by the glucose solution with KC1.  There were no differences in the pH and the sodium, chloride and potassium content of urine between the administration of coconut water and of glucose with KC123.

The juice (water) of the dried fruit administered by intravenous infusion to dog (3 mL/minute) resulted in weak diuretic activity24.

The bacteriological analysis of green fruit juice (water) used for oral rehydration in Brazil proved to be sterile25.

The seed oil administered orally (10% of diet) to female mouse gave a estrogenic effect26.

Sorbitol is used as a laxative (5-15 g/day), purge (30-50 g/day) and sweetener (0.6 times the power of sucrose)9.

References:  

1 BALLAND V, GLASGOW A, SPRINGER F, GAYMES G, 2004 TRAMIL survey. enda-caribbean, IICA, UAG & U.PARIS XI, Saint Vincent.

2 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

3 LAGOS-WITTE S, 1988-89, 1996 Encuesta TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Histología Vegetal y Etnobotánica, Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

4 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

5 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

6 WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

7 MOURAFE J, BROWN WH, WHITING FM, STULL JW, 1975 Unsaponifiable matter of crude and processed coconut oil. J Sci Food Agr26:523.

8 PARIS R, MOYSE H, 1981 Précis de matière médicale.Paris, France: Ed. Maloine.

9 SAITTAGAROON S, KAWAKISHI S, NAMIKI M, 1985 Generation of mannitol from copra meal. J Food Sci50(3):757-760.

10 ATAKEUCHI K, 1961 Amino acids in the endosperm of some Amazonian Palmae. Chiba Daigaku Buurii Gakuba Kiyo Shizen Kagaku 3:321-325.

11 JANSZ ER, JEYA RAJ EE, PIERIS N, ABEYRATNE DJ, 1974 Cyanide liberation from linamarin. J Natl Sci Counc Sri Lanka 2:57-65.

12 KINDERLERER JL, KELLARD B, 1987 Alkylpyrazines produced by bacterial spoilage of heat-treated and gamma-irradiated coconut. Chem Ind (London) 16:567-568.

13 MANNAN A, AHMAD K, 1966 Studies on vitamin E in foods of East Pakistan. Pak J Biol Agr Sci9:13.

14 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants.Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p47.

15 CAMBAR P, ALGER J, 1989 Efectos broncopulmonares del aceite de coco en conejos. Informe TRAMIL. Unidad de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Medicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

16 CAMBAR P, 1987 Prevención de la producción de úlceras gástricas experimentales por algunos extractos de plantas.Informe TRAMIL. Unidad de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

17 CACERES A, GIRON LM, ALVARADO SR, TORRES MF, 1987 Screening of antimicrobial activity of plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatomucosal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 20(3):223-237.

18 VENKATARAMAN S, RAMANUJAN T, VENKATASUBBU V, 1980 Antifungal activity of the alcoholic extract of coconut shellCocos nucifera L. J Ethnopharmacol2(3):291-293.

19 JAIN SK, AGRAWAL SC, 1992 Sporostatic effect of some oils against fungi causing otomycosis. Indian J Med Sci 46(1):1-6.

20 CACERES A, MENENDEZ H, MENDEZ E, COHOBON E, SAMAYAO BE, JAUREGUI E, PERALTA E, CARRILLO G, 1992 Antigonorrhoeal activity of plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala, Guatemala. TRAMIL VI, Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, UAG/enda-caribe.

21 CACERES A, MENENDEZ H, MENDEZ E, COHOBON E, SAMAYAO BE, JAUREGUI E, PERALTA E, CARRILLO G, 1995 Antigonorrhoeal activity of plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. J Ethnopharmacol48(2):85-88.

22 CACERES A, GIRON LM, MARTINEZ AM, 1987 Diuretic activity of plants used for the treatments of urinary ailments in Guatemala. J Ethnopharmacol19(3):233-245.

23 RODRÍGUEZ M, SÁNCHEZ C, 1982 Diuresis del agua de pipa (Cocos nucifera) en ratas. Rev Méd Panamá 7(3):186-19l.

24 KETUSINH O, 1954 Risks associate with intravenous infusion of coconut juice. J Med Ass Thailand 37(5):249-271.

25 MORTON J, 1981 Atlas of medicinal plants of Middle America.Springfield, USA: III: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

26 BOOTH AN, BICKOFF EM, KOHLER GO, 1960 Estrogen-like activity in vegetable oils and mill by-products. Science 131:1807.

27 SALERNO JW, SMITH DE, 1991 The use of sesame oil and other vegetable oils in the inhibiting of human colon cancer growth in vitro. Anticancer Res 11(1):209-215.

28 LOCNISKAR M, BELURY MA, CUMBERLAND AG, PATRICK KE, FISCHER SM, 1991 The effect of dietary lipid on skin tumor promotion by benzoyl peroxide, comparison of fish, coconut and corn oil. Carcinogenesis 12(6):1023-1028.

29 BERTON TR, FISCHER SM, CONTI CJ, LOCNISKAR MF, 1996 Comparison of ultraviolet light-induced skin carcinogenesis and ornithine decarboxylase activity in sencar and hairless SKH-1 mice fed a constant level of dietary lipid varying in corn and coconut oil. Nutr Cancer 26(3):353-363.

30 CHINDAVANIG A, 1971 Effect of vegetable oils in plasma cholesterol in man and dog. Master Thesis, Dept. Biochemistry, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

31 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio Provincial de Producción de Medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

32 Olmedo D, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, VASQUEZ Y, Gupta MP, 2005 Ensayo antimicrobiano de algunas especies con usos significativos TRAMIL-Centroamérica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

33 GarcIa-GONZÁLEZ M, BARBOZA CJ, 2005 Velocidad del tránsito intestinal en ratones, del extracto acuoso del fruto fresco de Cocos nucifera. Informe TRAMIL. PRONAPLAMED. Depto de Fisiología, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

34 GarcIa-GONZÁLEZ M, BARBOZA CJ, 2005 Toxicidad aguda dosis repetida, en ratones, del extracto acuoso del aceite del fruto de Cocos nucifera. Informe TRAMIL.PRONAPLAMED. Depto de Fisiología, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

35 GarcIa-GONZÁLEZ M, BARBOZA CJ, 2005 Toxicidad aguda (5000 mg/kg) dosis repetida, en ratones, del extracto acuoso (decocción) del fruto fresco de Cocos nucifera. Informe TRAMIL.PRONAPLAMED. Depto de Fisiología, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

36 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, 2006 Toxicidad oral subcrónica, dosis repetida, en ratón, de aceite del fruto fresco de Cocus nucifera. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

37 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, 2006 Irritabilidad dérmica, piel lesionada en conejos, del aceite del fruto puro de Cocus nucifera. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

38 PAZOS L, COTO T, REYES L, 2007 Antiinflamatorio tópico, en ratones, del aceite del fruto de Cocus nucifera. Informe TRAMIL, Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

 

DISCLAIMER

The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.