When people come to me with a claim about a medication, a supplement or a food, I always analyze the claim with the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method is derived from Philosophy as a form of logic.
We know from the study of Philosophy that nothing, no belief, no hypothesis, no theory can be considered absolutely true. Skepticism rules. By our own logic, we must be skeptical of everything. We can believe ideas on the Basis of Faith, where we are not sure, but we accept a belief as true, for no other reason but our “feeling” that it is true.
All religions, and the belief in a spiritual world are all based on “Faith”. Faith is a Blind Belief is an idea. Most of our actions are based on Faith. We wouldn’t cross the street if we didn’t have Faith that we could get to the other side without accident.
Although most of our decisions are based on Faith, when we hear a new claim, most of us become skeptical and we must be convinced that we can put Faith into the new belief.
Ultimately, we know or we may learn, that our “Faith was misplaced” and we change our beliefs. This happens frequently in modern life as clever people make strong cases for themselves or their products or their services.
As a matter of efficiency I have developed the use of The Scientific Method as my means of arriving at a degree of faith in any product or service.
One must remember, as a Doctor of Medicine, I am approached daily by salesmen from huge corporations who are intent on selling new medications for me to prescribe to my patients.
These men and women are trained in complete detail to overcome the mental resistance of the doctor. Part of the selling or marketing process of such firms as Merck, Johnson and Johnson, and other pharmaceutical giants, is the construction of a complex argument encompassing every facet of the new drug, which is then taught to the sales staff so that they can convince the doctor to prescribe their medication.
In addition, of course, they choose a sales staff that is intelligent, persuasive, and, recently, attractive; by that I mean, young ladies who convince more with their eyes than their logic.
Fortunately, I have eluded the traps set by these pharmaceutical power houses, by using the Scientific Method. I have declined to use new drugs that subsequently were shown to kill patients and were eventually taken off the market.
I must admit that my use of the Scientific Method came, not from my training in medicine, but from my training in Philosophy, an area I had studied prior to going to medical school.
When a student studies philosophy, he learns that there are seven major areas. These areas are:
6. Political Philosophy
7. Social Philosophy
The one area that intrigued me the most was: Epistemology. Epistemology is the study of the limitations of knowledge. In other words: “How much can we know”
I learned, and I and all scientists believe, as a matter of faith, that we can never know anything completely. We can only know or believe something to a degree of probability. We must always doubt our beliefs, and consider them valid to only a certain degree. That “degree” is measured using the mathematical statistics of probability.
For that reason, you will always read in a scientific review: “Standard Deviation of Error” and other statistical terms which give the readers information concerning what is could be expected and what is found in a study or experiment.
In the realm of Epistemology is the “Philosophy of Science.” Scientific knowledge grants, as a premise, that we can never know anything with one hundred percent certainty. When I learned this I agreed and said to myself: “Science is the most honest area. I’m going to be a doctor.’ “And, when I’m a doctor, I will use the Scientific Method.” “I will never believe that anything is one hundred percent true. I will learn the details of the problem and see if they are logically connected. Then I will look at the universe and see if what is purported to be true is true in nature. Humans, of course, are part of nature.”
Thus, when we come to the use of Coconut oil, as a food or as a cream, we must first doubt that it is true. Then, using the Scientific Method, we must analyze the claims put forth by the promoters of coconut oil.
WHAT ARE THE CLAIMS FOR COCONUT OIL?
1. That if one eats coconut oil daily, it will prevent heart disease.
2. That it will also cause you to lose weight.
3. That it improves the function of the thyroid gland.
4. That it makes the skin and hair more beautiful
Let us look at these claims using the scientific method.
1. Eating coconut oil prevents heart disease. The best way of proving this statement is to look at millions of people who eat coconut oil daily.
If these people have little heart disease there may be a relationship between the coconut oil and their health. (We must remember, there may be other relationships or causes as well.)
WHERE DO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE EAT COCONUTS? IN THE ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC
The major islands of the pacific are Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and hundreds of lesser islands. If we look at the people of those islands we see that they are mostly native people with a minority of Europeans.
Their food is Pacific Island food, with the exception of the Hawaiians and the Europeans living in the islands. The natives eat, drink and use coconut oil extensively. Of the millions of natives, the incidence of heart disease and stroke is about one fiftieth that of Europe and the USA.
But, we must also remember, these people eat very little animal meat. Fish and seafood is their primary source of protein.
They do not use vehicles for transportation as much as rich Westerners.
As a sport, they swim much more than Westerners.
We can conclude, however, that if coconut oil were detrimental, they would never have their extremely low rate of arterial disease.
Does coconut oil affect the thyroid and cause people to lose weight? Many studies have been done in this area, because if it could be shown that thyroid function is heightened, causing weight loss, it would be very beneficial to the coconut industry.
After reviewing many scientific articles about this subject, I can faithfully say that there is no clear proof about either of these claims.
Does the use of coconut oil improve the beauty of the skin and the hair growing in the skin? Since the question contains a very subjective term: “Beauty” no scientist has made any study to prove or disprove this claim.
From my own personal experience and after looking at many patients who are either Asians or Pacific Islanders, I must confess that it appears that coconut oil is beneficial to the skin.
Coconut oil has Lauric Acid as a major component. Lauric Acid kills micro-organisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Such an antibiotic and anti-fungal agent may increase the beauty of the skin, by destroying harmful micro-organisms that tend to colonize the skin and cause inflammation.
We see this frequently with a dermatological condition called: Seborrheic Dermatitis. Coconut oil, in my experience, is beneficial for this condition.
I believe that beautiful skin is more a matter of blood supply, rather than infections or genetics. No one would doubt that almost all babies have beautiful skin. A baby’s blood supply is perfect. In addition, a baby has many fat cells under the skin, eliminating wrinkles.
If one rubs a vegetable oil into the skin, one is providing nutrition to the cells of the skin. In addition, if the rubbing is done in the manner of a massage, harmful byproducts of metabolism are dissipated, and removed from the skin.
The combination of a nutritious oil and massage, and, in the case of coconut oil, an antibiotic, will definitely improve the appearance of the skin.
I believe we can say appropriately, that the arterial health of Pacific Islanders is very good and probably a result of the use of coconut oil in the diet. However, we must also add that a diet of fish and other seafood is probably an enhancing factor.
As for improving thyroid function and losing weight, we simply do not know.
As for beauty? I leave that to the opinion of the reader.