Coconut tree has a botanical name Cocos Nucifera. The name COCO was first coined by Spanish explorers as this nut resembled face of a monkey. In India the coconut tree is eulogized as Kalpavriksha, which means wish full filling divine tree. It full fills all the needs of man. In India almost all parts of coconut tree are used in day to day life. Coconuts are considered sacred in India and they grace rituals like yajnya and Havana.
The fresh leaves of coconut tree are used in auspicious occasions to decorate the venue. The blades are interwoven and placed as roofs on a wooden frame. The dried leaves are also used for roofing huts. The ribs of dried coconut blades are tied together to make brooms. These brooms are widely used in India to clean drains and roads. Dried coconut leaves, coconut husk and its shell serve as fuel in Indian rural household. Fibers from coconut tree have found their way to manufacturing industries. Bags, ropes and clothes are made out of these fibers. Vivid imaginations of artists have led to a creation of coconut arts and crafts.
The coconut meat or kernel is extremely nutritious. It is rich in fiber and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It is known as Narikela in ayurveda. Almost all parts of coconut plant are used in ayurvedic preparations and treatment methods. Kernel of fully ripe coconut is sweet to taste. Although Ayurveda gurus say that it is heavy to digest, increases pitta dosha and causes acidity, it is certainly beneficial as it supplies immense amount of nutrition to body. The coconut kernel is rich in fibers; hence it cleanses the intestines and helps to relieve constipation. Coconut gratings mixed with lemon and ginger are used for therapeutic purposes in ayurveda. Conditions like arthritis, joint pain, muscle spasms are treated using raw coconut gratings. Apart from these, coconuts are processed with other herbs to prepare ayurvedic formulations to treat various diseases.
Tender coconut kernel reduces body heat and provides immense nourishment. It is very easy to digest and its regular use keeps acidity at bay. The tender kernel boosts body energy and strength. Texts of ayurveda recommend kernel of tender coconut in conditions like low sperm count and erectile dysfunction.
Virgin coconut oil is produced with fresh ripe coconuts. It is rich in vitamins minerals and anti oxidant and is also known as mother of oils. This oil is a major source of lauric acid which is identical to a special group of fats found in human breast milk. Virgin coconut oil is rich in Vitamin E and free from trans fat. This oil is recommended in weight loss treatment.
Fresh coconut occupies an important place in diet of people living in coastal regions and islands. Almost all the dishes prepared in these regions include coconut meat. The paste of fresh coconut meat increases the consistency of curries and soups. The coconut milk extracted from fresh coconuts is used in many recipes. This boosts taste and adds nutrients to dish. Many sweet dishes like coconut barfi and coconut sweet balls are prepared with fresh coconut.
Fully ripe coconuts are allowed to dry with the husks on, to get dry coconuts. This process leads to evaporation of coconut water and detachment of kernel from coconut shell. Dried coconuts are processed to extract oil. The oil thus extracted is used in cooking, preparing cookies and other confectionaries. Grates of dried coconut give a crunchy texture and also impart a very good flavor to dish. It is rich in Magnesium and helps in healing injured bones. Dried coconuts are known to have a long shelf life.
Tender coconut water
Tender coconut is widely consumed by almost every one during summer. The tender coconut water quenches thirst and boosts energy immediately. Tender coconut water is a store house of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. It is considered as a natural isotonic beverage with the same concentration of electrolytes as that of human blood. It is devoid of fat and provides essential salts and minerals. It is a natural electrolyte solution which is devoid of preservatives.
Healing properties of tender coconut water
Tender coconut water contains fair amount of potassium. Its consumption helps to reduce blood pressure. Studies on animals have shown that regular consumption of tender coconut water improves the level of good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
When this water is consumed in empty stomach, it relieves acidity and flushes out acidity causing toxins. It also flushes contaminants from the digestive system. The water from tender coconut helps to rehydrate body and balance PH levels. Hence it is very useful in body dehydrating conditions like diarrhea and vomiting.
This water has diuretic properties. Its high potassium content alkalizes urine. Persons with a tendency to get kidney stones can use this in excess to prevent formation of stones.
Water from tender coconut contains plenty of cytokinins. Cytokinins have an anti-aging effect on human cells and tissues. Regular consumption of tender coconut water slows down the aging process. This reduces the risk of developing degenerative diseases in early life.
People living in tropical coastal regions use coconut oil for cooking. It contains large amount of lauric acid, which helps to prevent cardiac problems like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful. It reduces the incidence of injury and damage to arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.
Coconut oil is widely used to prepare hair oils. It increases shine of hair and also helps in its healthy growth. Its anti microbial and wound healing properties reduce dandruff and other scalp lesions. It is an excellent conditioner and repairs damaged hair. This oil prevents formation of lice and boosts immunity of the scalp. Dryness of scalp can be treated well by massaging scalp with pure coconut oil.
Various ayurvedic creams and oils are prepared using coconut oil as a base. It is very useful in conditions like psoriasis, rashes and dry skin. Its application on wounds helps to accelerate healing process.
When coconut oil is massaged on body skin, it prevents formation of wrinkles and gives a smooth texture to it. Numerous cosmetic items like soaps, moisturizing lotions, creams etc also use this oil as a base.
Globally coconuts are used to treat diseases like psoriasis, hair loss, wounds, skin rashes, eczema, dental cares, gingivitis, kidney stones, ailments of digestive system, kidney stones, burns, wrinkles, dry skin etc.
Thus the name Kalpavriksha has been coined aptly for coconut tree keeping all these facts in view.