Coconuts have been used in Ayurveda for centuries and today supermarket shelves are full of coconut products: coconut water, coconut milk, the oil and the coconut flesh made into flour or simply grated. Of course you can find the unbroken coconut in the (mostly Asian) supermarkets and on marked stalls.
Mmm, just the thought of drinking fresh coconut directly from the nut on a sunny, sandy beach makes most of us smile.
In fact just the other day, a hot sunny day, I drank coconut water from a carton, cooked my dinner with coconut oil and coconut cream. At night I massaged my feet with coconut oil. I’ll tell you why.
What Ayurvedic Practitioners Love About Coconuts
Coconuts have a sweet taste. Something many of us crave. But a healthy sweet taste actually balances both Vata and Pitta dosha. The sweetness is a combination of the Earth and Water elements and carries cooling, grounding and nurturing qualities.
The sweetness is very satisfying. If you drink coconut water you rehydrate and due to it’s sweetness and slight unctuousness it creates a sensation of satisfaction that you may not get from regular water. In Ayurveda it is said to remove excessive thirst.
The consistency of coconut water carries an almost nectar-like quality. Like nectar or Soma it is nurturing and builds up our tissues (in Ayurveda we recognize 7 Dhatus). Coconuts are indeed Mahamedhya meaning it nourishes our Medhya or our mind.
In many Hindu rituals a coconut is used as an offering. Sometimes broken to symbolize the breaking of our Ego and the juice offered to the Divine. The coconut water represents our mind-stuff and the coconut itself our skull/
Coconuts and the Doshas
If we have high Pitta tendencies and a sharp, heated and strong mind coconuts might be perfect. They cool down the Ego and the mind, calm any aggressive tendencies or a heated temperament.
For an aggravated Vata the nourishing, heavy and grounding qualities of the coconut can balance an overactive mind. The oiliness will ground and settle us. The coconut does have cooling qualities which can provoke Vata. Vata dosha is cool too so be mindful in winter and autumn if you have high Vata. Alternatively use with warming spices or herbs.
A balanced Kapha person can absolutely enjoy coconuts in moderation bearing in mind the heavy cooling tendencies. So if there is any excess mucous, Ama (toxins) or aggravated Kapha it may bring further imbalance and should be avoided or used with warming herbs.
Cooling Coconuts For Hot Summers
Pitta accumulates in the summer. And summer is the time to make sure we don’t do too many heating and Pitta aggravating activities or ingest too hot and spicy foods. Early autumn we can see the accumulation of Pitta in our being. Now is the perfect time to consider how we can pacify excess Pitta.
Coconut is an excellent choice to cool down physically and mentally for all Pitta types. Even Pitta tendencies such as: heat rashes, inflammation, hot flushes/hot flashes in menopause, skin irritations, Pitta related stomach upsets and even Pitta provoked hiccups.
In Ayurveda we say coconuts are Anuloman, helping healthy elimination. Regular bowel movement is benchmark for wellbeing. Anuloman means that Vata’s downward moving energy, Apana Vayu, is balanced. When Apana Vayu is working, when we eliminate properly, we also let go of Ama, toxins, and create a potential for health and wellbeing in general.
Coconut Use Inside And Out
One thing is to take the coconut internally: drink the water. Cook with the oil or milk. Or bake with coconut flour or grated coconut. You can also benefit from the qualities of coconuts through external application.
Abhyanga or oil massage is a wonderful way to experience the nourishing and grounding qualities of coconuts. As coconut is cooling it is an excellent choice for all Pitta types. It won’t aggravate their irritated or inflamed skin. It rather cools them down whilst still nourishing and grounding them.
If you are not specifically Pitta but still have fiery tendencies, a hot temper or stressful days simply try massaging your feet with coconut oil. This grounds, nourishes and cools you – without cooling you down too much. Or perhaps apply a bit of the oil to your scalp, ears and nostrils to calm the mind. This might just help you get a good night’s sleep.
Ayurveda Is All About Balance
Remember it’s all about balance. No one is only Pitta – or indeed exclusively Vata or Kapha. We are a mix of all the five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space) that make up the Doshas. When we start to live Ayurvedically we learn how to accommodate for where we are right now.
In the summer when the Solar energy and the Fire element of Pitta accumulates, or if we have a stressful or busy Pitta lifestyle we can all benefit of Pitta pacifying activities – such as including coconuts into our life.
I’d love to hear your favorite ways to use coconuts. Please share in the comment box below.