Coconut water has many nutritional and health benefits. It makes an excellent oral rehydration beverage and is even useful as an intravenous hydration medium.1 Evidence shows it can offer protection against heart attack, reduce high blood pressure, dissolve kidney stones and prevent their reoccurrence, fight cancer, relieve constipation, and even retard the aging process.
Coconut water contains a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, growth factors, and other phytonutrients. Among the most interesting components of coconut water are the plant growth hormones, particularly the cytokinins. Cytokinins regulate growth, development, and aging. Coconut water significantly increases plant cell proliferation without increasing the number of undesirable mutations (i.e., cancer).2 For this reason, coconut water is used extensively as a growth-promoting component in tissue cultures. The cytokinins in coconut water regulate cell division and influence the rate at which plants age. Since cytokinins can retard the effects of aging, they are known as anti-aging hormones.
Depending on the amount of cytokinins present, the aging process in plants can be either accelerated or retarded. Reducing cytokinin production causes the plant to age faster, increasing cytokinin production slows down the aging process and extends the lifespan and productivity of plants.
Interestingly, cytokinins not only influence plant cells but animal and human cells as well.3-5 Cytokinins slow down considerably the normal sequence of aging. Cells exposed to cytokinins do not undergo the severe degenerative changes that ordinarily occur with normal aging.3 Although the total lifespan of human cells does not increase much, the cells remain significantly more youthful and vibrant throughout their lifetime. Treated cells never undergo the severe degenerative changes experienced by untreated cells. In all respects, their youth is extended into old age.
Coconut water is the richest natural source of cytokinins. Some investigators have suggested that consuming coconut water may produce an anti-aging effect on the body, reducing risk of developing degenerative and age related diseases. There is good evidence to support this view.
Animal tissue, like that of a plant, when surgically removed ages very fast. Preserving living tissue for culture studies or transplantation is important to researchers and physicians. In order to ensure tissue quality at a later time, they are stored in special solutions that retard aging and keep living tissues alive. Coconut water has been shown to be effective in prolonging the life of animal and human tissues. In fact, it is even more effective than commercial solutions that have been specially formulated for this purpose.6-7
As a child of about 6 or 7 I remember playing with my older sister and accidentally being hit in the mouth and having one of my teeth come out. I went straight to my mother and showed her the tooth and empty socket. She simply stuck the tooth back into the socket. In time it reattached itself and never gave me any trouble.
Teeth are specialized bones and are living tissue, just like any other bone or tissue in the body. If separated from their blood supply for too long they die. And can never be reattached. Once a living tissue dies, it is dead forever. There is no reviving dead tissue. As long as a dislodged tooth is still alive, it can be replaced in the socket and reattach itself. This must be done within about 30 minutes.8 The chance of a successful reattachment is directly related to the length of time the tooth remains outside the oral cavity.
When a tooth is knocked lose, the primary goal is to preserve the vitality of the periodontal ligament (PDL) cells attached to the root surface until appropriate treatment can be performed. This may bring about the reattachment of the periodontal ligament. After displacement, the number of viable cells on the root surface decreases with increased drying time and after about 2 hours reattachment is highly unlikely.
The ideal treatment at the time of the accident is immediate replantation, thus reestablishing the natural nutrient supply to the periodontal ligament cells, thereby minimizing further damage and enhancing the healing process. Unfortunately, some situations may occur that delay immediate replantation. Since it may take longer than 30 minutes to get medical attention, storing the tooth in an appropriate solution can greatly extend the life of the tooth in transit. Various solutions such as water, saliva, and milk have been tried to see how well they can maintain tooth viability. Tap water and saliva actually cause damage to the periodontal ligament cells, reducing the chance of a successful reattachment. Milk is usually recommended because it maintains the viability of the tooth longer than most other fluids available around the home.
Coconut water, however, may be the ideal solution for preserving the life of detached teeth. In a recent study, coconut water was shown to maintain the vitality of detached teeth longer than milk and even Hank’s balanced salt solution (HBSS) a commercial solution designed for this purpose.9
In this study, 50 freshly extracted human teeth were divided into 3 experimental groups and 2 control groups. In the first control group viable PDL cells were counted immediately after extraction. In the second control group viable cells were counted 8 hours after extraction. The experimental teeth were stored dry for 30 minutes and then immersed in 1 of the 3 fluids: coconut water, HBSS, and milk. The viable PDL cells were counted.
Number of Viable Cells for the Various Test Groups
Groups Mean number of viable cells
Control Group 1 3762.729
Coconut Water 525.00
Control Group 2 38.70
The teeth stored in coconut water demonstrated significantly the highest number of viable PDL cells followed in rank order by HBSS and milk. Coconut water preserved the life of the cells 20 percent better than HBSS and 300 percent better than milk.
The ability of coconut water to preserve and extend the life of human tissues is credited mostly to the high concentration of cytokinins in the water. Cytokinins also act as potent antioxidants. Excessive oxidative damage to human tissues is one of the causes of premature aging. Unsaturated fatty acids in our skin and other tissues are highly vulnerable to oxidative stress and readily degrade to form destructive free radicals. Antioxidants block these destructive reactions, protecting tissues from damage that accelerates the aging process. Cytokinins have been found to inhibit oxidative damage and preserve tissue integrity.10
Because of cytokinins’ anti-aging effects on human tissues, cosmetic manufacturers often add them to facial creams and lotions for the treatment of aging spots, wrinkles, and dry skin. Not only does coconut water slow down the aging process, but when taken internally it also protects against many age related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
In regulating cell growth, cytokinins prevent mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die. Much of the early research on cytokinins was funded by The American Cancer Society. Soon after the discovery of cytokinins in the 1950s researchers quickly recognized their potential in fighting cancer. Subsequently, the anti-cancer effects of cytokinins have been well documented.11-15
Cytokinins may also protect the heart and arteries. They inhibit platelet aggregation in human platelets when stimulated by an agonist16 and cold, therefore, help to prevent blood clots that may lead to heart attacks and strokes.17-18
High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors associated with heart disease. Coconut water can dilate blood vessels thus reducing high blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.19 This effect is due not to cytokinins but to the high potassium and arginine (an amino acid) content.
Recent studies show that cytokinins can be a potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases. Researchers found that cytokinins possess an inhibitory effect on acetylcholinesterase and it can be used to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.20-21 Acetylcholinesterase degrades the neural compounds that mediate nerve cell transmission, and thus by blocking its action, synaptic transmission can be improved. Another recent study found that cytokinins can prevent amyloid beta-protein formation—the plaque that gums up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.22
When you look at all of the anti-aging effects associated with coconut water, it is probably the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.
Coconut Water for Health and Healing by Dr. Bruce Fife is available from
Piccadilly Books, Ltd. click here
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