CocoTherapy with Charisa Antigua and Carmina O’Connor
In the last decade, coconut oil has become a booming industry, and for good reason. The health benefits for both people and pets are plentiful, but not all coconut oil is created equally. In fact, most of the coconut oil you see on grocery store shelves does not have the health benefits you may think. But, two women have set out to change that.
Charisa Antigua and Carmina O’Connor are no strangers to the power of coconut oil. In fact, for these sisters, it is a family business. Antigua and O’Connor grew up in the Philippines watching their grandmother make coconut oil from the coconuts harvested on their family plantation. Hoping to provide people with the most high-quality and effective coconut oil available, these third-generation coconut farmers founded CocoTherapy and now have a USDA-certified organic and non-GMO verified farm and facility and produce all of their coconut oil from start to finish using the techniques they learned from their grandmother. Antigua and O’Connor are so passionate about coconut oil that they both have biology degrees and have extensively studied everything possible about using coconut oil for your health.
What is the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil, and what are the benefits?
Coconut oil has health benefits for both people and pets. In fact, coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal. MCT oil, which comes from coconut oil, has many of those same benefits.
“MCT, or medium chain triglyceride oil, is coconut oil that has been fractionated,” says O’Connor. “[Fractionation] is basically a method of distilling oil to separate medium chain and long chain fatty acids. MCT oils contain varying degrees of medium chain fatty acids including caprylic, capric, and lauric acids. These acids have a multitude of health benefits. For example, lauric acid stays in the blood longer than others, is antibacterial and antimicrobial, and helps with brain function, and caprylic acid kills fungi and is a great antifungal.”
MCT-3 oil helps the body with uptake of CBD
You may notice that high-quality full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) is often paired with MCT oil, and the pairing is not an accident. MCT oil actually helps the body absorb and process CBD more effectively than any other carrier oil.
“Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, which means they are soluble in fat and not water,” says Antigua. “So when cannabinoids are combined with another type of fat, like saturated fat in MCT-3 oil, they are better absorbed in the body. Combining CBD oil and MCT oil is also wonderful because MCT is a saturated fat that converts into ketones which travels to the brain and helps protect the brain from inflammation and infection, and it can carry the CBD with it. It is a wonderful combination and they work synergistically together.”
What should people look for in coconut oil?
Not all coconut oil is the same. In fact, a high-quality MCT-3 or coconut oil should have the taste and smell of coconut oil so that you can be sure it was not cut with other oils.
“You should look for oil that is 100 percent organically grown and you should be able to trace it back to the farm,” says O’Connor. “This is really important because a lot of coconuts come from various small farmers. I don’t know if people know this, but as long as the majority of coconuts in a product come from organic farms, you can get the verified label.”
When buying coconut oil, you should also look for levels of caprylic and capric acid, or MCTs which make the coconut oil therapeutic and can vary drastically between brands. Additionally, you should make sure to learn where the coconuts were farmed.
“Coconuts take 12 months to ripen on a tree, but a lot of companies harvest their coconuts too early, after three or four months,” says Antigua. “You won’t get all of the nutrients if the coconut was removed from the tree prior to ripening. Our coconuts are also freshly grated and wet-milled, and the coconut milk is pressed from fresh coconuts. A lot of other coconut oils are made from dried coconuts, which is stored and sent to facilities hundreds of miles away, and then they rehydrate it with water and then make the oil with coconuts that were rehydrated. Which means they are made with diluted coconut milk and are rehydrated with possibly contaminated water.”
As with hemp seed extract, the cold pressed extraction method is best for coconut oil. Expeller pressing a coconut generates 250-300 degrees F of heat, while cold pressing means it cannot be processed above 115 degrees F. By cold pressing, more of the nutrients are preserved.
How coconut oil helped the founders of CocoTherapy’s pets
Antigua and O’Connor experienced the health benefits of coconut oil with their pets firsthand. When their Yorkie pup, Violet, began experiencing severe allergies, their vet prescribed prednisone which actually suppresses the immune system. So, they turned to homeopathy to help Violet.
“When you grow up with something, you take it for granted,” says O’Connor. “We took Violet to a well-known holistic vet who said that lauric acid, which is found in mother’s milk and in coconut oil, will help balance the immune system, because allergies are just an over-active immune system. So, we thought, ‘well, coconut oil has lauric acid.’ Within 2 months, we saw a big difference, we weaned her off the prednisone and we managed her allergies with coconut oil.”
Together with full spectrum hemp extract (CBD), coconut oil has also saved countless dogs at Fire Flake Farm. It has helped treat everything from allergies to autoimmune issues, and is part of all of my rescue’s daily regimens.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.
Sisters Charisa Antigua and Carmina O’Connor come from a coconut producing family, coconuts have been a big part of their family for three generations. Growing up in the Philippines, Charisa and Carmina watched their grandmother make coconut oil in her small kitchen, using only the freshest coconuts sourced and harvested from the family plantation. Through personal experience with Charisa’s beloved Yorkie, Violet, Charisa and Carmina quickly learned that there were differences in coconut oil and how it can help animals with chronic allergies and other health issues. After launching CocoTherapy in 2009, Antigua and O’Connor have worked to tirelessly teach others about therapeutic-grade coconut oil and have seen how it has helped countless animals around the world.