American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 2017, Vol. 5, No. 2, 25-30
Available online at http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajps/5/2/2
©Science and Education Publishing
Various Pharmacological Aspects of
Cocos nucifera - A Review
Babita Aggarwal1, H. S. Lamba2, Pankaj Sharma2, Ajeet3,*
1School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jaipur National University, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
2Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, H. R. Institute of Pharmacy, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
3Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Vishveshwarya Group of Institute,
Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
*Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract Plant materials, derived from thousands of plant species from lichens to towering trees, represents
substantial portion of the global market. When we think about the highly nutritious plant parts then we can’t move
beyond Cocos nucifera. Many scientists around the world have worked on Cocos nucifera and revealed too may
bioactivities such as antimicrobial, antiinflammatory, antiparasitic, antidiabetic, antineoplastic, insecticidal, and
leishmanicidal activities. In this review also, we focused on various pharmacological aspects of Cocos nucifera, with
different extraction methods and isolated compounds.
Keywords: Cocos nucifera, husk fiber, shell, pharmacological effects, extraction methods
Cite This Article: Babita Aggarwal, H. S. Lamba, Pankaj Sharma, and Ajeet, “Various Pharmacological
Aspects of Cocos nucifera - A Review.” American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, vol. 5, no. 2 (2017):
25-30. doi: 10.12691/ajps-5-2-2.
Plant materials and herbal remedies, derived from
around 70,000 plant species from lichens to towering trees,
represents substantial portion of the global market. From
time immemorial, the herbs have played a major role by
providing us lead compounds for the isolation and
synthesis of many conventional drugs.
Being a flowering plant, Cocos. nucifera belongs to
angiosperm and represented in Magnoliophyta division
which could be classified in two subclasses like
Magnoliopsida and Liliopsida. Liliopsida class is
monocotyledons while plants belonging to Magnoliopsida
are dicotyledons. [1,2]
1.1. Traditional Health Benefits of Coconut
• Antimicrobial and antifungal treatment for skin like
ring worms, psoriasis candidiasis, sore throat, sores,
skin burns, sunburns, toothache and ulcer.
• Coconut oil acts as anti ageing regimen to keep skin
soft and youthful, also used as oil massage to
remove heel cracks and removing darkening of
• To treat scalp and hair problems from dandruff to
baldness and graying of hairs.
• As an antidote against pesticide poisoning.
• To treat colitis, stomach acidity and kidney stones.
• As diuretics.
• Used for the treatment of urinary tract, kidney
problems and gall bladder.
• Used for the treatment of catarrhal inflammation.
• Consumption of flesh of Coconut with Coconut
milk and honey results in increased libido in both
men and women.
• Used to treat measles.
1.2. Scientific Health Benefits of Coconut
1.2.1. Immune System Booster
• It is best for the immune system.
• It is also considered as a potent nutritional source
which can boost energy and endurance, enhancing
athletic and physical capacity.
1.2.2. Improvement to Digestion
• It has been found to improve digestion and
absorption of nutrients including minerals, vitamins
and amino acids
• Parasites such as tapeworms and lice can also be
1.2.3. Antibacterial, Antiviral and Antifungal Action
• It contains antimicrobial lipids, caprylic acid and
lauric acid, which are well known to possess
antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral property.
• It helps strengthen the immune system through
converting lauric acid into monolaurin which limits
the activities of virus.
• Coconut also fights against bacteria such as listeria
monocytogenes & heliobacter pylori that cause
throat infections, gum disease, ulcers, pneumonia,
gonorrhea and urinary tract infections.
American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 26
• It is also used in to treat fungi and yeast infections
such as ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush and
1.2.4. Skin and Hair Care
• Coconut oil is widely used for healthy growth of
• Traditionally it is used to treat baldness, dandruff
and head lice.
• Coconut oil is also used topically for wounds and
burns to lubricate skin and to protection from
• It reduces symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, and
• It helps to soften the skin and relieve flaking and
• Prevents wrinkles and age spots.
• Coconut is also used as a protective agent against
the damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun.
1.2.5. Prevents from Heart Disease
There is a misconception about coconut oil that being
high in saturated fats, that it can cause heart diseases. In
fact, recent researches have shown that the saturated fats
found in coconut oil is a type of unique fat molecule
which is known as medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) that
actually prevents heart diseases. The medium-chain fatty
acids found in coconut oil increases the HDL level while
lowering the LDL in the blood thus improving the ratio of
HDL to LDL which is the basis for heart disease risks.
The p-Coumaric acid in coconut oil prevents the formation
of arterial plaque by preventing the stickiness of the blood
platelet reducing the risk of damaging the arteries and
preventing the development of atherosclerosis and
lowering the blood pressure.
1.2.6. Weight Loss
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids which
are readily burned into energy which prevents the
formation of fats; actually this process relieves the
pancreases of stress, increasing the body metabolism,
there by burning more energy that results in weight
reduction. This likewise reduces the symptoms of
pancreatitis also. Coconut oil is easy to digest which helps
the thyroid and the enzyme system to function properly as
well. A study was performed on women who were given
coconut oil as supplement for 12 weeks as compared to
those given with soybean oil have indicated that women
who took 30 milliliters of coconut oil daily have lower
body mass index and reduced waist line also.
1.2.7. Antioxidant and Anti-cancer
• Virgin coconut oil naturally contains Tocopherol, p-
Coumaric acids and Ferulic acid which are known
as potent antioxidants.
• The antioxidants in coconut helps protect the body
from free radicals which are primary reason behind
premature aging, degenerative disease and cancer
• Traditionally it is also used to protect the body
against colon, and breast cancer.
1.2.8. Other benefits to health
• Relieves diabetes by improving insulin secretion
and utilization of blood glucose
• Relieve chronic fatigue syndrome.
• Relieves benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate
• Reduces epileptic seizures.
• Active against urinary, kidney and bladder
• Prevents liver disease.
• Improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium
which is beneficial for osteoporosis prevention.
• Relieves in pain and irritation caused by
(All the above given information about traditional and scientific
benefits of Cocos nucifera have been taken from website
assessed on 5th June 2017).
Many researchers have worked on Cocos nucifera and
revealed too may bioactivities such as antimicrobial,
antiinflammatory, antiparasitic, antidiabetic, antineoplastic,
insecticidal, and leishmanicidal activities. 
There are some more bioactivities other than specified
earlier in this review which are biocidal activity,
anti-biofilm activity, healing process etc. 
Cocos nucifera Linn. is the well known drug in Indian
System of medicine for their potential phytochemical and
therapeutic values. Keeping in view the potential of these
plants, an effort is made to accumulate bioactivities
related to Cocos nucifera.
2. Literature Review
In the year 2017, Rukmini J N et. al. had performed in-
vitro experimental study on Streptococcus mutans to
evaluate the antimicrobial efficacy of tender coconut
water in its natural state. For this purpose they used fresh
tender coconut water and pasteurized tender coconut water
as sample, whereas dimethyl formamide as negative
control, and 0.2% chlorhexidine as the positive control.
They found that, with the tender coconut water, there was
no zone of inhibition. Actually it was found with positive
control (0.2% Chlorhexidine) .
Nidhi Tyagi et. al. 2015 has investigated the effect of
ethanolic as well as aqueous extract of Cocos nucifera
endocarp on blood glucose concentration. They found
17.2 mg (CNAE) in ethanolic extract and 21.4 mg (CNEE)
in aqueous extract. They also found the total present
flavonoid contents as 23.71 mg (CNAE) and 37.57 mg
(CNEE) in respective extracts. Streptozotocin induced
diabetes was used by them to study the effect on blood
glucose level. They said that ethanolic extract of Cocus
nucifera posses some greater extent of antidiabetic
potential than aqueous extract. 
Elizabeth Abidemi Balogun et. al. in 2014, Dwarf Red
variety of Cocos nucifera was evaluated for antimalarial
and toxicity activity of the methanolic extract of the husk
fibre. This husk fibre was exhaustively extracted with
hexane, ethyl acetate and methanol successively. These
were screened for flavonoids, phenols, tannins, glycosides,
alkaloids, steroids, triterpenes, phlobatannins and
27 American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences
anthraquinones. They also evaluated their toxicity in rats
for selected hematological parameters. As a result of
analysis they found alkaloids, tannins, steroids, phenol,
saponins, glycosides and anthraquinones. They also
declared significantly increased in urea, creatinine,
cholesterol, bilirubin concentrations and high-density
lipoprotein-cholesterol in serum, whereas it reduced
albumin concentration significantly at higher doses as
compared to controls. 
The extracts of five Nigerian varieties of Cocos
nucifera were evaluated in vitro for antimalarial and toxic
potentials by J. O. Adebayo et. al. in 2013. He found that
alkaloids, tannins, and flavonoids were present in ethyl
acetate extract fraction and was active against
Plasmodium falciparum. This was also active in vivo
against Plasmodium berghei, with more than 50%
reduction in parasitaemia.
Viju, N. et. al. in 2013 extracted the coconut husk
which was screened for anti-biofilm activity with the help
of various methodologies. The marine biofilm set on
acrylic sections has been used to develop various microbes
such as Alteromonas sp., Pseudomonas sp. and Gallionella
J O Adebayo et. al. in 2012 tested extracts from husks
of 4 different varieties of Cocos nucifera, which were
evaluated for their antiplasmodial activity, cytotoxicity
and hemolytic activities in vitro. It was found that hexane
extract was active against the blood forms of Plasmodium
falciparum which is a human malaria parasite maintained
in continuous culture. Selectivity indices of <10 was
observed in most of the extracts, but hexane extract of
coco mestico had a selectivity index of 35, which reveals
non-toxic attitude of extract. 
Dry distilled extract of Endocarp of Cocos nucifera L.
was evaluated by R K Singla et. al. in 2012 for
antimicrobial activity using a method known as Kirby
bauer agar diffusion. They used P. aeruginosa, E. coli
strains, S. aureus & B. subtilis, and 4 fungal strains which
are A. oryzae, C. albicans, R. oligosporus and A. flavus.
They found extract as potential growth inhibitor of B.
subtilis and Aspergillus species. At all concentrations this
extract was found inactive against R. oligosporus. 
Bidkar J S, et. al. in 2011 evaluated the inhibitory
action of Cocus nucifera shell ash against Oral Microflora:
They collected samples of mouth rinse and tartar from
male and femal population. They revealed that the
organisms were susceptible much more to the stock. 
Z. A. Zakaria et. al. in 2011 carried out his investigation
against antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities
for oil of virgin coconut. They used different concentrations
diluting with Tween 80 for various in-vivo model systems.
They found dose-dependent antinociceptive activity
significant for acetic acid-induced writhing test. They also
revealed that vergin coconut oil also exhibited significant
antinociceptive activity in all phases of the formalin and
hot-plate tests. Z. A. Zakaria et. al. also clearly mentioned
that this virgin coconut oil does not exhibited its activity
for chronic conditions as a case of cotton-pellet-induced
granuloma test, but its action against carrageenan-induced
paw edema test stands positive.
Taiwo Adesola Akinyele et. al. in 2011 treated
n-hexane and crude aqueous extracts of husk of Cocos
nucifera for special Vibrio species and some bacterial
which generally include in food and wound infections.
They found 0.6–5.0 mg/mL minimum inhibition
concentration for aqueous extract and 0.3–5.0 mg/mL for
n-hexane extracts. 
M. Komala Sivakumar et. al. in 2011 carried out studies
to observe the antibacterial potential of Cocos nucifera
Linn. bark and root against urinary tract infection. They
used E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus and K. pneumonia as
their test samples with Amikacin as standard drug. Along
with antibacterial action, they also exhibited some test like
ash values and antibiotic susceptibility tests, which reveals
the positive attitude root and bark of plant against urinary
tract infection. During this study they observed that
aqueous extract of root is more effective as compared to
Abdulelah H. Al-Adhroey et. al. in 2011 studied White
ﬂesh extract of Cocos nucifera (coconut) to evaluate the
antimalarial usage in Malaysian folk medicine. They
evaluated different extract doses of different
concentrations such as 50, 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg in
vivo against Plasmodium berghei. Standard drugs used
were Chloroquine (20 mg/kg) and pyrimethamine
(1.2 mg/kg). They revealed that extract contained few
phytochemical constituents which are safe on oral
administration toxologically. They also said that extract
signiﬁcantly reduces the parasitaemia. Whereas they also
found the extract with signiﬁcantly increased the survival
Hemanth Sairam Pattigadapa et. al. in 2011said that
various parts of coconut tree is used in the treatment of
cancer, indomethacin-induced ulceration. Even coconut
water intake reduces diastolic blood pressure. They
evaluated fresh coconut water with dilution 1:1 (coconut
water: distilled water) for cardiac activity on the isolated
frog heart. It was found that concentrated sample showed
good response when compared to the diluted coconut
C.T.C. Costa et. al. in 2010studied the anthelmintic
activity of the liquid extracted of the bark of the green
coconut and its extract in butanol, on mouse intestinal
nematodes. They determined chemical composition of the
extract and its butanol extract by phytochemical tests.
They also revealed that a dose of 1000 mg/kg of butanol
extract showed 90.70% efﬁcacy in reducing the mouse
worm. Authors also revealed the presence of saponnins,
triterpens and condensed tannins. 
Andrzej K. Bledzki et. al. in 2010 studied the potential
of barley husk and coconut shell. They also studied
thermal degradation characteristics of ﬁbres. They used
scanning electron microscopy for particle morphology and
particle size study. To determine importance of end-use
properties of composites they study surface chemistry. 
Obidoa Onyechi et. al. in 2010 They study the
phytochemical constituents of the endosperm of Cocos
nucifera L. They cut endosperm, washed, dried and milled
with the help of laboratory mill. They found the presence
of terpenoids, alkaloids, glycosides, resins, and steroids.
They also said that acidic compounds and flavonoids were
not observed. They said that the alkaloids, steroids and
terpenoids are well known to have antioxidant properties.
Girish R. Bankar et. al. in 2010 Aim of the study: They
undertake study of ethanolic extract of Cocos nucifera
American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 28
Linn. endocarp for vasorelaxant activity on rat aortic rings
(isolated) and deoxycorticosterone acetate salt-induced
hypertensive rats for antihypertensive effects. It was
further characterized by HPLC. It was observed that
extract signiﬁcantly reduces the mean systolic blood
pressure in salt-induced hypertensive rats. Further they
revealed that the vasorelaxant and antihypertensive effects
of extract is possible through nitric oxide production and
endothelium-dependent manner. 
Intahphuak S et. al. investigated pharmacological
properties of coconut oil in 2010. They said they observed
anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic effects. These
activities were tested through various models such as ethyl
phenylpropiolate-induced ear edema in rats, and
carrageenin- and arachidonic acid-induced paw edema.
They also observed a moderate analgesic effect as well as
an antipyretic effect on the acetic acid-induced writhing
effect and yeast-induced hyperthermia respectively. 
In 2009, Sebastian Rinaldi et. al. revealed that tea from
the husk ﬁber is generally and widely used to serve against
inﬂammatory disorders. They evaluated crude extract and
Cocos nucifera fractions to test the anti-inﬂammatory
and antinociceptive activities. They also showed that
their different samples signiﬁcantly develop central
antinociceptive and peripheral activity but with lesser
effect on supra-spinal regions. They observed inhibition of
the antinociceptive effect after administration of the
opioid antagonist, naloxone (5 mg/kg), which clearly
shows that its extract and fractions may be act mediated
through opioid receptors. Further, they also show that
these extract and fractions may inhibit rat paw edema
induced by histamine, and serotonin. 
L.M.B. Oliveira et. al. in 2009 evaluated the efﬁcacy of
Cocos nucifera fruit against sheep gastrointestinal
parasites. They performed in vitro and in vivo tests of
ethyl acetate extract with different concentrations based
on egg hatching and larval development tests. They found
100% efficacy in egg hatching and 99.77% in larval
Moumita Chakraborty et. al. in 2008 prepared some
methanolic extract of Cocos nucifera L. mesocarp, and
evaluated them against some biological activities with
help of DPPH, FRAP and deoxyribose assays. They found
the mesocarp extract as a potential source for therapeutic
purposes. While performing antimicrobial activity, they
used Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia
coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Furthet they revealed
that extract shows a potent anti-staphylococcal activity.
After analysis with the help of HPLC and UV/ESI–MS
they found some chemical structures responsible for
bioactivity such as three tentative isomers of
caﬀeoylshikimic acid, 5-O-caﬀeoylquinic acid and
dicaﬀeoylquinic acid. 
In 2008, Pallavi Srivastava et. al. evaluated oil of Cocos
nucifera against burn wound healing. They also compared
the burn wound healing effect of the combination of this
“oil and silver sulphadiazine” with silver sulphadiazine
itself. To evaluate the efficacy of burn wound healing
properties they observed some parameters such as
epithelialization period and percentage of wound
contraction. They observed that they found significant
improvement in burn wound contraction from the
combination of Cocos nucifera oil and silver
sulphadiazine along with significantly reduction in period
of epithelialization. 
P.R. Koschek et. al. in 2007 investigated the fractions
from aqueous extracts of the husk fiber against in vitro
anti-tumor activities. They evaluate cytotoxicity for
leukemia cells with the help of 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-
yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay.
According to him extract showed antitumor activity
against the leukemia cell line K562. They screened
different fractions of extract with the help of Amicon
membranes and found molecules with varying weights,
like, for fraction A from 1-3 kDa, for fraction B from 3-10
kDa and more than 10 kDa for fraction C. They also found
extracts active against Lucena 1, which is a multidrug-
resistant leukemia cell line. 
Sueli Rodrigues et. al. in 2007 evaluated the coconut
shell as a possible source of phenolic compounds as upon
investigation it was found with a composition similar to
wood . They treated coconut powder to diﬀerent toasting
temperatures and after that the phenolic compounds were
extracted with the application of ultrasound. It has been
generally used as a low cost alternative in substitution
against solvent reﬂux extraction. They performed
experiments according to a factorial experimental
planning and evaluated some parameters through response
surface methodology, such as; eﬀects of toasting time,
toasting temperature and extraction time. They found high
amounts of phenolic content extracted from coconut shell
with this extraction technology. 
Z A Zakaria et. al. in 2006 performed experiments to
evaluate the potential of Cocos nucifera as antipyretic,
wound healing and anti-inflammatory agents. They used
fresh juice of Cocos nucifera was directly used while they
also used aqueous kernel extract obtained after 72 h of
soaking of 1:2 (w/v) fresh kernel in 2:1 (v/v) chloroform:
methanol. They revealed that fresh juice and aqueous
kernel extract exhibited significant antipyretic and anti-
inflammatory activities and promoted wound healing. 
Gargi Dey et. al. in 2005 works for identiﬁcation of few
phenolic metabolites in Cocos nucifera. They used
HPLC/UV system to analyze all soluble and wall-
associated phenolics in leaf tissues and mesocarp. They
revealed that alkaline hydrolysis of the mesocarpic and
leaf tissues yielded a major phenolic compound as
4-hydroxybenzoic acid. They also said that Other phenolic
compounds were also identiﬁed such as ferulic acid,
vanillic acid, 4-coumaric acid and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde.
Daniela S. Alviano et. al. in 2004 studied the aqueous
extract of the husk ﬁber of Cocos nucifera L. against free
radical scavenging and analgesic properties. They used
acid-induced writhing response, Tail ﬂick and hot plate
assays and some acute toxicity tests. They revealed that it
does not induce any signiﬁcantly acting dermic or ocular
irritation. They performed DPPH photometric assay which
positively results in free radical scavenging properties.
Ricardo R. Mendonça-Filho et. al. in 2004 works for
identification of polyphenolic rich extract from the husk
ﬁber of Cocos nucifera Linn. presents antiviral and
antibacterial bioactivities. They evaluated Cocos nucifera
on Leishmania amazonensis in vitro for leishmanicidal
effects. They said that findings from this research provide
29 American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences
new perspectives on development of drug against
leishmaniasis. They revealed that the extract of Cocos
nucifera is a remarkably potent leishmanicidal substance
which is able to inhibit the growth of both amastigote and
promastigote developmental stages of L. amazonensis.
Gargi Dey et. al. in 2003 reported extraction and
identification for phenolic acids which could be present in
the dried mesocarpic husks of mature coconut fruit. They
found phenolic content of the husk material as 13 mg/g
dry wt. 4-HBA and ferulic acid contents were identified
and analysed in the husk fractions. They said that
mesocarpic husk materials can be an alternative source of
Daniele Esquenazi et. al. in 2002 performed decoction
of Cocos nucifera L. husk ﬁber for treatment of arthritis
and diarrhea. They revealed that water extract from
coconut husk ﬁber and fractions showed antimicrobial
activity against Staphylococcus aureus. They also
suggested that crude extract and a fraction contained
catechin showed inhibition against acyclovir resistant
herpes simplex virus. They revealed that there were not a
single fraction found which could be active against the
fungi Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and
S. Venkatraman et. al., (1980) had evaluated coconut
shell for its anti-fungal activity of alcoholic extract against
Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, M. audouinii,
Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Epidermophyton flocossum
etc. They found id active at a dose of 100 μg/ml, but it
was 200 μg/ml for E. flocossum.
After studying about the traditional and novel uses and
bioactivities of Cocos nucifera, it was observed that it has
tremendous activities in various pharmacological aspects.
This also tends to promote us identify some more and
novel uses of Cocos nucifera. Hence we can conclude that
it has numerous un-revealed aspects left behind which are
still waited to be discovered.
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