When you’re too close to something, you tend to overlook its wonders. And this is especially true for our beloved sweet-drink-and-flesh-producing backyard tree, the coconut. While savouring and letting myself enjoy the delight of every single sip of fresh tender coconut water, I discovered a few wonders that we the tropics people may have never realised about this tree, albeit living among it our entire life.

Illustration of a coconut tree and fruitFirst off, botanically, a coconut is just what its name suggests: a nut. It’s structure is similar to that of any other nuts (natural nuts, not the ‘other’ nuts), like the nuts from the palm tree. Think of it like the huge ferns you see in forests in the highlands. Every single part of the coconut tree including the coconut itself is a nature’s blown up, gigantic version of the other small palm species. Next time you’re holding a coconut, think of yourself as holding a gigantic palm fruit, and indulge in wonder.

Secondly, we don’t realise how nutritious coconut water is. Sure, we know that generally coconut water is good for health, but just that: generally. I’m sure not many of us know exactly what health benefits it may bring, or why is it healthy. We live in a sweltering hot tropics, where we receive sunlight most of the daytime, where temperature and humidity are both high, and for one coconut water is the nature’s best body coolant and hydrant. It can be injected straight into your blood stream without causing any harm.

Other reported medicinal properties of tender coconut water, according to one Dr. D.P. Atukorale are as follows:

  1. Good for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances.
  2. Oral rehydration medium.
  3. Contains organic compounds containing growth promoting properties.
  4. Keeps the body cool.
  5. Application on the body prevents prickly heat and summer boils and subsides the rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox and measles etc.
  6. Presence of saline and albumin makes it a good drink in cholera cases.
  7. Excellent tonic for the old and the sick.
  8. Diuretic (a substance which tends to increase flow of urine).
  9. Can be injected intravenously in emergency cases such as cholera and dysentery when other pyrogen-free fluids are not available.
  10. Can be used as a blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, pyrogen – free and does not produce heat, and does not destroy blood cells.
  11. Aids the quick absorption of drugs and make their peak concentration in the blood easier by its electrolyte effect.
  12. Urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning.

In Sri Lanka, coconut is so important that they have a dedicated Coconut Development Authority functioning under the Ministry of Coconut Development! How cool is that? Imagine us having Kementerian Pembangunan Kelapa. Wow.