Skip to content

    Find a Vitamin or Supplement

    COCONUT OIL

    Other Names:

    Aceite de Coco, Acide Gras de Noix de Coco, Coconut Fatty Acid, Coconut Palm, Coco Palm, Coconut, Cocos nucifera, Cocotier, Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, Fermented Coconut Oil, Huile de Coco, Huile de Noix de Coco, Huile de Noix de Coco Pressée &agr...
    See All Names

    COCONUT OIL Overview
    COCONUT OIL Uses
    COCONUT OIL Side Effects
    COCONUT OIL Interactions
    COCONUT OIL Dosing
    COCONUT OIL Overview Information

    Coconut oil comes from the nut (fruit) of the coconut palm. The oil of the nut is used to make medicine. Some coconut oil products are referred to as "virgin" coconut oil. Unlike olive oil, there is no industry standard for the meaning of "virgin" coconut oil. The term has come to mean that the oil is generally unprocessed. For example, virgin coconut oil usually has not been bleached, deodorized, or refined.

    Some coconut oil products claim to be "cold pressed" coconut oil. This generally means that a mechanical method of pressing out the oil is used, but without the use of any outside heat source. The high pressure needed to press out the oil generates some heat naturally, but the temperature is controlled so that temperatures do not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

    People use coconut oil by mouth for diabetes, heart disease, chronic fatigue, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Alzheimer's disease, quality of life in people with breast cancer, thyroid conditions, energy, and boosting the immune system. Despite coconut oil's high calorie and saturated fat content, some people use it by mouth to lose weight and lower cholesterol.

    Coconut oil is sometimes applied to the skin as a moisturizer, for neonatal health, and to treat eczema and a skin condition called psoriasis. Coconut oil is also used in hair products to prevent hair damage.

    How does it work?

    Coconut oil is high in a saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides. These fats work differently than other types of saturated fat in the body. However, research on the effects of these types of fats in the body is very preliminary.

    When applied to the skin, coconut oil has a moisturizing effect.

    COCONUT OIL Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

    Possibly Effective for:

    • Eczema. Research suggests that applying virgin coconut oil to the skin twice daily for 8 weeks improves symptoms about 30% more than mineral oil in children with eczema.

    Insufficient Evidence for:

    • Breast cancer. Early research suggests that taking virgin coconut oil by mouth daily starting one week after chemotherapy from the 3rd to the 6th cycle improves quality of life in some but not all measurements in women with advanced breast cancer.
    • Clogged arteries. Early research suggests that taking coconut or coconut oil does not seem to increase or decrease the risk of heart attack or chest pain.
    • Diarrhea. One study in children found that incorporating coconut oil into the diet can reduce the length of diarrhea, but another study found that it was no more effective than a cow milk-based diet. The effect of coconut oil alone is not clear.
    • Fetal and early infant death. Early research suggest that applying coconut oil to babies' skin daily for 28 days reduces the risk of infection but does not affect the risk of death in premature babies.
    • High cholesterol. Some research suggests that dietary use of coconut oil is linked to increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol, but does not increase levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. However, a study comparing a diet rich in coconut oil to diets rich in beef fat or safflower oil found that coconut oil can increase both HDL and LDL cholesterol.
    • Head lice. Developing research shows that a spray containing coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil appears to be effective for treating head lice in children. It seems to work about as well as a spray containing chemical insecticides.
    • Newborn weight gain. Some research shows that massaging premature newborns with coconut oil can improve weight gain and growth.
    • Obesity. Some developing research shows that taking coconut oil three times daily might reduce waist size after 1-6 weeks of use. But this only occurred in men and did not affect weight or body mass index (BMI).
    • Psoriasis. Applying coconut oil to the skin before treatment of psoriasis with ultraviolet B (UVB) or psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) light therapy doesn"t seem to improve effectiveness of the treatment.
    • Dry skin. Developing research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin twice daily can improve skin moisture in people with dry skin.
    • Alzheimer's disease.
    • Diabetes.
    • Chronic fatigue.
    • Crohn's disease.
    • Irritable bowel syndrome.
    • Thyroid conditions.
    • Other conditions.
    More evidence is needed to rate coconut oil for these uses.

    COCONUT OIL Side Effects & Safety

    Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately.

    Since coconut oil has a high fat content, there is concern that it might increase weight if used in large amounts or that it might increase cholesterol levels. However, these concerns have not been proven in scientific research.

    Special Precautions & Warnings:

    Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when used in the amounts normally found in the diet. But the safety of using coconut oil in larger amounts is not known. It's best to stick to food amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

    Children: Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food. Coconut oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when it is applied to the skin. It has been used safely in children and infants in the short-term. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking coconut oil by mouth as medicine in children.

    High cholesterol: There is concern that coconut oil might increase total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol. But there is contradictory evidence that shows that coconut oil might actually increase levels of "good" cholesterol and have little to no effect on total or "bad" cholesterol levels.

    COCONUT OIL Interactions What is this?

    We currently have no information for COCONUT OIL Interactions

    COCONUT OIL Dosing

    The following dose has been studied in scientific research:

    CHILDREN

    APPLIED TO THE SKIN:

    • For eczema: 10 mL of virgin coconut oil has been applied to most body surfaces in two divided doses daily for 8 weeks.

    See 87 Reviews for this Treatment - OR -

    Review this Treatment

    Learn about User Reviews and read IMPORTANT information about user generated content

    Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

    This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

    Search for a Vitamin or Supplement

    Ex. Ginseng, Vitamin C, Depression

    Today on WebMD

    vitamin rich groceries
    Do you know your vitamin ABCs?
    St Johns wart
    Ease hot flashes and other symptoms.
     
    clams
    Are you getting enough?
    Take your medication
    Wonder pill or overkill?
     
    fruits and vegetables
    Video
    !!69X75_Vitamins_Supplements.jpg
    Article
     
    Woman sleeping
    Article
    Woman staring into space with coffee
    Article
     
    IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

    The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

    Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.