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 à Froid, Huile Vierge de Noix de Coco, Narikela, Noix de Coco, Palmier, Virgin Coconut Oil.
Overview InformationCoconut 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 for eczema (atopic dermatitis). It is also used for scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis), obesity, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
How does it work?Coconut oil contains a certain kind of fat known as "medium chain triglycerides." Some of these fats work differently than other types of saturated fat in the body. When applied to the skin, coconut oil has a moisturizing effect.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Applying coconut oil to the skin can reduce the severity of eczema in children by about 30% more than mineral oil.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Athletic performance. Early research shows that taking coconut oil with caffeine doesn't seem to help people run faster.
- Breast cancer. Early research shows that taking virgin coconut oil by mouth during chemotherapy might improve quality of life in some women with advanced breast cancer.
- Heart disease. People who eat coconut or use coconut oil to cook don't seem to have a lower risk of heart attack. They also don't seem to have a lower risk of chest pain. Using coconut oil to cook also doesn't lower cholesterol or improve blood flow in people with heart disease.
- Tooth plaque. Early research shows that pulling coconut oil through the teeth might prevent plaque build up. But it doesn't seem to benefit all teeth surfaces.
- 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 unclear.
- Dry skin. Early research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin twice daily can improve skin moisture in people with dry skin.
- Death of an unborn or premature baby. Early research shows that applying coconut oil to a premature baby's skin doesn't reduce the risk of death. But it might reduce the risk of developing an infection in the hospital.
- Lice. Developing research shows that using a spray containing coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil may help treat head lice in children. It seems to work about as well as a spray containing chemical insecticides. But it's unclear if this benefit is due to coconut oil, other ingredients, or the combination.
- Infants born weighing less than 2500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces). Some people give coconut oil to small breastfed babies to help them gain weight. But it doesn't seem to help infants born weighing less than 1500 grams.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Early research shows that taking coconut oil with a chemical from green tea called EGCG might help to reduce feelings of anxiety and to improve function in people with MS.
- Obesity. Some research shows that taking coconut oil by mouth for 8 weeks along with diet and exercise leads to notable weight loss in more obese women compared to taking soybean oil or chia oil. Other early research shows that taking coconut oil for one week can reduce waist size compared to soybean oil in women with excessive fat around the stomach and abdomen. But other evidence shows that taking coconut oil for 4 weeks reduces waist size compared to baseline in only obese men but not women.
- Growth and development in premature infants. Premature infants have immature skin. This might increase their chance of getting an infection. Some research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin of very premature infants improves the strength of their skin. But it doesn't seem to reduce their chance of getting an infection. Other research shows that massaging premature newborns with coconut oil can improve weight gain and growth.
- Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis). Applying coconut oil to the skin before light therapy for psoriasis doesn't seem to improve the effects of light therapy.
- Alzheimer disease.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease).
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
- Thyroid conditions.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyWhen taken by mouth: Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. But coconut oil contains a type of fat that can increase cholesterol levels. So people should avoid eating coconut oil in excess. Coconut oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when used as a medicine short-term. Taking coconut oil in doses of 10 mL two or three times daily for up to 12 weeks seems to be safe.
When applied to the skin: Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if coconut oil is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Children: Coconut oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin for about one month. There's not enough reliable information to know if coconut oil is safe for children when taken by mouth as a medicine.
High cholesterol: Coconut oil contains a type of fat that can increase cholesterol levels. Regularly eating meals containing coconut oil can increase levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This might be a problem for people who already have high cholesterol.
We currently have no information for COCONUT OIL Interactions.
The following dose has been studied in scientific research:
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
- For eczema (atopic dermatitis): 10 mL of virgin coconut oil has been applied to most body surfaces in two divided doses daily for 8 weeks.
- Teuber SS, Peterson WR. Systemic allergic reaction to coconut (Cocos nucifera) in 2 subjects with hypersensitivity to tree nut and demonstration of cross-reactivity to legumin-like seed storage proteins: new coconut and walnut food allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:1180-5. View abstract.
- Valente FX, Cândido FG, Lopes LL, et al. Effects of coconut oil consumption on energy metabolism, cardiometabolic risk markers, and appetitive responses in women with excess body fat. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(4):1627-1637. View abstract.
- Vijayakumar M, Vasudevan DM, Sundaram KR, et al. A randomized study of coconut oil versus sunflower oil on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with stable coronary heart disease. Indian Heart J. 2016 Jul-Aug;68(4):498-506. View abstract.
- Voon PT, Ng TK, Lee VK, Nesaretnam K. Diets high in palmitic acid (16:0), lauric and myristic acids (12:0 + 14:0), or oleic acid (18:1) do not alter postprandial or fasting plasma homocysteine and inflammatory markers in healthy Malaysian adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:1451-7. View abstract.
- Zakaria ZA, Rofiee MS, Somchit MN,et al. Hepatoprotective activity of dried- and fermented-processed virgin coconut oil. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011;2011:142739. View abstract.
- Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis 2004;15:109-16. View abstract.
- Alexaki A, Wilson TA, Atallah MT, et al. Hamsters fed diets high in saturated fat have increased cholesterol accumulation and cytokine production in the aortic arch compared with cholesterol-fed hamsters with moderately elevated plasma non-HDL cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr 2004;134:410-5. View abstract.
- Anagnostou K. Coconut Allergy Revisited. Children (Basel). 2017;4(10). pii: E85. View abstract.
- Arun S, Kumar M, Paul T, et al. An open-label randomized controlled trial to compare weight gain of very low birth weight babies with or without addition of coconut oil to breast milk. J Trop Pediatr. 2019;65(1):63-70. View abstract.
- Assunção ML, Ferreira HS, dos Santos AF, et al. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids 2009;44:593-601. View abstract.
- Bach AC, Babayan VK. Medium-chain triglycerides: an update. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:950-62. View abstract.
- Bhan MK, Arora NK, Khoshoo V, et al. Comparison of a lactose-free cereal-based formula and cow's milk in infants and children with acute gastroenteritis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1988;7:208-13. View abstract.
- Borba GL, Batista JSF, Novais LMQ, et al. Acute caffeine and coconut oil intake, isolated or combined, does not improve running times of recreational runners: A randomized, placebo-controlled and crossover study. Nutrients. 2019;11(7). pii: E1661. View abstract.
- Burnett CL, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, et al. Final report on the safety assessment of Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil and related ingredients. Int J Toxicol 2011;30(3 Suppl):5S-16S. View abstract.
- Cox C, Mann J, Sutherland W, et al Effects of coconut oil, butter, and safflower oil on lipids and lipoproteins in persons with moderately elevated cholesterol levels. J Lipid Res 1995;36:1787-95. View abstract.
- Cox C, Sutherland W, Mann J, et al. Effects of dietary coconut oil, butter and safflower oil on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and lathosterol levels. Eur J Clin Nutr 1998;52:650-4. View abstract.
- Evangelista MT, Abad-Casintahan F, Lopez-Villafuerte L. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan;53(1):100-8. View abstract.
- Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev 2016;74:267-80. View abstract.
- Famurewa AC, Ekeleme-Egedigwe CA, Nwali SC, Agbo NN, Obi JN, Ezechukwu GC. Dietary supplementation with virgin coconut oil improves lipid profile and hepatic antioxidant status and has potential benefits on cardiovascular risk indices in normal rats. J Diet Suppl. 2018;15(3):330-342. View abstract.
- Feranil AB, Duazo PL, Kuzawa CW, Adair LS. Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women in the Philippines. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2011;20:190-5. View abstract.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. SECTION 2. Codex Standards for Fats and Oils from Vegetable Sources. Available at: https://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y2774e/y2774e04.htm#TopOfPage. Accessed October 26, 2015.
- Francois CA, Connor SL, Wander RC, Connor WE. Acute effects of dietary fatty acids on the fatty acids of human milk. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:301-8. View abstract.
- Fries JH, Fries MW. Coconut: a review of its uses as they relate to the allergic individual. Ann Allergy 1983;51:472-81. View abstract.
- Ganji V, Kies CV. Psyllium husk fibre supplementation to soybean and coconut oil diets of humans: effect on fat digestibility and faecal fatty acid excretion. Eur J Clin Nutr 1994;48:595-7. View abstract.
- Garcia-Fuentes E, Gil-Villarino A, Zafra MF, Garcia-Peregrin E. Dipyridamole prevents the coconut oil-induced hypercholesterolemia. A study on lipid plasma and lipoprotein composition. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2002;34:269-78. View abstract.
- George SA, Bilsland DJ, Wainwright NJ, Ferguson J. Failure of coconut oil to accelerate psoriasis clearance in narrow-band UVB phototherapy or photochemotherapy. Br J Dermatol 1993;128:301-5. View abstract.
- Khaw KT, Sharp SJ, Finikarides L, et al. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. BMJ Open. 2018;8(3):e020167. View abstract.
- Kinsella R, Maher T, Clegg ME. Coconut oil has less satiating properties than medium chain triglyceride oil. Physiol Behav. 2017 Oct 1;179:422-26. View abstract.
- Konar MC, Islam K, Roy A, Ghosh T. Effect of virgin coconut oil application on the skin of preterm newborns: A randomized controlled trial. J Trop Pediatr. 2019. pii: fmz041. View abstract.
- Kumar PD. The role of coconut and coconut oil in coronary heart disease in Kerala, south India. Trop Doct 1997;27:215-7. View abstract.
- Laureles LR, Rodriguez FM, Reano CE, et al. Variability in fatty acid and triacylglycerol composition of the oil of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) hybrids and their parentals. J Agric Food Chem 2002;50:1581-6. View abstract.
- Law KS, Azman N, Omar EA, Musa MY, Yusoff NM, Sulaiman SA, Hussain NH. The effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as supplementation on quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer patients. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Aug 27;13:139. View abstract.
- Liau KM, Lee YY, Chen CK, Rasool AH. An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN Pharmacol 2011;2011:949686. View abstract.
- Marina AM, Che Man YB, Amin I. Virgin coconut oil: emerging functional food oil. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2009;20(10):481-487.
- Mendis S, Samarajeewa U, Thattil RO. Coconut fat and serum lipoproteins: effects of partial replacement with unsaturated fats. Br J Nutr 2001;85:583-9. View abstract.
- Michavila Gomez A, Amat Bou M, Gonzalez Cortés MV, Segura Navas L, Moreno Palanques MA, Bartolomé B. Coconut anaphylaxis: Case report and review. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2015;43(2):219-20. View abstract.
- Muller H, Lindman AS, Blomfeldt A, et al. A diet rich in coconut oil reduces diurnal postprandial variations in circulating tissue plasminogen activator antigen and fasting lipoprotein (a) compared with a diet rich in unsaturated fat in women. J Nutr 2003;133:3422-7. View abstract.
- Mumcuoglu KY, Miller J, Zamir C, et al. The in vivo pediculicidal efficacy of a natural remedy. Isr Med Assoc J 2002;4:790-3. View abstract.
- Narayanankutty A, Palliyil DM, Kuruvilla K, Raghavamenon AC. Virgin coconut oil reverses hepatic steatosis by restoring redox homeostasis and lipid metabolism in male Wistar rats. J Sci Food Agric. 2018;98(5):1757-1764. View abstract.
- Neelakantan N, Seah JYH, van Dam RM. The effect of coconut oil consumption on cardiovascular risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Circulation. 2020;141(10):803-814. View abstract.
- Oliveira-de-Lira L, Santos EMC, de Souza RF, et al. Supplementation-dependent effects of vegetable oils with varying fatty acid compositions on anthropometric and biochemical parameters in obese women. Nutrients. 2018;10(7). pii: E932. View abstract.
- Platero JL, Cuerda-Ballester M, Ibáñez V, et al. The impact of coconut oil and epigallocatechin gallate on the levels of IL-6, anxiety and disability in multiple sclerosis patients. Nutrients. 2020;12(2). pii: E305. View abstract.
- Reiser R, Probstfield JL, Silvers A, et al. Plasma lipid and lipoprotein response of humans to beef fat, coconut oil and safflower oil. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:190-7. View abstract.
- Romer H, Guerra M, Pina JM, et al. Realimentation of dehydrated children with acute diarrhea: comparison of cow's milk to a chicken-based formula. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1991;13:46-51. View abstract.
- Ruppin DC, Middleton WR. Clinical use of medium chain triglycerides. Drugs 1980;20:216-24.
- Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JHY, et al.; American Heart Association. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2017;136(3):e1-e23. View abstract.
- Salam RA, Darmstadt GL, Bhutta ZA. Effect of emollient therapy on clinical outcomes in preterm neonates in Pakistan: a randomised controlled trial. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2015 May;100(3):F210-5. View abstract.
- Sankaranarayanan K, Mondkar JA, Chauhan MM, et al. Oil massage in neonates: an open randomized controlled study of coconut versus mineral oil. Indian Pediatr 2005;42:877-84. View abstract.
- Sezgin Y, Memis Ozgul B, Alptekin NO. Efficacy of oil pulling therapy with coconut oil on four-day supragingival plaque growth: A randomized crossover clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2019;47:102193. View abstract.
- Strunk T, Gummer JPA, Abraham R, et al. Topical Coconut Oil Contributes to Systemic Monolaurin Levels in Very Preterm Infants. Neonatology. 2019;116(3):299-301. View abstract.
- Strunk T, Pupala S, Hibbert J, Doherty D, Patole S. Topical coconut oil in very preterm infants: an open-label randomized controlled trial. Neonatology. 2017 Dec 1;113(2):146-151. View abstract.
- Tella R, Gaig P, Lombardero M, et al. A case of coconut allergy. Allergy 2003;58:825-6.
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