Coconut Oil - What is it & How to use

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.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for COCONUT OIL are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Eczema. Applying coconut oil to the skin can reduce the severity of eczema in children by about 30% more than mineral oil.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness 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.
  • 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.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Thyroid conditions.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate coconut oil for these uses.

Dose

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.

Safety Concerns

Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin. It is also 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.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking coconut oil as medicine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Children: Coconut oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin for about one month. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking coconut oil 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.

Interaction with medication

It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.