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13 Unexpected Side Effects Of Coconut Oil

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13 Unexpected Side Effects Of Coconut Oil September 19, 2017

It is indeed unexpected – to even get to know that coconut oil has side effects.

But it does. And sometimes, the side effects can get dangerous.

Which is why knowing about them is vital. Keep reading to know some of the unexpected side effects of coconut oil. But, before that, let’s take a glance at its benefits.

Coconut Oil Benefits – A Brief

Talk about coconut oil, and its benefits are what pop into our mind. In fact, there are over 1,500 studies that prove the healthfulness of coconut oil. Most of its benefits can be attributed to medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are also called the healthy fats. The reason being, MCFAs are easier to digest and are not readily stored as fat. They also possess antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

The benefits are numerous – right from enhancing heart health to promoting kidney function, improving the nervous system to protecting the liver against deadly ailments, this oil works wonders.

But what’s not what we are here to talk about, are we?

Does Coconut Oil Have Any Side Effects?

Yes. It does. But this aspect requires clarity.

Coconut oil is available in the market in two forms – virgin coconut oil, and the commercial coconut oil.

Virgin coconut oil is the purest form of the oil. It is not processed. Hence, it ranks higher on the benefits. And it comes with almost no side effects. But the commercial coconut oil (which most of us use, possibly) is the processed variant. It does have certain side effects. A few of these include weight gain and an increase in bad cholesterol levels.

In the following lines, we are going to expand on these side effects.

Side Effects Of Coconut Oil

There are also potential negative coconut oil side effects that we didn’t know about. Check out some of the surprising side effects of ingesting coconut oil

1. Diarrhea

Image: iStock

Can coconut oil cause diarrhea? Well, coconut oil is usually taken orally to fight internal bacterial infection. This process of destroying the bacteria can lead to certain short-term side effects. And one of them is diarrhea. There could be other related symptoms too.

To minimize the symptoms, you need to first consume the oil in smaller amounts – and gradually work your way up to the required quantity.

2. Acne Breakout

This is more likely to happen to individuals with excessively oily skin. The lauric acid in coconut usually helps in killing the acne-causing bacteria. But this is in the case of skin that is not very oily. Otherwise, there could be a problem.

What you can instead do is use coconut oil as a carrier oil. Use other skin-friendly essential oils, along with coconut oil, to get relief from acne.

3. High Cholesterol Levels

As per a report by the Harvard Medical School, coconut oil may not be as healthy as other vegetable oils (like olive oil or soybean oil) with regard to cholesterol levels (1). Though coconut oil can boost good cholesterol levels, it may not be preferred to other healthy vegetable oils.

The increase in coconut oil intake was linked to a rise in total cholesterol levels as well as that of LDL (the bad cholesterol) (2).

The saturated fat content in coconut oil is higher than other fats or oils (butter or olive oil) (3). And it has been found that high levels of saturated fat lead to an increase in bad cholesterol, which can eventually result in health complications.

[ Read: Home Remedies To Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels ]

4. Intestinal Distress

Individuals with fructose malabsorption are particularly susceptible to this. This is basically when someone has trouble absorbing fructose, which results in digestive issues – including intestinal distress. Though coconut oil does not contain fructose, all other products made from it do. If you suffer from any intestinal distress or related issues post the consumption of products containing coconut oil, you know what to do – consult your doctor.

Numerous food products based on coconut oil also contain fructans that are made of a small chain of fructose. Fructans can also cause gastrointestinal problems.

Individuals experiencing digestive distress post the consumption of such foods also often react to broccoli, garlic, onions, wheat, and Brussels sprouts.

Certain compounds called sulphites are present in desiccated coconut (if not in coconut oil) that can also cause digestive issues. The best solution could be to eliminate all forms of coconut from your diet and see if the symptoms improve. If not, visit your doctor.

5. Allergies

Though not as prevalent as other forms of allergies, coconut oil does cause allergies if one is sensitive to it. Some of the allergic reactions include nausea, rashes, eczema, hives, vomiting, and anaphylaxis (a lethal emergency that involves troubled breathing).

According to a Boston study, children having peanut allergies (or allergic to tree nuts) are less likely to be allergic to coconut oil (as coconut is not basically a nut, but a fruit) (4). Still, if your child has any of these allergies, it is better to consult your doctor before letting them try coconut oil.

Here’s what you might need to avoid if you are allergic to coconut oil (or any form of coconut) – chocolates, cakes, and the popcorn that they sell at movie theaters.

If you are suspicious of having allergic reactions to coconut oil, it is better to keep track of your symptoms in a food diary. Post which, you can visit your health care specialist. This helps you get an insight into the allergy.

In rare cases, one might even develop severe allergy symptoms – these can include rapid heart rate, facial swelling, and lightheadedness. If you are experiencing any of these, visit your doctor immediately.

There is one substance called coconut diethanolamide, manufactured from coconut oil, which is used as an agent in hand washing liquids. As per a Finnish study, certain individuals experienced allergies after using products containing this agent (5).

6. Allergic Reactions In Children

Though coconut oil is good for children, there are certain aspects to be kept in mind. And the most important of those aspects is a malfunctioning thyroid. If your child has hypothyroidism, refrain from using coconut oil (or related products) before consulting the doctor. This is because the oil might aggravate the condition and even cause allergic reactions in some children.

7. Might Harm The Heart

Image: iStock

According to the American Heart Association, eating fewer saturated fats and more of unsaturated fats is the best way to prevent heart disease. And coconut oil, being higher in saturated fats, could harm the heart.

Though coconut oil also contains unsaturated fat, there is no research that shows it to mitigate the ill effects of saturated fat.

One report says that coconut oil contains more bad fat than beef or butter (6). And as per another New Zealand study, coconut oil increases bad cholesterol to a greater extent than unsaturated plant oils (7).

In fact, even pure virgin coconut oil was found to have 92% saturated fat – which is the highest amount of saturated fat in any fat (8).

8. Headache

Individuals undertaking detoxification using coconut oil (for yeast infections, especially) often experience headaches. This happens when the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil break down the yeast cells (that cause the infection), thereby releasing a wave of fungal toxins into the bloodstream.

9. Thyroid

 The belief that coconut oil can cure an underactive thyroid is just that, a belief. And not a fact (9). This is because there is insufficient evidence as to how effective coconut oil can be in enhancing thyroid health (10).

[ Read: Home Remedies To Treat Hypothyroidism ]

10. Problems With Oil Pulling

 If you are sensitive to coconut oil, using it for oil pulling could be a bad idea.  You can instead use sunflower or sesame oil for this purpose as they also can help kill the harmful bacteria.

One important point to note with respect to oil pulling alone is that it is not a replacement to brushing. Nothing can remove bacteria and plaque from your teeth better than brushing your teeth daily.

11. Problems With Use As A Lubricant

Yes, coconut oil (the virgin coconut oil, we mean) could be natural. But it sure might have ingredients whose safety and efficacy are not known yet. Which is why using the oil as a personal lubricant may not be a safe option.

Coconut oil is also known to alter the pH of the vagina, causing yeast infections. It can also degrade the latex in latex condoms and cause serious issues. Hence, one must not use any kind of oil-based lubricant with latex condoms.

12. Candida

Though coconut oil can help treat Candida, what is of particular concern are the die-off symptoms. These occur as a result of the toxins released by the dying Candida.

13. Liver Damage

The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are transported to the liver, where they are converted into energy. As per certain experts, the speed at which these MCFAs are brought to the liver can cause a problem. This might put stress on the liver and even harm the organ over time. If you have any liver disease or diabetes, it is advised to avoid coconut oil or any other food containing MCFAs.

But then, the entire theory is speculative. However, it is always better to stay on the safer side, isn’t it?

The negative side effects of coconut oil, though not many, could be bothersome. Which is why you must exercise caution if you are allergic to coconut oil or …

Coconut Oil Supplements

Coconut oil supplements do enjoy the reputation of being safe. However, they are not devoid of the side effects, which are often the same as that of the oil.

People with kidney issues or dehydration must refrain from taking the oil or its supplement. This also applies to individuals with high cholesterol levels.  

More importantly, the dosage of the supplement must be closely monitored. Exceeding the required dosage might upset the stomach. Also, when you are shopping for coconut oil supplements, you need to ensure the capsule is free of additives and lubricants. It is better if you also know the source and manufacturing process of the oil in the supplements.

Special Precautions And Warnings

In the case of pregnant or breastfeeding women, coconut oil is likely safe if taken in normal amounts. Since the safety of larger amounts is unknown, it is better to stick to food amounts.

Talking about children, we don’t know its safety if the oil is taken orally or for longer periods (11).

Another concern is what we already discussed – cholesterol. There is contradictory evidence, actually. Which is why it is best to consult your doctor before you decide on anything.

Keep the amount of consumption normal. That’s about it. Coconut oil is natural and healthful and incredible. But solely relying on it is not advisable.

How has this post on what are the side effects of coconut oil helped you? If you know any other coconut oil warnings, do let us know by commenting in the box below.

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