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8 Little-known Side Effects of Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil derives from the nut of the coconut palm. This oil of the nut is used in the preparation of medicine. Some coconut oil products are popularly called “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.Since virgin coconut oil is the purest form of the oil on account of it being unprocessed, it has more benefits than the commercial coconut oil. And it comes with almost no side effects. But the commercial coconut oil (which most of us use) is the processed derivative. It does have certain side effects. A few of these include weight gain and an increase in bad cholesterol levels.

How does it Work

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

Coconut oil contains a certain kind of fat known as “medium chain triglycerides”. Some of these fats work differently than other types of saturated fats present in the body. When applied to the skin, coconut oil has a moisturizing effect.

Uses of Coconut Oil

Useful in Breast Cancer

Early research indicates that taking virgin coconut oil by mouth daily beginning one-week post-chemotherapy from the 3rd to the 6th cycle improves quality of life in some women afflicted with advanced breast cancer.

Cures Obesity

Some developing research shows that taking coconut oil three times daily might reduce waist size after 1-6 weeks of use.

Premature Infants

Premature infants are most likely to have immature skin. This might increase the risk of infection. Some research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin of very premature infants boosts the strength of their skin. But it’s still unknown if this reduces their chance of getting an infection.

Head Lice

Studies show that a spray containing coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang-ylang oil seems to be amply effective for treating head lice in children. It seems to work about as well as a spray containing chemical insecticides.

Other benefits of Coconut Oil

It prevents the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Thyroid

Side Effects of Coconut Oil

Elevates Cholesterol Levels

As per research, coconut oil may not be as healthy as other vegetable oils namely olive oil or soybean oil, with respect to cholesterol levels. Though coconut oil can boost good cholesterol levels, it should 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. Most importantly, the saturated fat content in coconut oil is higher than other fats or oils. And it has been found that high levels of saturated fat lead to an increase in bad cholesterol.

Can Cause Allergies

If your skin is sensitive, steer clear of coconut oil. Some of the allergic reactions that you might get include nausea, rashes, eczema, hives, vomiting, and anaphylaxis- a lethal emergency that involves troubled breathing. In some rare cases, one might even develop extreme allergy symptoms like rapid heart rate, facial swelling, and lightheadedness. There is one substance called coconut diethanolamide, extracted from coconut oil, which is used as an agent in hand-washing liquids. According to one study, some people experienced allergies while using products containing this agent.

May Harm the Heart

As per popular opinion, 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, exhibits the potential to harm the heart.

Can Cause Diarrhea

Coconut oil is usually taken to fight internal bacterial infection. This process of getting rid of the bacteria can lead to certain short-term side effects, one of them being diarrhea. There could be other symptoms as well. To minimize the symptoms, you need to first consume the oil in fewer amounts – and gradually move up to the required quantity.

Intestinal Distress

Those who have fructose malabsorption are vulnerable to this side effect. This happens when someone finds it difficult to absorbing fructose, which then 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, consult your doctor immediately. Food products based on coconut oil also contain fructans that are made of a small chain of fructose. Fructans can also cause gastrointestinal problems.


Detoxification through coconut oil (for yeast infections, especially) often causes headaches. This occurs when the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil break down the yeast cells (that cause the infection), which further fungal toxins into the bloodstream.

Liver Damage

The fatty acids present in coconut oil are transported to the liver, where they are converted into energy. Some experts contend that the speed at which these fatty acids enter the liver can create a serious problem. This might put stress on the liver and even harm it over time. If you have any liver disease or diabetes, it is better to avoid coconut oil.

Acne Breakout

This is more likely to happen to people with 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. In rest of the cases, there could be a problem. What can be done is to use coconut oil as a carrier oil. Use other skin-friendly essential oils, along with coconut oil, to get relief from acne.


Some experts advise to not use too much coconut oil. Additionally, coconut oil is high in calories, and if used in excess, could result in weight gain, more so if coupled with a high-calorie diet. In reality, any risks associated with coconut oil comes down to saturated fats, which is found in abundance in coconuts. Thus, using it in moderation becomes all the more imperative.

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