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 (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 to rate effectiveness for…
- Athletic performance. Early research shows that taking the 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 the quality of life in some women with advanced breast cancer.
- Heart disease. People who eat coconut or use the oil to cook don’t seem to have a lower risk of a 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 the 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 the 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 it 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 it 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 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.
More evidence is needed to rate it for these uses.
Side Effects Of Coconut Oil
- When taken by mouth: Coconut oil is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. But it contains a type of fat that can increase cholesterol levels. So people should avoid eating it in excess. Coconut oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when used as a medicine short-term. Taking it in doses of 10 mL two or three times daily for up to 12 weeks seems to be safe.
- When applied to the skin: It is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Warnings & Precautions
- 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 it 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 the oil can increase levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This might be a problem for people who already have high cholesterol.
Dosage Of Coconut Oil
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.
Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.