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Coconut 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.

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.

When 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.

There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Blond psyllium: Psyllium reduces absorption of the fat in coconut oil.

There are no known interactions with foods.

The following dose has been studied in scientific research:

CHILDREN

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.

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