is coconut oil good for constipation

Is Coconut Oil Good for Constipation? Read More Here

The coconut, Cocos nucifera, is a multipurpose tree and is often considered as a superfood. Not only is the water, milk, oil, and meat widely used in various dishes, but the same goes for the body of the tree. Different products can be made from the leaves, the body and the husk of the fruit. Out of all the products and by-products of this fruit, we will focus on one.

Is coconut oil good for constipation? The answer is: Not really. There is no concrete scientific evidence about the effect of coconut oil to help alleviate the symptoms of constipation. There is also no studied laxative effect of MCTs that can help with constipation.

Fun fact: There is a coconut song in the Philippines due to its popularity and wide range of uses. 

Defining constipation

Constipation is a normal condition. In reality, being constipated is common and it affects people at various stages in life.

This condition is the inability of the body to pass stools regularly, making the stool hard, lumpy, and unusual in size. This means that the stools are excreted less frequently than usual, this is also accompanied by more painful or difficult defecation. 

Constipation can happen for a short time, while others experience it longer. This is where the term “chronic” comes in. Now, this is more problematic because it causes discomfort and pain which can then affect the quality of life. 

Besides the difficulty in passing stools, there is also a feeling that the bowel isn’t completely emptied. Here are other symptoms of constipation:

  • bloated feeling
  • sick feeling
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach cramps or dull pain

Various reasons can be attributed to constipation. Usual culprits are the following:

  • Not enough fiber intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle or a sudden shift in lifestyle
  • A side effect of medications
  • Not enough fluid intake
  • Depression or anxiety

Moving on to the Coconut

Various health claims have been made about the benefits of coconut to humans. Some of these may include

  • Heart health benefits
  • Fat burning encouragement
  • Antimicrobial effects
  • Hunger reduction
  • Seizure reduction

The claimed benefits of coconuts do not only cover the “eating” part, but it also applies to external uses. Take for example how coconut is used for cosmetic purposes.

Coconut oil, in particular, can help improve dry skin and reduce symptoms of eczema.

How?

Coconut can do it by improving the moisture content of the skin. Not only is it effective for the skin, but it also works wonders for the hair. Coconut oil can provide protection in the form of a weak sunscreen. It can block about 20% of the ultraviolet rays from the sun to protect the hair from damage. 

MCFAs

MCFAs are Medium-Chain Fatty Acids which are also found in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The short length (medium) makes it easier to digest and leads to different health benefits. This MCT is the main player for coconut oil.

One study showed the effect of coconut oil’s MCT on obesity prevention. It showed that the consumption of an MCT-rich diet resulted in greater loss of adipose tissues, possibly because of increased energy expenditure.  

Is coconut oil good for constipation?

But, there is no conclusive study indicating the effect of coconut oil on constipation. This is a field that can be looked into by future researchers since coconut oil is always available. 

Some claim that the abundant MCFA in coconut oil is the reason why it is good for constipation. However, there is no definitive study about the laxative effect of coconut oil especially for those who are constipated.

Another factor to look out for is the antimicrobial property of coconut oil. One study supported that coconut oil can help against the colonization of Candida albicans in the gut. This bacteria causes vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush. Some say that the reduced presence of this bacteria can lead to constipation.

But, there are little scientific pieces of evidence that can support this claim. That particular study used rodents as the test subjects and did not undergo human trials. 

It is also noteworthy that using coconut oil to fight or reduce the risk of the common cold or internal infections has no scientific basis.

Getting Over Constipation

The best way to treat constipation is to have lifestyle changes. With this, you don’t have to turn to alternative medicines or laxatives for a solution. This can also help prevent the discomfort brought by constipation. 

Some lifestyle tips include:

  • Increase your fiber intake. You can get these from fruits and vegetables like celery and flaxseed
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly. You don’t have to go to the gym. Instead, you can try jogging or walk for fitness
  • Don’t delay when nature calls you. So, if you feel like you have to go, you have to go
  • You can turn to laxatives but you have to ask your doctor first

The Coconut Takeaway

So, what about coconut oil? Due to the lack of scientific evidence to back this up, most of the claims about the effect of coconut oil for constipation are unverified. If you wish to explore this medication, you may try it out on your own then check if it works. You can try different online stores with great customer reviews. Another place to look at is at the health food store near you. 

In a study, 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil per day proved to be an effective dose, but make sure that it is in line with your recommended calorie intake and fat/oil allocation. Ask a professional for help if you really want to include coconut oil in your diet.

You can consider turning to other food that can help with constipation such as grapes, fruits, and vegetables. Always stay hydrated and be physically active. It might be difficult at first, but once you get used to it, these lifestyle recommendations will not only benefit your gut but your whole body as well. 

Do you like coconut-based dishes? Have you tried using coconut oil as a laxative? How is it?

Nicole Castaneda - RND

Nicole is a professional Nutritionist-Dietitian who advocates for food variation, moderation and the effect of food choices on the body. She loves to write light and easy to understand articles about food and gut health.

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