Coconut Oil Side Effects

Jul 30, 2017

Coconut oil, a very popular remedy for a variety of conditions, can have side effects. When taking coconut oil internally, earth clinic readers report symptoms that include:heart palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, increase in blood pressure, decrease in blood pressure, headaches, and weight gain. Digestive symptoms include, acid reflux, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and a burning feeling in the stomach.

 Side Effects of Using Coconut Oil Externally

Coconut oil is commonly used for skin conditions, including dry skin and acne.  Some Earth Clinic Readers report a worsening of acne.  Others find that coconut oil makes their skin dry, flaky or itchy. Some have experienced increased redness on the skin, similar to a sunburn.

Mixed Results with Coconut Oil Use

Brezilda and her husband,  from Cebu, Philippines were experiencing positive results from the use of coconut oil before side effects appeared. "My husband has been taking 2 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and oil pulling with virgin coconut oil for about 3 weeks. I have just been oil pulling with coconut oil for 3 weeks. We both seem to have lost weight, teeth seem whiter. However, the side effects have kicked in. I started with excrutiating headaches for 2 days and then loose bowel movements. My husband felt tired, then had very runny bowel movement over 2 days, fever, and exhaustion."
The majority of people that use coconut oil have positive results.  It is a remedy that is used for a wide variety of health conditions.  It has been used successfully to treat adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, viruses, mono, athlete's foot, colds, digestive issues, blood pressure problems, dry skin, low energy, Alzheimer's Disease, migraines, nausea and to help with weight loss.

Possible Causes of Side Effects from Coconut Oil Use

Because coconut oil has been used successfully by hundreds of Earth Clinic Readers without side effects, it may pay to investigate the cause of the side effects.

Using a poor quality coconut oil is one possible reason that the results are poor.  Regular Earth Clinic posters commonly recommend using cold-pressed, extra virgin, organic coconut oil.  Starting with a maximum recommended dose is much more likely to cause side effects than starting with a small amount and increasing slowly. Some find that taking coconut oil on an empty stomach makes side effects more likely.  In that case, taking it with food or using it in cooking may be a better way to take it.

If you have experienced side effects from the use of coconut oil, please share your experiences with us!

Additional Links of Interest:

Coconut Oil for Beautiful Skin

Coconut Oil Cures

Coconut Oil Facts

37 User Reviews  

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Posted by Nanasocean (Cucamonga) on 06/03/2015
0 out of 5 stars

Has anyone experienced burning of the throat or acid reflux after taking coconut oil? If so, does it get better?

Replied by Sam

Is it raw, unfiltered coconut oil from a reputable source? What brand is it? How much do you take and when?

Posted by Roni (Jersey City, Nj) on 12/07/2012
3 out of 5 stars

Better But With Side Effects

I had some digestion problems and I was taking coconut oil in empty stomach and one more spoon at night. In the beginning it really helped me to ruduce stomach pressure and pain. Now whenever I take coconut oil I feel burn in my stomach area and its is very uncomfortable. I tried to take coconut oil with apple cider and baking soda but did not help me. Coconut oil helped me to lose little weight. Please advise me how I can take coconut oil safely.

Posted by Lmazz (Chicago, Il, Usa) on 10/30/2012
0 out of 5 stars

28 years old, female. After using organic virgin coconut oil on my face for acne for 5 days, my skin was so inflamed and broken out that I had to stop. After the first day, dozens of little whiteheads popped up all over my face, even around my eyes where I've never had any problems. At first, I thought it was a healing crisis, as many people have written about, but my skin was so painful to the touch that I couldn't continue. Every subsequent day got worse and worse. I used a very gentle cleanser, and nothing but the coconut oil. This is NOT a cure all and should be used with EXTRA CAUTION... this is the worst my skin has ever looked in my life.

Posted by Sharon (Salt Lake City, Utah) on 08/02/2011

I have been on a health path for years and then I go off it and then I suffer and go back. I don't have a gall bladder and I think it has caused a multitude of problems, but we move on. I have chronic fatigue and I am told it basically a severe case of candida. I know it is a combination of immune response issues and I am determined to learn from it and get healthy.

I make my own kefir and love it so much. It is so healing and I love coconut oil, but I find my body immediately reacts, with heart palpitations, dizziness and my thyroid area feeling strange. I really want to be able to use it but the heart stuff scares me. Maybe I should just use it to cook with and on my skin. Because I don't have a gall bladder I have a hard time digesting fat. I hope someone can guide me with the best approach and or tell me of their similar experience.

Posted by Xania (Wichita, Ks) on 05/26/2011
3 out of 5 stars

Worked Temporarily

I love coconut oil, but it does not love me - I was fine using it for about a month, frying my eggs in it, eating it straight off the spoon, making desserts and enjoying every minute of it. Then, all of a sudden, I started getting nausea and had to quit any and all consumption of the oil. I have not figured out the "Why" yet... Any ideas?

My skin was clear, the most clear it had ever been - and my eyes were bright - although, I am kinda curious about parasite die-off as I did spend time in a third-world country and ate street food, bought weekly groceries from an open market, this included meat, veggies and eggs - got montezuma's revenge more than several times during my stay - could it have been parasite die-off and if it was, how could I tell?

Replied by Alex
0 out of 5 stars

I had the exact same problem. After regular consumption of coconut oil (CO) for about 2 weeks, I suddenly could not get it down anymore. Since then I have become vegan, I.e. I dropped all dairy. Looking for a butter substitute (that is healthier than most margerines) I gave CO another try. Funnily I did not get nausea again, and have been happily munching CO for the last year....Obvisouly I cannot guarantee that it was a cross-reaction with diary (I do appear to have diary food sensitivities/ allergies), something else might have improved in the 2 years between those two tries....

Posted by Sjw (Falmouth , Uk) on 05/19/2011
3 out of 5 stars

Better But With Side Effects

Hi, ive been suffering with m.e. for 7 years and have altred diet and lifestyle but still not much better, I came across the healing vco. Have been having 1 to 2 tbsp a day for about a week and on my skin. I love how my skin is feeling so soft and silky and I seem to have increased energy shortly afetr taking it but my stomach is so bloated and im gaining weight rapidly. Is that normal? thank you for this site so much help

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe

Posted by Guzi (Austin, Tx) on 04/25/2011
0 out of 5 stars

I've been having some heart pains since like a month ago. Electro was fine and they just told me it was reflux even though I told them I didn't think so. (female, 32yo)

It was feeling better until today. I took 1 TBSP of coconut olive oil in my coffee, and boy, I almost fainted an hour later. My blood pressure went down that almost couldn't move. it was around 60. (normal 90).

Going back to the doctor, just don't know if this episode was related to taking coconut oil. Or if it is something else.

Thank you for your advice

Replied by Summer
Auckland, New Zealand

I had exactly the same problem till I noticed if I take coconut oil with some food I don't have this problem.

Posted by Susan (Richmond, Va) on 03/25/2011
0 out of 5 stars

I took 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil daily for a few days and got severe chest pains for 2 whole days along with feeling light headed and dizzy. I then stopped taking it and I was back to normal.

Posted by Dreedesoto (Houston, Tx, Usa) on 03/03/2011
0 out of 5 stars

I purchased the VCO and started using it 5 days ago. I thought it was working awesome, more energy, less hunger etc. , etc. However, my blood pressure is spiking to 144/100. My dose yesterday was 1 TBSP in the morning with oatmeal and 1 1/2 TSP with lunch. My blood pressure this morning is 139/101. My pressure has always been under 120/80. My doctor has said I have a sluggish thyroid but it doesn't warrant medication. I was told this at 18 and now I'm 52. I have been overweight my whole life and have been on every diet/lifestyle change known to the human population. I've been on 1200 calories a day for over 8 weeks now and have only lost 6 pounds. I've been drinking ACV with mother for 6 weeks. This has helped how I feel but not my weight loss. I was really hoping that the coconut oil would be the help I've always needed. I'm very disappointed :( I've read that blood pressure spikes can happen when there is thyroid activity but I don't want to take the chance of continuing and then having a heart attack or do damage to my heart. If anyone knows if this is common and will pass, please let me know.

Posted by Francisca (Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France) on 02/28/2011

Dear Bill, as you know so much about VCO I would like to know what you think about this posting..... I got bad back ache after starting taking a bit of coconut oil in my molasses drink every morning. I only did it for about 10 days and only 1 tspoon.... Could it be the reason of all my pain? I was starting to get pain all over my body. I am a bit better now but the doctor gave me Vit. D so I don't know whether it was lack of vit. D or the fact that I stopped with the VCO. Have you ever heard of this problem? I haven't read anything about this in any of my VCO books......

"02/22/2011: Harmonious1 from Alamogordo, Nm writes: "Caution: if you start using a lot of coconut products and you get new symptoms (I got aching and swelling in joints) then it's possible you are sensitive to salicylates. (Or unable to break it down and use it or get rid of it like normal. ) Coconut is very high in it. I love coconut oil, but have to avoid it. I'm just grateful I was able to figure out what was making me hurt all over. As soon as I quit the oil, the pain started going away. So just be observant."

Posted by Francisca (Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France) on 02/25/2011

This question is for Bill or for someone else who might give me some information! A while ago the lower back pain I usually have in the morning got far worse. First I thought that it might come from the fact that I stopped with the pill and was suddenly in the menopause. Then someone posted here about the fact that some people can't eat coconut oil because the body doesn't metabolize it (if I am not wrong) and that could leave them in pain. It is true that while ago, around the time the pain started to get worse I was taking 1 tspoon a day in my molasses drink and some more in the cooking.

I went to the doctor, he tested my blood and today he told me that my hormones are a bit high but that isn't a problem and that my liver enzymes are high. He doesn't seem to think that it is too serious but asked me to have an ultrasound. Could this all have been caused by the coconut oil? I e-mailed the author from a book about coconut oil which I read a while ago and he said that there aren't problems with pain if you take coconut oil.

Replied by Bill
San Fernando, Luzon, Philippines

Hi Francisca... The key indicator to your problems seems to be your raised liver enzyme condition of the blood. Normally, the liver enzymes work inside the liver cells doing their job. But if there is anti-oxidant or pathogen damage to the liver cells then these liver enzymes will be released into the blood in excess which is why this blood test is used to assess liver damage. For an extensive but understandable explanation of this, check this link here:

Excess Liver Enzymes in Blood as an Indicator of Liver Damage

Liver damage is usually caused by toxins and free radicals in the blood where the liver is simply unable to cope. This can be due to a lack of anti-oxidants in the liver. Or liver damage can also be due to viral problems in the liver.

Dr Berkson's triple anti-oxidant therapy (given in my link above) is perhaps one of the best all round revivers and repairers of the liver. This basically consists of taking Alpha Lipoic Acid(300 mgs twice daily), Selenium(200 micrograms/day) and Milk Thistle (1000 mgs twice daily) at mealtimes. This is known Dr Berkson's Triple Antioxidant Liver Therapy.

For any viral liver problems, taking 1000 mgs Chanca Piedra twice daily at mealtimes will also work to help prevent viral damage and also works to eradicate candida as well. Chanca Piedra revives and supports both the liver and kidneys and greatly helps to remove stones -- kidney stones and gallstones -- and is wonderful for removing any excess calcium deposits from the body which usually tends to cause pain and acidity in the body tissues as well.

Replied by Michelle
Cambridge, Cambs. Uk

Dear Francisca, I personally don't have any problems with coconut oil. I use it for cooking, and take Ted's recommended 1tbspn Lecithin with a fatty meal, which helps remove excess fats/oils. This may be a way to be able to tolerate it. Also I am in the menopause and not allowed to take any replacement hormones, not even natural ones, due to health issues. I have managed to lessen the ferocity and duration of the burning, by taking Ted's alkalising remedies regularly, eating as infrequently as possible, as a meal always sets one off, and keeping out of the heat! The smallest rise in Temperature is seized upon by my body as an excuse to ignite me!

Replied by Francisca
Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France

Thanks Bill, you put my mind a bit at rest because the doctor didn't really want to explain what the consequences could be of the elevated liver enzymes and left me thinking that I might have something really nasty. I have to have a liver scan on Thursday but then we will be traveling so I won't see the doctor for a while. I will have a look at the site you advised.

Replied by Northerncrystal
Manitoba, Canada

Is this procedure for the liver damage safe while breastfeeding a 6 month old baby? Doctor wants to send me for brain MRI & abdomen MRI since I had elevate levels for 2 liver enzymes. (The brain one is for elevated prolactin levels, also had elevated pancreas level.) Was going to wait for MRIs to see exact problems, but just got letter in mail saying first opening is April 5, 2014! Praying about best way to take matters into my own hands. This is not the first time I've had to do it (God guided in that)! Not scared, just worried for my young family (Husband -a walking miracle- recovering from Emergency brain surgery, 4 yr old, & 6 month old). Any ideas to deal with the elevated prolactin level & pancreas level is also appreciated.

Posted by Harmonious1 (Alamogordo, Nm) on 02/22/2011
0 out of 5 stars

Caution: if you start using a lot of coconut products and you get new symptoms (I got aching and swelling in joints) then it's possible you are sensitive to salicylates. (Or unable to break it down and use it or get rid of it like normal. ) Coconut is very high in it. I love coconut oil, but have to avoid it. I'm just grateful I was able to figure out what was making me hurt all over. As soon as I quit the oil, the pain started going away. So just be observant.

Replied by Francisca
Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France

Is that true? I have been battling a lot of lower back pain all of a sudden (used to have a little bit but nothing like I have now! ) and little pains all over, like all of a sudden I have reumathism or something. I thought that it was related to having stopped taking the pill but could it indeed be connected to the coconut oil? I started putting a tspoon in my molasses drink a while ago. I will stop right now and see how I feel! I used it on my skin all summer without side effects....... Funny that I had never read anything about that although I do have a book on coconut oil but no warnings there!

Replied by Hope
Sacramento, California

Hi Harmonius1-
Thanks so much for your comment. It has certainly given me food for thought! Since starting coconut oil 3 months ago, my skin actually looks worse, my body aches more, and I have been getting hives on my shoulders for awhile and my face, just recently. I am going to forgo the coconut in any form and see what transpires - thanks again for this information.

Replied by Mesem
Toulon, France
0 out of 5 stars

I was alternating the use of coconut oil and jojoba oil on my face (v. Dry). My skin became very dry and flakey across the bridge of my nose. I will stop using these for awhile. Why? I'm thinking that these oils need to be applied with something else to balance ph or something. Says something for prepared creams of which I have found some good natural ones not too expensive. Coconut oil can help or aggravate it seems.

Replied by Francisca
Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France

Hi Mesem, I stopped using VCO on my hands as it made them very dry, no idea why..... I think that a good natural cream, maybe with essential oils will probably be the best choice but be careful because I returned a shampoo I bought last week in a health food store because when I got home I read the ingredients and it contain a few nasty ones. The lady was of the opinion that there are worse... But come on, it is a health food store so the products should be as natural as possible!

Posted by Sleeping Dog (Troy, Alabama) on 02/20/2011
0 out of 5 stars

I was taking coconut oil (2-3 tablespoons per day) for weight loss and a variety of other issues. After about four days of doing this I became extremely ill. From the beginning I felt a little nauseated but after a few days I began vomitting. I can't even stand the thought of taking it now. I was trying to take it straight or melted and mixed with cocoa for a chocolately drink. I am amazed at all the good results people are getting with the oil and would like to benefit as well, but cannot stand the nausea.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe

take a lot less....

Replied by Michelle
Cambridge, Cambs / Uk

Sneak the coconut oil in, a teaspoon at a time, in salad dressings mixed with olive oil and lemon, on veg mixed with organic butter, on roast or boiled potatoes with herbs etc, until you can tolerate a bit more. It won't take long to get used to it!

Posted by Anglalov (Brooklyn, Ny 11228) on 10/05/2009
0 out of 5 stars

Coconut oil and Stomach Upset: I didn't read your article as yet, but I wanted to write abuot how I got sick from eating coconut oil on whole wheat bread..I thought I could substitute the c.o. for butter..It didn't taste bad, but I could not tolerate it..I had some baking soda and that helped me considerably. Thank you..

Posted by Carol (Morris, Al. United States 35116) on 09/13/2009
0 out of 5 stars

i started virgin coconut oil . i felt much better to start with 2 TABLESPOONS . after 2 weeks i started getting very weak . i take thyroid meds,blood pressuremeds, sleep meds., my blood pressure went up ( the top number )145/80 with heatbeat 65. my legs are like jelly . i have no nausa or throwing up, is this normal ? has my thyroid level dropped too low? i read all the blogs and no one said anythinge about weakness . please answer