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Coconut and Anxiety Attacks

by 144 · February 27, 2014 at 12:35 AM

Has anyone noticed a connection between coconut consumption and anxiety attacks?

I have been suffering from intermittent anxiety attacks for the better part of a year now. I've worked through several theories from adrenal fatigue, going too low in carb, etc.

I've been to a therapist, TCM, yoga, meditation, and yet the attacks persist. Then I went on vacation for a week and had no problems at all. Thought perhaps it was just the Caribbean calming me down. Then when I came back home they started happening again.

Then it struck me: coconut. The primary thing I eat at home that I wasn't eating on vacation. Specifically, artisana coconut butter. Occasional coconut milk in tea. Boom. Heart palpitations.

I suppose it makes sense the MCT's in the coconut could be overstimulating me, but I can't seem to find anyone else complaining of this.

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28 Replies

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105 · April 17, 2012 at 05:57 PM
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24412 · July 30, 2012 at 07:40 AM

My money is on the ketones. You can produce a lot of ketones without being low carb if you eat enough coconut. For people with dimentia, ADD/ADHD, or other focus problems this can help with frontal lobe issues and focus, but if you already had razor-sharp focus, throwing that into overdrive could certainly cause anxiety attacks.

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20 · July 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM

All forms of coconut give me immediate anxiety.

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10 · October 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Yes, I have severe anxiety attacks after eating coconut oil! I figured it out after taking it for almost a year, then taking in out of my diet. I tried it again after 4 months eliminating and I was extremely anxious for 5 hours. I am also on a meat, fat, and veggie diet.

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10 · April 21, 2012 at 02:24 AM

I started noticing anxiety attacks recently after making coconut milk icecream. I kind of thought it had something to do with Tue raw honey that I was using. I can't pin point it yet but I am definitely curious as to why I am feeling this way now when I didn't feel like this at all through the first year of paleo. Recently I have started to use a lot more saturated fat and I thought it might be that. I never used butter initially but now I use that and coconut oil almost exclusively. I'd really like to find an answer to this as well. I might try the coconut oil free for a month.

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1479 · April 17, 2012 at 08:13 PM

Interesting! You might have already considered this, but do you use the coconut products primarily in caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee? Maybe it's the caffeine...

In any case, I would do a full 30 days to see how it affects you. As someone with major depressive disorder and anxiety myself, I know how circumstantial these things can be. Often, I find myself wishing i could point to biological factors that i can control through my diet, rather than circumstantial/social factors that might be harder to change. I think coconut products can have many positive mental benefits as well, so I'd hate to see you depriving yourself if its not, in fact, the cause. The vacation factor is confounding this a bit, so I'll be really curious to hear how it goes now that you are back.

Just as an N=1, I started getting much more intense anxiety recently after re-introducing grass-fed butter IN PLACE OF coconut oil. So i'm wondering if I should stick to coconut products and nix the dairy.

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562 · April 17, 2012 at 06:25 PM

Do you take fish OIL??

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11664 · April 17, 2012 at 05:15 PM

This is interesting. Kinda makes sense since it's a stimulant of sorts. I still think a vacation in the Caribbean is reason enough for a major change in how you feel, and that the anxiety came back once you were back to the grind.

Only surefy way to know is give up coconut while you're at home and see how you feel. And keep us posted!

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45 · February 26, 2014 at 01:03 PM

Here are some related things worth mentioning.

One anything from the sea is high in iodine. Coconuts are no exception. If you have a very low iodine diet, and switch to a high one, it can speed up your thyroid, confuse it (thryoid is a sensitive wee beasty). I got this for a while, had a transient hyperthyroid, and it went away. Now higher (but normal) levels of iodine don't bother me. The change in intake of iodine causing hyperT, is established in the medical literature. It happens reguarly when people move from some poor places in europe, to america where everything has iodized salt. HyperT causes anxiety - in fact it can cause intense deep dread (along with irritability, confusion and heat sensitivty)

So thats the first obvious thing. If this were your problem, seaweed, cranberries, cheese and fish may also give you issues (all also have some decent level of iodine). And if that was your problem, it would be about a slow introduction of the iodine foods, over time, its the sudden shift that your thryoid doesn't like.

The second thing is that coconut products that are canned or in cardboard packets, tend to have a load of non-coconut nasty crap in them. If your talking about milk and cream, it could be the additives. Avoid coconut products with these weird additives, and you might notice a difference.

MCT fats by themselves promote ketosis. I doubt you'd get much moderate carb though. Ketosis is slightly more adrenic (I noticed this while low carb, but it went away medium carb). In general, you must adapt over time, because there are known cases of healthy people who survived on mostly meat (plus we all did during the ice age). And they weren't all anxious. It also boosts metabolism. Its likely that individuals psychological disposed to anxeity MIGHT get an increase from either a) the boost in metabolism b) the initial more adrenic shift, especially if they are low carb, because its kicking in the fat adaption.

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5 · February 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I don't know all about chloerachelle's answer but it seems that may be a reason.

The antibacterial activity of coconut oil may also cause anxiety differently. Nearly half of coconut oil is lauric acid, which is monolaurin with two more glycerols and monolaurin is actually a remedy for SIBO and somewhat selective towards gram-positive bacteria, and those lactobacillus and bifidobacterium supposed to be good for mood are gram-positive. So, if you don't consume enough prebiotic, which is what increases bacterial count, and also consume coconut oil to the extent of causing a decay in microbiota, you may experience anxiety. You probably know or can learn more about the gut-brain connection.

Therefore, increasing fermentable fiber(all of which is not soluble and not all soluble fiber is fermentable) consumption and probiotics in some form may alleviate the problem in my opinion, but the fiber part must be more important.

All other antibacterials, such as essential oils may also be releated, but if it also has fiber, consuming them still may be better.

But don't go and eat plates of jerusalem artichoke for example, that's a very concentrated source of fodmaps and with too much fodmaps you also may end up with overgrowths.

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45 · February 26, 2014 at 04:29 AM

Ketosis is adrenic. Low carb + coconut oil = ketosis. I found low carb to be too anxious myself. Eventually you'd desensitize presumably.

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0 · February 26, 2014 at 03:38 AM

Hi guys,

The reason that coconut oil is causing anxiety for you all is because of the strong antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral and antibacterial effects coconut oil has. Many unhealthy people get increased anxiety, depression and fatigue when first consuming coconut oil (extra virgin, unrefined and organic) as it causes a die off of microbes which release acetaldehyde as the body heals itself. You must start off on coconut oil slowly maybe half a teaspoon all they way until you get to 4 tablespoons a day. Coconut oil can literally save your life. As toxins get dumped into your blood stream, anxiety and depression can occur until toxins are released. One must make sure one has good liver function or take liver support herbs or do coffee enemas to help the body expel the toxins.

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0 · February 03, 2014 at 05:05 AM

Coconut oil is thermogenic, so it's somewhat like taking ephedrine. I didn't know this and started cooking with it and using it in my coffee in the morning, and immediately had horrible mood swings, anxiety, depression and hated everyone and everything.. Now that I've stopped it, I'm feeling happy again. This really stinks because I was feeling so lean while taking it. Oh well.

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0 · January 19, 2014 at 07:29 PM

Thank you for posting. I've been suffering for eight months, came across this post and it just made sense . It's the coconut oil. Have cut it out for three days and wow the difference is amazing. Just had a glass of coconut milk and it's starting back up again. Thank you so much I thought I was going insane or seriously ill ;

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0 · October 30, 2013 at 06:42 AM

Okay so one day I decided to use coconut oil as lotion. I put it all over my arms & legs and then, almost instantly I started to feel slight anxiety and my heart racing! I kept wondering if it was from the coconut oil but then thought no, surely not. Since then I have cooked with it & I have taken small teaspoon full doses of it no problem.Well I've always read you're supposed to take a tablespoon so tonight I took a heaping tablespoon of it and I got anxiety so bad I thought I was dying!I don't understand why it would do that if it's so good for you,& I use the virgin organic nutiva brand.

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40 · July 31, 2013 at 05:28 PM

Thanks for posting this! My spouse has noticed increased anxiety since starting Whole30, and I can only thing that it is because of all of the coconut products she has been consuming (oil, butter, amino, vinegar). Will cut and see if that helps.

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8 · July 31, 2013 at 05:18 PM

Coconut oil is extremely high in salycilates. This can cause anxiety in some people, especially in people with Celiacs.

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0 · July 31, 2013 at 05:16 PM

The answer to this is YES!!! Coconut oil has helped my sinus congestion tremendously, but left me with heart palpitations, anxiety, & insomnia. There are other people out there posting the same thing. What a shame - coconut oil works so well on yeast - but YES, it caused me anxiety as well!! I am on day 2 of going off of it and starting to feel a lot better!! 1 important thing to consider - I am prone to hyperthyroid and I suspect that coconut oil could be speeding up my thyroid. I know people say it helps but hyper and hypo cases but I doubt that in my circumstance!

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0 · July 25, 2013 at 01:45 PM

Leaving a note in case anyone else reads this - I thought coconut oil converts into ketones by your liver...? Then those ketones go ahead and destroy/inhibit excess glutamate and then therefore reduce anxiety...?

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0 · July 06, 2013 at 07:14 PM

thanks for posting I recently purchased a fresh coconut and drank the water I was fine then I started putting the coconut meat into a morning smoothie for about the following three days I was feeling terrible anxiety attacks and anxiousness it was awfull I eat helthy and wokout I couldnt understand what was going on. I thought could it be the almond milk I recently purchased and added to the smoothie or the coconut I have been eating the last couple of days and then I went on the google hunt and found this post glad im not alone. I consume coconut oil cooked and raw and Im fine but a whole coconut made me feel terrible wont be picking up a fresh coconut anytime soon;[

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0 · June 25, 2013 at 07:08 AM

I am currently experiencing it. I just finished having my dessert that contains cocunut milk as an ingredient. It seems like everytime I have something that has cocunut milk in it, I would have these palpitations. It wasnt until tonight that I began to connect the dots. Then I thought of checking on the web if anyone ever had these as a result of consuming anything with cocunut milk.

It will go away Im sure as our bodies expel the fluids. We just have to drink more water to help our kidneys do their job.

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0 · May 01, 2013 at 01:33 PM

Just to add to the database of anecdotal reports: MCTs seem to elevate my heart rate temporarily as well. It's a transient effect for me. I'm in pretty good CV shape nowadays from doing sprints, HIIT (Tabatas) and "traditional" cardio, so my resting pulse is in the low 50s/high 40s. But when I take MCTs on an empty stomach in the morning, it often bumps my pulse up 10-20 bmp for a spell after about 20-30 mins. I'm familiar with the effect, so it doesn't bother me.

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0 · January 27, 2013 at 03:59 PM

I'm a little late on this conversation, but I just googled coconut milk and heart palpitations and landed here! I have noticed the very same effect when I drink coconut milk. I've done a very deliberate experiment with myself where I've removed coconut milk from my morning smoothie for a few days and then added it back in and done this on/off for a few weeks. Without fail, and no other changes in diet/food/lifestyle, the palpitations begin within an hour and last a while. I'm convinced it's that particular ingredient. Caffeine does not affect me the same way, as I drink tea and occasionally coffee or even an espresso shot and don't get the heart racing. I suggest you try your own experiment too.

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10 · November 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM

Sorry my answer was a copy of another message to another user re coconut oil etc I didn't mean to include 'you are doing so many thing etc'. Anyway so many people are senstive to chemicals and don't know it. Oh also, don't use toothpaste or mouthwash it's pure poison (fluroride) and use only filtered water if you can (not bottled water).

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10 · November 28, 2012 at 09:28 PM

Oh you are doing SO many things that cause anxiety. Firstly you need to know that there is NOTHING wrong with you. Anxiety is caused BY something. I call myself a spiritual sensitive but it means I'm also sensitive in lots of other ways especially chemically. Coconut oil and all coconut products can give you anxiety if you are sensitive and it seems to be accumulative so the longer you use it, the worse it gets.

Don't take vitamins or minerals as sometimes there are things in them that can give you anxiety.

You should also not touch anything with caffeine in it (or guarna which is pure caffeine)I cannot use ANY type of moisturiser or conditioner even for sensitive skin as they put HORRIBLE poisons into them like formaldahyde, lauryl sulphate, lauryth sulphate, parabens, alcohol etc. ALL anxiety producing agents. Caffeine by the way causes anxiety, depression and thought and sleep disorders but it's like smoking years ago, no one is going to tell you because our whole society is built on it and it's a multi trillion dollar business. Don't ever take anti depressants they'll send you straight to hell. If you are sensitive to coconut oil it probably means you are 'a sensitive (not asensitive which is exactly the opposite) and you will have to watch EVERYTHING you eat, drink and put on your body. I do well on a very simple diet of fish, chicken and fresh vegetables and a little fruit. Don't take any medication unless you've got a raging brain infection or something and don't even taken over the counter meds. Antibiotics can cause horrible panic attacks sometimes eg Flagyl is a classic for this.

Also essential oils are potent and toxic if used on the skin I had a horrible reaction. Don't use them in hot water to soak your feet or anything as it goes straight into your body. Use a castelle soap for babies to wash your body and hair (made from olive oil) and a little olive oil for moisturiser. Dairy products can also cause anxiety. Don't drink alcohol - very bad for anxiety.There is a way to live and the key word are simple and clean. Oh be careful with ALL household cleaning products as well, wear rubber gloves while you're using them and don't breathe them in.

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0 · October 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM

I also experience anxiety after eating coconut - can't handle it at all. Like the above poster, it took me a long time to work this out.

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4310 · April 17, 2012 at 05:26 PM

I am not a doctor, so take this for what it's worth (very little). I have problems with casein and only recently discovered that I have increased anxiety issues and heart palpitations the minute I drink milk or eat any quantity of cheese. Maybe it could just be a specific sensitivity to coconut?

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175 · April 17, 2012 at 05:22 PM

I think it could be. I don't consume coconut but olive oil in salads apparently gives me panic attacks. So does alcohol.

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