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Nausea from coconut oil

by (822)
Updated about 7 hours ago
Created July 17, 2010 at 4:44 AM

I bought some organic EVCO to try it out. Tastes pretty good, even plain. I was toying with the idea of buying in bulk (the only way to make it reasonably affordable) so I can cut back on the industrial butter, but now I'm hesitant.

I had been having small amounts (1tsp-2tbsp over the day) for about a week and was feeling brave, so I made some chocolate with about 4tbsp (~450kcal) and had it all at once before bed. Unfortunately I awakened 2 hours later violently ill. That's rare for me (hasn't happened since too much EtOH back in high school) so it was a surprise. It had to be the oil... I've never had a problem with cocoa before.

My metabolism is fat adapted: I can eat 3/4 a stick of butter (~600kcal) or a cup of heavy cream (~400kcal) on an empty stomach easily without getting ill. (Coconut oil has a lot of MCTs, though, so it is not necessarily digested like the saturated milk fats which are mostly longer-chain. I suppose that could be the problem.)

Any heavy coconut oil users out there? Has anyone who eats mostly fat had a similar reaction to coconut oil? Did your ability to tolerate it increase with time or is it just unwise to consume so much at once?


Related:

De6496a0a4db0a2bf94ca74b2ea2686d
0 · March 26, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Interesting...I was going to say the same thing. My family physician told me she gets terrible heartburn/acid reflux with coconut oil.

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1173 · April 06, 2013 at 5:53 PM

I agree with you that it is a back off sign. Listen to the body.

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1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Heroin and pot 'feel good' because we have receptors for both.

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1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:02 PM

I'm with gn. While some people can certainly down coconut oil by the tablespoon, the posts I've seen over the years about CO = nausea are substantial enough to think maybe it's not the holy grail for EVERYONE.

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1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Same here. Nutiva is great for cooking; straight up...BLECH!!!

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655 · May 25, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Ah, "die off" and "detoxing". Science at its finest.

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6087 · May 03, 2012 at 4:04 AM

Too much of the Nutiva makes me nauseous. I think the issue is an excess of the coconut oil itself.

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6087 · May 03, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The body is not omniscient. We get bad signals all the time (heroin feels good, etc.)

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1295 · April 03, 2012 at 3:29 AM

You can eat over 1600 calories in coconut oil in a day? Holy crap!

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8933 · February 26, 2012 at 9:20 AM

I can confirm this. I started with 2 tbsp. When I upped it to 6tbsp, I had nausea. Now I can eat 12-16tbsp daily with no side effects.

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24538 · September 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM

I think most people experience this at least once when they get excited about coconut oil. I did it too, and that is a vicious nausea. There are a number of people for whom coconut is an irritant, and they'll have that reaction no matter what, but for me it has been all about timing. Never, ever right before bed and never after meals. If I eat a spoonful while I'm making my meals my body seems to ramping up to eating and secreting extra stomach acid, so it is digested well. If I try to add it on after a meal it sits around undigested and bubbling up into my throat (yuck!).

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24538 · September 21, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I think most people experience this at least once when they get excited about coconut oil. I did it too, and that is a vicious nausea. There are a number of people for whom coconut is an irritant, and they'll have that reaction no matter what, but for me it has been all about timing. Never, ever right before and never after meals. If I eat a spoonful while I'm making my meals my body seems to ramping up to eating and secreting extra stomach acid, so it is digested well. If I try to add it on after a meal it sits around undigested and bubbling up into my throat (yuck!).

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3184 · April 02, 2011 at 12:55 AM

My tribe of one requires it for survival.

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78422 · April 01, 2011 at 10:37 PM

"bodies prefer to burn the MCTs" - i have read somewhere that they are "burned" because they cannot be incorporated into adipocites or other cells' membranes in the first place

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822 · March 20, 2011 at 1:17 AM

This is interesting. The idea that something other than the fat might be causing the nausea hadn't occurred to me.

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78422 · March 11, 2011 at 1:40 AM

Yea one has to adjust to coconut oil before eating larger doses. It could be coconut oil cleaning your system since it has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacteria agents. Another reason to eat earlier with coconut oil is so it isn't too energetic before bed! 1-2 tablespoons it's nice lol.

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8255 · December 25, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Same here, was in a hurry, drank a whole can, bad idea... Haven't repeated. :)

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22913 · July 17, 2010 at 3:52 PM

yep, just alot of sugar...

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18671 · July 17, 2010 at 1:58 PM

If the second person was really drinking coconut water, then it is no surprise there wasn't a problem: coconut water doesn't have any of the fat in it.

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1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01
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2520 · July 17, 2010 at 5:06 AM

It took me a while to be able to tolerate large amounts of coconut products, particularly cream and oil. Even now I try not to have too much of either at once, because it seems to overload my stomach. I find coconut oil ramps up my metabolism beyond belief - I glow with heat if I have more than a tablespoonful or so. Before going primal, coconut wasn't part of my diet at all.

I bet I could improve my tolerance if I went about it gradually, so if you want to be able to down large amounts at once, I would take it slow. However, in normal cooking, I'd rarely use more than 2T per serving, and I rarely have any digestive problems when consuming coconut oil combined with other foods.

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8933 · February 26, 2012 at 9:20 AM

I can confirm this. I started with 2 tbsp. When I upped it to 6tbsp, I had nausea. Now I can eat 12-16tbsp daily with no side effects.

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1295 · April 03, 2012 at 3:29 AM

You can eat over 1600 calories in coconut oil in a day? Holy crap!

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78422 · April 01, 2011 at 10:49 PM

nausea from coconut oil - yes, the stuff is... nauseous indeed!

it is funny how coc.oil, as well as coconut milk, has become a 'superfood' of paleo-community - a sort of new 'paleo CW' - where 'conventional CW' urges to eat whole grains, 'paleo CW' pushes for coconuts: it's alright if someone likes the taste, but most people seem to believe that they're benefiting from eating the stuff, which is quite doubtful: i guess, by nausea body desperately tries to tell to stay away from the stuff: there may be some tribes somewhere who need it for subsistence / survival, but, in the final analysis, it's substandard

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3184 · April 02, 2011 at 12:55 AM

My tribe of one requires it for survival.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09
6087 · May 03, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The body is not omniscient. We get bad signals all the time (heroin feels good, etc.)

74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d
1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Heroin and pot 'feel good' because we have receptors for both.

74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d
1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:02 PM

I'm with gn. While some people can certainly down coconut oil by the tablespoon, the posts I've seen over the years about CO = nausea are substantial enough to think maybe it's not the holy grail for EVERYONE.

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4883 · December 25, 2010 at 10:23 PM

The brand makes a difference, at least in my case.

I can eat very large amounts (12 tablespoons a day) of Tree of Life organic expeller pressed coconut oil and feel perfectly fine.

But a much smaller amount of Spectrum organic expeller pressed coconut oil makes me nauseous for hours.

The second brand has a much stronger coconut smell, indicating that the second brand contains one or more substances that have been removed from the first brand. Most likely, the thing that makes me nauseous is one of those substances. It's not the fat. Both brands contain the fat.

The original poster asked, "Did your ability to tolerate it increase with time?" My answer is no, the opposite occurred. The more Spectrum I ate, the less of it was required to make me feel sick.

I've tried Spectrum twice (two different bottles purchased more than a year apart) and the result was the same both times.

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822 · March 20, 2011 at 1:17 AM

This is interesting. The idea that something other than the fat might be causing the nausea hadn't occurred to me.

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510 · July 21, 2010 at 12:31 AM

Perhaps my experience is related, perhaps not--I don't have nausea but I do seem to have absolutely horrible heartburn with any coconut products--oil, flour, butter, etc. It doesn't seem to matter if I consume a little bit of a coconut product or a lot of it--same result.

De6496a0a4db0a2bf94ca74b2ea2686d
0 · March 26, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Interesting...I was going to say the same thing. My family physician told me she gets terrible heartburn/acid reflux with coconut oil.

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10 · April 06, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I started with coconut oil in my green tea, and upgraded to cooking with it etc. making raw paleo chocolate with it and other such recipes - But it has taken quite a long time to get used to it - about 3 years. I started off very slowly as I had such a violent reaction to it. I read a blog on Sarah Wilsons site that mentioned this could be a side effect when starting to use coconut oil, as it kills of bad bacteria/candida overgrowth in the digestive system and thus makes you quite ill if there is a lot of bacteria to kill -- perhaps check out some more information about that, it could be another explanation?

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20 · January 10, 2013 at 7:38 PM

I know this original post is old, but I just googled nausea and coconut oil, and this came up. I made fudge with coconut oil once, ate a little too much, maybe 3 small pieces, and became very nauseated. Didn't think anything of it, like not in relation to the coconut oil, even tho it was my first time using it. This morning, I made coconut-maple almond butter cups, about the size of a Reese's cup, and only ate 1/2 of a cup. I experienced nausea within 10 minutes, lasted several hours. I used Tropical Traditions, a reputable brand, but in all honesty, I am not accustomed to coconut oil at all. Just hoping that I can work it in to my diet, newbie Paleo follower.

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10 · May 25, 2012 at 7:04 AM

I know the answer to this. Coconut oil causes nausea because it is a potent antifungal and causes a massive die off of candida albicans in the body. Many anti-candida protocols call for it. It is this die-off reaction and the toxins released from this that cause the nausea, which is different person to person depending on toxic load. Just take it as a hint that your body is detoxing. Work up to high amounts as your body heals..

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655 · May 25, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Ah, "die off" and "detoxing". Science at its finest.

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10 · April 26, 2012 at 7:01 AM

My wife and I have been taking coconut oil for a few weeks, and the brand we were using was not having any adverse effects. Was very pleasant indeed. When we ran out of that brand we had to switch to a different brand. The first teaspoon my wife swallowed resulted in vomiting soon after. I then tried some and felt immediately VERY nauseous. Returned it to the store, and was given another jar of the same brand again, as that was all that they had. Yep...my wife was vomiting again. I took a taste from the new jar and noticed a soapy/bitter taste. Guess this 'Virgin' product was not so virgin! Maybe a chemical found it's way into the mix somewhere. BTW, the original brand (nutiva) we liked had marked on the label that it was 'hexane free' Wonder if it is hexane that makes people sick?

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6087 · May 03, 2012 at 4:04 AM

Too much of the Nutiva makes me nauseous. I think the issue is an excess of the coconut oil itself.

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1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Same here. Nutiva is great for cooking; straight up...BLECH!!!

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5136 · April 01, 2011 at 9:59 PM

huh. interesting. my grandmother would have seriously scolded you for eating and then laying down. i think there may be something to that in some cases.

i have always eaten a relatively high fat diet (i too, could eat most of a stick of butter no problem) but also have had experiences of nausea with too much coconut product, feeling sometimes like it was "too rich" for me. Anyone who knows me and knows i could literally do shots of hollandaise sauce would know that is strange for me.

it doesnt always happen with coconut, but it has. I wonder maybe about rancidity? you can definitely see and taste rancidity in butter but coconut? im not sure if its as obvious. maybe that could have been a contributing factor. was there sugar in the chocolate? because i could see how a sugar/fat cocktail taken just before laying down might make your stomach revolt.

uh - ok, i take all of those ideas back (except for the laying down right after eating) - I just looked up coconut oil on wikipedia and there are numerous ways of extracting and producing coconut oil, some seemingly much more desirable than others. Maybe your problem was just poor processing.

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10 · April 01, 2011 at 9:24 PM

my wife recently started cooking with a lot of coconut oil instead of butter, and i've noticed that i always feel nauseous after eating food cooked in coconut oil. i also get this very stuffy feeling above my nose, between my eyes, and my teeth feel kind of numb. altogether, it's quite an unpleasant feeling.

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307 · December 26, 2010 at 4:36 PM

I'm sure your issue is long since resolved as you asked this in July Brandon, but something that jumped out at me in your question was that you ate all that "right before bed." I wonder if the timing had anything to do with your reaction? I've found that I can no longer have any sort of bedtime snack without feeling ill and sleeping poorly, but especially coconut products.

Maybe this is because (apparently) our bodies prefer to burn the MCTs found in coconut products rather than store them, so having them before bed is like giving your body a big burst of energy just when you should be winding it down. I once drank some coconut milk before bed and was up all night with a really sick stomach. That was the last time I did that. Now I usually just have my coconut-anything earlier in the day and if it's right before a workout? Total bonus.

On another note, I have noticed a difference depending on the brand. I'm not much a fan of Spectrum or Sunflower brands, but Nutriva is great and Tropical Traditions is great too.

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78422 · March 11, 2011 at 1:40 AM

Yea one has to adjust to coconut oil before eating larger doses. It could be coconut oil cleaning your system since it has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacteria agents. Another reason to eat earlier with coconut oil is so it isn't too energetic before bed! 1-2 tablespoons it's nice lol.

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78422 · April 01, 2011 at 10:37 PM

"bodies prefer to burn the MCTs" - i have read somewhere that they are "burned" because they cannot be incorporated into adipocites or other cells' membranes in the first place

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1303 · August 13, 2010 at 1:14 AM

I know this thread is a little old, but I've just come across it so I thought I'd chime in. My personal experience is that I had no problem starting out with coconut oil, but at the time I had difficulty believing that fat is good for me, so I was using VERY small amounts. My energy spiked through the roof for several days. I gradually increased how much coconut oil that I used and haven't had a problem yet.

However, the first few times that I used coconut milk, I felt extremely sick to my stomach for about 3 hours after eating for the first week and a half. I was using only about 2-3 TBSP per day every day for a week (making a sort of curry). This last time that I used it I had no problems at all.

If it helps, I've heard that the recommended amount is 3-5 TBSP coconut oil per day. I'd guess that you just need to work your way up. Also, coconut oil chocolates are awesome, aren't they?

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911 · July 20, 2010 at 7:06 PM

When I eat coconut oil/milk with other food I have never suffered from nausea, despite consuming very large quantities on occasion.

One time I drank a can of coconut milk first thing in the morning, with no other food. That made me extremely nauseous (but no other side effects), and I never repeated the experience.

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8255 · December 25, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Same here, was in a hurry, drank a whole can, bad idea... Haven't repeated. :)

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822 · July 17, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Interesting. Here is another guy's experience (original thread):

Many people advise to start slowly, such as here: "Start slowly; giving your body a full dosage of coconut oil without allowing it to become accustomed to the oil can cause serious nausea and diarrhea." I read this advice before trying EVCO, and followed it, starting out with very small amounts and increasing gradually. I still developed the nausea as soon as the amounts creaped up beyond a very small level and it continued no matter how long I continued to take the EVCO and no matter how gradual I tried to increase the amounts. Instead of decreasing, the nausea increased over time, so that even a small amount of EVCO caused nausea, and I ended up throwing out the last jar of that stuff. EVCO turned out to be a very unpleasant product for me.

In contrast, raw tallow has never given me this side effect, no matter how much I eat of it and I didn't have to start out with small amounts to avoid nausea. I wonder what causes the difference?

So there's one that never adapted.

From the same thread:

When I first moved to the tropics, I was introduced to fresh coconut water. I liked it. I was told that lots of people can't drink it. That it causes bad diarrhea and many other problems. I drank one, two, three, four, five, six, seven in a row, no effect except a feeling of wellness. More than seven just didn't sound right to me, as each coconut had about 24 oz fluid. I drank seven coconuts every day for about a year, but little other food. I felt very well.

And that person didn't have any problems, not even at first.

Weird. I guess it depends on individual physiology. I wish there was more information about this.

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22913 · July 17, 2010 at 3:52 PM

yep, just alot of sugar...

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18671 · July 17, 2010 at 1:58 PM

If the second person was really drinking coconut water, then it is no surprise there wasn't a problem: coconut water doesn't have any of the fat in it.

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2269 · July 17, 2010 at 12:19 PM

I had a little nausea at first, and I haven't thrown up since about 1983 and that was of course drink-related (gotta learn your limits somehow, though playing quarters with tequila instead of the traditional beer was probably not a good idea), but now I can chug the stuff right out of the jar if it's melty enough.

4tbsp is a lot to dump into your system at once and you probably need to acclimatize a little more.

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10 · March 27, 2014 at 11:54 AM

It makes me feel nauceous too but I thought it was down to the taste. Maybe its a psychological thing that I think I don't like the taste as it makes me feel ill after I eat it. Bodies are too complicated haha

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0 · March 26, 2014 at 9:33 AM

I notice that I get nausea from coconut oil specially when I consume it before bed (even if it's less than 2 tablespoons, pure or combined with other foods which don't give me trouble, the feeling is that my liver is overloaded or something). I have consumed it in the morning on fasted state, nothing but coconut oil, and it didn't make me sick. I'm not sure why is that. I thought maybe it has to do with some circadian cycle affecting the digestion? Another idea is that when you go to bed everything is slower (including breathing) and that may overload your system (lacking proper oxygenation for the process maybe?) I'd really like to know the answer to this too.

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0 · May 03, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Actually, I believe the nausea is a BACK OFF sign. I cannot eat coconut oil straight. It makes me gag something fierce. I can cook with it and be absolutely fine.

Yeah after the experience I had yesterday, I totally agree. I had 5 tablespoonfuls for dinner along with lots of flaxseed seeds b/c I was being lazy. I felt nauseous for the next 5 hours until I puked.

I've been paleo for 9 months. It's not Candida. I've eaten lots of flaxseed before as well.

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0 · April 08, 2013 at 10:17 AM

I was eating the oil 1-2 tablespoons fine with no negative effect. Then the weather got cold, the oil turned to a solid, I had 1-2 teaspoons about an hour ago and feel awful!

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1663 · April 06, 2013 at 3:03 PM

I don't buy the nausea = die-off line. That means a shit ton of people in the community have some serious issues that ONLY coconut oil can cure! As for candida and coconut oil, my naturopathic doc told me it doesn't work that well in killing off candida, and other anti-fungals (oil of oregano) are much better. This is a woman with 30+ years experience.

Actually, I believe the nausea is a BACK OFF sign. I cannot eat coconut oil straight. It makes me gag something fierce. I can cook with it and be absolutely fine.

Having said that, coconut oil is awesome if you no longer have a gallbladder. Like me. It doesn't require bile to be digested.

(OH SNAP! THIS IS OLD!)

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1173 · April 06, 2013 at 5:53 PM

I agree with you that it is a back off sign. Listen to the body.

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-7 · January 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM

go w/ the refined version

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10 · August 06, 2012 at 7:27 PM

I was surprised after being able to consume 3-4 TBSP/day I tried another brand as the Nutiva I usually use was not available. I am having a hard time feeling good consuming even small amounts (less than a TBSP) of Dr. Bonners Magic All One whole kernel unrefined. all I can say is "yuck". I know there is a difference not only in "how" it is processed but if it is true coconut or copra etc.. I am not sure exactly what "whole kernel" is. If this was the first CO I had ever tried I doubt I would continue using it.

My very first brand was Omega refined as it was the only thing available. Other than an overzealous serving at bedtime which resulted in awakening middle of the night feeling awful I have no issue with any coconut products or oil other than this current experience with Dr. Bonners. It does take time adapting-increase in small amounts and you find a personal tolerance level for oil/milk etc..

For me brand does make a difference. Nutiva is excellent.

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0 · March 06, 2012 at 3:30 AM

I have Hepatitis C and was looking to see if anyone else had nausea with eating coconut oil. So this explains alot to me. I think it's not the type of coconut oil - it's just that it's coconut oil. I also have baked and cooked with it and there is an on-going nausea - and even with Hep C I do not have nausea usually. My liver disease is not far advanced.

Thanks for the discussions! :) www.MargraveArtStudio2.comlink text

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0 · February 26, 2012 at 3:18 AM

I have over the last two days eaten approx 2 teaspoons each day in the morning with breakfast, the first day had clean out affect and unsettled tummy, and then settled in late arvo. The next day after taking it a couple of hours nausea and feeling ill, gas and wanting to spew. Very uncomfortable and only 2 teaspoons how would I ever eat 3 Tablespoons.

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0 · September 21, 2011 at 8:17 PM

I have been using coconut oil taken in yougurt to fight a skin fungal infection and have been having terrible heartburn these last three days or so. I suppose I've taken too much over a period of about three weeks, but did not know it could be the problem. Just have a tblsp. or so a couple of hours ago and the heartburn is acting up as we speak.

Having just read about this problem here and elsewhere on the internet I will try no longer eating the stuff and see what happens. It is supposed to be good for skin fungus, and I suppose that if used topically only there would be no problem.

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0 · July 19, 2010 at 4:53 PM

We recommend introducing it slowly and spreading it out over the course of the day, too. If interested, there is a forum where people share about coconut oil here: http://www.coconutdiet.com/forum.cfm

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