Responding badly to coconut oil AND butter

by 80 · February 10, 2014 at 3:34 AM

Hi all,

For over a year now I've been having very unusual symptoms every time I introduce butter and coconut oil into my diet. I can confidently point the finger at these foods as the symptoms appear literally within the day once I introduce either one of these foods. The physical symptoms include scaling between the eyebrows similar to what's seen in seborrheic dermatitis, however the other symptoms are more subtle like mental fog (though energy wise I feel very stable) as well as pronounced memory loss. I spent about 4-5 months eating grass fed animals with lots of butter and coconut oil thinking that this might simply be 'detox' related symptoms that will go away and experienced quite concerning 'mental blackouts' where I had trouble accessing abstract memory like names, location as well as just general forgetfulness. Once I stop eating these foods and introduce nuts, particularly cashews and macadamia nut oil, my mental wellbeing as well as the ability to recall dramatically improves very quickly and the scaling goes away. I have tried to take a break from butter and coconut oil for 3 months and reintroduce it later but once I did (each at a time, separately), the same symptomology immediately returned.

I am a little confused here. Am I simply allergic/sensitive to these fundamental paleo foods or am I undergoing a 'detox'-like reaction? Is there a reliable way to test for for a sensitivity/allergy to these foods as well as possibly identify tolerable alternatives?

Really appreciate you taking the time,


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6 Replies

15380 · April 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Welcome to the club. I cannot tolerate ANY oils. EVOO, nut oils, seed oils, you name them. I think it comes from poor digestion or something.

The worst oils for me are flax seed and extra virgin coconut.

My experience with flax seed - one time I almost passed out. I swore never to try it again for as long as I live .

As for coconut oil I get a very very weird reaction - as if blood is rushing to my brain, which creates brain fog. Very weird, but I am not touching this stuff anymore.

I am okay with butter, but I don't like the taste. And I don't like ghee. So... I am desperate to find oil that would work for me.

In a little while I will try to re-introduce olive oil, to see how it goes.

18794 · April 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM

My cousin is lactose intolerant (like me) and allergic to coconut oil (unlike me). I don't find your reactions odd at all -- although the symptoms are possibly worrying (especially memory loss). I don't think you are undergoing "detox" -- I think you are mildly allergic or intolerant to these foods.

While many here will extol the virtues of pastured butter/ghee and unrefined coconut oil, there are plenty of other options for oils. Olive oil (OO and EVOO) and Avocado oil are high in MUFAs, and are generally benign if not straight-up healthy. Most would suggest not to cook with EVOO at high temp, but OO and especially Avocado Oil is fine. For dressings (i.e. non-cooking), walnut and macadamia oil can be quite delicious.

Finally: lard and bacon grease. High in MUFAs and SFAs, and delicious. Reserving your bacon grease for cooking is affordable and healthy (if you use real, uncured bacon). I cook most of my white fish in a touch of bacon grease.

1529 · April 26, 2012 at 5:55 PM

You're not missing out on anything. Those fats aren't "fundamental paleo foods", they are quite neolithic really. Now if lard and tallow caused issues, I'd be worried. Those happen to be higher in monounsaturated fats, same as olive oil, so what could be your problem are inappropriate amounts of saturated fats. Not sure if that is heard of outside of high cholesterol. Of course, both butter and CO contain secondary compounds that can be problematic. Proteins in all dairy, salicylates in coconut, for example. Someone with leaky gut or just a known sensitivity should probably stay away from those.

2903 · April 26, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Just curious - how do you usually prepare your food when you use these fats? Just wondering if you have played around with amounts that you use to see if your reaction changes? It would be too bad to rule out all oils, because it expands the ways you can prepare food!

19504 · April 26, 2012 at 5:02 PM

If it helps I do not cook with oil. I will some times add EVOO to a meal once it has been cooked. For eggs I soft or hard boil or poach. Meat is oven, grill or crock pot.

40652 · April 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM

If you don't do well with coconut, don't consume it. There's no paleo rule that says you have to. Coconut is a good fat, one of many, but it's certainly not necessary.

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