Thyroid Problems & Coconut Oil

Can coconut oil boost thyroid health Thyroid Problems & Coconut Oil

There has been a lot of buzz lately about thyroid problems and the potential of coconut oil to help improve them. Dr. Mercola has talked about it, Dr. Oz seems to be joining the bandwagon, and other doctors are mentioning the link as well.

So is there a connection and if so, what is it?

Coconut Oil and Thyroid Problems

While there seems to be at least a correlation between certain dietary changes and an increase in thyroid problems (correlation doesn’t necessarily equal cause), there is some debate about what is actually causing the increase in thyroid problems. Mercola postulates that it is polyunsaturated oils and soy:

“Ray Peat Ph.D., a physiologist who has worked with progesterone and related hormones since 1968, says that the sudden surge of polyunsaturated oils into the food chain post World War II has caused many changes in hormones. He writes:

Their [polyunsaturated oils] best understood effect is their interference with the function of the thyroid gland. Unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body is generally exposed to increased levels of estrogen. The thyroid hormone is essential for making the ‘protective hormones’ progesterone and pregnenolone, so these hormones are lowered when anything interferes with the function of the thyroid. The thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol, so cholesterol is likely to be raised by anything that blocks the thyroid function.

There is a growing body of research concerning soy’s detrimental affect on the thyroid gland. Much of this research centers on the phytoestrogens (“phyto” means plant) that are found in soy. In the 1960s when soy was introduced into infant formulas, it was shown that soy was goitrogenic and caused goiters in babies. When iodine was supplemented, the incidence of goiter reduced dramatically.

However, a retrospective epidemiological study by Fort, et al. showed that teenaged children with a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease were significantly more likely to have received soy formula as infants (18 out of 59 children; 31 percent) when compared to healthy siblings (nine out of 76, 12 percent) or control group children (seven out of 54; 13 percent).

When healthy individuals without any previous thyroid disease were fed 30 grams of pickled soybeans per day for one month, Ishizuki, et al. reported goiter and elevated individual thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels (although still within the normal range) in thirty-seven healthy, iodine-sufficient adults.

One month after stopping soybean consumption, individual TSH values decreased to the original levels and goiters were reduced in size.”

Another source explains that the cause could be a variety of contributing sources:

“A sluggish thyroid may be triggered by many unseen causes, including…

  • MSG and bad fatty acids, so common in our diet, can weaken your thyroid.
  • A deficiency of iodine is on the rise, and without enough iodine, your thyroid won’t produce the hormones you need.
  • As you age, your risk of an unbalanced thyroid dramatically increases.
  • Popular prescription drugs for your heart, bones and blood sugar can lead to a sluggish thyroid.
  • Exposure to too much fluoride or chlorine in drinking water can interfere with normal thyroid function.
  • Menopause or pregnancy and treatments such as Estrogen Replacement Therapy can throw the thyroid out of whack.
  • A family history of thyroid concerns may cause thyroid dysfunction.
  • Autoimmune health problems can cause your thyroid to go haywire.”

 Can Coconut Oil Help?

Unlike the polyunsaturated oils in many foods, coconut oil is high in (healthy) saturated fat, lauric acid, and medium chain fatty acids. It’s unique structure makes it a highly usable source of energy for the body and its particular fat balance is nourishing to the thyroid. As this article elaborates:

“50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on earth!

Nigel Turner and Jiming Ye from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research compared fat metabolism and insulin resistance in mice fed coconut oil and lard based diets.

“The medium chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are interesting to us because they behave very differently to the fats normally found in our diets,” said study leader Turner.

“Unlike the long chain fatty acids contained in animal fats, medium chain fatty acids are small enough to enter mitochondria – the cells’ energy burning powerhouses – directly where they can then be converted to energy.”

Coconut oil has a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.

The medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.

An excellent study that reviewed many previous studies on this topic was published in the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 132, pages 329-332). This study was conducted by researchers at McGill University. They reported that several different studies have shown weight loss equivalent to 12 – 36 pounds a year simply by changing the types of oils used in everyday cooking and food preparation.

Most of the oils that we use to cook food and those used in commercially-prepared foods also have a negative affect on the thyroid. These are known as polyunsaturated or vegetable oils. They may in fact be the worst villains in the spread of thyroid diseases.

The thyroid, though small otherwise, is one of the largest glands in the endocrine system. Diseases of the endocrine system are mostly caused due to production disorders that lead to inadequacy or excess of hormones or inappropriate response to hormones by tissues.

Is coconut oil a thyroid cure? Not by itself. Can it help people with low thyroid function? Yes, because it stimulates metabolism and boosts energy. For this reason, coconut oil has been a blessing to many people who have been able to abandon their medications with the right combination of exercise, removal of processed foods, and a balanced diet.”

What I Do

Thyroid problems and thyroid cancer run in my family so I want to be as proactive as possible in protecting my thyroid. Thankfully, I love coconut oil and use it for everything already, but I’ve made a special effort to use it in high amounts daily to nourish the thyroid. This is what I do:

  • Add up to 1/4 cup a day to hot teas and coffee (Here’s my favorite recipe)
  • Use up to 1/4 cup a day in cooking
  • Up to 1/4 cup a day added to smoothies

With all that saturated fat, have I gained a ton of weight? Quite the opposite, as this seems to help me lose weight and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. It seems others have had similar experiences too.

At the very least, this regimen has helped me have enough energy to meet the daily demands of raising five little ones without the afternoon slump I used to get. It has also helped my skin stay clear and improved my sun tolerance, so I’m not complaining!

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of coconut oil and how it helps the thyroid, I recommend the book Virgin Coconut Oil that is distributed by Tropical Traditions. I also order Tropical Traditions gold label Coconut Oil as it is the highest quality coconut oil I’ve found.

If you decide to order from Tropical Traditions, you can get a free copy of the Virgin Coconut Oil book with your first order if you use this link.

Have you used coconut oil to help with thyroid issues? Has it helped? Share below!

Reader Comments

  1. Caitlin says

    I found your website when I found out I was pregnant and the first thing I did was order coconut oil. In my family the women gain an excessive amount of weight, get stretch marks and funky skin. I gained 20lbs, no stretch marks and two days after birth looked like I was never pregnant. I ate healthy, but I really think coconut oil and your advice is what made a difference. I’m never sick either and my baby loves the oil!

    • Bean says

      Your story and outcome are amazing. Congratulations on yours and your babies healthy outcome. I am interested in how you incorporated it into your diet. @WM, love your blog.

      • Caitlin says

        I cook it with everything. I have a cast iron pot so when I’d cook chicken or eggs I’d add coconut oil. Id add it after I cooked it also. When I got used to the oil, I’d swallow a tablespoon or two, usually after eating something not so good I craved.

  2. Mina says

    This is interesting! Thyroid problems run in my family, too, and though I have never been diagnosed, I have had reasons to suspect that my thyroid does not function optimally (most notably a period of 3 years of infertility after my marriage at a young age… And yes, I was eating a HORRIBLE diet). I am now pregnant with my 2nd, and much more conscious of what I eat! This will definitely encourage me to consume more coconut oil!

  3. Erin Baker says

    I want to get more coconut oil into my diet but I am not very fond of the flavor of coconut. I was thinking about doing the tea thing but I hate tea, I find it so very bitter. What would be a good mild flavored starter tea that would be safe for me to drink while breastfeeding?

    • Jennifer Falbo-Negron says

      I wonder if you could drink any of the fruit-flavored Celestial Seasoning herbal teas. You could mix them for a fruit punch taste and then see if you like it. I think that this type of tea should be relatively safe to drink during breastfeeding but always check with your doctor first. Good luck!

    • Terri says

      I am not fond of coconut either. But I found the coconut oil give things a richer taste when i use it for cooking. once you try to cook it with a few things, you learn its not like coconut that you would put on a cake or candy bar. and you will begin to use it in as much as you can possibly imagine. I also use it for lotion and oil pulling for healthy mouth.

  4. Melisa Crosby says

    Most of the time when people mention “thyroid problems” what they really mean is the increasingly common Hashimoto’s disease which is autoimmune hypOthyroidism. It’s often low level and the boost in metabolism many people feel from consuming large amounts of coconut oil can feel beneficial. However, as someone with Grave’s Disease (autoimmune hypERthyroidism) I feel compelled to mention a few things. First of, before you start messing with your thyroid function, get yourself tested so you know what’s going on. Don’t diagnose yourself over the internet. Many symptoms are similar in both hyper- and hypothyroidism but it’s important to know which you have and, more importantly, why. Chances are if your thyroid issues are chronic, the root is autoimmune. If you don’t address the autoimmunity, you’re just putting a bandaid on things. Large amounts of straight coconut oil (or seaweed or other forms of iodine) can be quite dangerous for people who are hyper, causing excitability and heart palpitations among other things. As someone with Graves I find I can tolerate coconut oil when it’s used in traditional cooking applications with other foods but consuming it straight will make me feel restless and shaky. And please, when researching or writing about “thyroid problems”, do take the time to specify which diseases you are talking about and be aware that works well for one can be quite dangerous for another.

    • Ryna says

      Thanks for your post. I have been continuing to suffer from Graves’ disease symptoms although my endocrinologist tells me I’m in remission. I absolutely LOVE coconut oil; however, I did not realize that consuming large amounts of straight coconut oil can cause excitability. I’ve been suffering from heart palpitations and such again for a while now and didn’t realize that it could be the way I’m consuming the oil. Thanks for the head’s up.

    • Mariah says

      Yes me too! I hate how the whole world seems to be stuck on hypOthyroid and weight gain, when some of us have hypErthyroid and weight loss. We matter too! What advice do you have for us hypErthyroid folks, Wellness Mama?

      • Mariah says

        Can we have coconut oil too, maybe just less of it? I have been diagnosed with wheat and dairy allergies, and have used coconut oil to replace butter but I have had some problems with excitability…

        • Jaime says

          I’ve found this from a doctors post on the internet as I also suffer from Graves’ disease…

          “While I don’t encourage my patients with hyperthyroid conditions to consume coconut oil, I also don’t specifically tell them to avoid consuming it. I do know some people with hyperthyroidism who have included coconut oil in their diet on a daily basis, and it doesn’t seem to have worsened their condition. To be frank, it’s not something I’ve kept track of, but if someone with hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease prefers to avoid coconut oil just as a precautionary measure then that’s fine. But I don’t think consuming a small amount of coconut oil every now and then, or even on a daily basis will exacerbate one’s hyperthyroid condition. Perhaps research will come out in the near future which will make me change my mind regarding this, but for now this is where I stand.

          In summary, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to support that coconut oil can stimulate thyroid hormone production. On the other hand, some people with hypothyroid conditions have noticed an increase in their body temperature when taking coconut oil. So while it’s not something I specifically recommend to my patients with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I have no problem with people with these conditions consuming coconut oil. And I currently don’t don’t tell my patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease to avoid coconut oil.”

          Hope that helps a little

          • Mikey says

            Thanks for this posting . Do you by any chance have a link for this and/or the name of the Doctor who made this interesting and honest comment ?

  5. Vanessa says

    I was advised by my naturopathic physician to take two tablespoons daily of coconut oil as a supplement to help my immunosuppression. I had been in adrenal shock from severe adrenal fatigue and credit coconut oil, canned coconut milk smoothies made with egg yolks and raw honey, Standard Process supplements, and changing the way I think with my recovery over this past year. It has been a long, difficult road but I believe coconut oil and coconut products are nothing short of miraculous to aid in restoring health.

  6. Laura Anderson says

    Big fan of your work!!
    I just have a clarification question: is 1/4 a cup the recommended daily dose for coconut oil? That seems like a lot.
    Thanks!

  7. Judy says

    Are you saying you use 3/4 C of coconut oil a day? Is that the amount you should have in order to get all the benefits? The post you linked says she gets about that much in a day. Did you start losing the weight right away?

  8. Mary Forman says

    I don’t have a thyroid. Will this help me or do you know of something that will. I struggle with weight gain and not sleeping well.

  9. Mary Beavers-Burke says

    My thyroid is enlarged and have tried for several years to use medication to shrink it. Do you think this could help this or not?

      • Mariah says

        It CAN hurt if her enlarged thyroid is due to an autoimmune problem…In this case it can cause rapid heart beat, excitability etc. I have tried this, and it is not very comfortable! i had to cut way back on the coconut oil…I just use small amounts in cooking/ baking

        • Nene says

          So coconut oil is not good in large amount if one have autoimmune thyroid or enlarge thyroid ?. Also does 3/4 of a cup if coconut oil causes weight gain?.
          Doing detox of Candida do I take only coconut oil and no food for few days?.

          • says

            I’d ask a doc or health practitioner about any kind of detox diet but by itself, that much coconut oil won’t cause weight gain (though it may make you queasy if you aren’t used to it)

  10. Misha Bergman Benoit says

    Hi! I am wondering what you think about coconut oil for children? I suspect that my daughter (6) may have a thyroid problem but her doctor doesn’t see an issue. When I was pregnant with her I ate processed soy (before I knew any better) every day. She’s overweight (we are vegetarians and eat a very healthy diet!) and has had sleep problems from day one. Oh and I do have hypothyroidism and it runs in my family. I actually would love to get off of the levothyroxin….. My energy level sucks and my hormones are crazy! I’m trying all kinds of herbs (rhodiola and maca) and using a progesterone cream to balance my hormones. We recently went gluten free too! Anyway…. just trying to sort us out with natural things!

    • Stephanie says

      Hi, Misha! I am just wondering the latest on how the increase in coconut oil and the herbs you were using back in August when you wrote this post have helped you and the hypothyroidism. I am wanting to go with natural remedies for my recent diagnosis (and as we begin trying for a new baby), and any feedback on what has helped would be appreciated. I am just beginning my journey to recovery, and have already ‘cured ‘ my high blood pressure (off meds after 12 years), and my chloestorol is now sparkling perfect, so I look to food to be my medicine, normally. Thanks in advance for your time! :)

  11. Erica Berry says

    When you say “up to 1/4 cup…” do you mean total daily or up to 1/4 cup in teas, an additional 1/4 in cooking and another 1/4 in smoothies? Thanks!

  12. Nadine Schullo says

    does it have to be coconut oil or could coconut flour have the same possible effect?
    i have both, but coconut flour is easier for me to consume a lot of (:

    • Marijana Bradaric says

      Nadine, I am hypothyroid for past ten years and after using two table spoons of coconut oil daily, mostly with my tea, after year or too my TSH was normal. Than I went to AIP diet for other health problems and started also using coconut flour, and after just a week my thyroid problems were much worse than ever. I stopped usin coconut flour and my thyroid problems are improving again. Anyone else had the same experience with coconut flour?

  13. Jenna says

    I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 2 years ago and my thyroid was removed along with some affected lymph nodes. They found it again in my lymph nodes this year so I had to have another surgery (my first surgeon was not thorough and I believe she did not get everything in the first place). I also have Hashimoto’s and they are monitoring my anti-body level to make sure it doesn’t go up. I want to get the level to 0. I am done with cancer, never want to go through this again – so I am looking into natural treatments in addition to what the doctor says. Will coconut oil help in this situation – with someone who has no thyroid but still has thyroglobulin anti-bodies? If you don’t know, do you know where I could find reliable information?

    • Rosa says

      I also had thyroid cancer this past year. Had thyroid removed and had to take iodine radiation b/c it has also spread to one of my lymph nodes. Been trying to go natural and trusting God for total healing. I have Hashimoto’s , hypothyroid, and on 125 Synthroid. Any suggestions on going All natural? BTW, I feel great, just a bit sore from surgery.

      • Jenna says

        Hey Rosa! We should talk! I have a hard time finding other thyroid cancer survivors who also had Hashimoto’s. What’s your e-mail? I am also trusting God in total healing. I am slowly transitioning to all natural – Wellness Mama has been a huge help! So has Pinterest…. I started by making my own laundry detergent, then cleaning supplies, now beauty products and medicine, and I’m just trying some natural things here and there.

  14. Lala says

    I find this article really helpful. Thanks for sharing this! It’s great to know that coconut oil can also help improve thyroid function. This is something new.

  15. Philip says

    Hi. Thanks for the info in the article. Can you please explain why you believe Tropical Traditions coconut oil is the best? There are so many brands it is confusing….Any others you would recommend?

    • says

      They’ve had theirs independently tested and it has been shown to have the highest level of beneficial properties. Any organic, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil has beneficial properties though.

  16. Liz says

    Hi, This is very helpful. I have been hypothyroid for over 10 years and I have a question about milk. I have been told that organic skim milk is healthiest for me, but then I wonder if I should be drinking almond milk, because of my thyroid. What are your thoughts? Thank you :)

  17. Katherine says

    I have been using coconut oil since I found Wellnessmama! I just love it and recommend it to others. I am hypothyroid and while I may be a little warmer (a plus for a hypothyroid person who is always cold) I will continue to use it. I cook with it! Try popping popcorn in it. Yummy!! It is great for hair and skin as well. I even feed it to my cat. He gets canned food once a day to aid in hydration and I add coconut oil to it. He loves it and will even lick it off my skin after a shower. I massage it into his skin and hair and I swear his hair glows in the sun!!! Plus it has the added benefit of keeping fleas away and I think ticks too. I learned this all from Katie, the Wellness Mama! Thank you Katie!!

  18. NM says

    Hello Wellness Mama,

    Love your stuff! looking for insight. I follow very healthy diet about 95%, except I often drinks lots of coffee, and usually first thing in the morning, then breakfast an hour or two later. I decided to try VCO blended with coffee (originally started with the GF butter and vanilla, but dropped those). I wanted the benefits of VCO daily. I started gaining weight, & thought maybe related to body adjusting, so I continued. nothing else in my diet changed. After 4 months, I’d gained 8 lbs, so I stopped. That weight has been the worst, it’s just flab, and it won’t budge period. It’s been 2 months since I stopped, and through hard work, I have maybe lost 1 lb. This is unusual for me; I can lose 1 lb in a week if focused.
    My daughter, who’d just had a baby (weeks old) and was nursing, started the VCO blended with coffee also, and she had the same experience. She can’t lose it either. She lives in another city, so it’s not our matching diet. It makes no sense, esp for her. Nursing for me always took every ounce off. I’m completely confused & frustrated. All I can find through research is some things interfere with leptin and prevent fat metabolism, but I can’t find anything to link with the coffee. I’d like to get this weight off, I feel miserable. Now both of us have completely taken VCO out of our diets. I’m hoping you can direct me where I can find some answers. :-) And through my search, all I can find is VCO causes weight loss….so tired of reading that :-( Thanks.

  19. Verona says

    Hello,

    I just went across this blog (out of interest to coconut oil). 3/4 a cup a day of coconut oil? For this amount one has to have pretty strong pancreas to excrete enough enzymes to break down the fat (even though coconut sounds like God’s sent, and has many health benefits) But for many, I know for sure – such amount of fat is not suitable, as their pancreas’ aren’t strong enough. But for those of you who can tolerate this much fat – good luck! With all mentioned above health conditions, I would suggest do everything in moderation and listen to your body.

  20. Sarah says

    I have a complaint. I see hypothyroidism here, but what about HYPERthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is just as much of a problem for sufferers as hypothyroidism is. The neglect to include hyperthyroidism is very wide spread. I find this frustrating.

  21. jean says

    used VCO for the past 6 months cooking , coffee, and all over my body after a shower, then I started with a fast irggular heart beat, and sometimes a regular beat but thumping in my chest, withone episode of when walking,up hill tightness across chest, just getting checked out now my ecg (ekg) is looking normal stopped taking VCO one week ago getting better, think I was using too much

  22. Paulien Brierley says

    I have been taking 3tablespoons of coconutoil for 4days and it has improved my appetite for my very sluggish thyroid. I am also less constipated.Today however I feel dreadful,no appetite and I feel depressed etc. Is it possible it is better to build it up gradually rather than taking 3tablespoons right from the start? Anybody help?

  23. Shauna says

    I just discovered that my acne may be linked to a low working thyroid and am looking at ways to help my thyroid’s functioning and already use coconut oil in cooking and to make food. However, do you have other ways to incorporate coconut oil without it being oily in texture? I don’t drink coffee or tea but did try that a few times and with that large of amount it was so oily for me. I know people put it on toast but I know I should avoid grains too. So any other suggestions would be amazing!!

  24. Margie says

    Great info, thanks!! I recently started taking coconut oil, and because of you, I am now addicted to it in my coffee…LOVE IT!! So I have increased my intake. I am very interested in losing some weight as well, and feel that this is helping me. Do you know how I can get info about reducing my thyroid med? I started getting slight panic attacks after taking my thyroid meds. I went two days without taking my meds, and had no anxiety, but tested it again today, and within a couple hrs of taking the meds, i became more anxious. Just not sure what to do from here. thanks!

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