From time to time someone will ask me about the benefits of coconut oil when it comes to thyroid health. Some claim that taking coconut oil can help stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone, and essentially cure the hypothyroid condition. If this is true then not only will people with hypothyroidism want to know, but of course people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease would want to know if they should avoid taking coconut oil.
First of all, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to prove that coconut oil can cause an increase in thyroid hormone levels. And as far as I know there haven’t been any research studies which followed a large group of people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to see the effects of taking coconut oil. Plus, even if coconut oil can help to stimulate thyroid hormone production, this doesn’t mean that taking it will necessary cure most cases of hypothyroidism.
For example, there are some herbs which can help to stimulate thyroid hormone production. A combination of the herbs ashwagandha and bladderwrack can help to accomplish this in some people. As a result, I will sometimes recommend these herbs to my patients with hypothyroid conditions, although since many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis don’t do well with iodine I frequently will hold off on having them take bladderwrack. But either way, giving these herbs alone usually won’t cure the hypothyroid condition. And the same concept applies to coconut oil. After all, I think you would agree that most people with hypothyroid conditions don’t have a deficiency in coconut oil that caused their thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition to develop. So one still needs to look at the adrenals, hormones, immune system, factor in nutritional deficiencies, etc.
I’m not suggesting that coconut oil can’t help at all with hypothyroidism. I do know some people have claimed it has helped with their hypothyroid condition, and I’ve visited some of the thyroid forums and have read posts from numerous people who took coconut oil and said it increased their metabolism and helped them to feel better. Although I’m skeptical as to whether coconut oil can help to increase thyroid hormone production, I definitely think this type of oil is a healthy alternative to other types of oils, especially when compared to polyunsaturated oils that people commonly consume these days. In fact, I commonly encourage my patients with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to include coconut oil in their diet, and I frequently add one tablespoon of coconut oil to my smoothies.
Should People With Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease Avoid Coconut Oil?
With regards to hyperthyroid conditions, although I personally didn’t consume coconut oil when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, the last few years I have recommended coconut oil to many of my patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, and it doesn’t seem to cause any problems. Of course 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 (i.e. one tablespoon per day) on a regular 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. However, many of my patients consume coconut oil, and it doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on their metabolism. And the same thing applies for people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, as it doesn’t seem as if eating coconut oil worsens their condition.