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.
Steven B. says
Maybe Coconut oil is simply healthier and the benefits you get from using it come from the fact that you end up avoiding other oils that could contain thyroid offenders such as bromide. This would mean the real benefit comes from avoiding potentially harmful oils, not from coconut oil itself. Again, this is just a hypothesis.
Just out of curiosity, have you or anyone else noticed in your practice a tendency for people with Type O blood to have negative muscle response testing results (or electrodermal screening results)(or food allergy testing results) to coconut oil. I remember that Peter D’Adamo, author of Eat Right for Your Blood Type, mentioned this, and this is what I am seeing in testing. I’m just curious whether anyone else has noticed this. I was surprised.
Dr. Eric says
No, I haven’t come across this in my practice, but I’ll check with a few of my colleagues and see if they have experienced this with their patients.
Recently I pulled coconut oil for about two months [swishing a tablespoon of it actively through the teeth for 20 minutes every morning]. For the last 10 years I have been hypothyroid. Until very recently [prior to use of coconut oil] I seemed to be less hypo, but was not checking it closely. The goiter had diminished noticeably. I was very pleased with pulling the coconut oil. It leaves the mouth feeling clean, cleans breath great, and tastes and smells good. It also seemed to somehow draw phlegm down from the sinuses. After about two months of pulling with it, though, I began to feel that I was becoming hyperthyroid. I did not associate it with the oil at first. But as I began to lose more and more weight uncontrollably, I started researching everything I was eating or exposed to regularly in any way to see if it could promote hyperthyroidism. I found an article online somewhere …do not have the citation…. that stated coconut oil can increase thyroid activity as much as 20%. Under the circumstances I had no choice but to stop pulling coconut oil. I switched to olive oil but am not doing it as religiously as I was with the other oil and it is not nearly as pleasurable. I have just gotten blood work results that show I am extremely hyperthyroid. “Severely” is the word that the doctor used. I don’t really know that the coconut oil pushed me way over the line, but I won’t be pulling coconut oil again anytime soon, if ever. And I will miss it very much.
Dr. Eric says
That’s interesting, as I’ve never come across anyone who became hyperthyroid from consuming coconut oil. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any clinical studies which show that coconut oil increases thyroid hormone production, although I know numerous people with hypothyroidism who have received great benefits from taking coconut oil. As you mentioned, who knows for sure if taking the coconut oil was what made you hyperthyroid, as there definitely could have been other factors responsible for this. And if your condition is an autoimmune hyperthyroid condition (Graves’ Disease) then I’m pretty sure we can conclude that taking the coconut oil didn’t trigger an autoimmune response.
I was hypothyroid for 30 years. Recently I checked my TSH and it was low.
I have been feeling inflammation for quite some time(almost 3 years) in different places.
From past few years, I started cooking using coconut oil. Today I changed my oil to sunflower oil and my inflammation got reduced!!
Is there a possibility that coconut oil is responsible in some way to change my hypo to hyper and for the inflammation symptoms?
I would like to know what coconut oil is doing to me? I also would like to know what in coconut produces an impact on thyroid? Does coconut have lot of iodine?