How to Use Coconut Oil for Constipation

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Coconut oil is a very good natural remedy for constipation because it works as an effective laxative when used in the proper amount. It can soften hard stools and prevent the dangerous tearing or hemorrhaging that can happen when you force or push too hard during your bowel movements.

As per the USDA, coconut oil is rich in lipids that help improve the health. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, which work to stimulate the cells that line your colon and digestive tracts, increasing the energy and metabolic efficiency of these cells. This can improve your digestive rate and absorb more nutrients, while also moving stool through your digestive system at a normal (or faster) rate. As opposed to long-chain fatty acids, MCFAs are smaller and thus can pass through cell membranes easily, without the need for enzymatic activity. They are easy for the body to digest and are typically transferred directly to the liver to be converted into energy, rather than stored as fat.

Constipation usually comes in two forms – acute or chronic. Acute constipation may occur after an extended period of poor dietary choices, excess alcohol consumption or dehydration. For these acute cases, coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids can quickly relieve your symptoms, including inflammation of the tissues around the anus, elimination of blood in the stool, and poor nutrient absorption.

Young boy suffering from constipation sitting with a roll of tissue paper on a commode

For chronic constipation sufferers, which is often caused by long-term use of certain medications, chronic dehydration, certain food allergies, or vitamin deficiencies, coconut oil can be a regular addition to your diet in order to soften stool and counter many of the most common complaints from constipation sufferers.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Constipation?

Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil and mix it into a juice of your choice. This should be an all-natural juice, preferably fresh squeezed, rather than a processed juice full of preservatives, artificial flavors and sugars. You can also mix the coconut oil in warm water, or even mix it into a health smoothie or your morning oatmeal. You should repeat this process approximately 30 minutes before every meal. Your body needs time to adjust to this new substance acting on the digestive tracts, so starting with a small amount of the oil is wise.

Slowly increase the amount of coconut oil you use each day, noting how it affects your constipation symptoms. Most people find that between 1 and 2 tablespoons (total) per day is enough to eliminate their constipation problems. That being said, some people require up to 3 or 4 tablespoons per day, while others may find relief with as little as 2-3 teaspoons. If you use an excessive amount of coconut oil, you risk getting the runs, or experiencing diarrhea. Remember, coconut oil is a powerful laxative, and everybody is different, so find the right amount that works for you!

There are some specific guidelines to use for young people and adults with particular medical conditions.

For Toddlers

Young children need a relatively small amount of coconut oil to soothe constipation; simply add one teaspoon of coconut oil to their morning yogurt or into their pancake batter and they will quickly get back to the healthy 1-2 stools per day. If this doesn’t do the trick, try adding a similar amount of coconut oil to other meals throughout the day.

For Babies

To ensure your infant isn’t suffering from an allergic reaction, put a small dab of coconut oil on their inner elbow to see whether the skin absorbs the coconut oil without reaction. If so, add half a teaspoon to their breakfast, along with enough liquid, as both are needed for proper bowel movements. If this doesn’t work, increase the dose to 1 teaspoon with lunch, and so on. For the first week or so, do not exceed a maximum of 5 teaspoons per day. This should be more than enough to stimulate your infant’s bowels.

During Pregnancy

A single tablespoon of coconut oil mixed with warm water or milk before every meal should significantly help to soften stool and prevent painful constipation during pregnancy. That being said, constipation can be caused by many things during pregnancy, including vitamin deficiency, muscle cramping or hormonal fluctuations. If this 1 tablespoon remedy doesn’t work after a week or so, speak to your doctor about your constipation condition and explain what you have done to alleviate it.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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