Issues Ingesting Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, Brain Octane Oil? Here Is Why and How to Change It.

Many people enjoy the use of refined MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oils for cooking, adding it to their coffee, or supplementing with it as a source of MCT’s. MCT oil contains triglycerides that do not need to be metabolized by the liver for transport. When you consume a coconut, you are getting a variety of macronutrients and fiber that are absent from the refined MCT oil. Even coconut oil is less refined than MCT oil in that the oil contains other fatty acids including lauric and oleic acids that would have to be metabolized by the liver. While ingesting MCT oil is excellent for a quick burst of energy (it does not require CCK production for breakdown which occurs by passive diffusion throughout the gastrointestinal tract and is not dependent on the carnitine acyltransferase system for transport into the mitochondria for β-oxidation), it may trigger digestive issues. Jason Hooper has written an excellent blog on why MCT oil can cause diarrhea, but there are many other proposed issues with its use in some people.1 2

Health Issues That May Arise from Ingesting Isolated MCT Oils

Anyone who has ever ingested too much MCT oil can tell you they did not have a fun day and spent some of it in the bathroom. Jason discussed why this might occur in great length on his blog entry. Some MCT oils that use hexane as an extraction method can leave residue that can irritate the gut. Also, too much MCT oil may overwhelm your body’s ability to absorb it and doing so can act as an irritant to the gut lining. However, there are more issues associated with the ingestion of isolated MCT oils then just the occasional bout of diarrhea.

One of the positive benefits of MCT’s is that they are antibacterial and antifungal. Caprylic acid (C8) is antimicrobial and antibiofilm formation, when bacteria and yeast are exposed to the fatty acid, they undergo lysis and spill out toxins that create an immune response irritating the gut. In some people, the gut lining irritation can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and inflammation. Also, in people with leaky gut if bacterial or yeast toxins get into the bloodstream they can cause inflammation, vascular issues, cognitive impairment, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. If you are using MCT oil’s for their antimicrobial benefits and have negative immune reactions to the oils, use lesser amounts of MCT oil’s until your digestive tract, kidneys, and liver can detoxify or discontinue them if you have a severe reaction.3 4 5 6

Another reported unwanted side effect of the use of MCT oil is Th2 (histamine intolerance) responses in some people that ingest them. People that are suffering from histamine intolerance can have strong reactions to foods that are elevated in histamine. Histamine intolerance may stem from a gut overgrowth of pathogens that produce histamine in the gut, genetics, undermethylation, or an infection of pathogens that chronically activate the Th2 immune system. In people with an overactive Th2 immune system ingestion of MCT oil may induce stronger histamine responses and might create new food sensitivities that someone did not have before ingesting the MCT oils.7

Important Steps in Ingesting MCT Oil’s Correctly

Proper MCT oil ingestion is essential in improving your overall health. For people with health issues, a few necessary steps to remember when and how to take MCT oil may enhance your use of it.

  • C8 (caprylic acid) may be less harsh on the gut as long as you do not have any significant overgrowth. It is absorbed quickly, so taking it in small amounts might be better tolerated. Try and find a product that has a high percentage of C8, or better yet, pure C8 like Brain Octane Oil.
  • If you are suffering from histamine intolerance (Th2), you might do better with small amounts of coconut oil or avoid oils with a large quantity of MCT’s. I recommend using extra virgin olive oil and ghee as your primary sources of fat.
  • If you are suffering from Th1 (inflammation) or Th17 dominance, I would suggest limiting coconut oil as your source of MCT’s and stick with Brain Octane Oil. The lauric acid which is found in coconut oil but not in other refined MCT oils can increase Th1/Th17 immune reactions. Finally, ingesting MCT oil’s with a meal that contains butter or ghee (they both contain the short chain fatty acid butyrate) and vegetables (bacteria help ferment them to produce SCFAs in our gut) might reduce the Th1/Th17 immune reactions from ingesting the oil. 8 9
  • Purchase a high-quality MCT oil that has not been extracted for the cosmetic industry was not extracted using hexane and has been manufactured for oral consumption.
  • Consume your MCT oil with a little bit of protein or at meals to reduce the chance of getting diarrhea.
  • If you are having digestive issues, you probably want to take in smaller amounts of MCT oil. Do you need to take in two tablespoons of MCT oil in one meal? It would probably be best to spread out smaller doses on an empty stomach if you are dealing with Th2 dominance to prevent allergic sensitization to food. If you are dealing with Th1/Th17 dominance, it would be best consume small amounts with meals that contain ghee and vegetables.10
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