Coconut oil has secured its place as a trendy food among the health-conscious and is touted as a one-stop solution to nearly everything.

Although it’s commonly used for cooking, coconut oil has many other everyday uses. It may be used to moisturize skin, remove makeup, repel bugs, and clean laundry.

Coconut oil also has medicinal uses. For example, some believe it can treat yeast infections and help balance cholesterol levels.

Many of these benefits stem from the caprylic acid contained in coconut oil.

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Caprylic acid is one of the fatty acids found in coconut oil.

It’s a medium-chain fatty acid believed to have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may make caprylic acid a helpful remedy for many conditions.

Some research suggests it can be useful in managing yeast infections, skin conditions, digestive disorders, and high cholesterol. Its use as a disinfectant may also help lower the risk of antibiotic resistance. You can take caprylic acid by mouth or apply it to your skin.

Yeast infections

Candida yeast infections are a common medical problem. Candida infections are fungal infections. They can cause vaginal yeast infections, nail fungus, and oral thrush. The antifungal properties of caprylic acid are thought to kill and reduce yeast.

A 2011 study found that caprylic acid was effective at reducing symptoms in some Candida infections.

And a 2019 study found that caprylic acid, along with other naturally derived antifungals, was effective at killing Candida albicans, the yeast that commonly causes yeast infections.

Though it’s not considered a scientific treatment, a procedure called oil pulling is sometimes used as a remedy for oral thrush. Oil pulling involves swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

Skin conditions

Just as caprylic acid may help manage yeast infections, it may also be beneficial for certain skin conditions. This is largely thanks to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which help it kill off bacteria that live in the skin.

Coconut oil can improve the symptoms of certain skin disorders by moisturizing and soothing the skin. One 2019 test-tube study found that virgin coconut oil may help suppress inflammatory markers and enhance skin barrier function.

Digestive disorders

There is some evidence that medium-chain fatty acids like caprylic acid may help patients who have certain digestive disorders.

The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of caprylic acid may help manage conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. Both of these conditions involve inflammation and sometimes bacterial infections in the digestive system.

The antibacterial properties may also be beneficial for people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Research suggests that replacing long-chain fatty acids from animal foods with medium-chain fatty acids, such as caprylic acid in coconut oil, may help decrease the incidence of spontaneous colitis and protect against inflammation in the gut.

However, more research is needed to adequately judge coconut oil’s effectiveness for these conditions.

Consult a healthcare professional before using caprylic acid or coconut oil to treat a digestive disorder. Both can sometimes cause stomach upset.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem around the world, stemming from the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Caprylic acid may be a useful disinfectant that can reduce foodborne illness without the use of antibiotics.

In a 2020 study, a combination of caprylic acid and hydrogen peroxide appeared to be effective at killing strains of bacteria that commonly cause foodborne illness, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Listeria.


Caprylic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid. Some studies suggest these fatty acids may have a beneficial effect on high cholesterol. However, results are mixed.

In a 2020 study, mice with high cholesterol who were fed high fat diets consisting of 2% caprylic acid for 16 weeks had significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol than mice in the control group.

In a 2020 review of human studies, researchers looked at the impact of consuming coconut oil on heart health. They found that consuming coconut oil was significantly associated with higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

However, coconut oil also significantly increased LDL cholesterol in some studies.

A 2019 review of the effects of consuming coconut oil on cholesterol suggests that coconut oil significantly increases HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol when compared to other oils.

However, more human studies are needed to better understand caprylic acid’s effect on cholesterol levels.

You can reap the potential benefits of caprylic acid by ingesting coconut oil or applying it to your skin.

Start by adding 1 tablespoon or less of coconut oil to your diet each day to make sure you can tolerate it. You can consume coconut oil solid or melted. You can also add it to other foods or blend it into a smoothie.

Working coconut oil into your diet is generally a safe way to help you reap the benefits of caprylic acid.

While coconut oil is one of the more popular ways to get your daily dose of caprylic acid, there are several other options.

Palm oil and dairy products also contain caprylic acid. Caprylic acid is also available in supplement form. It can be found in vitamin shops and some health food stores or online.

If you’re interested in trying a caprylic acid supplement, consult a healthcare professional to make sure the product is safe for you and to find out the right dosage.

Taking caprylic acid supplements is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Caprylic acid supplements may cause mild stomach or digestive upset. People with frequent stomach problems should consult a healthcare professional before taking caprylic acid supplements.

Start slowly when adding coconut oil to your diet to help your system adapt and avoid digestive upset.

It’s important to note that since coconut oil is a type of oil, it is high in fat. Just 1 tablespoon has 12 grams of fat. Consult a healthcare professional before adding a significant amount of fat to your diet.

Coconut oil and caprylic acid have no known drug interactions. Still, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your diet or making major dietary changes.

Also consider consulting a dermatologist before using coconut oil on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or any skin conditions.