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You may have heard that some people use coconut oil to treat constipation at home. This superfood may indeed help with constipation. Here’s more about how using this ingredient may provide relief.

Coconut oil may have a laxative effect. Proponents, like blogger Hybrid Rasta Mama, claim that coconut oil may increase metabolism and help food pass more quickly through the body. This may mean more frequent and smaller, softer bowel movements.

It’s important to note that a lot of information you find online about coconut oil isn’t backed by science. While an animal study showed that this ingredient may improve blood cholesterol levels, many of the other claims you’ll discover are unfounded or need more study.

What does this mean? Most of what you’ll find are personal stories on various forums. There isn’t any dedicated scientific research concerning how coconut oil may help constipation.

First, you need to read coconut oil labels carefully. Many varieties are refined, which removes some of the supposed health benefits in the processing plant. Look instead for organic virgin coconut oil. It may also be called unrefined on the label. This type of oil has not been processed, so all the goodness and micronutrients have been preserved.

You may stumble upon different coconut cleanses at your local drugstore. You don’t necessarily need to go all-or-nothing to get benefits of coconut oil by doing a full cleanse. Instead, the Gut Health Project suggests eating a tablespoon with your meals each day. Some people build up to taking as much as four to six tablespoons.

How do you ingest coconut oil? It’s often in a solid form if the temperature of your room is below 76°F (24°C). Here are a couple options:

  • Place the solid or semisolid oil in your mouth and let it melt.
  • Melt it on the stove over low heat and drink it.

You may also put it on or in other foods you’re eating:

  • Cook with coconut oil in place of other oils, like olive or canola.
  • Use coconut oil in your coffee or tea.
  • Put coconut oil in your oatmeal or yogurt each morning.
  • Add coconut oil to smoothies.
  • Top your popcorn with coconut oil instead of butter.

No matter what you do, introduce coconut oil slowly into your diet. Too much too soon can give you indigestion, stomach cramping, or even diarrhea. You may want to start with just a teaspoon at each meal and build from there. Consider keeping a diary to observe any changes in your constipation that may help you adjust the amount you take.

Coconut oil isn’t the only way to cure constipation. There are many other things you can do to get things moving.

  • Add more fiber to your diet. When you eat more fiber, your stool becomes heavier and goes through your intestines faster. Good choices include fresh fruits and vegetables. Beans and whole-grain breads are also rich in fiber. Consider eating around 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories per day. Work up to at least 20 grams per day slowly over a few weeks to avoid gas and bloating.
  • Increase your physical activity. Exercising will help your intestines get more active. Your doctor may be able to suggest a good exercise program for you. Walking is a good choice for beginners.
  • If you need to go, go. Don’t ignore your urges to have bowel movements. While you’re at it, take your time while going to the bathroom. Rushing may not allow you to completely empty your bowels and may lead to more constipation.
  • Drink more water. Fluids and staying properly hydrated can help your stool pass through the intestines more easily.
  • Create a schedule for going to the bathroom. It may not feel natural at first, but try setting a timer and taking time to go. You may find it easier to have a bowel movement after a meal.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil may help with constipation. This food is certainly worth trying out, in moderation, to see if it works for you. That said, coconut oil may not be the miracle cure for all your health ailments. There are many other lifestyle changes you can make that will help with your constipation.

Remember that moderation is advisable. If you try any change in your diet, introduce it slowly. If you continue to have trouble passing bowel movements, contact your doctor. Constipation may be a sign of a more serious condition, like bowel obstruction or cancer. It may also lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction, if left untreated.