Parkinson’s disease affects more than 1 million people in the United States alone, with tens of thousands of people being diagnosed annually. People with Parkinson’s disease experience primary symptoms such as tremors, muscle spasms, and muscle pain. Some people with Parkinson’s also experience dementia or confusion, especially as the condition progresses. Some people are turning to holistic remedies like coconut oil to manage their Parkinson’s symptoms.

There isn’t enough evidence to say for sure if coconut oil works to slow the progression of Parkinson’s. But some anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil might help with some of the symptoms.

Researchers are in the exploratory phase of finding out how coconut oil can help people with Parkinson’s. Since coconut oil contains high concentrations of medium-chain triglycerides, some think that it can improve brain function and help your nervous system.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that consuming coconut oil could help with the tremors, muscle pain, and constipation that Parkinson’s causes. And the research we do have, which comes from animal studies, tells us that coconut oil may improve your lipid profile and antioxidant defenses when it’s ingested. Antioxidants are connected to Parkinson’s improvement for some people, so it’s not a stretch to think that coconut oil could help Parkinson’s symptoms.

For people that have tried coconut oil for Parkinson’s and are convinced that it works, it seems like cognitive function (what some call the “brain fog” of Parkinson’s) and memory are what improved. Other people say they experienced improved tremors and better muscle control. Some evidence suggests that coconut oil improves digestion for some people that use it. Coconut oil is antimicrobial and antifungal, and it can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This can help with digestion by improving nutrient absorption and promoting good gut bacteria. So it’s not surprising that people with Parkinson’s consume coconut oil to relieve constipation and help make them more regular. Adding coconut oil to food might make eating easier for people who have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) because of Parkinson’s.

Since there isn’t a solid case for how or if coconut oil can treat Parkinson’s symptoms in the current literature, we can’t be sure how much you should take to try the treatment. But there are some general guidelines for consuming coconut oil.

If you’d like to try coconut oil to treat your Parkinson’s symptoms, there are several forms available. Cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil is available in liquid form at most health food stores and even major supermarket chains. Starting with 1 teaspoon per day of the pure coconut oil is a good idea, and you can gradually increase to 2 teaspoons if you like the results.

You can also start by using coconut oil to prepare food, substituting it for olive oil or butter in your favorite recipes. Coconut oil is also available in capsule form. Another idea is to start by consuming raw coconut meat and see how it affects your symptoms. And rubbing coconut oil on your muscles might provide relief for soreness caused by spasms. Its anti-inflammatory properties make coconut oil an excellent massage agent.

For most people, coconut oil will be a relatively low-risk holistic remedy to try out. Even if it doesn’t work, there’s little chance of having a bad reaction or a harmful interaction with other medications. But there are some things to be aware of before you start using it for Parkinson’s.

Coconut oil is incredibly high in saturated fat. This does have some effect on who should use it and how much you should ingest. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol, this treatment method is probably not for you. Consuming excess coconut oil can also lead to weight gain. Coconut oil can cause loose stools and digestive discomfort for people when they first start using it.

These are just some of the reasons that you should consult with your healthcare provider if you’re considering adding coconut oil to your treatment plan. There’s no current evidence to suggest that coconut oil is an effective substitute for prescription drugs for Parkinson’s. It may work as a supplemental treatment or in addition to what you are already doing.

Coconut oil is being studied for many of its claimed benefits to the nervous system. It won’t be long before we know more about how it can be used to treat Parkinson’s. For those that don’t want to wait for more evidence, there is little risk to trying out coconut oil as a supplemental treatment. However, coconut oil should not be used as a replacement for any prescription medications.