Coconut allergies anyone?

This isn't so much a science post but an open question to my readers.  Although I did adopt a different skin care regime about the time I started low carbing in 2007, I'm pretty confident in attributing a goodly portion of my cleared skin to my diet.   I had suffered from mild (relative to some images I see) adult acne for years, mostly on chin, hairline and back/bra-line.  This all pretty much cleared up to where I hadn't had a breakout worth mentioning in two years.  And one would think that somewhere in those longer cheats at least I would have consumed enough wheat or other culprit to set off a breakout, but nada.  Then summer 2009 I did an IF experiment.  I consistently followed a 5 hour eating window for 3 months.  I lost 10 lbs in the first couple of weeks but gained several pimples!  OK, so perhaps something about the fasting was killing off toxins and they were coming out my pores??  Thinking back, however, something else changed in my diet.   I was making this peanut butter/coconut oil ball dessert.  PB had been a part of my diet here and there and I have no issues with it, but CO was new.   So anyway, I gradually just phased out CO as it didn't produce any more losses and that was that.  The breakouts had gone away but thought nothing really of it.  

Fast forward to the end of this past summer.  I had been relaxing things a bit for a while consuming quite a bit of sushi.  All of a sudden I was getting rather large pimples all over my back and eventually several on my chin.  I figured maybe the sushi, but there was a spell when I didn't eat it at all and the breakouts continued.  Although I was eating a few more carbs as I've shared, I wasn't eating any more wheat or grains than I might have consumed on a prolonged cheat ... probably less.  Well, then I started thinking, this was when I was eating a lot of coconut shreds, fresh coconut, and using coconut milk in my coffee.

It would be a real bummer to discover it being so, but I fear I have a coconut intolerance.  I did notice a slight weight loss/change in body size eating all the coconut so would hate to have to avoid that possible strategy to lose a bit more.  I regularly use a mix of MCT/olive oil for salad dressing so it's not those FA's in the fat to blame.

Anyone ever experience something like this, or am I just weird?  I keep seeing stuff on contact dermatitis for coconut in skincare products, but nothing really for allergies, intolerance or acne.  Thanks in advance!


Anonymous said…
i dont tolerate coconut stuff either, especially the oil...but i still buy coconut butter...this i need to stop haha
Lillea said…
I've experienced problems with coconut in many forms, except Nutiva and Tropical Traditions brand coconut oil. Based on what I've learned so far, for some people it's the additives in certain coconut products, like the gums in coconut milk (always added, even to organic types), for others it's the fiber in coconut (insoluble), and some people are perhaps allergic, period, or react to the high level of salicylates, or they have a fatty acid imbalance.

A few years ago my facial skin started to get really flakey - I'd have to peel off bits of my skin daily because it looked so bad! It didn't hurt or itch, it was just unsightly. The culprit turned out to be coconut oil. When I removed that from my diet, the flaking completely stopped. I know others who experienced the same thing. Perhaps it was a fatty acid imbalance we had, or something in the brands we were using (supposedly good quality - I was a stickler! lol). I don't know. Maybe something shifted since that time so I can tolerate coconout oil now and not get the flaking. I eat 50 g of Nutiva coconut oil daily, so that's close to 1/4 cup, but my diet is far lower in PUFA than it has ever been before as well.

Ray Peat has noted that some people react to the less processed coconut oils, like extra virgin, because they can be more allergenic, I believe. He therefore recommends something called 76 degree melt, which, as I recall, is the type of coconut oil that was used in the studies that showed that coconut oil was beneficial. It has no flavor, but it isn't hydrogenated. It's very very cheap - you can get 50 lb pails for under $100. I don't use it, but I know of people who do better on that than the less processed 'virgin' kinds.

I find this source for it online, if anyone is interested.
Anonymous said…
I am intolerant to coconut milk. A southeast asian restaurant opened up in town and myself, my partner, and my friends started going there regularly. I soon started noticing a disturbing phenomenon--severe intestinal distress/diarrhea. Even when we had shared dishes, nobody else had these problems, and unlike a stomach bug, the symptoms were acute and completely over after 2 hours.

Well, I tried cooking coconut curries at home. Guess what, same story, round two! Apparently my guts cannot handle coconut oil!

It's too bad, because it was tasty. :( Oh well, there is always dairy cream. :)))
CarbSane said…
Thanks for the input gang, and welcome shatfat! It's nice to know I'm not alone in this, what with all those having such glowing things to say about it. I don't recall fresh coconut ever doing anything to me as a kid, so the plan is to keep not using CO for now, avoid the dried shreds and coconut milk and just see if fresh does anything. Then I'll try the shreds and lastly the milk.

Maybe it's the fats + something that does it for me b/c I don't react skinwise to MCT's (although I suspect your intestinal distress to CO is to the MCT content) but have had some rather abrupt menstrual-crampy type trips to the bathroom consuming it. Never had that with whole CO or palm kernel oil (that has a similar fatty acid profile to CO). And come to think of it, I used quite a bit of PKO for a while there (ran out and just haven't gotten around to replenishing it) and no breakouts.

Last thing, I LOVE the coconut milk based thai soup and ate that just about every day for a week on my vacation before last to no ill effect. Perhaps I just need to watch my "dose" and not overdo.

Thanks again everyone!
Wolfstriked said…
I say its is my history of it.I have had candida for many years and the past couple it has raised onto my skin.I posted on another board of a miracle cure for what I just found out recently is candida folliculitis.

I tried many things from vinegar to hydrogen peroxide and nothing would clear up the red bumps I would get on my lower legs.I had tried coconut oil for the intestinal candida and found some relief but it never cured(more on this in a second).So one day I rubbed it all over my lower legs and the next day it just vanished.Now anytime I see an outbreak I do a really good coconut oil rub and gone the next day.I actually see many people with the red dots on their legs.......

Now about candida in intestines.It lives normally in the colon and feeds on carbohydrates.If you read the Specific Carbohydrate Diet book you come to learn that its starches and sucrose that make it all the way to lower intestines while simple sugars(glucose,fructose)are rapidly absorbed and so never make it there.

Recently I tried high starch and found my intestines became blocked up where I would poop every few days and it always came out,lets just say,not right.I also became so lactose intolerant that my weekend milkshake would have me running home in a quick 15 minutes(never was lactose intolerant).In the SCD book,which is a cure for Crohn's and Colitis,it says that when the candida is strong in the colon diarhea is a sure sign.Now whats great is if you low carb you do not have to worry about eating the correct carbs to starve the yeast,instead you starve by starvation.Also I find that my once a week fast food binge and most of the symptoms I have suffered from do not return.

Today on Dr.Oz coconut oil was being praised by him as cure for skin fungal infections,ulcers and other things.I just took a tbsp after seeing it.Maybe your upsets are caused by die off???
CarbSane said…
Interesting Wolfstriked. I don't have any intestinal upsets (MCT's give me really bad, unpredictable, upsets SOME times so I limit to ~1T). If anything, my system has been much more regular these past several months eating a few more carbs. And, of course, I'm not getting any of those insatiable carb cravings Candida supposedly causes ;-)

Die off was suggested to me as well back when I mentioned the IF breakouts. That is possible. The sun on my vaca seems to have cleared things mostly up, but a good coconut oil mask might still be in order. Come to think of it, I used to do them quite a bit, so if I was allergic that should have irritated me. Maybe die off after all?

I've got a dance to go to Saturday. Perhaps after that I might try an "intentional die off" and do a coconut oil fast. Maybe knock off a few pounds too :D

John said…
Let's speculate a bit: the anti-microbal fatty acids in coconut oil might kill off certain gut bacteria, which causes them to release endotoxin. And the endotoxin uptake is increased due to the fat. So you would end up with a higher concentration of endotoxin in your blood. In that case it seems plausible that the acne is a response to the endotoxin, instead of it being an allergic reaction to the coconut oil.

I based this speculation on information found in a post by Peter Dobromylskyj [1]. Recently Paul Jaminet referenced that post as well [2].


[1] Dobromylskyj, P. Fats and absorbing endotoxin.
[2] Jaminet, P. Short-Term Effects of Adding Carbs to Very Low-Carb Diets.
Wolfstriked said…
I just wanna point out that I am not against carbs at all.

With Crohns and Colitis in mind there are varying amounts of carbs the colon can tolerate.Some people can eat very high starch with no ill effect,some get overblown yeast infections and in some people the bad bugs overtake the intestines and the above mentioned diseases occur.In the small intestine (where most carb-digestion occurs) the starch is processed by the enzyme amylase and converted into simple sugars and this could be the reason for the candida....that is a lack of the enzyme amylase causing undigested starch to reach the colon and feed the yeast like a baker.

If not for candida I would probably be on a 50/50-starch/lean protein.

As for the acne,I do not know if it will work.I tried CO on acne and it made no difference for me.The way it works on the red dots on my legs is another story though.John,endotoxin makes sense and I feel there is alot of other things that happen with die off.
CarbSane said…
@John: If you're new here, welcome, and thank you for your input! That does sound plausible especially that with IF one would expect more die off. Why, however, my several rather long stints on VLC never elicited something similar is a mystery to me. I'm also curious why the palm kernel oil didn't do the same, although I did use that in deliberate moderation slipping it into foods for both me & hubby not wanting to send him "running" (pun intended) from MCT's.

THIS is something I am willing to experiment with in my body. Like I said, however, not wanting to show up pimply faced, I'll plan for this next week sometime.

@Wolfstriked: I have never gotten the impression you were anti carbs. Perhaps I've been feeding a pre-existing condition with having a few more carbs (mostly starches and some fruit, usually like 1/2 apple) and killed it with the coconut fest. My breakouts were different than what I used to get but not like those pics (hope you didn't get them that severely, looks painful!!) either. I'm going to try that experiment next week. We'll see!
Wolfstriked said…
LOL no my symptoms are just red dots.I would freak if I had what some of those pics show.