Ten years ago we received an amazing letter from Donald Agar in Pittsfield, Massachusetts: “I have had Crohn's disease for 40 years, and during that time I have had a never-ending battle with diarrhea. Lomotil helps some, but it doesn't eliminate the problem.

“Three months ago, I bought a box of Archway Coconut Macaroon cookies. I've been eating two a day and I have not experienced diarrhea in that time. If by chance I eat three in a day, I get constipated. Believe me, I have a new life now.

“My brother-in-law has a friend who just had cancer and suffered diarrhea as a consequence of the operation. We told him about the cookies and they corrected his diarrhea. I would be delighted if others were helped by my discovery, too.”

We invited others to share their experiences with coconut macaroon cookies for diarrhea. Over the next decade we heard from hundreds of readers, most reporting amazing results. Here are just a few examples:

“I read your column on the effect that coconut macaroons might have on Crohn's Disease. Having suffered with this dread disease for years with little relief, I bought four boxes of Archway's product. Much to my shock, there has been dramatic improvement in my symptoms in less than one week. My gastroenterologist pooh-poohed the idea, but I can honestly state that the macaroons have given me far more relief than any medication I have taken.”

Another reader had a different health problem that caused diarrhea: “I had a kidney transplant (donated by my beautiful daughter Lizzie) and the medicines I have to take really do a number on my stomach. I was having so much diarrhea that it made my hemorrhoids bleed. When I read about the coconut cookies, I tried them and you know what? They worked!”

This reader offered another story: “I shared this information with my brother-in-law who'd had diarrhea since radiation treatment on his prostate burned his colon and caused demoralizing daily diarrhea. The macaroons worked for him. He is elated and is actually planning to take some extended driving trips. He eats two a day.”

Sadly, all the enthusiasm for Archway Coconut Macaroon Cookies wasn’t enough to keep the company out of bankruptcy. A reader just lamented: “We recently learned that Archway has gone out of business. No longer will we be able to get their coconut macaroons. Do you have a suggestion for another brand or will any coconut macaroon work?”

We have heard from many readers that the coconut is the critical ingredient in the cookies. Homemade coconut macaroons have been used effectively by a number of readers. Here is one recipe from Stephanie Muravchik of Charlottesville, VA: Preheat oven to 250. Cover a cookie sheet with greased tinfoil. Mix 2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk, one egg white, 1.5 tsp. vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Add 3.5 c. shredded sweet coconut and mix well. Drop by tablespoons onto sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes until well browned.

For a fluffier cookie, beat the egg white separately and fold in after the coconut has been added. We make no guarantees that these cookies will work as well as the Archway brand. Since Archway is no longer available, though, they are worth a try.

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  1. maggie m.

    I just purchased the Archway coconut macaroons at my local Food Lion grocery store. Hope this helps some people having problems finding the cookies. 6/22/2009

  2. Kima B.

    Archway was saved, having been purchased by another company. All of their products, including the coconut macaroons, have recently returned to my local grocery’s shelf.

  3. gf

    I have had IBS [irritabale bowel syndrome] for over 30 years. My problems with diarrhea/loose stool are sporadic, definitely connected to stress. For the last 15 years I have had excellent control with hyoscyamine made by Ethex. It is now not being made. My Dr. has prescribed five other drugs, none of which helped. Lomotil made me desperately ill: dizzy, double vision and puking in addition to my IBS.
    I had read about the macaroons in your column but never tried them because the hyoscyamine controlled the problem without the calories. I began looking after the Lotomil experience and _finally_ found some macaroons at a bakery.
    They work very well; I eat two per day.
    Thank you.

  4. dvikib

    Followup to my posting above about Trader Joe’s coconut macaroons. When I went back to get more macaroons, there were none on the shelf. The manager said there were none in the warehouse either. I emailed Trader Joe’s headquarters and the reply said they have been discontinued due to insufficient sales.
    I recently read an article on the web that said that although Archway (purchased by Lance) is making cookies again, the macaroons have been discontinued as they are making a lot less varieties of cookies than they previously made.

  5. dvikib

    I found mini coconut macaroon cookies at Trader Joe’s (their own brand). They are pre-packaged in 1 lb plastic tubs for $3.49 which I thought was reasonable. They are very tasty. Ingredients: coconut, sugar, corn syrup, egg whites, baking soda, natural flavor, salt and milk. Unfortunately, many states don’t have Trader Joe’s.
    I’m not much into cooking but here is the easiest recipe I’ve found for coconut macaroons when I have time to make them:
    Coconut Macaroons
    14 ounces (net wt) shredded sweetened coconut (Baker’s sweetened coconut comes in 14 oz bag and says it is equivalent to 5 1/3 cups)
    1 can (14-15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    Mix ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Cool macaroons slightly and remove to rack. Makes about 4 to 5 dozen macaroons.

  6. joyce l.

    I was diagnosed with IBS about a year ago after suffering with constant, painful diarrhea for months. It seemed to start with a series of 3 different antibiotics for a debilitating bronchitis that lasted 3 months. I was advised to stop all antibiotics and the diarrhea should stop.
    It didn’t. I finally saw a GI doctor who diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and gave me hyoscyomine (?) which controlled the diarrhea most of the time. Last month I read your recipe for Pumpkin/applesauce muffins and made them. I have 2 for breakfast every morning and have no had any IBS symptoms since! How can this food be curing the IBS and why didn’t my doctor recommend increasing fiber in my diet?

  7. Ruby Byer

    I am 58 years old and had irritable bowel syndrome since I was 27. My mother told me she had read an article in the paper by a Dr. saying to eat two archway coconut macaroons a day for your irritable bowel problem. I did eat two a day for nearly 4 years. During that time it was like taking a miracle drug. I had no problem. Then I decided to stop eating then and see what would happen. Here it had corrected the problem. I no longer have the problem and it had been with me for nearly 30 years.
    My sister finds that mounds candy bars has the results for her.

  8. viola

    cannot find macaroons can someone help please!

  9. WJBM

    There are so many benefits to adding coconut to one’s diet. It doesn’t always need to be cookies. Try switching to coconut oil for cooking. It does wonders for Chron’s as well as many other health issues.

  10. Michaela

    If people don’t have time to cook, then I’d look for store bought macaroons that are similar in that moist consistency to the Archways. Many macaroons are dry, which make me think they don’t have very fresh coconut in them. But the moister, probably the better. There aren’t THAT many kinds in the store, so it should be easy to give them all a try. Not sure how healthy it would be overall, but a friend w/a family history of Crohn’s decided to eat Mounds candy bars instead of macaroons for early symptoms.

  11. Sandra C.

    My husband has had Crohn’s Disease for 6 years; in one year, he wasted from 230 lb. to 110 lb (his current weight). He takes Kefir, Bifidus, Acidophilous, Metamucil, his diet is high fiber bread, raw fruits and vegetables, salmon and broiled skinless/boneless chicken breast; he cannot tolerate any fats. But he still had terrible diarrhea with undigested food in it.
    We sent for a free sample of Digestive Advantage for Crohn’s & Colitis, by Ganentech, and the sample worked so well that he has bought it and taken it since. He takes one small tablet in the morning; his foods are completely digested, his stools are formed, and his gas, burning, and pain have virtually disappeared.
    He does continue all the other regimen, but this food product has been a miracle for him. I take their once a day tablet for Lactose intolerance, and it has worked wonders for me as well.
    (We have no financial interest in this company.)

  12. Barb S.

    One of my young friends had Crohn’s, an autoimmune condition, so bad he’d almost given up on a normal life. I’d done a lot of on-line searches of autoimmune conditions after my granddaughter developed psoriasis, and learned that Vitamin D makes a huge difference in all these conditions. I told the Crohn’s sufferer to try it, 4000 units a day. It cured him, totally. That was 3 years ago and he’s now married and in a PhD program.

  13. fbl

    The recipe we are using is much simpler and better for those who may be sensitive to milk. If you use organic sugar cut the amount way down. I use the organic flaked coconut from Tropical Traditions.
    Coconut Macaroons
    2 egg whites
    Dash salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 3 1/2-ounce can (1 1/3 cups) flaked coconut (not sweetened)
    Beat egg whites with dash salt and the vanilla till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff peaks form. Fold in flaked coconut. Drop batter by rounded teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in a slow oven (325) for about 20 minutes. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

  14. pkp

    That should have read “toasted it in the oven.”

  15. T.L. De Paull

    Coconut milk is available in the Asian section of any large grocery store. It comes in a can and is very effective.

  16. pkp

    I have used plain unsweetened toasted coconut to combat diarrhea. My husband is diabetic and his glucophage caused this problem. I bought unsweetened shredded coconut in the baking aisle and toasted it in the over for a few minutes. I sprinkle a little over his cereal in the morning.

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