The People's Perspective on Medicine

Coconut Cookies Help Control Diarrhea from Colitis or Crohn’s Disease

Q. A couple years ago you offered a recipe for coconut macaroons that helped a young person with colitis or Crohn’s disease. I have misplaced the recipe, but my son was just diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and I want to make them for him. Where can I find it?

A. Many readers have offered testimonials about the value of coconut in easing chronic diarrhea. This is one of the troublesome symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

We first learned about coconut macaroon cookies from Donald Agar, who discovered that eating two a day was a better treatment for his chronic diarrhea from Crohn’s than the medication Imodium. Animal research suggests that coconut oil may indeed have anti-inflammatory activity in the large intestines (Journal of Nutrition, March, 2009).

Coconut macaroon cookies contain shredded coconut, egg whites, almond extract, salt and sugar. The recipe is in the book we are sending you, Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.

Here are a few testimonials. From RES:

I have been using a tablespoon of coconut flakes plus 1/2 banana on my cereal every morning and my diarrhea has been under control completely. The coconut really works & one tablespoon a day doesn’t cause any great problem.”

From CPMT:

“I ALSO HAVE IBS and drink coconut water, or milk, or dry coconut with no sugar added. all of them work for me.”

From NH:

“I keep dried, unsweetened coconut on hand and eat some if and when I feel there is a need. It not only stops the diarrhea but growling and other complaints my intestines make. I like it better because I try to stay away from sugar. I have had trouble with nausea for about 4 months now and had forgotten about the coconut so I am going to try using it to see if I can get rid of this nausea. Thanks for the reminder. Try the coconut, even if you are skeptical. It can’t hurt you. I do not mix it with anything and it is kinda dry so be careful and chew it well.”

From CAS:

“I’m a health information professional and the mother of a previously healthy nonsmoking, non-substance-abusing, non-soda-pop drinking, non-red meat-eating, and primarily lacto-ovo vegetarian teenager. Despite all these good habits my son was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13. 15-20% of the 1 million Americans living with inflammatory bowel disease are under 18 and some of them are infants and toddlers. Our family has learned to take statements about dietary prevention or “cures” for digestive diseases with a considerable amount of salt.

“Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are thought to be autoimmune diseases, and like the other 80-odd autoimmune diseases out there, they are subject to an incredible amount of individual variation; some people go into remission lasting many years with no interventions at all; others, like my son, have great difficulty staying in remission.

“Jordan Rubin’s website indicates that he has Crohn’s Disease, not ulcerative colitis. These two make up the principal inflammatory bowel diseases, and are treated with many of the same medications, but have different clinical courses. Neither has anything to do with IBS. The term “colitis” used by itself is confusing. IBS used to be “spasmodic colitis” years ago.

“I can’t tell if the people recommending coconut are talking about IBS or ulcerative colitis. It is true that many people living with inflammatory bowel disease find that following particular diets and avoiding particular foods makes a big difference in their symptoms. Be very wary, however, of anybody who says that any food is a cure or that these diseases are caused by food. This has been extensively researched for decades, and probiotics are being extensively researched now. There is no scientific evidence that diet is implicated in causing inflammatory bowel disease and it’s too early to tell about probiotics helping.

“Visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America website ( to find more information, support and resources, including a discussion board and a help line. I can also recommend an excellent and very helpful book, “Colitiscope”, written by a man living with ulcerative colitis. Check out the Amazon reviews or read about it at“:

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Any suggestions if you can’t stand the texture of coconut?

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis six months ago…I was put on Mesalamine enemas for several months…some improvement but then remembered about coconut use from many years ago and then about a Mounds or Almond Joy miniature every day, I thought even I could do that…It has been a month, I never felt better and frequent visits to bathroom nearly gone, I don’t think it can hurt, works great for me so far…

I have Crohn’s disease and just read about coconut, first must it be unsweetened coconut and also I do not like to use sugar so can I make the macaroons with Splenda?
I am most interested in this I seem to have very frequent bathroom stops.

I have a question: will this work for someone with uncontrollable diarrhea from c diff? It is a long shot I know, but my father has c diff and anything would be better than what he is going through now.
People’s Pharmacy response: By all means try the coconut. Then have him consider a fecal transplant. FDA has finally decided to permit this as a treatment for C diff.

In response to Cindy’s comment: I , too, can have the opposite response to coconut in all forms; shredded coconut sweet or unsweetened, coconut macaroons, coconut milk – they all go through rapidly rather than providing the relief other people experience.

use coconut sugar maybe- in the healthfood isle. I’ve been using it for years.

Dried, unsweetened coconut is simply wonderful for preventing diarrhea. Just throw it in your smoothie (about 2 heaping T’s per day) or eat it plain. It certainly worked for me when I had to take a beta blocker and high-dose magnesium, both of which cause diarrhea. I’m off those meds now, and I’m sad I have to taper down on the coconut or else it takes things the other direction!

My son, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in late 2006, was prescribed Asacol to control his colitis. The impact of this medication on his kidneys was not monitored. In early 2009 we learned that the Asacol had caused kidney failure in his case. WARNING: If taking Asacol, monitor closely kidney function while taking this medication.
Subsequent to kidney failure, we learned in a Peoples Pharmacy NPR broadcast of the relief that some folks had experienced from coconut. Since then my son each day has eaten a tablespoon of shredded coconut sprinkled on fruit each morning and a Mounds individual size bar at lunch. His colitis has been controlled by coconut since 2009 as verified by normal stools, stool exams and periodic colonoscopies.

I have never suffered from Colitis, Crohn’s, Diarrhea or Ulcerative Colitis. I do not know if this would be beneficial for those who suffer from these horrible ailments. One of my most favorite treats is MOUNDS candy bars. Dark chocolate covering coconut. MOUNDS bars are excellent, in my humble opinion, containing dark chocolate and coconut. Hope this helps those who suffer. Just thought I’d pass this on for consideration.

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