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Research Supports Coconut Remedy to Stop Diarrhea

Readers relate success with the coconut remedy for diarrhea. Scientists have found that virgin coconut oil is active against C diff bacteria.

Have you heard of eating coconut cookies to control a bout of diarrhea? Here’s the story behind this coconut remedy.

Coconut Remedy for Chronic Diarrhea:

Q. My husband suffered with diarrhea for many years. We had not found anything that helped much until we read about coconut macaroon cookies on your website. He was willing to try them, and he found they helped.

He got tired of the cookies over the holidays and switched to coconut candy. That seemed to work just as well. Later he tried a piece of coconut cream pie and found that also stopped the diarrhea. So we concluded that coconut is the magic ingredient.

How We Learned About the Coconut Remedy:

A. More than 20 years ago, Donald Agar wrote to us with this fascinating story:

“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.”

Since then, many other readers have written to us to report benefit from consuming coconut in some form or another. Sadly, Donald Agar is now deceased, but during his lifetime he knew how much people appreciated him sharing his discovery.

Another Reader Prefers Mounds:

Q. You’ve written that coconut macaroon cookies can help control diarrhea. I have found that eating one or two mini Mounds candy bars works well for me.

The mini candy bars are more convenient than macaroon cookies. They’re more portable, making them easier to transport on airplane trips. That’s why I always pack at least two for each day of my planned trip.

One of my friends was also having issues with diarrhea. After I told her that Mounds are working for me, she started eating a small amount of unsweetened coconut daily. She’s diabetic and needs to limit her sugar. That worked for her.

A. We have been writing about coconut macaroon cookies to help control diarrhea since 1998. That’s when Donal Agar wrote us about his positive experience with these cookies to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Many other readers have reported similar success over the decades. We have also heard from those, like you, who have had success with Mounds candy bars.

As far as we can tell, there have been no randomized controlled clinical trials to test either Mounds bars or coconut macaroon cookies as treatments for diarrhea. That said, research in mice shows that virgin coconut oil can “alleviate inflammatory bowel disease and inflammation” (Journal of the American Nutrition Association, Oct. 31, 2023).

People who want to make their own coconut cookies will find a recipe in our book, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. It also contains several remedies for dealing with diarrhea and constipation.

Scientific Support for the Coconut Remedy:

Recently, researchers reported that the lauric acid in coconuts is effective against diarrhea caused by C. diff infections (Yang et al, Frontiers in Microbiology, Jan. 17, 2018). Earlier research had shown that virgin coconut oil has antimicrobial activity against Clostridium difficile bacteria that cause C diff (Shilling et al, Journal of Medicinal Food, Dec. 2013). We can’t explain how coconut works against diarrhea caused by Crohn’s disease, however.

There is more information about the coconut remedy and other ways to control diarrhea in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies: Q&As for Your Common Ailments.

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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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  • Prabha S et al, "Virgin coconut oil alleviates dextran sulphate-induced inflammatory bowel disease and modulates inflammation and immune response in mice." Journal of the American Nutrition Association, Oct. 31, 2023. DOI: 10.1080/27697061.2023.2266742
  • Yang H-T et al, "Lauric acid Is an inhibitor of Clostridium difficile growth in vitro and reduces inflammation in a mouse infection model." Frontiers in Microbiology, Jan. 17, 2018. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02635
  • Shilling M et al, "Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile." Journal of Medicinal Food, Dec. 2013. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0303
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