Oral thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth caused by overgrowth of a species of yeast called Candida albicans. This condition is characterized by painful lesions that are whitish in appearance and form on the tongue and mucus membranes of the mouth. This fungal infection is most common in infants and in those with compromised immune systems. There are certain components in coconut oil that can help eliminate Candida and treat symptoms.
The rich source of nutrients provided by the coconut's flesh, milk, juice and oil has nourished populations around the world for centuries. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses many health-giving properties. Once believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the saturated fatty acids are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Research shows that these fats help prevent heart disease and boost metabolism. The active ingredients in coconut oil are caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid. These fatty acids contain potent antimicrobial agents that kill fungi, including Candida albicans.
Caprylic acid is one of the medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil. It is effective at killing Candida albicans. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, caprylic acid may have important anti-fungal properties. William Crook, M.D., author of "The Yeast Connection," reports that many physicians have used caprylic acid to successfully treat yeast infections, including thrush.
Capric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil. It is the same fatty acid that is present in breast milk and protects the baby from bacterial, viral and fungal infections. According to a study by Bergsson and colleagues, capric acid can rapidly and effectively kill Candida albicans. Capric acid disrupts the cell plasma membrane, leaving the cytoplasm disorganized, shrunken and unable to function properly.
Lauric acid, a third medium-chain fatty acid, was the most active at killing Candida albicans at lower concentrations, according to Bergsson and colleagues. When this fatty acid reacts with enzymes, it forms a compound called Monolaurin. Monolaurin is a powerful anti-fungal agent.
Choosing Coconut Oil
When choosing coconut oil, look for a product that is cold-pressed from fresh coconuts. Extra-virgin coconut oil is a good choice. Non-virgin oil is made from copra, which is coconut flesh that has been dried. This oil must be refined before it is consumed, which destroys many of the essential nutrients of the coconut.
- NHS Choices: Oral Thrush -- Adults
- Coconut Research Center: Coconut
- ''Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy''; In Vitro Killing of Candida Albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides; Gudmundur Bergsson et al; Novemeber 2001
- The University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis
- ''The Yeast Connection Handbook''; William G. Crook, M.D.; May 2007
- Organic Facts: Coconut Oil for Candida
Mandy Dunlop is a nutritionist, health writer and registered nutritional therapist. She has written for various Irish magazines such as "Stellar" and is the leading nutrition expert for eNutritionist, a personal nutrition website. Dunlop holds an honors Bachelor of Science in human nutrition from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, as well as a diploma in nutritional therapy.