Diarrhea From MCT Oil – Why Having “Disaster Pants” Is Not as Funny as It Sounds

Diarrhea From MCT Oil – Why Having "Disaster Pants" Is Not as Funny as It Sounds

I’ll never forget the first time I tried MCT oil. It was the time of kale shakes, and I decided to replace my coconut oil with MCT oil. I used roughly the same volume, and it caused me to take my first day off of work in over a decade. I spent an hour in the bathroom and took a four-hour nap. At the time, I could not put the pieces together. I did not link the MCT to the digestive problems, and thought it was the flu, or something else, so when I woke up from my nap, feeling much better, I decided to eat something healthy to recover, so I made another kale shake with MCT oil. The second time, I figured it out.

Why does MCT Oil cause stomach discomfort?

There are a few reasons why MCT oil causes diarrhea. First, MCT oil contains triglycerides that are unusual, in that they can be metabolized without liver transport. 1 Normally, when you consume a coconut, you are getting a variety of macronutrients, and most of them require enzymes to cleave apart hydrogen bonds to simplify them for metabolism. With MCT oil, the eight and ten chain fatty acids can undergo beta-oxidation immediately meaning that your cells can break them down for energy without help from the liver. 2 When you take a bolus (a high quantity of a compound, medication, or substance consumed orally) of MCT oil, it acts as an irritant and physiological mechanisms are triggered to flush the gut.

Secondly, many brands of MCT oil source their products from the cosmetic industry. 3 The cosmetic industry is primarily interested in the C12, lauric acid component of coconut oil, and supplement companies can buy the C8, and C10 oils at a bargain price. Since the lauric acid was not intended to be consumed internally, the cosmetic industry may use harsh chemicals to extract the oils. These chemicals, like hexane, are very irritating to the gut lining. 4 Lastly, C8, caprylic acid is highly antimicrobial. It can eliminate many species of yeast and bacteria on contact. When yeast and bacteria are exposed to caprylic acid, they undergo lysis and spill open creating an immune response that irritates the gut. 5 6

What’s the big deal?

Is a little stomach discomfort so bad from too much, or poor quality MCT oil? The truth is that there is more damage being done than just an upset stomach and diarrhea. When the epithelium of the digestive tract becomes irritated in such a way, the body responds by flushing the irritant out. To be able to cause rapid dumping, the epithelial cells must expand to let in the fluid consisting of water and ClO. 7 Unfortunately, harmful materials called endotoxin will pass from the gut lining into the bloodstream. This is, to a much smaller degree, what people experience when they undergo sepsis. It is not immediately life threatening, but it does over time causes inflammation to the internal organs and vascular system.

What can I do to prevent damage from MCT oil?

  1. C8 fatty acids are less irritating on the gut than other MCTs. Try and find a product that has a high percentage of C8, or better yet, pure C8 like Brain Octane Oil.
  2. Get a high-quality product that has not been extracted from the cosmetic industry and has been manufactured for oral consumption.
  3. Consume your MCT oil with a little bit of protein to reduce the bolus effect.
  4. Sometimes less is more. Do you need to take in two tablespoons of MCT oil at once?

Did you know that MCT oil is not the only substrate that can cause bolus like digestive distress? Large quantities of fructose, some minerals, and some pure amino acids can do the same. 8 9 10 11 If you are getting “disaster pants” you need to stop!  It is not only hard on your gut: but it is also hard on your body.

Have problems with disaster pants? Join the discussion on the Fix Your Gut Forums!

10 Comments
  1. Like many of you, I started putting MCT Oil into my Coffee, just a teaspoon twice a day, but on an empty stomach. First thing I noticed was that my bms were dark, very dark, but there was no discomfort. Now, on about the fifth day, my bowels are in severe pain–that cramped over kind (first I thought I might be passing a kidney stone!) I’m laying low hoping my gut repairs–any thoughts on facilitating this repair (besides my suspended MCT use)?

  2. I tried both oil and octane in coffee and by the 3rd day of having 1 cup in morning experienced severe cramping and stomach distention. I like the products but apparently they don’t agree with me.

  3. Is there any way to ease the symptoms or do you just have to ride it out? I have used mct before without issue so thought I’d be okay but I was mistaken.

  4. I haven’t had MCT oil in 6 weeks; however, I’m still having GI issues. I had tried a couple of years ago and just never could tolerate it, even in small amounts. I recently tried again and it was going OK until one day I poured more than usual in my coffee and thought, “Maybe I can handle it now”. I can’t. I have had violent GI issues ever since and starting to fear it won’t stop. Any advice on getting back to normal?

  5. I have ulcerative colitis and am currently on a Keto lifestyle. I like an idiot took 3tbsp of MCT in my coffee this morning before my workout. Since getting home I have had really bad diarrhea. Equivalent to when preparing for a colonoscopy.

    I know now to use a tiny dose of MCT, but I was wondering if it is safe at all for someone with UC?

  6. Using mct oil in my coffee ~ gives me a slight stinging taste temporarily in my mouth and occasionally a temporary anxious state. Does that sound right?

  7. The times I have made my bulletproof coffee and had used the brain octane oil, it gave me a slightly upset stomach. Is this normal and will my body adjust over time?

    • More than likely yes, I would try smaller amounts to see if you can tolerate it. If it continues to cause upset stomach, discontinue.

  8. I just take one swallow of brain octane and get a severe response of stomach cramps and the runs after 30 mins. Does that mean I have some bad bacteria or yeast problems?

    • Possibly, you may have some overgrowth and it is a die off reaction. It could also be an intolerance to the oil or hypersensitivity of the bowels.

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