Coconut Oil for UTI: Can It Be Used for Treatment?

Some websites and forums recommend using coconut oil for urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of this treatment is limited. 

This post asks whether you can use coconut oil to treat a UTI, how it might work, and how to take it. We then explore whether coconut oil can actually cause UTIs before wrapping up. 

Table of Contents

Can You Use Coconut Oil to Treat a UTI?

You can use coconut oil to treat a UTI. However, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence that proves it can help. In fact, some studies have shown coconut oil to be ineffective in treating UTIs.

If you want to use coconut oil, consult with your doctor. Do not use it as a replacement for regular medical advice. 

How Does Coconut Oil Help With a UTI?

Coconut oil is a safe, sterile plant fat known for its moisturizing abilities. In the beauty world, people regularly apply it to their skin and hair to make it look shinier and more radiant. 

Coconut oil, however, may also have mild medicinal properties. While there is no research on the effectiveness of coconut oil for urinary tract infections specifically, there is ample research on its antimicrobial properties. 

Coconuts grow in warm, humid tropical countries – ideal conditions for bacterial growth. Coconut trees, therefore, have evolved anti-bacterial defense mechanisms that protect their fruits. As humans, we may be able to harness these defenses and use them to fight infection directly. 

Researchers believe that coconut’s antimicrobial properties come from its high lauric acid content. This acid kills microbes on contact. 

Publishing in the Journal of Medicinal Food, investigators found that fatty acids in coconut oil slow the growth of Clostridium difficile, a common cause of diarrhea. They also found that it could disrupt the bug’s metabolism at low concentrations, suggesting that it might be a good adjunct therapy for regular urinary tract infections. 

With that said, patients need to be careful about the type of coconut oil they use. Researchers didn’t use standard off-the-shelf varieties but rather a special type of medical-grade coconut oil, high in bioavailable fatty acids. 

Evidence from African studies suggests that coconut oil is effective at fighting drug-resistant Candida, a type of yeast that can grow uncontrolled in the body, particularly the vagina. Coconut oil appears to stop the fungus in its tracks and reduces symptoms. 

Unfortunately, most of the evidence that coconut oils fight UTIs is anecdotal. But that doesn’t mean that it is ineffective. It simply means that the scientific community needs to do further research on it. It may turn out that coconut oil is similarly effective to cranberry juice (a common UTI home remedy) or more so. We simply don’t know at this time. 

How to Use Coconut Oil for a UTI?

If you have a UTI, go to your doctor first. Most UTIs do not clear up by themselves. Healthcare providers will tell you the course of treatment you should take.

If you still want to experiment with coconut oil, you can but you should explore standard medical options as well. In this section, we detail some of the ways you can use coconut oil for a UTI. Here’s what to do: 

Topical Coconut Oil

Many people use coconut oil for skin conditions, such as xerosis, psoriasis, and eczema because it is safe and mostly hypoallergenic. If using it for a UTI, apply it liberally to your genital area. 

The oil itself won’t usually come into contact with the bacteria causing the UTI since these usually inhabit the urethra, ureter, or bladder. However, it may assist with burning while peeing. 

Before you apply coconut oil to your vagina, do a patch test to make sure that you are not allergic to it. Put a small dab on your forearm and let it sit for 24 hours. If it doesn’t cause any irritation, you are free to apply it to other areas of your body. 

Oral Coconut Oil

Some websites recommend taking coconut oil orally (through the mouth), however, there is no research indicating this is effective. Most patients take between three tablespoons at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a UTI but, again, there is no research into effective dosages. 

Coconut oil is a safe food when consumed in small quantities. However, you will want to avoid taking large amounts. It is extremely high in saturated fat. Just two tablespoons can take you over the 13-gram daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. 

If you don’t like eating spoonfuls of oil neat, you can try adding it to your meals. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature in most locations, so you may need to melt it gently first. You can then stir it into oatmeal or drizzle it over a salad.

Drinking Coconut Water

You can also get coconut into your body by drinking coconut water. Coconut water comes from a different part of the plant than oil but has the same antimicrobial properties. Since coconut water is natural, you can combine it with cranberry to reduce symptoms.

Is coconut water good for UTI? Interestingly, coconut water’s biggest effect on UTIs is probably as a diuretic – something that makes you pee more – and not as an antibacterial or antifungal agent. Drinking more than 8 ounces may help flush out the bladder, removing the infection from your system. 

As with coconut oil, dosage recommendations are purely anecdotal. Most patients consume regular amounts, perhaps up to 18 ounces per day. The only people who should not drink high quantities are those with conditions of excess potassium, such as hyperkalemia. 

Coconut water is mainly water, so drinking too much can be toxic, or even fatal (just like regular water). Therefore, limit your total liquid consumption to around 3 liters per day and spread your drinks out just to be safe. 

Possible Risks of Coconut Oil

Most medical practitioners and health experts consider coconut oil to be safe, both when taken by the mouth and rubbed on the skin. However, there are some possible risks. 

Coconut oils, for instance, are high in potassium. Therefore, you should not take it orally if you have a health condition that involves elevated blood potassium levels, as mentioned above. 

Also discussed above, some people are allergic to coconut oil, though such allergies are rare. These individuals should not ingest or apply coconut oil topically to the skin. 

The biggest risk, though, is cardiovascular. Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat. And while it is from plant sources, not animals, it can still cause cholesterol levels to rise significantly, just like palm oil. People who eat a lot of saturated fats are at much higher risk of conditions like angina and heart attacks. 

Generally speaking, consuming large quantities of coconut oil for a few days shouldn’t matter. However, long-term consumption may lead to problems. 

Can Coconut Oil Cause a UTI?

Some couples use coconut oil as a sex lubricant because of its hypoallergenic and lubricating properties. However, this may put you at a higher risk of developing a coconut oil lubricant UTI

Coconut oil is slightly alkaline but the vagina’s interior is acidic. If the pH of the vagina remains higher than it should be for too long, it can foster the growth of yeast, causing infections.

On the flipside, coconut oil increases the activity of enzymes in the vagina associated with lactic acid bacteria, a type of microbe that supports urinary tract health. This bacteria may crowd out E.coli and other germs that cause infection. 

At present, there are no case reports or figures suggesting that coconut oil increases the risk of UTIs. However, most healthcare providers agree that more research is required. At present, applying coconut oil to the genitals seems harmless, but it may also be ineffective for UTIs. 

When to See a Doctor?

If you have a UTI, it is a good idea to see a doctor immediately. UTIs rarely clear up by themselves and they can cause serious damage if they linger for too long. 

If you generally have mild UTIs and you are used to them, you may want to try over-the-counter or topical medications, such as coconut oil first. However, if your symptoms are severe, getting worse, or don’t improve after a few days, you should see a physician for the antibiotics you need. 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

When it comes to tackling urinary tract infections, DrHouse is here to help. Our medical team of licensed professionals can provide you with the medication and guidance necessary for treating your UTI in a safe and effective manner. 

We offer on-demand virtual doctor visits, so you can speak directly to a physician from the comfort of your own home. Our clinicians can diagnose your condition and provide guidance on the best course of treatment, including getting an online prescription for any necessary medication.

Key Takeaways

So, what have we learned about the relationship between coconut oil and UTIs?

  • Most people can safely use coconut oil to treat UTIs thanks to its hypoallergenic properties
  • If you use coconut oil topically, you should apply it to external genital areas, not inside
  • Consuming a lot of coconut oil for an extended period may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Coconut water may offer the same antibacterial action as regular oil, though, more likely it assists with UTIs as a diuretic
  • Coconut oil is unlikely to cause a UTI if used as a sex lubricant, however, research is ongoing
  • If your symptoms don’t go away after a few days or are getting worse, see your doctor, even if you are currently using coconut oil

Sources:

  • Dayrit, F.M. The Properties of Lauric Acid and Their Significance in Coconut Oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc 92, 1–15 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11746-014-2562-7
  • Shilling M, Matt L, Rubin E, Visitacion MP, Haller NA, Grey SF, Woolverton CJ. Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. J Med Food. 2013 Dec;16(12):1079-85. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0303. PMID: 24328700.
  • D.O. Ogbolu, A.A. Oni, O.A. Daini, and A.P. Oloko. In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan, Nigeria. Journal of Medicinal Food.Jun 2007.384-387.http://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2006.1209
  • Kunin, Calvin M. “Urinary Tract Infections in Females.” Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 18, no. 1, 1994, pp. 1–10. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4457547. 
  • Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis. 2004 Sep;15(3):109-16. doi: 10.2310/6620.2004.04006. PMID: 15724344.
  • Laurence Eyres, Michael F. Eyres, Alexandra Chisholm, Rachel C. Brown, Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 74, Issue 4, April 2016, Pages 267–280, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuw002

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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