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Does Coconut Oil Cure Hypothyroidism?

By Lisa Sefcik

Coconut oil is a reputed cure for hypothyroidism, a medical condition that causes troublesome symptoms like weight gain, lethargy, cold sensitivity and depression. Purportedly, coconut oil contains a certain type of fatty acid that boosts your metabolism. However, medical experts and health fraud watchdog groups beg to differ. Coconut oil is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a drug to treat hypothyroidism. Please talk to your doctor before using any type of complementary or alternative treatment to address your health concerns.

Hypothyroidism Basics

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, can develop slowly over the course of years, according to Your thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland located just below your Adam's apple, secretes the hormones thyrozine, or T4 and triiodothyronine, or T-3. The pituitary gland in your brain dictates how much of these hormones are released; whenever your thyroid function runs low, it releases thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, to stimulate the gland. The most common type of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which disables the thyroid gland's ability to produce T-4 and T-3. Radiation treatment for cancer, surgical removal of the thyroid and treatment for hyperthyroidism can result in hypothyroidism, as can use of certain medications. Hypothyroidism can afflict anyone; however, indicates that it's more common in women over 50.

Coconut Oil Claims

A number of books have been published touting the virtues of virgin coconut oil as a natural cure for everything from diabetes to yeast infections. The fatty acids in coconut oil purportedly stimulate thyroid function and cause weight loss. Dr. Stephen Barrett, co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud, points to osteopathic physician Joseph Mercola, who runs an informational health website that promotes virgin coconut oil as a hypothyroidism cure. Mercola's site includes numerous personal testimonials from individuals who claim their hypothyroidism went away after using coconut oil. Some indicate that they have stopped using conventional medications for hypothyroidism. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned Mercola three times to cease making therapeutic claims about the products promoted on his site, including coconut oil.

Expert Insight

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Todd B. Nippoldt states that coconut oil cannot cure hypothyroidism. He also indicates that there's not a diet that treats hypothyroidism. In a March 2011 article published in the "New York Times, molecular biologist Dr. Daniel Hwang of the University of California -- Davis indicated that there's no research that shows that coconut oil lives up to any of the health claims made about it.

Trust Your Doctor

Beware of miracle products, including dietary supplements and special foods, that purportedly cure a wide variety of diseases. The Federal Trade Commission, the governmental agency entrusted with making sure that marketers don't lure you in using false or misleading claims, indicates that this is a hallmark sign of health fraud. Chances are good that you're being induced to purchase a product so the manufacturer or website owner can get richer. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement called levothyroxine, a drug prescribed by doctors. If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, don't rely on coconut oil to cure you. Schedule an appointment with your treating physician.

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