Does MCT oil help with constipation?

MCT oil bottle that wears red cape rescuing constipated woman

If pure coconut oil can help with constipation, so can MCT oil. It is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that make both pure coconut oil and MCT oil so good for relieving constipation. But because MCT oil contains 90+ MCFAs whereas pure coconut oil about 50 – 64% MCFAs, taking MCT oil may cause your bowels to loosen faster and stronger.

Which means, if it takes two tablespoons of pure coconut oil such as virgin (unrefined) or refined coconut oil to make you poop, then you probably need only one tablespoon of MCT oil to help relieve your constipation.

1. Disadvantage of MCT oil

Though MCT oil may provide a stronger laxative effect, I don't quite recommend MCT oil to help with constipation. Why?

It's easier to cause burning poop with MCT oil than using pure coconut oil if you do get diarrhea after consumption.

Let me explain a bit.

Pure coconut oil has some long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) to lubricate the lining in your rectum and the skin tissues around your anus. You probably have heard people pooping some grease out of their bottom after getting the runs from eating pure coconut oil, right?

That grease comes from LCTs. That's the benefit of using pure coconut oil for constipation. You'll get relatively lesser burning poop with it.

But MCT oil is different. It comprises solely MCTs. And its MCTs are so small that they can easily and quickly break down into the even smaller MCFAs and glycerols.

Breaking down of MCT from MCT oil
MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids) help stimulate the contraction and relaxation of intestinal muscles. Glycerols attract water to help soften stool.

True, they loosen your bowels a lot faster. But they have no LCTs to grease the lining in your rectum and the skin around your anus.

A couple of bowel movements induced by the laxative effect of MCT oil are probably still okay for you. But the skin around your anus may wear out (anal fissure) as you poop more and a lot due to a diarrhea side effect caused by too much MCT oil.

To add insult to injury, not all MCFAs will get absorbed into the intestinal cells. A small fraction of MCFAs may slip out with the poop. MCFAs are free fatty acids. They're acidic by nature.

Which means they'll add a bit more burning sensation to your bottom when they graze the skin upon exit. Dry skin can aggravate your burning diarrhea. (Pooping out capsaicin from spicy food can make your butt burn even more.)

From the perspective of constipation relief, MCT oil does its job pretty well to help you poop. But your bottom tissues will need a bit more time to recover before your next round of bowel movement.

2. How to reduce burning poop or diarrhea with MCT oil

The workaround to help reduce burning poop or burning diarrhea is to mix MCT oil with some pure coconut oil.

For example, if you usually add 3 teaspoons of MCT oil to food or beverages, then replace one teaspoon with virgin coconut oil. That will give you 2 teaspoons of MCT oil plus one teaspoon of virgin coconut oil. Or you can mix them 50-50.

Virgin coconut oil will add a coconut flavor. Use RBD coconut oil if you prefer a flavorless mix.

A better way in fact is to use just pure coconut oil to help with your constipation. Pure coconut oil has the perfect proportion of MCTs and LCTs (around 30%).

Save you from the trouble of mixing MCT oil with pure coconut oil just to help reduce burning poop. Also, you don't need to get a separate MCT oil. Save cost.

3. MCT oil not working for your constipation

Not all who take MCT oil will respond well to its laxative effect and get their constipation relieved. Few reasons...

3.1   Food in stomach

Having food in your stomach while drinking MCT oil or mixing MCT oil in your food can slow its digestion and thus, reducing its laxative effect.

More food, lesser effect. Especially fiber-rich food.

To overcome this, wait 1 – 2 hours for most of the food to digest, leaving only a small portion in your stomach. Then add one tablespoon of MCT oil to a glass of water. Stir well and drink.

Don't let your stomach run empty and rumble then you take MCT oil. It's "dangerous"! You might get explosive diarrhea from ingesting MCT oil on an empty stomach.

3.2   Lack of water intake

To make MCT oil work and ease your constipation, you must consume adequate amount of water. Without water, there's nothing for glycerols (from the breakdown of MCTs) to attract and make your stool soft and slippery.

That said, gulp down a glass of water first. If you feel dehydrated, 2 glasses then. A flash flood of water into your intestines can quickly supply enough water molecules to glycerols. You may feel the urge soon, probably in as short as 30 minutes.

If you spread out the water intake, your intestinal cells will have more time to absorb them all. Which leaves little or no water behind for glycerols to make your poop soft.

Are you on certain medications? They may use up your bodily fluid and dry you up very easily. Check with your doctor or medical specialist on how much water you need per day to stay properly and functionally hydrated based on your medical conditions.

3.3   MCT powder (aka MCT oil powder)

It's a powder form of MCT oil, so it should help with constipation, shouldn't it?

Well, MCT powder is not just MCT oil. To turn the liquid MCT oil into solid powder, you need additives such as:

  • Acacia fiber (soluble)
  • Inulin fiber (soluble)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Tapioca starch
  • Sodium caseinate (dairy-derived)
  • Choline chloride
  • Silicon dioxide
  • Sunflower or soy lecithin

When you have these fillers included, how much MCTs are you getting from the MCT powder to help with constipation?

From the various brands of MCT powder I've screened through, fillers account for 20 – 55%. Which leaves 45 – 80% of MCTs as natural laxatives for constipation. If they add collagen (protein) or chocolate or whatever to the product, the amount of MCTs can go below 45%.

Since we're at it, I might as well show you how to check for the quantity of MCTs in MCT powder. Armed with the knowledge, you can avoid brands that contain so much fillers you're not getting enough MCTs for constipation relief. It's easy.

How much MCT in MCT oil powder?

Under the Supplements Facts, zoom in on the amount of saturated fat since all MCTs are saturated fats. If one serving size provides 10 grams of MCT powder and the saturated fat shown is 6 grams, then you have 60% of MCTs in it. Apparently, the remaining 40% are fillers.

As a matter of fact, 60% MCTs in the MCT powder are potent enough to help with constipation. Look at virgin coconut oil. It generally carries around 50% MCTs (good one can have > 60%) but yet it's strong enough to cause you to poop your pants if you happen to take a little too much on an empty stomach.

The problem is, the fillers in the MCT powder may neutralize some laxative effects of MCTs.

Take soluble fiber. It dissolves in water to form a gel that slows digestion. Which means, it'll make the breakdown of MCTs slower. Also, it'll "steal" some water away from glycerols – the natural stool softener from the breakdown of MCTs.

Though soluble fiber may also help to soften stool, glycerols work better as a stool softener. They're chemically simpler in structures and very much smaller in terms of molecular size. And so, they attract water molecules quicker and soften your stool faster.

What's worse is that if you get the brand-B type MCT powder (as shown in the figure above) that carries so many other ingredients, even if it contains 78% MCTs, the laxative effect could have been negated even more by those junk substances. (I'd rather go with the brand-A type MCT powder, which is much simpler and straightforward.)

That explains why MCT powder generally does not upset stomach and cause diarrhea as easily as pure MCT oil, which has no fillers at all.

Theory wise, MCTs and soluble fiber in MCT powder should work well together to help with constipation without causing diarrhea. But if you find that the powder still doesn't help ease your constipation after a few tries, you might want to switch to pure MCT oil instead.

3.4   MCT oil capsules

How many MCT oil capsules are you taking daily to help with constipation?

2, 3 or 4?

Did you know that each softgel contains ONLY 1 g (1000 mg) of MCT oil? And you expect that measly few grams of MCT oil to help with constipation? You gotta be kidding. That's not even close to one teaspoon (about 4.5 g).

People with chronic constipation issue normally requires at least one tablespoon (about 14 g) of MCT oil daily to make them poop. That means, you have to gobble down at least 14 capsules. If you need 2 tablespoons to make your bowels work, then you have to stomach 28 capsules in a day.

If you have to take so many MCT oil softgels, you might as well go with pure MCT oil to help with constipation. It's also a lot cheaper this way. Let's do some simple math.

Take a look at Nature's Way MCT oil. It comes in both softgels (left) and pure liquid form (right).

MCT oil capsulesPure MCT oil
A bottle of Nature's Way MCT oil softgels
A bottle of Nature's Way organic MCT oil
Price: US $26.69
One serving: 3 g
Serving per container: 60
Total quantity: 180 g
Cost per gram: US $0.15
(Price may change)
Price: US $22.86
One serving: 14 g
Serving per container: 32
Total quantity: 448 g
Cost per gram: US $0.05
(Price may change)

See? Not only it's 3 times cheaper to take pure MCT oil, but also safer. Why?

The softgels are usually made of animal-derived gelatin, which may get tainted with antibiotic residues, growth hormones and diseased animal tissues.

If you take MCT oil capsules every day, it's bound to affect your health one way or another in the long run.

Who knows? If you have taken 14 or even 28 MCT oil capsules at once and still you don't feel the urge to poop, that could be the contaminated gelatin that's neutralizing the laxative effect of MCT oil.

So, go with MCT oil if you want to try its laxative effect rather than pills. In case you're thinking of getting Nature's Way MCT oil since I'm using it as an example here, you might as well go with Nutiva MCT oil. Nutiva contains more MCTs per serving than Nature's Way and hence, should make you poop more easily.

3.5   Surgery

Certain surgeries like bowel resection or hip replacement may affect your bowel function. Of course, other types of surgeries may cause constipation too. As long as after a surgery your bowels are not moving as regular as before, taking MCT oil at this juncture may not help much in relieving constipation.

Your bowel muscles may feel weak as your body is recovering from the surgery. But it'll take at least a few weeks to fully recover and you can't just let the smelly toxic waste accumulate inside and harm your health, right?

So? Consult your surgeon regarding your issue.

While you're recovering, you might want to add a teaspoon of MCT oil to your meals or beverages. Start off with just that amount per day.

This is to avoid any potential side effects from taking MCT oil especially when your body is totally new to it.

Once you feel taking one teaspoon of MCT oil daily does not upset your stomach, cause nausea, gas or bloating etc, increase to one teaspoon twice a day.

For example, one teaspoon in breakfast, one in lunch. Then slowly increase to 2 teaspoons in morning and one teaspoon at lunch until you find the perfect daily dosage of MCT oil that sends you nicely to the bathroom every day without causing diarrhea.

3.6   Abuse of chemical laxatives

If all this while you've been using various kinds of laxatives plus enema or suppositories to stimulate your bowels in a bid to ease constipation, the odds are, your bowels could have long lost its spontaneous reaction to the bulk of stool.

When that occurs, no matter how much MCT oil you drink or add to coffee (which is also quite a good natural laxative by itself), your bowels might not move even an inch. And more water in your intestines will just get absorbed and pass out as urine, leaving your stool dry, hard and even impacted.

Even if MCT oil works for you now might not guarantee it will work again the next time around. When that happens, are you going to find another chemical or natural laxative to help you poop?

The search is going to be endless and you'll get caught in a loop forever. You got to do something to break the loop so you can be free once again and spend more time doing what you really like to do. Don't you long for that?

If you nod your head, then I have a real deal to help fix your bowel function and nurse it back to once it was like.

4. How to make your bowels healthy once again

As always, I don't like to rely on drugs or anything unnatural to fix my health. I got back my health via natural ways. I've helped people around me to achieve that. And so, I hope you'll appreciate the natural method I'm going to introduce to you. What's that?

Just change the way you live and what you eat.

Easier said than done, right?

Considering you've been in that unhealthy diet and messy lifestyle for so many years, yes, it is not easy to change.

But think carefully. You're the only one who can make this work. If you refuse to change, no one else in the world can make that happen for you. And you'll forever get stuck in this loop – this laxative not working, next one please.

Look, things are always difficult at first before it becomes easy later. It's like pushing a car that has broken down. It requires lots of strength at first but once it starts to move and gain momentum, you'll need lesser force to make it move.

But don't you worry. I'm going to make it a lot easier for you to start with. You don't have to rack your brain on what and how you should do.

All you need is just follow this Constipation Cure guidebook (by Dr. Scott Mcleod) to make everything happen. Oh, you need a little self-discipline to make it work too.

You know what, I was actually trying to come up with an easy step-by-step guide myself to explain the way to optimal bowel health so people can simply follow it to the T and get rid of their constipation for good.

But after stumbling on and reviewing Dr. Mcleod's ebook about curing constipation, I gave up the idea. What he said in the manual was exactly what I wanted to say. It makes a lot of sense and most importantly, it practically works.

Except for one thing. When you turn to page 31 of his e-book, he told you to take fish oil to improve your omega-3 uptake as part of the constipation treatment plan.

I strongly disagree with him on that. You don't need fish oil for omega-3. Flax oil or ground flax seeds can provide you with plenty of omega-3. (You can also use chia seeds if you have since chia seeds are rich in omega-3 too)

Though it's easier to obtain EPA and DHA from fish oil, fish oil may contain mercury and other toxic compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs).

Why expose your health to such a high risk when you can have a much safer way to obtain EPA and DHA from ALA in flax oil or seeds?

No need to worry that your body cannot convert ALA to EPA or DHA. Our body has the most sophisticated nutrient converter in the universe. Just throw in the flax and it'll process and convert the ALA to EPA or DHA to the exact proportion we need for optimal bowel health.

I've been a vegetarian for near 30 years and I never get deprived of EPA and DHA from ALA in flax seeds.

What's more, it's cruelty-free to choose flax over fish. We don't have to sacrifice other lives to save ours, do we? Animal lives are as precious as ours.

Last but not least, the book also suggests using milk in your diet. If you're lactose-intolerant, just replace it with the plant-based milk of your choice. That's it.