You’ve probably heard of doctors recommending caprylic acid to treat a variety of health conditions, including overgrowth of yeast, Candida, Crohn’s disease, etc.
What is caprylic acid?
Caprylic acid is an eight-carbon saturated fatty acid, the systematic name of which is octanoic acid. An oily liquid, the acid has an unpleasant taste and smell and is minimally soluble in water. It forms a part of the class of medium-chain saturated fatty acids and is naturally found in the milk of a number of mammals, including humans and bovines. Coconut oil, too, contains caprylic acid along with two other fatty acids, namely capric acid and lauric acid. It is also found in medium-chain triglyceride oil, which is made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils and is around 75% caprylic acid.
Just as the benefits of coconut oil are many, so are the benefits of caprylic acid.
Caprylic acid, as well as caproic and capric acid, are named after goats and together form 15% of goat milk fat. The percentage of the same in cow milk is 7%. However, just like most medicines and treatments, it does have its list of side-effects. As only limited research has been conducted on the subject, the possible side-effects of the use of caprylic acid, in the long run, are unknown.
Benefits of Caprylic Acid
Caprylic acid is used as a cure for a host of medical conditions and has a number of benefits. Here are some of the ways in which caprylic acid can improve your health:
It has antibacterial properties:
Caprylic acid has antibacterial properties, which means that it has the ability to destroy bacteria as well as suppress their grown and hamper their ability to reproduce. It can thus be used to prevent and treat bacterial infections in humans.
The antibacterial effects of caprylic acid have been seen in studies conducted on animals. However, research on human beings regarding the same is limited. Unlike antibiotics, which kill both the good and bad bacteria in the gut, caprylic acid maintains a balance between the different types of bacteria.
It has antifungal properties:
Studies have revealed that caprylic acid can be used to treat a number of candida yeast infections. These fungal yeast infections include vaginal yeast infections, jock itch in males, ringworm, oral thrush and nail fungus. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida and those suffering from this condition experience itching, swelling and irritation in their vaginal area.
Oral thrush is also caused by the fungus Candida, and its symptoms include a white rash forming in the mouth. The method of oil pulling is used in the treatment of oral thrush, wherein a tablespoon of coconut oil is swished in the mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes.
Candida also refers to the overgrowth of yeast in the gut, leading to irritable bowel syndrome, depression, abdominal bloating and fatigue. The medical benefits of caprylic acid for the treatment of yeast infection are a result of its ability to dissolve or break down the membrane of Candida cells and eventually kill them. If you are taking caprylic acid supplements, it is advisable to consume them with food to reduce the risk of getting a stomach upset.
The antimicrobial and antibacterial property of caprylic acid contributes to its ability to cure a variety of skin conditions. The benefits of coconut oil, which is rich in caprylic acid, have been seen in the treatment of acne, a common skin condition in which hair follicles plug with dead skin cells and oil.
Coconut oil is also used in the treatment of Dermatophilosis, a disease caused by bacteria which results in the development of pustules on arms and hands. In addition, caprylic acid can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is a long-term medical condition in which the skin may crack or peel and appear red, blistered or filled with pus. Psoriasis is a condition in which dermatitis can develop in various parts of the body and results in itching.
In 2006, a study was conducted wherein some animals were fed structured triglyceride oils, and some were not. The results showed that the former had a lower aortic accumulation of cholesterol as well as lower blood cholesterol levels than the latter. In 2008, a study proved that caprylic acid helps to decrease the level of cholesterol. The study was based on tests conducted on rats. The reason behind this is that caprylic acid comes under the category of medium-chain fatty acids, which are known to be extremely effective in the treatment of high cholesterol.
Caprylic acid, due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, is often used in the treatment of digestive disorders. Many of these disorders are caused due to inflammation and bacterial infections, both of which can be treated with caprylic acid.
Experts believe that caprylic acid can also help to treat Crohn’s disease, which is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease which can affect the gastrointestinal tract. The acid helps to cure this condition as it inhibits or reduces the release of a protein called interleukin 8, which is responsible for the development Crohn’s disease by causing inflammation in the intestines.
Side Effects of Caprylic Acid
It can clearly be seen that caprylic can help combat a wide variety of medical conditions. However, before using it, one should be aware of its side effects too. Though caprylic acid is generally considered to be safe when taken in approved doses, there are a few ways in which it can adversely affect the health of a person, such as:
Side effects due to increased fatty acid intake:
As Caprylic acid is a fatty acid, a sudden increase in its consumption can result in a number of side effects, including indigestion, nausea, heartburn, diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation. It can also cause bloating and belching among other problems. A person may become dehydrated because of diarrhoea and vomiting. There is a possibility that the side effects are not limited to these are there hasn’t been much research conducted on the matter.
Side effects due to excessive intake:
Caprylic acid is considered to be quite safe when taken in the prescribed doses however excessive intake of the same can result in a number of health issues. The side effects that can occur due to excessive intake of the Caprylic acid include stomach pain, drowsiness, problems with growth, reduced levels of calcium in the blood and more.
Other side effects:
The side effects that can occur due to the intake of caprylic acid are more severe for people who have certain medical conditions, such as the following:
a) People suffering from blood pressure conditions, especially those under medication, should avoid the intake of caprylic acid. This is because the acid can interact with the medication, which may include NSAIDs and warfarin, leading to harmful effects.
In order to lower their blood pressure, a person may turn to fish oil, Andrographis, coenzyme Q10, and more. If caprylic acid interacts with any of these herbs or supplements, the results can be harmful. Those suffering from low blood pressure should also avoid the use of caprylic acid as it may further lower their blood pressure.
In contrast to this, some experts believe that caprylic acid might actually help to treat blood pressure problems, but until further research is carried out, it’s better to avoid its usage.
b) The intake of caprylic acid is extremely harmful to those suffering from medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency. The deficiency results in the inability of the body to break down caprylic acid and thus the level of the acid in the blood rises. This is harmful to the body and can even result in a coma.
c) Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using caprylic acid. Although there is no study that supports the possibility that caprylic acid is harmful during pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid its intake. People who are prone to getting stomach problems should not use caprylic acid supplements as they can cause a stomach upset.
d) People who are allergic to coconut oil should think twice before applying caprylic acid on their skin.
e) Caprylic acid is not to be used by people suffering from liver diseases. The liver is instrumental in breaking down caprylic acid, and it is suspected that when a person has a liver disease, this breakdown is not possible. Although some argue that the breakdown of caprylic acid is possible even in such cases, it’s always better to stay on the safer side and avoid it.
Caprylic acid, thus, can do a whole lot of good for the body but can also lead to a number of side effects. If you wish to reap the benefits of caprylic acid, it is advisable not to increase your intake overnight as you need to give your body some time to adapt to it. Caprylic acid is not suitable for everyone, and thus you should consult a specialist before making it a part of your diet.