Coconut Oil in Food Reduces Skin Allergy

New study in mice shows effect of consuming dietary coconut oil in controlling allergic skin inflammation

Health benefit of a dietary oil is primarily determined by the composition of fatty acids – saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids play significant roles in the body including dealing with inflammation and allergy. Coconut oil, extracted from the edible meat of a mature coconut, constitutes mainly of absorbable medium chain saturated fatty acids which are considered healthy as they are easily metabolized by the liver. Coconut oil’s unique combination of fatty acids is suggested to have a positive effect on one’s health. Coconut oil is easily digestible, readily available and inexpensive. It is known that topical application of coconut oil reduces skin infections and inflammation, but the exact role of dietary coconut oil in reducing skin inflammation is unknown, until a new study.

A latest study published in Allergy researchers set out to elucidate the possible role of coconut oil as a dietary fat in skin inflammation. They conducted experiments using mice model of contact hypersensitivity (CHS). In CHS model a hypersensitivity reaction in induced in the skin by hapten 1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (DNFB). In the condition – called allergic contact dermatitis – inflammation intensity is correlated with swelling in ear. The mice were given chow diets containing 4 percent coconut oil. Mice is the control group were given diet with 4 percent soybean oil. The mice were then treated with DNFB for eliciting hypersensitivity reaction. Subsequently their ear swelling was measured.

Results showed that mice who took and maintained a diet of coconut oil exhibited improvement in skin inflammation and signs like swelling in ear were correspondingly reduced. Further, mice on maintained diet of coconut oil showed substantially amplified levels of mead acid, a metabolite derived from oleic acid known to have anti-inflammatory properties. The increased levels of mead acid in mice on dietery coconut oil was responsible for inhibiting CHS and reducing the number of neutrophils entering the skin. Neutrophils are known to play a critical role in inducing skin inflammation.

The current study shows a novel and promising anti-inflammatory role of dietary coconut oil and mead acid against skin inflammation in an animal model. Further studies on humans’ allergic contact hypersenstivity model can elucidate role of coconut oil and mead acid in reducing skin inflammation in humans. The limited number of available medicines for skin inflammation like antihistamines, corticosteroids have several side effects e.g. stinging, burning etc. Mead acid is a safe and stable endogenously produced saturated fatty acid which could be a promising alternative for therapeutic approaches towards skin inflammation.


{You may read the original research paper by clicking the DOI link given below in the list of cited source(s)}


Tiwari P et al. 2019. Dietary coconut oil ameliorates skin contact hypersensitivity through mead acid production in mice. Allergy.

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