I am chatting with a woman in the health food store. She is casually eyeballing the contents of my shopping cart. She spies some dried coconut and asks me if I know about coconut oil.
Do I know about coconut oil?
I tell her that yes, I have researched it extensively. She apparently thinks that this makes us kindred spirits and begins to outline all of the gory ways in which coconut oil wronged her.
After listening to her tale of woe, I open my mouth to offer her a little nugget of info, but before I can say anything she says, “I hope you know that you can overdose on coconut oil just as easily as I did. You probably want to stop using it.”
I couldn't help myself. A small giggle escaped.
A coconut oil overdose? Oh boy. Yes, I might be addicted to the stuff but I assure you, coconut oil isn't some new street drug which will lead you on a journey of self-destruction. In fact, quite the opposite. Even if you do overdose on it.
Let's talk about what actually happened to this poor woman because quite frankly, it can happen to you.
Coconut oil is powerful stuff. If you have specific health issues that you need to address, there is a strong likelihood that you may experience some rather unpleasant side effects when you first begin consuming coconut oil, especially if you throw caution to the wind and add coconut oil to your diet by the cupful.
Quick disclaimer – I am required to clearly state that I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I pretend to be one on this site. Take what I write as a launching off point to do your own research. My advice, experience, and suggestions are not to be considered medical advice.
THIS IS NORMAL. YOU DID NOT OVERDOSE ON COCONUT OIL!
What you are experiencing is a phenomenon known as “die off.”
Die off, or a Herxheimer reaction, is the reaction that is thought to happen when toxins from dying pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites, candida, etc.) overwhelm the body's abilities to clear them out. In simple terms, when your body starts getting rid of the bad stuff, toxins, it creates a natural response throughout the body designed to move the bad out quickly.
This can look different from person to person. One individual might simply have a runny nose for a day or two while another might have full-blown flu-like symptoms for upwards of a week. Someone else may have an upset stomach for several days while another is firmly planted on the throne, pooping their brains out. (If the latter is you, I hope you have a Squatty Potty handy!) The degree in which you shed toxins will depend on how many toxins you need to get rid of.
The key to avoiding severe die-off symptoms, is to start sloooooowly. No really. Go slower. Even slower. If you are new to coconut oil and eating real foods in general, don't attempt to make a complete overhaul in one 24-hour period. Your body will revolt. It needs time to safely and efficiently move out the bad to make room for the good.
Newbies to coconut oil should start with less than one tablespoon per day and work up the amount you are consuming over the course of 2-4 weeks. Really listen to your body. Feel your body. If you start feeling run down or showing signs of illness, back off a little and give your body time to shed those toxins.
I probably consume about ½ cup of coconut oil per day but I have been using it for three years now. I started with one tablespoon and worked up to ½ cup or more per day over the course of three months. I had little die-off moments here and there but it was always manageable. I was careful not to overwhelm my system. As soon as I felt “icky” I would stay at that “dosage” and give my body a few days to adjust and release toxins.
Don't let your body's natural detoxification reaction sway you away from all the health benefits of coconut oil. Simply take care to introduce it slowly and be aware of your body's reaction. Don't worry…you won't end up in the Emergency Room with a note on your chart that suggests you be admitted to the closest coconut oil treatment facility.
Did you experience any die-off type of reactions when you first began your relationship with coconut oil? Please share your experience so others can learn and be more aware!