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Is MCT Oil Good for IBS?


If you happen to suffer from IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, you aren't alone. This can be a debilitating condition affecting the intestines and stomach, which can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, IBS is not a curable condition, but there are treatments for it and ways to manage it over the long run. Many people who have IBS only have mild to moderate symptoms, with the minority having severe symptoms.

Generally speaking, controlling diet, stress levels, and lifestyle should be enough to manage IBS symptoms in most. However, there are more severe cases where people may require counseling and medication.

One solution to help control symptoms caused by IBS may be to take MCT oil. For those who don't know what MCT oil is, no worries because this is exactly what we are here to discuss today, particularly in relation to IBS.


Key Takeaways

  • IBS is a common condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract. It's not curable, but its symptoms can be managed through dietary interventions, stress reduction, and lifestyle changes. More severe cases may require counseling and medication.
  • Dietary choices play a significant role in managing IBS symptoms. The FODMAP diet recommends eliminating certain foods like dairy products, wheat products, legumes, and specific fruits while encouraging the consumption of eggs, meat, and high-fiber foods.
  • MCT oil has potential benefits for individuals with IBS. It may act as an anti-inflammatory source, positively influence gut bacteria, provide energy for colon cells, and help with nutrient absorption. However, it should be used in moderation to avoid potential side effects.


Understanding IBS

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a very common issue affecting the gastrointestinal tract, the stomach, and the intestines. Some of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain, particularly in relation to passing a bowel movement.

There may also be changes in the appearance of bowel movements, as well as changes in the frequency of your bowel movements.

There may also be sensations that you haven't finished your bowel movements, and you might notice increased stool mucus and gassiness. Extreme cases of irritable bowel syndrome may lead to rectal bleeding, iron deficiencies, weight loss, and more.

What is interesting to note is that the exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome are unknown. Doctors still haven't figured out exactly why people suffer from this. With that being said, there are certain things that can trigger the symptoms of IBS to worsen, including various foods and stress.

However, some factors appear to play a role in irritable bowel syndrome, including how your nervous system functions, muscle contractions in the intestines, stress in early life, severe infections, and changes in gut microbes. 

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Common Dietary Interventions for IBS

Symptoms of IBS are often triggered by food, which means that limiting the number of certain foods you eat can go a long way in controlling the symptoms. One dietary change that doctors will recommend is following the FODMAP diet.  

This diet states that in order to ease symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, foods such as ice cream, yogurt, and milk should all be eliminated, or in other words, most dairy products. 

Wheat products such as crackers, bread, and cereal should also be eliminated. Legumes such as beans, lentils, and vegetables such as asparagus, onions, garlic, and artichokes should also be avoided. 

Certain fruits, such as peaches, pears, apples, and cherries, should be avoided according to this diet.

Instead, this diet recommends eating more eggs, meat, almond milk, quinoa, oats, rice, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, grapes, oranges, blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple.

In general, it is recommended that you avoid most forms of lactose, gluten, and high amounts of sugars. In some people, grease and fats may also cause IBS symptoms to worsen. However, one of the best foods for people with irritable bowel syndrome is anything high in fiber.


What is MCT Oil?

Now we have MCT oil, which stands for medium chain triglycerides. This is a special type of saturated fatty acid, and like all other triglycerides, these are made up of a glycerol backbone attached to three fatty acids.

MCT oils differ because the chain length has 6 to 12 carbons for each fatty acid. Some prime examples of medium chain triglycerides include palm kernel and coconut oil.

On a side note, many people mistake coconut oil for medium chain triglycerides. In reality, coconut oil consists of roughly 55% medium chain triglycerides, but is not pure.

To be clear, MCT oil is made through a manmade process known as fractionation. What is beneficial about MCT oils is that the body absorbs them very quickly, faster than long-chain fatty acids, and they don't require any pancreatic enzymes or bile to be digested. 

MCT oils go straight to your liver for metabolization, which means that they're also not very likely to be stored as fat.


Benefits of MCT Oil

MCT oils have quite a few notable benefits to speak of, So let's take a quick look at what some of these might be.

Lowering Calorie Intake

According to recent studies, people who consume medium chain triglycerides have lower calorie intakes than people who consume long chain triglycerides, which could ultimately lead to weight loss.

Possible Weight Loss

Several other studies note that consuming medium chain triglyceride oil may also help reduce overall body weight and the circumference of your waist. There is also some research that indicates that it may be able to help prevent obesity.

A Good Energy Source

These types of oils are also seen as great energy sources because the body tends to absorb them much quicker than long chain triglycerides. They travel to your liver quickly and don't require much for your body to break down, providing you with a fast energy source.

Fighting Diseases

According to recent evidence, medium chain triglyceride oils may also have both antifungal and antimicrobial effects, which means that they may be able to kill funguses and microbes.


MCT Oil in the Digestive System

One of the reasons why MCTs appear to be so beneficial for gut health is because they are absorbed very easily. As mentioned above, they travel rather directly to the liver from the gut, and this is because they don't require any pancreatic enzymes or bile to digest.

MCT oils appear to have various benefits for your gut health and digestive system, which can be particularly beneficial for people with IBS.

MCT oil may act as an anti-inflammatory source to calm down irritated stomach linings and intestines; it has a beneficial impact on gut bacteria and acts as an energy source for cells.


MCT Oil and IBS – The Current Research

There is a good deal of research out there in terms of the relationship between MCT oil and IBS on the front of inflammation. Irritable bowel syndrome is most often associated with inflammation of the intestinal tract, which is why it may also be referred to as inflammatory bowel disease.

It would appear as though medium chain triglycerides contain a variety of anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce or even, in some cases, eliminate symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

It appears that medium chain triglycerides reduce the production of pro-inflammatory immune cells while simultaneously increasing the production of anti-inflammatory immune cells. The reduction in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract should provide sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome with great relief.

People with irritable bowel syndrome may also be more at risk of developing issues due to the invasion of harmful microorganisms and antigens. Studies show that supplementing with medium chain triglyceride oils may promote the healthy growth of gut bacteria, which helps strengthen the intestinal barrier.

This helps prevent harmful antigens and microorganisms from making their way into your gastrointestinal tract, ultimately reducing the chances of you suffering diarrhea, stomach pains, bloating, and more.

There are also studies that show that MCT may help reduce the chances of fungal infections from occurring in gastrointestinal tracts. Fungal infections are not good for anybody, particularly for people with IBS.

Another issue that people who have IBS suffer from is that they often don't absorb nutrients properly. People with IBS often have diarrhea and poor nutrient absorption in general, which can often lead to various mineral and vitamin deficiencies. 

There are studies out there that show that MCT may help reduce diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress. This helps the gastrointestinal tract absorb more nutrients regularly, benefiting both the mind and body in many ways.


Benefits of MCT Oil for IBS Sufferers

Let's take a quick look at some of the main benefits that MCT oil has for IBS sufferers.

  • Possible anti-inflammatory source: Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of medium chain triglycerides, they may be able to help reduce inflammation associated with IBS and related issues.
  • Impact on gut bacteria: Medium chain triglycerides may also be beneficial for the population of healthy gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria strengthen the intestinal wall, preventing microorganisms from getting in and causing infection, and allowing for better nutrient absorption.
  • Energy source for colon cells: Medium chain triglycerides may also act as important sources of energy for coal and cells, otherwise known as intestinal epithelial cells. These are important for the absorption of nutrients, food digestion, and protecting the human body from various microbial infections.


Potential Concerns and Side Effects

Even though MCT may be beneficial for people with IBS, it will still work for some. Remember that very high amounts of it may result in gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and bloating. Therefore, it's recommended that you only take up to two tablespoons each day.

Furthermore, remember that this is technically a source of fat, which means that consuming too much MCT can lead to weight gain. On that note, due to this being a type of fat, it's also not great for your heart.

When taken in large doses, some people may also experience decreased appetite, nausea, headache, and acid reflux.


How to Use MCT Oil for IBS

Everybody is a little different, although it is recommended that MCT oil for IBS be taken once daily, with up to two tablespoons per serving. If two tablespoons at once is too much for you, you can always divide this up and take one dose in the morning and one at night.


Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that MCT oil may have some benefits for people suffering from IBS.

Although there may also be some minor side effects, in the grand scheme of things, it appears as though many people find success using MCT oil as a way to reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

So, does MCT oil help IBS? All signs point towards yes, it does!


MCT Oil for IBS: Frequently Asked Questions

How Much MCT Oil Should I Take for IBS?

It is recommended that you take anywhere between one and two tablespoons of MCT oil per day for IBS.

Can MCT Oil Worsen IBS Symptoms?

Yes, in some cases, MCT oil may worsen IBS symptoms, particularly diarrhea.

Are There Specific Brands of MCT Oil Recommended for IBS?

BUBS Naturals, Nature’s Way, Bulletproof Brain, Onnit, and NOW Sports Nutrition all have high-quality MCT oil.

How Does MCT Oil Compare to Coconut Oil for IBS?

Coconut oil is roughly 55% MCT oil, which means that it's only about half as potent. MCT oil is better.

Can I Combine MCT Oil with Other Dietary Interventions for IBS?

Whether or not it is a good idea to combine MCT oil with other dietary inventions for IBS is questionable. This is something that you should always consult a health care practitioner about first period.

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