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Caprylic Acid

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Updated October 23, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Caprylic acid is a medium-chain triglyceride found naturally in palm oil and coconut oil, and in human breast milk and cow's milk. Also sold in dietary supplement form, caprylic acid is said to offer a number of health benefits.

Uses for Caprylic Acid

Proponents claim that caprylic acid can help treat health problems associated with the overgrowth of yeast, such as vaginal yeast infections, candida, and thrush.

Caprylic acid is also said to treat fungal infections, such as ringworm.

In addition, caprylic acid is purported to manage high blood pressure, treat Crohn's disease, as well as reduce cholesterol levels and fight off bacterial infections.

Benefits of Caprylic Acid

To date, research on the health effects of caprylic acid is very limited. However, there's some evidence that caprylic acid may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:

1) Cholesterol

Preliminary research indicates that caprylic acid may help keep your cholesterol in check. In a study published in the journal Lipids in 2008, tests on rats determined that treatment with caprylic acid led to a decrease in cholesterol levels. However, caprylic acid failed to lower blood pressure.

Find out about natural remedies to lower cholesterol.

2) Crohn's Disease

Caprylic acid shows promise in the treatment of Crohn's disease. In a 2002 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, tests on human cells revealed that caprylic acid may help treat Crohn's disease by suppressing the release of interleukin 8 (a protein that plays a key role in promoting intestinal inflammation).

Learn more about Remedies for Crohn's.

3) Bacterial Infections

Although some animal-based research suggests that caprylic acid may offer antibacterial benefits—and, in turn, help prevent or treat bacterial infections—there is currently a lack of research testing caprylic acid's effectiveness against bacterial infections in humans.

Safety

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing caprylic acid. But there's some concern that caprylic acid may trigger certain side effects, such as nausea, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, and indigestion due to the increased fatty acid intake.

It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition (such as high blood pressure or Crohn's disease) with caprylic acid, and avoiding or delaying standard care, may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of caprylic acid in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician.

Alternatives To Caprylic Acid

Although there's currently little scientific evidence to support the use of caprylic acid supplements, increasing your intake of caprylic acid by consuming coconut oil may offer certain health benefits. For instance, preliminary studies suggest that coconut oil may help reduce abdominal fat, promote weight loss, and improve cholesterol levels.

If you're seeking an alternative treatment for yeast infections, natural remedies such as probiotic supplements may be of some benefit.

Where To Find Caprylic Acid

Available for purchase online, supplements containing caprylic acid are sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Hoshimoto A, Suzuki Y, Katsuno T, Nakajima H, Saito Y. "Caprylic acid and medium-chain triglycerides inhibit IL-8 gene transcription in Caco-2 cells: comparison with the potent histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A." Br J Pharmacol. 2002 May;136(2):280-6.

Kim BH, Sandock KD, Robertson TP, Lewis SJ, Akoh CC. "Dietary structured lipids and phytosteryl esters: blood lipids and cardiovascular status in spontaneously hypertensive rats." Lipids. 2008 Jan;43(1):55-64.

Nair MK, Joy J, Vasudevan P, Hinckley L, Hoagland TA, Venkitanarayanan KS. "Antibacterial effect of caprylic acid and monocaprylin on major bacterial mastitis pathogens." J Dairy Sci. 2005 Oct;88(10):3488-95.

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