Caprylic acid is a type of beneficial saturated fatty acid that has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Found in healing foods like coconut and coconut oil, cow’s milk, and human breast milk, it’s been linked to prevention of urinary tract infections, bladder infections, Candida virus, sexually transmitted diseases, oral infections like gingivitis and many other conditions.
As one of the three primary fatty acids (along with capric acid and lauric acid) found in coconut oil, caprylic acid has recently become widely known for its antifungal effects, especially in regard to keeping the digestive and reproductive organs — including the bladder, gut and urethra — functioning properly.
One of the most popular uses for caprylic oil, whether consumed as part of foods or taken orally in tablet form, is preventing the overgrowth of yeast-like fungus that can live and grow in your intestines.
As a saturated fatty acid, caprylic acid (also sometimes called octanoic acid) contains eight carbon atoms, making it a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA). While more research is still needed to confirm its potential uses, research suggests caprylic acid has positive applications for fighting inflammation, cancer, age-related cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s disease, autism and circulatory problems.
6 Benefits of Caprylic Acid
1. Contains Antibacterial, Antiviral and Antifungal Properties
As a natural immune-booster, caprylic acid is commonly used as an ingredient in topical fungicides, household cleaners, perfumes and dyes. Considering all the known coconut oil uses there are, it’s not surprising that caprylic acid is gaining popularity on its own for healing the body inside and out.
Taken internally, it helps naturally reduce yeast growth within the gastrointestinal tract while helping beneficial bacteria thrive. At the same time, caprylic acid is completely natural and doesn’t pose the same risks as harsh antibiotics or chemical treatments. While antibiotics can kill off all bacteria in the gut environment — both good and bad — caprylic acid can actually do the opposite, helping prevent an imbalance between the presence of various bacteria.
A higher population of “good bacteria” in the gut raises immune function and has numerous implications: lower inflammation levels, less risk for allergies, better brain function, improved hormonal health, lower risk for obesity and much more.
Because gut health is intrinsically tied to many functions throughout the body, caprylic acid’s effects might help fight headaches, depression, fatigue, diarrhea, bloating, vaginal yeast infections and gas. To further boost its effects, some experts also recommend taking in natural immune-enhancers like probiotic foods, oregano oil and omega-3 fish oil supplements along with caprylic acid to help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria, reduce inflammation and restore a healthy “gut-brain connection.”
2. Fights Candida
When it comes to fighting candida the natural way, look no further than caprylic acid. Candida is a condition that occurs when an overgrowth of yeast fungus develops in your gut. It’s very common, especially among woman, and is associated with uncomfortable Candida symptoms like abdominal bloating, constipation, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and sugar cravings.
Because caprylic acid acts as a natural yeast-fighting agent, it’s believed that it can penetrate the cell membranes of candida yeast cells and cause them to die off, detoxifying the digestive tract and speeding up the healing process.
Researchers have found that caprylic acid taken orally rapidly reduces symptoms associated with viral and fungal infections like Candida and Chlamydia. A 2001 report published in Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutic Research found that caprylic acid is superior in terms of efficacy, and also less expensive, than drugs such as Diflucan for treating these infections.
The same study suggests that the best treatment for these types of conditions is a combination of concentrated caprylic acid taken orally along with omega-3 fish oil supplements. Together these act as strong antiviral agents and increase normal cell telomeres (NCT).
3. Helps Prevent and Treat Yeast Infections
Aside from candida, yeast can cause other types of internal or external yeast infections that show up on the skin, genitals, toes and elsewhere. Caprylic acid can help get rid of yeast infections — as toe fungus, oral infections, vaginitis in women, jock itch in men and ringworm are all examples of yeast infections that can be prevented or treated with little to no side effects.
4. Treats Skin Infections and Acne
Considering how popular various coconut oil uses for skin have become, it’s no surprise that the strong antibacterial and antimicrobial effects of caprylic acid have been proven in many human and animal studies to help improve infections that show up on the skin. Caprylic acid, along with its derivatives called monocaprylin and sodium caprylate, are capable of fighting bacteria that live on the skin and cause infections, including Dermatophilus congolensis and acne.
Dermatophilosis is a skin disease that can affect many species of domestic and wild animals like horses and cattle, in addition to humans. It results in a bacterial infection that forms painful dry scabs on the skin and can be irritating and embarrassing, similar to eczema and acne.
Coconut oil, the best source of naturally occurring caprylic acid, is known to naturally improve acne and reduce skin inflammation. This is why coconut oil makes a great natural skin moisturizer, addition to homemade scrubs or lotions, facial cleanser, and shaving balm. Additionally, it has beneficial properties for improving hair health when used in coconut oil form (check out these coconut recipes for hair to see what I mean).
5. Helps Treat Inflammatory Digestive Disorders
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs or MCT oil) are often administered to patients with Crohn’s disease or short-bowel syndrome. Up until recently, little was known about the effects of MCFAs and MCTs on intestinal inflammation, but studies now suggest that these fatty acids help suppress secretion of inflammatory enzymes and cells, reducing Chrohn’s symptoms like pain, bloating, bleeding and bowel problems.
MCTs seem to help protect the epithelium, a line of defense living in the gut that acts like a border against an array of substances in the intestines, including toxic residents and pathogenic micro-organisms. In people who have inflammatory conditions where a healthy mucus barrier is lost, including those with Crohn’s disease, their intestinal epithelial cells secrete a wide array of cytokines after stimulation with pro-inflammatory cytokines or bacterial products.
Although the precise mechanism that leads MCTs to suppress this process is still not fully understood, it’s believed that they help inhibit inflammatory cytokine gene inhibition and, therefore, lower the body’s immune responses that further aggravate the gut lining.
6. Reduces Risk for Antibiotic Resistance
Concerns regarding antibiotic resistance worldwide are on the rise, which has led health experts to seek out natural alternative therapeutic approaches to antibiotics for treatment of infections in both humans and animals.
One of the main concerns for using chemical antibiotics to treat infections or viruses is that it raises the risk for antibiotic resistance over time. As harmful pathogens and bacteria in the body become resistant to drugs and mutate in order to survive, we have to turn to other options to treat illnesses — sometimes these options come at a much higher price, require a longer duration and cause serious side effects.
A variety of safe, natural, free fatty acids and their monoglyceride derivatives have been reported to exert antibacterial and antimicrobial activity against a wide range of microorganisms, including caprylic acid and its monoglyceride and monocaprylin compounds. These appear to inactivate common mastitis pathogens including Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
One study found that after treating contaminated milk samples, both caprylic acid and monocaprylin reduced five types of dangerous pathogens, including E. coli just like antibiotics would, without the risk for bacterial mutations developing.
Best Food and Supplement Sources of Caprylic Acid
The very best source of caprylic acid is coconuts, especially coconut oil, which is a great way to get concentrated medium-chain fatty acids. Other sources include full-fat cow’s milk, peanut butter, palm fruit oil and even human breast milk.
Coconut oil is the ideal way to obtain beneficial fatty acids like caprylic acid because it comes with so many other benefits. In fact, I recommend consuming coconut oil every single day if you can!
Some proven coconut oil benefits include:
- boosting the immune system
- preventing cancer
- healing skin and acne
- helping with weight loss
- healing leaky gut syndrome
- reducing allergies
- improving heart health
- supporting the thyroid gland
- reducing fatigue
- and many more
Caprlyic Acid Supplements: How Much and Which Kinds?
Aside from obtaining caprylic acid from whole food sources, supplements are now becoming more widely available. There isn’t a nutritional requirement for caprylic acid, so no recommended daily intake has been established. However, health professionals often recommend taking about 500 to 1,000 milligrams, three times a day in capsule form, for optimal results.
According to National Yeast Infection Organization, caprylic acid in capsules might be more effective compared to capyrlic acid taken in liquid form. The capsules appear to help slowly release the fatty acids into the bloodstream so they effectively make it to the intestinal tract without causing side effects. The recommended dosage for treating yeast infections (interal or external) in adults 18 years and older is 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day. It can be taken three times a day about 30 minutes before every meal.
If you’re new to taking caprylic acid, start slowly to prevent stomach pains. Taking a 500-milligram capsule once or twice a day is recommended in the beginning, and then increasing the dosage as you feel comfortable for about three to four months until the condition improves. It’s believed that slowly increasing the dosage helps yeast die off effectively and won’t shock your system into producing even more of an autoimmune reaction.
Caprylic acid is generally recognized as safe when taken in capsule form, and little to no side effects have been reported at these levels. Large amounts of caprylic acid mixed with other medium-chain triglycerides have caused gastrointestinal problems in a small number of people, but this isn’t common and is generally nothing to worry about. One thing to note is that capsules of caprylic acid aren’t recommended for breastfeeding or pregnant women because they can cause some nausea and aggravate existing digestive problems.