I’m allergic to nuts. Can I use virgin coconut oil?
The short answer is almost certainly, yes…
…If you choose a pure, first-and-cold-pressed virgin coconut oil (VCO) that has not been exposed to allergens during processing, handling or storage.
There are almost no reactions to pure coconut oil in medical literature…casual reports seem to be to contaminants in the processing of less pure oils, not to pure coconut oil.
Despite its name, the coconut is not a tree nut. Botanically, it is a drupe. Echoing multiple dermatological reviews, including our own, Dr. Scott Sicherer in Allergic Living magazine writes “When it comes to coconut oil, there is almostno medical literature on allergic reactions to it.”1
Practically all VCOs are non-allergenic but do avoid those that are mixed, heated or stored in vats used for other oils or allergens (such as lavender, ylang-ylang, rose, etc.)There are allergies reported to contaminants in the processing of less pure oil and Refined Bleached Deodorized copra oil (RBD should not be used topically by those with sensitive skins). The first-cold-pressed VCO in Know-It-Oil , Oil’s Well and other VMV products is very simply extracted without heat or additives, organically, and quickly after the nut is taken from the tree. This is important for the purity of the oil and to avoid allergens. Our VCO is so clinically-validated and well tolerated that it has randomized, double-blind trials (the gold standard of clinical studies ) on its gentleness, tolerability and efficacy for atopic skin diseases (some of the most sensitive and reactive) published in Dermatitis (the journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society) and the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. Several more studies on our VCO have been published in and presented at dermatology conventions around the world.
In terms of eating coconut, you should be fine, too, but work closely with your allergist because cases of sensitivity vary from individual to individual. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states: “While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut.”2 Dr. Sicherer writes “Coconut allergy appears rare, and uncommon even among those with tree-nut allergies. In a national registry of 5,149 people with peanut or tree-nut allergies, only four self-reported an allergy to coconut. And a more recent study of 40 children with positive tests or known allergy to peanuts or tree nuts showed no increased risks for having positive tests or allergy to coconut. Your allergist would consider your personal allergy history in deciding whether to add coconut to your diet or to perform any testing. However, be aware that tests are often positive to coconut in people who could actually tolerate it, so a physician-supervised feeding test may be necessary for a conclusive answer.”1
The bottom line? If you’re allergic to tree nuts, there’s a good chance you can eat coconut and an even better chance you can use virgin coconut oil on your skin. Work with your allergist and dermatologist and, for topical usage, get a patch test that includes pure VCO.
1 Allergic Living magazine:
2 The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI):