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Is it possible that I'm allergic to coconut to varying degrees in all it's various forms and ways of contact?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 06, 2012 at 11:05 PM

I started using Ecos Free & Clear laundry soap during my pregnancy in 2010 (it was recommended as one of the better options for cloth diapers and I was getting in gear). I had no problems with it at the time. Then about 8 weeks postpartum I developed the worst eczema (I had no previous history with this sort of skin problem to this degree, in the past I got an occasional patch from spending too much time on my sister cat hair covered couch). It took months, but eventually I identified the main culprits as Ecos and anything else with a coconut kernel derived surfactant.

I now use Country Save on his diapers and All Free & Clear on everything else. I hate using a "non-natural" detergent, but all the rest have coconut kernel derived surfactants and I don't have a reaction to the ALL F&C (all the parts on my body that were getting eczema/itchy/rash from rubbing (tops of thighs, side of torso, a majority of my arms, etc) cleared up as soon as I switched.

However, I've persisted in having eczema on my knuckles and top of my hand in general, along the outside of my right wrist (this is where it started), my inner wrist on the right, around my mouth and on my lips (comes and goes, steroid creams seem to no longer work and I hate using them anyway), light patches that come in go on my upper chest directly in front of my armpits.

I realized my son's all natural bubble bath has the ingredient I'm allergic to, so that is probably a major contributor to my hand issue, but the lip thing is weird. Taking a Benadryl at night helps keep the "burn" down, as does Zyrtec during the day, but again I hate taking these things.

Part of me things this is postpartum hormone / nursing related. But maybe not. Maybe I'm allergic to coconut? Maybe something to do with my postpartum state + the Ecos laundry soap + my constant high intake of coconut oil and other coconut food products over the last 5 years finally caught up with me?

I take 1-2 tablespoons of CO before most meals (always before breakfast), it's been part of my weight loss / maintenance protocol ever since I read "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" 5 years ago. I also use the oil straight on my skin and that has yielded super soft skin everywhere but where I have the eczema.

I'm seriously considering quitting Coconut in ALL forms for a week or two to see what happens.

Does anyone else have any experience with anything like this? Thoughts?

Thanks!

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on August 07, 2012
at 03:54 PM

An allergy won't occur overnight (in biological terms) and it won't occur in the absence of damage to the GI tract and immune system. Very few allergies are "genetic." Your reaction to soy was probably because your body was consistently dealing with soy's negative effects and thus the signals of an intolerance were lost amid the ocean of other signals coming from your body. The same exact thing happens to a lot of people after they cut out gluten and then reintroduce it, even if they ate wheat daily for years. This doesn't imply that your body is worse at digesting soy than it used to be.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on August 07, 2012
at 03:48 PM

GAPS is kind of the extreme last resort. There's some other autoimmune protocols out there that are a bit less restrictive in their initial stages. I doubt you'll need to do GAPS to correct the issue. Maybe you should ask this question on the GAPS yahoo group. Those people are generally really knowledgeable about eczema and allergies and whatnot.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:21 AM

Yeah, lately I've been leaning this direction. My hope was that after eliminating it for a couple weeks it would clear if my skin was getting better or staying the same (or, heck, getting worse). If it was getting better, I was planning on continuing down that path and ALSO doing GAPS eventually, because it seems something is very OFF! Thanks!

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:20 AM

I'll check it out, thanks. I live with my parents so I've got to be careful what I do with/in their appliances and I've always felt dubious about the laundry "nuts", but I'll take a look again.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:18 AM

And yes, I'm still breastfeeding and my 19-month old is showing no signs of letting up. I sincerely hoping that weaning with also eliminate these symptoms, but if it doesn't GAPS is on my list.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:17 AM

Yeah, I hate the meds. When I finally saw a doctor after 6 weeks of suffering about 40% of my surface area was inflamed and I was on the constant verge of tears. My newborn's sharp little nails were horrible on my skin and I myself would scratch myself raw in my sleep and wake up with bloody arms. I was fine with the shot to turn of the burn, it was totally worth it in that moment (pure, firey hell). And I agree it's unlikely that I'm allergic to unprocessed (i.e. not made into a surfactant) coconut food products, but I'm kind of at the end of my rope. I'd like to not have effed up lips!

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:14 AM

That's basically what I think, too. Might as well try. Not crazy about it, because it's my weightloss crutch and I have ~25 lbs to go, but better than doing GAPS at this point. To clarify, since the coconut ingredient is the ONLY ingredient in Ecos besides purified water, that means it's the culprit. It's also the common denominator in the "natural" soaps I was using that were burning me as well. At the time that I figured this out I pondered if I may have a larger "coconut allergy", but came to the conclusion that I was allergic to the processed surfactant ingredient. Who knows.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:15 PM

There are really no downsides to avoiding coconut exposure for a couple weeks. If you conditions clear up, you have your answer, you're allergic/sensitive to coconut. If they persist, add it back in.

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4 Answers

2
6cb9eb6228b5c0c358e4ac28f71a391d

on August 06, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Hi there -

I would respectfully disagree with BoneBrothFast. It is possible to develop food intolerances after repeatedly consuming a product, especially after years of significant repeated ingestion. This involves immunological response; sometimes your body, for whatever reason, begins to view an otherwise healthy food as the enemy, which equals inflammation and nasty symptoms. I was tested for over 300 foods/herbs/spices and had many show up on the test as problem foods. Guess what? They were foods I repeatedly consumed! These types of tests work by using food extracts and observing how they react with your blood. Sensitivities or intolerances can be gauged based upon the level of antibodies produced and white blood cell production numbers. I would personally look into an immunological food sensitivities test. Between that and Paleo, my quality of life is SO much better!

Good luck and sorry about the coconut (I couldn't imagine Paleo without it)! As my doctor tells me, it is possible to correct food sensitivities (not allergies!) after omitting them for a while (6 mos to 1 year) and then slowly reintroducing and rotating them within your diet. A good rule of thumb is every three days once you have decided to re-introduce.

So, to begin, I would recommend eliminating coconut and all of its by-products for a few weeks. Unfortunately, I think it will take longer than a few weeks of abstinence to cure any intolerance to coconut. From my experience, the sensitivites get stronger before they get better. For example, I cut out soy completely for 3 mos and accidentally had some and my reaction was totally severe, unlike before. The body just needs time to heal from the inflammation! Sorry I am rambling as I'm in a hurry. Best of luck to you! <3

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on August 07, 2012
at 03:54 PM

An allergy won't occur overnight (in biological terms) and it won't occur in the absence of damage to the GI tract and immune system. Very few allergies are "genetic." Your reaction to soy was probably because your body was consistently dealing with soy's negative effects and thus the signals of an intolerance were lost amid the ocean of other signals coming from your body. The same exact thing happens to a lot of people after they cut out gluten and then reintroduce it, even if they ate wheat daily for years. This doesn't imply that your body is worse at digesting soy than it used to be.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:21 AM

Yeah, lately I've been leaning this direction. My hope was that after eliminating it for a couple weeks it would clear if my skin was getting better or staying the same (or, heck, getting worse). If it was getting better, I was planning on continuing down that path and ALSO doing GAPS eventually, because it seems something is very OFF! Thanks!

1
449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:43 PM

I agree with eliminating coconut for a few weeks. If you're interested in a natural laundry detergent, you might check into EcoNuts. I've been using them since the beginning of the year and they're wonderful.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:20 AM

I'll check it out, thanks. I live with my parents so I've got to be careful what I do with/in their appliances and I've always felt dubious about the laundry "nuts", but I'll take a look again.

1
0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

on August 06, 2012
at 11:23 PM

Honestly, if you were using coconut products for 5 years without any side effects, it's extremely unlikely that you will one day wake up and have a coconut intolerance or allergy. It is however possible that pregnancy caused some sort of shift in your biology. How was your diet during pregnancy?

The likely answer is that over the years, you caused some type of intestinal permeability/immune deficiency and are now hyperreacting to things which under normal circumstances caused no issues for you. I've heard of this sort of thing happening after pregnancy before. Are you still breastfeeding?

Using various Rx/OTC meds may just have made the situation worse unfortunately.

I say go for the coconut-free thing for a week and see if you notice any improvement. Couldn't hurt and you'd get a better grasp on what the real problem is. You may have to go on an autoimmune protocol/digestive healing protocol to correct the issue.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:17 AM

Yeah, I hate the meds. When I finally saw a doctor after 6 weeks of suffering about 40% of my surface area was inflamed and I was on the constant verge of tears. My newborn's sharp little nails were horrible on my skin and I myself would scratch myself raw in my sleep and wake up with bloody arms. I was fine with the shot to turn of the burn, it was totally worth it in that moment (pure, firey hell). And I agree it's unlikely that I'm allergic to unprocessed (i.e. not made into a surfactant) coconut food products, but I'm kind of at the end of my rope. I'd like to not have effed up lips!

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on August 07, 2012
at 03:48 PM

GAPS is kind of the extreme last resort. There's some other autoimmune protocols out there that are a bit less restrictive in their initial stages. I doubt you'll need to do GAPS to correct the issue. Maybe you should ask this question on the GAPS yahoo group. Those people are generally really knowledgeable about eczema and allergies and whatnot.

560db54689099082bd5b88c73e22b285

on August 07, 2012
at 12:18 AM

And yes, I'm still breastfeeding and my 19-month old is showing no signs of letting up. I sincerely hoping that weaning with also eliminate these symptoms, but if it doesn't GAPS is on my list.

0
5778d9ade2f1ff17d87c5f8df0389549

on August 30, 2013
at 04:35 AM

Hello,

I completely feel what you've been going through, as I too have battled to something almost very similar in my skin (mainly on my hands). So, I have tried every single remedy for exema that you can think of, to find answers and something that would cure the root of the issue, not just cover up symptoms, or clear them up temporarily. What I can say (without going into too much of my story), is that I have found some very positive answers & remedies that work extremely well. After three years of this, I am finally experiencing some releif. So, if I can share my story with you, and the info. that I provide ends up helping you (or anyone else), it would make me feel SO good! Three years ago, I broke out (much like what you've described) all over my entire body. My body cleared up after several months, but my hands did not. I tried every remedy I could think of, went to the ER when the pain & embarrassment was too much to bare. I even saw a Dermatologist. Each one told me that it looked like Eczema. I refused to use their prescriptions after a while. Reason being, they were a temporary fix (it appeared to clear up temporarily, and would come right back, but worse). A steroid, which was very harsh on the skin and contained chemicals that worsened the skin's condition. So, here is what I've found that truly works!

  1. ICE (icing the inflamed, itchy, infected area of the skin gives instant relief for that urge to itch). *Stay away from hot or warm water, as it makes the skin itch more.

  2. ORGANIC STEEL CUT OATMEAL (GROUNDED IN COFFEE GRINDER OR BLENDER). Grind the oatmeal until it's a fine powder. Wet hands slightly with good, purified water, shake off the excess water, coat the hands (or infected area) with the oatmeal powder. Since the skin is moist from the water, the oatmeal will stick. It is imperative that you get ORGANIC Oatmeal though, because non-organic could be grown with chemical fertilizers & pesticides.

  3. Use COCONUT OIL consistently (I also take this like you do, and use on my skin). It is SO healthy for you, and has an additional perk of helping you loose weight by speeding up your metabolism. Moisturize the dry areas with Coconut oil as much as possible. *Make sure the Coconut oil you are using, is a good quality (Cold Pressed Virgin ORGANIC IS BEST), again, to guarantee not chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. Costco sells Organic Coconut Oil for approx. $20. It's huge (78 oz.), and the cheapest price and best quality I've found anywhere.

  4. Stop using the ECOS detergent. Nothing against it, it's just that I've figured out after three years of using the stuff faithfully due to it's "natural" ingredients, I've finally figured out that I was reacting to the detergent as well as you seem to have been. Not because I was allergic to coconut, BUT, because the ECOS soap is not Certified Organic, that means that the Coconuts they used to make their detergents may have been grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. So, your reaction (most likely, like mine) may very well be a result of the chemicals used in growing the Coconut. The answer then, is to buy a non-chemical, natural, organic detergent. Green Shield makes a natural USDA Certified Organic laundry detergent (I haven't tried this one, but read good reviews), as does Whole Foods, and lastly (my fav), Eco Nuts! The brand is called Eco Nuts....they are a fruit grown in the Himalayas, called a soap nut, even though they're technically a fruit. They're called soap nuts because they contain a natural soap in them. And, they 100% USDA Certified Organic! So, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used what so ever. It's very cool how they work. You put 4 to 5 nuts in a little pouch (which comes with the product), and when added to the washer, soap is produced with the agitation of the washing machine and the warm water. Their reviews are phenomenal! You can google/youtube some of their info. and videos. Their site is super informative. It's http://econutssoap.com in case you'd like to look into buying some for yourself. Price is very reasonable, and compared to what I paid (at Costco - $12.99) for a large bottle of the ECOS. You get 100 washes from the Eco Nuts medium size box, and I paid just $9 for mine.

  5. Last, but not least! You absolutely MUST buy a very good quality Pro-Biotic to take daily. Don't just buy any one, as they are all not created equal. Look into what makes a Pro-Biotic the best of the bunch. I use IN-LIVEN (by MiEssence), which is an all natural, Certified Organic company that makes just about everything you can think of, from skin care, to cosmetics, to hair care, oral care, home care, etc. They also do their Superfood lines. This is where you will find the INLIVEN Probiotic! The MiEssence INLIVEN Probiotic is the best I have found that exists anywhere, and I've done a lot of research. On a side note, I will be opening up my own MiEssence business next month (in September 2013), so if you want to order the INLIVEN, let me know and I'll help you out. If you want to order it sooner, you can always just go to their site and order. But, google the INLIVEN also. There is lots of information on the MiEssence Site, as well as videos that you can find on youtube for their three Superfoods (which includes the INLIVEN Probiotic)! Their web site is MiEssence.com.

*THE INLIVEN PROBIOTIC WILL RESOLVE THE ISSUE AT THE SOURCE OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN YOUR BODY BY BALANCING THE "HEALTHY" BACTERIA IN THE GUT, WHICH WILL IN TURN KEEP YOUR BODY SUPER HEALTHY, AND ALLOW YOUR LIVER & KIDNEYS TO FUNCTION PROPERLY, AS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO, BY ELIMINATING TOXINS FROM YOUR BODY. TOXINS BUILD UP IN THE BODY AS A RESULT OF BREATHING, EATING, INGESTING, ABSORBING THROUGH OUR SKIN, ETC. (HENCE, THE LAUNDRY DETERGENT)....CHEMICALS, PRESERVATIVES, ADDITIVES, FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, POLLUTANTS, ETC. (AKA: THE PESTICIDES & FERTILIZERS I MENTIONED EARLIER USED TO PROCESS NON-ORGANIC COCONUTS, OR OTHER FRUITS/VEGGIES).

I sincerely hope this helps you, or anyone else, as that will make my journey so worth while...to have affected someone else's life in a positive way!

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