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Caprylic acid


Also listed as: Octanoic acid
Related terms

Related Terms
  • Alpha-hydroxy caprylic acid, medium-chain fatty acid, medium chain triglyceride (MCT), monocaprylin, octanoic acid, suberic acid.

  • Caprylic acid is an eight-carbon fatty acid naturally found in palm and coconut oil, and in the milk of humans and bovines (cows). Caprylic acid is classified as a medium-chain fatty acid and chemically known as octanoic acid. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved caprylic acid with generally recognizable as safe (GRAS) status. It is used as parenteral nutrition in patients who require nutrition supplementation, as well as in some drugs, foods, and cosmetics.
  • Nutritionists often recommend caprylic acid for use in treating candidiasis (yeast infection) and bacterial infections. However, there is insufficient clinical data available to support the used of caprylic acid for any claimed therapeutic uses.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Some forms of epilepsy respond to diets that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Currently, the effects of caprylic acid alone to treat epilepsy in children are not well studied. Additional study is needed in this area.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Antibacterial, antifungal, chylothorax, dialysis (hypoalbuminemia in maintenance hemodialysis), digestive disorders (dysbiosis), malabsorption (lipid), nutrition supplementation.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for caprylic acid. In general, 300-1,200 milligrams daily, preferably 30 minutes before meals, has been ingested.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for caprylic acid, and use in children is not recommended.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to caprylic acid and its derivatives, such as caprylate salts.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • The most common side effects associated with high fatty acid intake are nausea, bloating, constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These side effects can range from mild to severe. Patients taking large amounts of triglycerides may also experience belching, heartburn, and indigestion. Otherwise, caprylic acid appears well tolerated at doses appropriate for nutritional supplementation. It is also possibly safe when used under the guidance of a physician for intractable seizures.
  • Although not well studied in humans, caprylic acid may increase susceptibility to carbaryl exposure and decrease the body's ability to clear carbaryl, a highly toxic insecticide.
  • Hypocalcemia (low calcium blood level), drowsiness, lethargy, kidney stones, hypouricemia (low uric acid), acidosis, growth retardation and increased rate of infection has been reported in human studies using a ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy. The effects of caprylic acid alone are not well understood in this diet. Avoid in patients with kidney stones or a tendency of developing kidney stones. Use cautiously in infants, children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and those prone to get an upset stomach.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Caprylic acid is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Caprylic acid may alter the effects of drugs that are highly bound to albumin. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
  • Theoretically, caprylic acid may increase susceptibility to carbaryl exposure and decrease the body's ability to clear carbaryl, a highly toxic insecticide. Caution is advised.
  • Indomethacin can inhibit the cardiovascular effects of octanoic acid. Patients taking cardiovascular medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about interactions.
  • Although not well studied in humans, caprylic acid may also interact with inotropic agents, nimodipine, phenylbutazone, warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Octanoic acid may alter the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs and supplements that have similar effects as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Giannakou SA, Dallas PP, Rekkas DM, et al. In vitro evaluation of nimodipine permeation through human epidermis using response surface methodology. Int J Pharm 7-8-2002;241(1):27-34.
  2. Han J, Hamilton JA, Kirkland JL, et al. Medium-chain oil reduces fat mass and down-regulates expression of adipogenic genes in rats. Obes Res 2003;11(6):734-744.
  3. Hoshimoto A, Suzuki Y, Katsuno T, et al. 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;136(2):280-286.
  4. Kalantar-Zadeh K, Braglia A, Chow J, et al. An anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutritional supplement for hypoalbuminemic hemodialysis patients: a pilot/feasibility study. J Ren Nutr 2005;15(3):318-331.
  5. Lima TM, Kanunfre CC, Pompeia C, et al. Ranking the toxicity of fatty acids on Jurkat and Raji cells by flow cytometric analysis. Toxicol In Vitro 2002;16(6):741-747.
  6. McLay JC, Kennedy MJ, Orourke AL, et al. Inhibition of bacterial foodborne pathogens by the lactoperoxidase system in combination with monolaurin. Int J Food Microbiol. 2-25-2002;73(1):1-9.
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  8. Nair MK, Joy J, Venkitanarayanan KS. Inactivation of Enterobacter sakazakii in reconstituted infant formula by monocaprylin. J Food Prot. 2004;67(12):2815-2819.
  9. Olsen H, Andersen A, Nordbo A, et al. Pharmaceutical-grade albumin: impaired drug-binding capacity in vitro. BMC.Clin Pharmacol 3-29-2004;4:4.
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  11. Robinson MK. Population differences in acute skin irritation responses. Race, sex, age, sensitive skin and repeat subject comparisons. Contact Dermatitis 2002;46(2):86-93.
  12. Samsom M, Vermeijden JR, Smout AJ, et al. Prevalence of delayed gastric emptying in diabetic patients and relationship to dyspeptic symptoms: a prospective study in unselected diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2003;26(11):3116-3122.
  13. Schneider AR, Kraut C, Lindenthal B, et al. Total body metabolism of 13C-octanoic acid is preserved in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, but differs between women and men. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2005;17(11):1181-1184.
  14. Sogorb MA, Carrera V, Vilanova E. Hydrolysis of carbaryl by human serum albumin. Arch Toxicol. 2004;78(11):629-634.
  15. Wanten GJ, Janssen FP, Naber AH. Saturated triglycerides and fatty acids activate neutrophils depending on carbon chain-length. Eur J Clin Invest 2002;32(4):285-289.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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