URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1139.html

Palm Oil

What is it?

Palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree.

Palm oil is used for preventing vitamin A deficiency, cancer, brain disease, aging; and treating malaria, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cyanide poisoning. Palm oil is used for weight loss and increasing the body’s metabolism.

As food, palm oil is used for frying.

Industrially, palm oil is used for manufacturing cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste, waxes, lubricants, and ink.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PALM OIL are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Preventing a lack of vitamin A (vitamin A deficiency). There is some evidence that adding palm oil to the diet of pregnant women and children in developing countries might reduce the risk of developing vitamin A deficiency.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • High cholesterol. Consuming palm oil as part of a specific diet plan does not seem to reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. In fact, some research suggests that palm oil might actually increase cholesterol levels compared to other oils, such as soybean, canola, or sunflower oil.
  • Malaria. Some research suggests that dietary consumption of palm oil by children under 5 years of age in developing countries does not seem to decrease symptoms of malaria.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • High blood pressure.
  • Cyanide poisoning.
  • Weight loss agent.
  • Cancer.
  • Anti-aging.
  • Brain disease.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of palm oil for these uses.

How does it work?

Palm oil contains saturated and unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. It might have antioxidant effects.

Are there safety concerns?

Palm oil is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as medicine by children or adults for up to 6 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Palm oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as a medicine during pregnancy for up to 6 months.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Palm oil might increase blood clotting. Taking palm oil along with medications that slow clotting might reduce the effectiveness of these medications.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox) heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Palm oil contains beta-carotene. There is some concern that taking beta-carotene supplements along with palm oil might result in too much beta-carotene and an increased risk of harmful side effects.
Vitamin A
Palm oil contains beta-carotene, which is a building block of vitamin A. There is some concern that taking a vitamin A or beta-carotene supplement along with palm oil might result in too much vitamin A and an increased risk of harmful side effects.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • For preventing vitamin A deficiency: about 3 tablespoons (9 grams) per day of palm oil for adults and children over age 5. About 4 tablespoons (12 grams) per day for pregnant women. For children less than 5 years old, 2 tablespoons (6 grams) per day.

Other names

Aceite de Palma, African Palm Oil, Crude Palm Oil, Elaeis guineensis, Elaeis melanococca, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Huile de Palme, Huile de Palme Brute, Huile de Palme Rouge, Huile de Palmiste, Main Ja, Oil Palm Tree, Palm, Palm Fruit Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Oil Carotene, Palmier à Huile, Red Palm Oil.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 02/16/2015