In 1998, Filipino scientists and medical researchers did the first pilot human trial on coconut oil to study its potential therapeutic effects on HIV patients. It was a successful trial. It showed that coconut oil when ingested releases monolaurin a derivative of coconut oil’s super nutrient lauric acid
Examined in light of the present global health crisis due to covid-19 pandemic, this type of news would have buzzed all over the world as it would have created a lot of excitement as a promising cure to a deadly disease. But in 1998 when this was reported, it was not a newsworthy event, hardly made any news even in the medical community.
Little did we know that the results and learning from this trial – coconut oil’s anti viral features– is now in the spotlight in the Philippines as the rest of medical world is in a race to develop vaccines and a cure against Covid-19.
Here are some key facts and takeaways from this study:
Who spearheaded the study? Where was it done?
The first-ever pilot human trial on HIV treatment with coconut oil was done in 1998 led by Dr Eric Tayag of San Lazaro Hospital and Dr Conrado Dayrit, Jr. In parntnership with the DOH, it was funded and spearheaded by the Philippine Coconut Research and Development Foundation (PCRDF) , a private foundation dedicated to coconut research.
The trial was done in San Lazaro hospital in Manila, the infectious diseases unit of the Department of Health.
How was the pilot trial done?
15 patients, from 22 to 38 years of age, who had never received HIV treatment before participated in the trial. 5 patients were asked to take 3 tablespoons 3 x a day of Coconut Oil. 5 patients were given high doses in capsule form of monolaurin- a monoglyceride form of lauric acid and the remaining 5 patients were given low doses of the latter.
The therapy given to the the patients were all coconut-based substances.
What was the result of the study?
The pilot human trial showed that HIV Viral Count of 9 of 15 patients dropped significantly. At that time, anti HIV drugs called antiretrovirals were not easily available nor affordable in the Philippines.
With proper recognition and more extensive validation studies, coconut oil can be an effective all natural therapy. It’s a safe, well known traditional food and its non-toxic.
What type of structure does the HIV Virus have?
The HIV virus is an enveloped virus meaning it has a lipid (fat) membrane surrounding the protein. Its similar to coronaviruses and Influenza viruses which are enveloped viruses.
What is the most possible mechanism of action on how coconut oil works or fight enveloped or lipid-coated viruses and bacteria?
Lauric acid comprises about 45-50% of coconut oil. When one consumes coconut oil orally, key fatty acids of coconut oil, in particular lauric acid, and a related compound, monolaurin, are released.
While “floating” in the bloodstream, this is where the lauric free fatty acids(monolaurin) encounter cells infected with fat-coated viruses and other fat-coated pathogens (bacteria, yeasts). Similar to how soap and detergents work, the lauric fatty acids non-polar tail get attracted to the fat-coating of the virus, strips it off from the RNA and protein assembly, and exposes the RNA and protein prone for attack by the body’s immune cells.
If taking Coconut oil can be an effective therapy against HIV, why did it not take off? Why was it not considered by the international medical community as a form of therapy?
#1 There seems to be no business incentive for the Pharmaceutical industry to promote coconut oil because it’s a generic traditional all natural food. They cannot patent coconut oil like prescription drugs.
#2 A good number of influential physicians are still of the view that eating Coconut Oil is bad for the health because it contains saturated fat… but this is against the face of the evidence that for hundreds or even thousands of years , there has never been a “coconut oil disease epidemic” in populations with coconut as staple in their diets. In fact these populations have thrived by using coconut oil for their diets and for their body care needs.
R. Pacheco, Jr. M.Sc. Appl. Phys May 10, 2020
- Coconut Oil in Health and Disease: Its and Monolaurin’s Potential Cure for HIV/AIDS. VolXXIII No.2 1998 Ph Journal of Coconut Studies, C.S.Dayrit 1998
- Coconut Oil : An Anti Bacterial, Anti Viral Ingredient for Food, Nutrition, and Health 1997 AVOC Lauric Symposium Manila, PH, ENIG, M.G.
3.The Potential of Coconut Oil and its Derivatives as Effective and Safe Antiviral Agents Against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV-2019), 2020 January 31, F. Dayrit, Ph.D., M. Newport MD https://www.ateneo.edu/ls/sose/sose/news/research/potential-coconut-oil-and-its-derivatives-effective-and-safe-antiviral
Images from the hard cover from the Philippine Journal of Coconut Studies Volume XXIII Number 2 1998