Coconut oil is widely touted as a miracle food with claims that it can cure a myriad of diseases like viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s considered a high-fat food with dangerous implications for heart health. Emerging research supports theories of the coconuts beneficial effects, but does it indeed treat and kill viruses like the herpes virus? To better understand how coconuts (and coconut oil) can treat viruses, we must first learn a little more about this often overlooked "superfood."
Coconuts (cocos nucifera) boast a rich concentration of both short- and medium-chain fatty acids like lauric acid (which been widely used in cosmetics and soap and is also known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties) and capric acid (known to have antimicrobial properties). The size of the chains is an important distinction because our bodies metabolize the fat differently depending on its size. Coconuts are mainly medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) while meat, dairy and eggs are mainly long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs). Research is emerging that MCFAs lower the risk of heart disease and does not negatively impact cholesterol levels.
In many island cultures, the coconut is a main staple in the diet. These communities largely consider the coconut to having healing powers and use it to treat conditions like asthma, flu, abscesses, kidney stones, gonorrhea, bronchitis, earaches and upset stomachs. Modern medicine is researching the health benefits of the coconut and is investigating benefits like killing viruses (influenza, hepatitis, herpes), killing bacteria (those that cause ulcers, pneumonia, gingivitis, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea), killing fungi, killing parasites (tapeworms, giardia and lice). From a dietary standpoint, the coconut provides a good source of energy and seems to support healthy digestion.
The Herpes Virus
Oral herpes results in cold sores (usually on the mouth) and genital herpes results in lesions on the genitals. This common virus affects up to 80 percent of the adults in the United States (orally with cold sores) and as many as one in four adults are infected with the genital infection. The virus can flare up (when it causes cold sores or genital lesions) and then enter a stage of dormancy with no symptoms.
Effects of Coconut Oil on Herpes
Virgin coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that have led many to believe that it is effective in treating herpes. The human body turns capric acid into monocaprin and lauric acid into monolaurin--both of which have been proven to have antiviral properties. These fatty acids work by demolishing the virus’s lipid membrane, thus killing the virus. Leading the forefront in research on lauric acid’s effects, Dr. Jon Kabara believes that coconut oil is not effective on herpes because it does not deliver enough of the active substances.
How Much is Enough?
For maximum effect, Dr. Kabara’s claim is that the body needs between three and nine grams per day of monolaurin to benefit from the antiviral effects. This translates to approximately 300 to 900 hundred milliliters of coconut oil per day--an amount which almost certainly would make you sick. Dr. Kabara, therefore, concludes that in order to get an effective therapeutic dose of monolaurin and monocaprin, it’s best to skip the coconut oil in favor of supplements.
Research is ongoing, but currently, there is no scientific proof that ingesting coconut oil will alleviate symptoms of the herpes virus. There is emerging evidence of the power of the coconut to positively impact a myriad of other body functions.