Health And Family

COVID-19 and beyond: Doctors enumerate latest virgin coconut oil discoveries

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is lucky to be in abundance of coconut trees, long referred to as the "tree of life."

The most recent of studies related to its health benefits is timely, and could possibly help in the country's fight against COVID-19.

Last December 3, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Pena shared in a briefing the findings of the months-long study of the effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on probable and suspected COVID-19 cases. It was led by the DOST Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

The study involved 57 patients at two isotion facilities in Santa Rosa, Laguna. For 28 days, 29 patients were given standardized meals mixed with VCO while the other 28 became the control group and received no VCO doses. As early as day 2, there are already five patients with decreasing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. By the 18th day, all of the patients at the VCO group experienced no more symptoms.

The diminishing signs and symptoms in the VCO group was supported by the decreasing levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker used to monitor inflammation or infections.

Previous researches highlight beneficial effects of VCO. VCO contains lauric acid and monolaurin which are MCFA (medium chain fatty acids) that have shown significant anti-microbial activity against gram positive bacteria and a number of fungi and viruses.

Dr. Mari-Ann Bringas, chair of chemistry and bio-nutrition at the Far Eastern University-NMRF and executive board officer at the Philippine Association of Academic Biochemists, explained the health benefits of the fatty acids in VCO.

"Ninety-two (92) percent is saturated fat from coconut oil; 2 percent is polyunsaturated fat and 6 percent is monounsaturated fat. The 92 percent is the good saturated fat in coconut oil. It is the healthiest, unprocessed dietary oil and we call it your lauric acid," she said.

Related: WATCH: Know your fats: Doctor spells difference between good vs bad

She and Dr. Edmundo Lalusis, one of the creators of the first patented VCO hard gel capsule GrowRich, shared the other notable studies and benefits of VCO during a recent virtual press conference.

Dr. Lalusis shared that the composition, mostly the fatty acids, function well as antimicrobial and antiviral.

"Lauric acid has the strongest antimacrobial activities among saturated acids against bacteria, some viruses and fungi. This is unique as it avoids the development of anti-microbial resistance which may be due to multiplicity of action which includes disruption of cell wall and interference of cell signaling and transcription," he explained.

Apart from lauric acid, VCO is composed of free fatty acids and active compounds like tocopherol, Vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants.

He also shared that monolaurin, a lauric acid that is a derivative of VCO and is also sourced from a mother's milk, has antiviral benefits.

It can cause the disintegration of the viral membrane, inhibit late maturation stage in the virus' replicative cycle, and prevent viral protein from binding to the host cell membrane.

Capric acid, which accounts seven percent in coconut oil, has shown "promising activity againts HIV 1 and Influenza A."

"Given the considerable scientific evidence for the antiviral activity of VCO, lauric acid and its derivatives, there's a potential for VCO to be used against viruses such as SARS-COV-2 that causes COVID-19," Dr. Lalusis said.  

Apart from its potential in helping against COVID-19, the MCFA in VCO is also good in the increase of the body's metabolism, aids in weight loss and decrease digestive disorders.

"An increased metabolic rate is key to healthy weight management and could account for the leanness of people living in areas where coconut oil is consumed," Dr. Bringas shared.

She continued, "Basal metabolic rate refers to the energy we use while at rest or resting; everything inside you is working and coconut oil is a good source to increase your basal metabolism. That is why if you increase your metabolic rate using this fat, you can increase your metabolic rate. It also aids in weight loss. People who regularly use coconut oil report changes in their ability to go without eating for several hours and without experiencing hypoglycemia. It also provides energy for healing in addition to soothing inflammation in the intestinal tract and helps combat unhealthy organisms that can cause chronic inflammation." — Video from GrowRich Philippines, edited by Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

RELATED: How coconut oil could be Pinoys' answer to Korea's billion-dollar beauty industry

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