Made up of medium chain saturated fatty acids, lauric acid and its monoglyceride derivative, monolaurin, found in coconut products are said to have adverse effects on various microorganisms. The antimicrobial effects of these fatty acids inactivate or kill the likes of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and more importantly, the lipid-coated or enveloped viruses which cause dreaded “incurable” diseases like the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.
The ‘envelope’ of these viruses is a lipid membrane, and the presence of a lipid membrane on viruses make them especially vulnerable to lauric acid or monolaurin. The medium-chain saturated fatty acids and their derivatives act by disrupting the lipid membranes of the viruses. Research has shown that enveloped viruses are inactivated in both human and bovine milk by added fatty acids and monoglycerides, and also by endogenous fatty acids and certain monoglycerides.
Of the saturated fatty acids, lauric acid has greater antiviral activity than either caprylic acid, capric acid, or myristic acid.
According to published research, lauric acid – whose best source is coconut – is the top “inactivating” fatty acids, and its monoglyceride is even more effective than the fatty acid alone.
The antiviral action attributed to monolaurin is that of solubilizing the lipids and phospholipids in the envelope of the virus, causing the disintegration of the virus envelope. However, there is evidence from recent studies that one antimicrobial effect in bacteria is related to monolaurin’s interference with signal transduction, and another antimicrobial effect in viruses is due to lauric acid’s interference with virus assembly and viral maturation.
Recognition of the antiviral aspects of the monoglyceride of lauric acid has been reported since 1966. Some of the early work in the 80’s that showed virucidal effects of monolaurin on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses was done in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control of the U.S. Public Health Service. These studies were done with selected virus prototypes or recognized representative strains of enveloped human viruses.
Dr. Bruce Fife, Mrs. Fife, and John Doe (name withheld), a diagnosed HIV patient under the care of Dr. Condrado Dayrit, Phd.
Some of the viruses inactivated by these lipids, in addition to HIV, are the measles virus, herpes simplex virus-1, vesicular stomatitis virus, visna virus, and cytomegalovirus. Many of the pathogenic organisms reported to be inactivated by these antimicrobial lipids are those known to be responsible for opportunistic infections in HIV-positive individuals. For example, concurrent infection with cytomegalovirus is recognized as a serious complication for HIV+ individuals.
All these point to the practical aspects and the potential benefit of a nutritional support regimen for HIV-infected individuals, which will utilize those dietary fats that are sources of known antiviral, antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal monoglycerides and fatty acids such as monolaurin and its precursor lauric acid. After all, these are essentially nontoxic to man. Monolaurin does not appear to have an adverse effect on desirable bacteria in the digestive tract, but rather on only potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
Reference: Enig, Mary G. “Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21 st Century,” presented at the 36 th session of the Asian Pacific Coconut Community, 21-25 June 1999.
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