If you've heard of using coconut oil for herpes, you might be wondering how it might work, and if it's worth trying. And if you're like me, you might be feeling sceptical about the benefits of coconut oil...
After all, it's just a food, isn't it?
It turns out that the humble coconut is in fact an amazing superfood – and coconut oil, once considered a villain to be avoided, is actually one of the healthiest oils you can find. Not only that, the type of oils in coconut oil do have special powers – including super anti-viral qualities.
In fact, a key component of coconut oil – lauric acid – is one of the most powerful natural anti-viral remedies that I have been able to discover.
Read on to find out more...
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Health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil is 85% saturated fat, but it's a special type of saturated fat. Unlike the saturated fat in meat, eggs and dairy products, coconut oil contains mostly medium chain triglycerides – or MCTs for short. The benefits of MCTs are many, starting with being easier to digest and to metabolise. This means that coconut oil is a great source of energy (good for athletes to know) and it is much less likely than other types of fat to be turned into body fat.
In fact, coconut oil is great for losing weight, and especially for getting rid of abdominal fat (the dangerous fat that accumulates around your belly). It improves glucose tolerance (which in itself will help you burn fat) and also protects the liver, pancreas and gall-bladder.
Coconut oil has been found to improve cholesterol balance as well as showing significant anti-oxidant effects, so it's definitely heart-friendly. And because it provides energy without sugar, it's good for the brain (and even helpful for Alzheimer's).
Now, I know you're not reading this because you are worried about your heart, your brain or your liver. But it's still useful to understand how coconut oil can have such global effects on your general health... because a healthy diet is the basic foundation for staying healthy and reducing herpes outbreaks. So that's a bonus to enjoy.
But now let's move onto the specific anti-viral benefits of coconut oil...
Those medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil all have anti-viral properties, but one in particular, lauric acid (which comprises 50% of coconut oil) has significant anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity, comparable to pharmaceutical antibiotics and antivirals but without the acquired resistance or nasty side-effects.
Inside your body, lauric acid is converted into a range of other compounds and one of these, monolaurin, has been found to pack an even more powerful punch against many different bacteria and viruses (including some that are resistant to just about everything else).
For example, these bacteria:
- Helicobacter pylori (an anti-biotic resistant nasty that causes stomach ulcers and may contribute to stomach cancer as well)
- Staphylococcus aureus - “golden” staph, including the much feared MRSA (or methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus).
- Streptococcus – various strains: mostly causing sore throat & fever infections.
- Listeria monocytogenes – a serious food poisoning bacteria that can be specially deadly for babies in utero.
And these viruses too:
- cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Herpes simplex
While coconut oil (and related products such as coconut cream) do have these virus-busting properties, you would probably need to eat a lot of coconut oil on a daily basis to really zap a viral outbreak. (Dr Jon Kabara, who did most of the early research on lauric acid and monolaurin, estimates you would need to eat somewhere between 300 and 900 ml of coconut oil – the equivalent of a large jar of coconut oil – every day.)
Fortunately there's an easier alternative... monolaurin is available to buy in supplement form, and this can be taken in smaller manageable amounts to produce the same powerful anti-viral effect as a jar of coconut oil.
Monolaurin benefits: what does monolaurin do?
Reports on using monolaurin for herpes are consistently very positive. The Canadian Government have a publicly available fact sheet that describes the anti-viral properties of monolaurin and its use to "prevent and fight" herpes outbreaks.
Medically, monolaurin is used to replace anti-viral drugs such as Acyclovir, which have lost their effectiveness or become intolerable because of their nasty side-effects, and reports (e.g. this one) suggest that monolaurin can prevent herpes outbreaks as effectively as anti-viral drugs, while being much safer to take on a long-term basis.
Monolaurin appears to work in two different ways: first, by breaking down the protective lipid coating that all bacteria and viruses have. Without this coating, the micro-organism can't survive.
In a double-whammy action, monolaurin also interferes with virus cell replication – which is good news for herpes sufferers and their partners, as the replication and spread of the virus is what causes all the problems.
Nobody is quite sure exactly how much monolaurin is produced naturally in your body from eating coconut oil, but there's no doubt that taking it in supplement form is more effective than trying to use raw coconut oil as an anti-viral.
But is there a downside to using monolaurin? What are the possible side-effects?
Side-effects of monolaurin
Monolaurin is designated by the FDA as GRAS – Generally Recognised As Safe – and there are no specific monolaurin side-effects noted, even with quite large doses and long term use.
That said, you do need to be careful when starting to use it, because of what is known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (also known as “die-off”). This reaction is not caused by the monolaurin as such, but rather by the toxic effects of having large quantities of dead bacteria and virus released into your body. This can lead to discomforts such as mild digestive upset, low-grade flu-like symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, skin rashes, and so on.
If you do get symptoms like this from monolaurin, cut back on the dose (or stop it temporarily if the effects are severe) and take action to help detox such as drinking plenty of water, having a warm epsom salt bath, and making sure to get enough rest.
This is also not the best time to detox from other things such as coffee or nicotine, or even from sugar. (Ideally you should detox from these health-busting substances first, but if not, don't try to go cold turkey right now unless you are a certified masochist.)
The best strategy for monolaurin is to start off with a low dose, and gradually increase it as your body gets to adjust. That way you'll get the full therapeutic benefits of monolaurin while minimising any unpleasantness.
Which is the best monolaurin supplement?
There are several brands and types of monolaurin available to buy, but my advice is to steer clear of the capsules (which are more than 50% inert filler,) and instead go for the pelletized form of monolaurin, which you take by the scoop. Each pellet is pure monolaurin – there is no filler at all – and so it works out more cost-effective to get an effective daily dose.
Monolaurin in pellet form – under the brand-name Lauricidin® – is commercially produced by Professor Jon Kabara's company, Med-Chem Laboratories, and it's the only form of monolaurin that has been clinically tested and verified as effective. Professor Kabara pioneered the research on monolaurin and lauric acid, and his team developed the pellets as the most palatable and effective way of getting a clinically effective dose of monolaurin. The team at Med-Chem stands behind Lauricidin® and with their solid reputation you can be confident of the quality of this product.
Monolaurin dosage for herpes
It's recommended to start off with half a scoop of Lauricidin® pellets, initially just once per day, until your tolerance is established. You can build up to taking one or more scoops (up to 3 scoops as a maximum recommended dose for acute conditions) up to 3 times daily. Most people find that 1-2 scoops taken once each day is a good maintenance dose, increasing it when you are undergoing stress or otherwise feel vulnerable to an outbreak.
It's recommended not to chew the pellets or have them with a hot liquid (a cold drink is okay) as people report that the pellets have a somewhat soapy taste and texture if dissolved in the mouth. Most people find that swallowing the pellets whole with a glass of water or juice is the best way to take monolaurin.
Where to buy monolaurin
You can buy monolaurin online at a number of places, including Amazon.com.
A Review of Monolaurin and Lauric Acid – Natural Virucidal and Bactericidal Agents. Lieberman, S., Enig, M.G., Preuss, H.G. Alt. Comp.Therapies 2006 December(310-313) http://www.touroinstitute.com/natural%20bactericidal.pdf
Fatty acids and derivatives as antimicrobial agents—a review. Kabara JJ., in: Kabara JJ, ed. The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids. Champaign IL: American Oil Chemists Society,1978:75.