Can Virgin Coconut Oil Fight COVID-19? Here’s What You Need to Know

Last year, we all heard the fantastic news that virgin coconut oil (VCO) could be a potential antiviral agent against COVID-19. This was revealed by Filipino scientists after six months of experiments by the Department of Science and Technology and Ateneo de Manila University. 

“The results are very promising,” said Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. “Not only does it show that VCO, by itself, can destroy the virus, but it also has a key mechanism in regulating the immune response against COVID-19.” 

Does this mean that we can be safe from the virus if we have VCO in our diet? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What do Scientists say about 
VCO vs. COVID-19?

The specific finding of the DOST and Ateneo was that VCO compounds decreased coronavirus count by 60 to 90 percent in patients with low viral load (asymptomatic and mild cases). Following up on those optimistic results, scientists continued exploring virgin coconut oil through another study, this time in isolation units in Santa Rosa, Laguna. 

They tested the effects of VCO on suspected and mild cases of COVID-19, and by April 2021, they found that VCO-takers had “a significant decline in the C-reactive protein level.”

C-reactive protein (CRP) is considered an indicator of COVID-19 infection in the body. Peer-reviewed studies showed that persons with COVID-19 have higher CRP levels, and so a decline in CRP could indicate a better prognosis for the patient.

Here are more specific findings of the Santa Rosa research:

• “Participants in the VCO group showed no more COVID-19-related symptoms at day 18 while symptoms in the Control group [no VCO] persisted until day 23.”

• “A significant decrease in the CRP level was observed in the intervention group.”

•  “Towards the end of the intervention, 82.8% of the participants in the intervention [VCO] group have normal CRP levels (<5 mg/dL) as compared to the control group.”

This latest study concluded that “as an adjunct therapy, meals mixed with VCO [are] effective, fostering faster recovery from COVID-19.”  While virgin coconut oil is not a COVID-19 cure per se, it was helpful in relieving symptoms and inflammatory conditions. That’s a huge deal, considering that coronavirus symptoms can get so severe and difficult to manage. Note also that the study examined only mild coronavirus cases. Currently, the same scientists are trying to initiate a new study that focuses on more serious COVID-19 cases.

What’s in VCO that Fights Coronavirus?

According to the researchers, their findings are consistent with the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of VCO that have been known for a long time. Specifically, virgin coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is further metabolized to monolaurin in the body. These two compounds have been found to work in three ways: they break down the ‘viral envelope’ or the membrane that wraps the virus, they inhibit the virus from maturing, and they prevent the virus from binding to host cells. Other VCO compounds with potential antiviral effects are capric acid and its derivative, monocaprin.

What do the experts say about using VCO against COVID-19 symptoms?

Dr. Fabian Dayrit, who leads the Ateneo researchers, recommends that persons with mild COVID-19 symptoms take two tablespoons of VCO three times a day or after each meal. He notes, however: "That is the recommendation but you still need the clinical trials with more strict measurements." 

We strongly suggest that you consult with your physician or dietitian before following this general recommended dose. As VCO is a naturally fatty substance, it can have different health effects on different bodies. In the Santa Rosa trials, they had nutritionists decide on VCO dosage based on the participants’ individual body weight.

To know more about the health benefits of virgin coconut oil and how to use it, read our quick VCO primer here. And for healthful, mindful tips, check out on Instagram and Facebook!

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