Monolaurin is derived from coconut oil into a mono-ester of the lauric acid in the coconut oil. Keep in mind that monolaurin is a component of breast milk, part of Mother Nature’s immune support that is passed from mother to child and vital to the survival of the human race. Anything in breast milk must be very gentle on the baby, yet effective at boosting immunity. This helps you to understand the safety and non-toxicity of this simple fatty acid nutrient.
Decades of research has demonstrated the germ-killing and disinfectant properties of this natural compound. Well, if it has no toxicity then how on earth does it help immunity? What trick does Mother Nature have up her sleeve?
The Digestive Tract
How does monolaurin affect the contents of your digestive tract, the hundreds of trillions of foreign cells that have a huge bearing on your health? Scientists have discovered, in the October 31, 2008 issue of the journal Cell, that bacteria spores grow and spread by talking to dormant bacteria nearby! It actually recruits them to come join their cause (to infect your body). This turns harmless digestive contents into active combatants. The hostile bacteria signals dormant “friends” to join the battle. The researchers believe this is a universal principle of bacterial infections. We already know that Candida albicans behaves this way.
This means that the bacterial balance in your digestive tract has a profound influence on your immunity and health. If there are too much bad bacteria active in your digestive system, then your immune system is already struggling to keep up with the challenges there before trying to help the rest of your body! The health of your digestive tract affects your ability to directly fight a true challenge – such as a hostile flu virus in other areas of your body.
Monolaurin & Gram Positive Bacteria, H. Pylori, and Candida
Research dating back 30 years identified that monolaurin was highly effective at combating gram positive bacteria and yeasts (like Candida albicans). The Candida killing ability of monolaurin has been long established. It is even used to reduce infections in poultry and help clean equipment involved in the production of food. Monolaurin is effective against many viruses. The nutrient has been in widespread use as an immune support dietary supplement for several decades.
Gram positive bacteria are those that contain a cell wall lattice made of sugars and amino acids. Disrupting this outer cell wall is the key to stopping them from spreading. This includes the bacteria in the families of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Listeria, Bacillus, and Clostridium.
The envelopes (skin) of the good bacteria in your digestive system are different than the bad bacteria. Monolaurin doesn’t absorb in them and leaves them alone. Monolaurin does absorb into the cell membrane of the bad gram positive bacteria and disrupts the integrity of its cell membrane, blocking replication and making it an easier enemy for your immune system to take care of.
In 1992 University of Minnesota researchers demonstrated an additional way that monolaurin helps, showing that it could reduce the toxicity of Staphylococcus gram positive bacteria. More recently, another gram positive bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, has been thrust into public attention by the threat of its use in bioterrorism. In 2005 the University of Minnesota researchers demonstrated that monolaurin inhibited the genes that enabled anthrax to generate toxins. In 2006 research they showed the mechanism of reducing gram positive infection toxicity applied to many organisms. This indicated that monolaurin is likely to help reduce the toxicity of any gram positive infection by making it less severe. This research also found that healthy cells were made stronger by monolaurin, also helping them combat the toxicity.
Monolaurin & Gram Negative Bacteria
Monolaurin has also demonstrated some ability to help regulate gram negative bacteria, one of which is the common intestinal inhabitant known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). If H. pyloristarts getting out of balance and turns hostile then a lot of stomach distress can follow. Researchers have shown that monolaurin has a direct and potent germ killing effect on H. pyloria, regardless of stomach pH. The H. pyloria germ killing ability of monolaurin has been confirmed by a second group of researchers. Another study of bacteria cultured from the skin of children found that monolaurin inhibited the growth of gram positive and gram negative bacteria.
Monolaurin has been shown to reduce the toxicity of gram positive infections, and has been shown to help Vancomycin work better against MRSA. This means that monolaurin used along with appropriate medical care may produce a superior result against MRSA.
Monolaurin and Viruses
Monolaurin is one of the most popular nutrients to assist in combating various viruses. It is, again, believed to work by absorbing into the lipids and phospholipids that form the envelope (skin) of the virus, causing it to weaken or disintegrate. Research suggests that monolaurin exerts some degree of immune support for the following viruses:
• Human immunodeficiency virus HIV-1, HIV+
• Measles virus
• Herpes simplex virus-1
• Herpes simplex virus-2
• Herpes viridae (all)
• Human lymphotropic viruses (type 1)
• Vesicular stomatitis virus
• Visna virus
• Epstein-Barr virus
• Influenza virus
• Sarcoma virus
• Syncytial virus
Monolaurin is not effective against Rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold. Some colds, however, are caused by enveloped viruses; in these cases monolaurin will be effective. However, there are many anecdotal reports of monolaurin helping combat the flu. Many of the types of viruses monolaurin helps are those that can be chronic low grade infections. These are the common ones that don’t put you flat on your back, but deplete energy on a regular basis and flare up when you are stressed or down. If you have ever had a bad bug and never really got your energy back then monolaurin may help your immune system clean up the problem – even years later.
(Upcoming in new article:) The new discovery that many lipid coated viruses can live in your stored fat and disturb your metabolism, promoting obesity, opens the door for the use of monolaurin to assist weight management (we are looking for clinical studies on this topic.)
(As usual for natural supplements: The information given in this article is not intended to be used in place of medical care for any bacterial, viral, or yeast infection, especially a serious one. It is provided for its educational value, helping you to understand how a nutritional fatty acid helps your immune system do its job. Always get medical care if you are sick with an infection.)