(Sources quoted below include some from the originator, Dr. Kabara)
Can you use virgin coconut oil on herpes? Many websites claim this healthy oil is a natural herpes treatment. Read on and see what the research reveals about this interesting topic.
What is Herpes?
This virus is known as Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It’s a common virus and most infections go unrecognized and undiagnosed. Up to 80% of adults in the United States have the oral infection and it’s also believed that 1 in 4 adults may be infected with genital infections and not know it.
HSV is a family of viruses that includes Epstein-Barr Virus and Varicella-Zoster Virus. Epstein-Barr causes that infamous ‘kissing disease’ – Mononucleosis, and Varicella-Zoster can cause Shingles and Chicken Pox. There are variations of the virus with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) causing the majority of infections.
Most infected people will have oral or genital herpes. Once infected, the virus can enter a dormant stage where there are no visible symptoms. When the virus does ‘awaken’ it can cause:
Cold sores on the mouth/lips in Oral HSV.
Lesions in the genital area in Genital HSV.
The virus is easily spread from person-to-person during an active outbreak and a few days before an outbreak. You may not have symptoms and still infect another person. This is called “Asymptomatic Shedding.”
Coconut Oil and Herpes
As mentioned above, there are many internet sites claiming you can use virgin coconut oil on herpes and HIV. This information is partly based on the anti-microbial properties of some ingredients found in the oil.
Virgin Coconut Oil contains 2 healthy fatty acids with proven antimicrobial properties: Lauric Acid & Capric Acid. You can get 40 – 50% Lauric acid and 8 – 10% Capric acid in virgin coconut oil, depending on the source of the oil. When properly metabolized, Lauric acid and Capric acid change into monoglycerides (a glycerol molecule) called MonoLaurin and MonoCaprin.
Research has shown that Monolaurin and Monocaprin are proven antivirals. They kill lipid-coated viruses (such as Herpes, HIV, and Cytomegalovirus) by destroying the lipid membrane of the viruses – causing them to disintegrate. This has opened the door to an interesting field of research on Lauric acid where scientists are trying to harness the antimicrobial powers of these powerful fatty acids. Some of this research is used to support using coconut oil on herpes.
Does Virgin Coconut Oil Cure Herpes?
It’s a proven fact that Lauric acid kills lipid-coated viruses, such as herpes and HIV. But there’s a few factors affecting how well it works:
How much coconut oil is needed get a therapeutic amount of Lauric acid in your body.
How much Lauric acid converts to Monolaurin for an effective anti-viral response.
Research by Dr. Jon Kabara (credited with discovering the antimicrobial effects of monoglycerides), believes it’s pointless using virgin coconut oil on herpes. His research on Lauric acid shows our bodies convert only a small amount of the fatty acid into Monolaurin. Dr. Kabara claims the human body needs at least 3 – 9 grams/day of Monolaurin to have an antiviral effect in the body. This is equivalent to 300 – 900 ml of coconut oil. Eating this much coconut oil would probably make you sick. (Note: this claim was an educated guess. We may convert more than originally thought to monolaurin.)
Therefore, the best way to get a ‘therapeutic’ amount of Monolaurin and Monocaprin is taking it in supplement form. Ultimate Monolaurin has the concentrated monolaurin form of Lauric acid has been found to reduce flare-ups of Herpes. In fact, some people have reported no herpes break-outs since starting the supplement. Ultimate Monolaurin has to be taken everyday for it to work.
So what’s the verdict on using coconut oil on herpes? While there’s no cure for herpes right now, there are drugs that help suppress outbreaks. Having a healthy immune system helps in controlling the virus. Studies show that taking Monolaurin in supplement form may also help reduce herpes outbreaks. Herpes.com says a diet high in the amino acid l-lysine and low in arginine has been shown to help control outbreaks.
To date, there’s no scientific support that ingesting coconut oil alone will lessen your herpes symptoms. Hopefully, more research will be conducted in this area.
For more information see Monolaurin in the A-Z Index.
Fatty Acids and Derivatives as Antimicrobial Agents Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2(l):23-28 (1972) Kabara. J.J.. Conley. A J.- Swieczkowski. D M. Ismail, I.A . Lie Ken Jie and Gunstone, F D
Antimicrobial Action of Isomeric Fatty Acids on Group A Streptococcus Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 16:1060-1063 (1973).
Antimicrobial Lipids: Natural and Synthetic Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides. Kabara. J.J., Vrable, R. and Lie Ken Jie, M.S.F Lipids 12:753759 (1977).
Toxicological, Bactericidal and Fungicidal Properties of Fatty Acids and Some Derivatives Kabara, J.J. JAOCS 56:760-767
Lauric oils as antimicrobial agents: theory of effect, scientific rationale, and dietary applications as adjunct nutritional support for HIV-infected individuals in Nutrients and Foods in AIDS (RR Watson, ed) CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1998, pp. 81-97. Enig, MG