During this crisis, any little advantage that you can do to prevent an infection or at very least ease the severity of symptoms can be of great value. Dietary supplementation has been of great interest online, on social media, and on the news because supplements are easily accessible, affordable, with little side effects.
MCT Oil, or medium chain triglycerides, has been known for some time to possess several benefits such as improving cholesterol, increasing energy, better brain functioning, weight loss, among several others. However, recently it has gained some interest in possibly being a weapon against COVID 19 infection.
HOW DID MCT OIL GAIN INTEREST AS AN AGENT AGAINST VIRUSES?
In 2003, SARS (caused by SARS-CoV) infected over 8000 people in China with reported 600 deaths. Many of the surrounding Asian countries were also affected as well. However, the Philippines had reported only 14 cases and 2 fatalities. Of the 14 cases, 1 had imported the disease from Canada and subsequently infected 7 of his relatives and health care workers involved in their care. There were no further reported cases.
Scientists had come to a possible conclusion that coconut oil, one of the main exports of the Philippines as well as a very common cooking oil, was a contributing factor as to why the SARS-CoV pathogen did not propagate throughout the population.
HOW CAN MCT OIL PROTECT US AGAINST COVID19?
Medium chain triglycerides are composed of fatty acids that include lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, and caproic acid. It is well-established that lauric acid surrounds and destroys viruses. Coconut oil, a medium chain triglyceride, is made of 50% lauric acid.
Enzymes in the body naturally produce monolaurin as a metabolite when MCT oil is consumed. Monolaurin is also well-known to have significant antiviral properties.
A compound called sodium lauryl sulfate (which is made from lauric acid) is added to shampoo and household cleaners as a surfactant. Surfactant lowers the surface tension between two substances, allowing them to slide and be wiped away. Because of this, sodium lauryl sulfate has been shown to have strong antiviral activity.
Lauric acid, monolaurin, and sodium lauryl sulfate are all ingredients commonly used for commercial products intended to prevent viral infections.
HOW DOES LAURIC ACID AND MONOLAURIN KILL VIRUSES?
A paper published by Dr. Fabian Dayrit, PH.D. and Dr. Mary Newport, M.D. on January 30, 2020 proposed the use of coconut oil as a means to help in the fight against the coronavirus that is afflicting the world today. Their research has shown 3 potential mechanisms in how coconut oil, through lauric acid and monolaurin, kills viruses (and hopefully coronavirus): disintegration of the viral membrane (the outer coating of the virus), prevents viral maturation (and subsequent replication), and finally prevents the virus from attaching onto the cells of the host.
SO SHOULD WE USE MCT OIL AS PREVENTION OR TREATMENT FOR COVID 19?
Obviously, no clinical studies have been done in humans with MCT oil and COVID 19. The only study that has been done has been on a very small set of HIV positive patients using 45 mL of MCT oil three times a day with encouraging results. More research has to be performed to truly determine if MCT oil is beneficial as a preventive or therapeutic option for COVID 19 or any viral disease for that matter.
However, the side effect profile for daily intake of medium chain triglycerides is extremely low: mild abdominal cramping, a laxative effect, and perhaps bloating, all of which can be prevented by a slow gradual increase in dosage. Furthermore, there are multiple other benefits from regular intake of MCT oil aside from the potential virus fighting property. MCT oil is tasteless and is easily mixed into your morning coffee, used as a cooking oil, or as a dressing on salad.
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