Hand Sanitizers Require 70% Ethanol

(English Translation)

Over the past few days, a number of YouTube and Facebook posts have appeared proposing the use of various distilled alcoholic products (such as lambanog, rhum, vodka) with bleach (made of hypochlorite) as hand sanitizer. The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) wishes to inform the public that such alcoholic products contain only about 40% alcohol and lack the concentration needed for a hand sanitizer. In addition, hypochlorite can cause skin irritation and inflammation.

Such products which are below the required 70% alcohol concentration should NOT BE USED as hand sanitizer. The preparation of hand sanitizers using bleach or hypochlorite should be done by trained professionals, such as chemists, pharmacists, chemical engineers, or medical technologists.

(Pagsasalin sa Filipino)

Nitong nakaraang mga araw, may naglipanang mga video sa Youtube at Facebook na naglalahad kung paano gamitin ang ilang mga produktong naglalaman ng alkohol (tulad ng lambanog, rhum, at vodka) at hinahaluan ng bleach (na gawa sa hypochlorite) upang maging hand sanitizer. Nais ipabatid ng ICP na ang mga nabanggit na produktong naglalaman ng alkohol ay kinasasangkapan ng 40% na alkohol lamang, na sadyang mahina upang gawing hand sanitizer. Ang hypochlorite naman ay nagdudulot ng pangangati at pamamaga ng balat.

Ang mga produktong may mas mababa sa 70% na sangkap na alkohol ay HINDI MAAARING GAMITIN bilang hand sanitizer. Samantala, ang pagtitimpla ng mga hand sanitizer gamit ang bleach o hypochlorite ay maaari lamang gawin ng mga tao na may sapat na pagsasanay tulad ng mga chemist, pharmacist, chemical engineer, o medical technologist.

Do NOT Use Industrial Chemicals for Hand Sanitizers

(English Translation)

Official Statement of the ICP Regarding Viral "Do-It-Yourself" Disinfectants on Social Media

Over the past few days, some proposals have appeared on social media suggesting ways by which people can prepare their own hand disinfectant solutions using industrial chemicals, such as denatured alcohol, hypochlorite, and others.

The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) discourages such practices because these can cause harm and may not be suitable for the intended use.

• Industrial chemicals are often very concentrated and require professional handling with personal protective equipment.

• Industrial chemicals are not meant for human use and may contain impurities which are harmful or carcinogenic.

(Pagsasalin sa Filipino)

Opisyal na Pahayag ng ICP Hinggil sa Kumakalat na "Do-It-Yourself" na mga Panlinis sa Social Media

Nitong nakaraang mga araw, lumabas ang ilang mga post sa social media na naglalahad kung paano magtimpla ang isang tao ng kani-kanilang mga disinfectant solution na ginagamitan ng mga kemikal na nakalaan lamang sa industriya, tulad ng denatured alcohol, hypochlorite, at iba pa.

Hindi hinihikayat ng Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) ang mga naturang panukala dahil maaari pa itong makasama sa kalusugan ng sinumang gagamit nito at maaaring hindi rin ito angkop para sa sinasabing paggagamitan.

• Ang mga kemikal na pang-industriya ay kalimitang sobrang matapang at kinakailangang bihasa ang tao na gagamit nito na may sapat na pananggalang.

• Ang mga kemikal na pang-industriya ay hindi nakalaan para gamitin sa tao, at maaari pang may nilalamang makapipinsala ng katawan o maging sanhi ng malubhang karamdaman tulad ng kanser.

80-Proof Alcohol is Not Suitable for Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer

(English translation)

80-proof alcohol is only equal to 40% alcohol

A minimum of 60% alcohol is needed for antibacterial effect

News articles appearing on March 16, 2020, reported that lambanog, which is about 80-proof alcohol, can be used as an alternative for rubbing alcohol as disinfectant.

The ICP wishes to advise the public that this claim is based on incorrect information.

  • 80-proof alcohol is equivalent to only about 40% ethanol
  • A minimum of 60% ethanol is needed for an antibacterial effect
  • Therefore, 80-proof lambanog should NOT be used as an antibacterial product

(Pagsasalin sa Filipino)

Ang 80-proof alkohol ay katumbas lamang ng 40% alkohol

Kinakailangang 60% o higit pa ang alkohol na sangkap upang makapuksa ng mga mikrobyo

May mga balitang lumabas noong ika-16 ng Marso na inuulat na ang lambanog, na gawa sa 80-proof na alkohol, ay maaaring gawing alternatibo sa rubbing alcohol bilang panlinis ng mga bagay-bagay.

Nais ipabatid ng ICP sa madla na ang balitang ito ay base sa maling impormasyon:

  • Ang 80-proof alkohol ay katumbas lamang ng 40% alkohol;
  • Kinakailangang 60% o higit pa ang alkohol na sangkap upang makapuksa ng mga mikrobyo;
  • Sumakatuwid, ang lambanog na 80-proof ay HINDI MAAARING gawing panlinis ng mga bagay-bagay.

Reference / Sanggunian: Reynolds, Levy and Walker. Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 12, No. 3, March 2006. Downloaded from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291447/pdf/05-0955.pdf

Coconut Oil is One of Nature’s Healthiest Oils: A Detailed Reply from the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community

The Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) is an intergovernmental organisation established by United Nations articles and operating under the auspices of UNESCAP. The members of APCC are National Governments of 18 countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa and Caribbean. APCC looks after the interests of the coconut farmers, most of whom are small landholders, the development of the coconut industry, and the over 1 billion consumers of coconut products worldwide. Dr. Fabian Dayrit, president of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines, is also the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Health of the APCC. Written August 25, 2018. You may download this article at this link.


This brief article is a point-by-point rebuttal against the claims made by Dr. Karin Michels that coconut oil is a ‘pure poison’ and that there is no study that shows significant health benefits of coconut oil consumption. This article will provide evidence that coconut oil is not a poison, does not cause heart disease, and is in fact, one of the healthiest oils in the world.

False claim # 1. Coconut oil is ‘pure poison’.

The standard way of determining toxicity is to determine its lethal dose, called LD50. The European Commission has determined that coconut oil has an LD50 of about 23 g/kg [1]. According to this, the average 60 kg person will have to take almost 1.4 kg (or more than 1.5 liters!) of coconut oil to reach the toxic dose. Coconut oil is regarded as a food by Codex Alimentarius [2] and is classified as GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe, by the US FDA [3] and by all countries in the world. Given that Dr. Michels is presumably a knowledgeable scientist, her claim that coconut oil is ‘pure poison’ without any proof can only be considered as a highly unethical, irresponsible and malicious act. APCC demands a retraction and apology from Dr. Karin Michels.

False claim # 2. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and is therefore similar to butter and lard.

This is a highly unscientific and misleading way of determining whether a fat or oil is saturated or unsaturated. Coconut oil is, in fact, a liquid at room temperature in the tropics (it solidifies at around 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Since coconut oil is solid at the colder room temperature in temperate countries, this is used by detractors to instill fear that it will clog arteries. This is deliberate misinformation. Since body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius, coconut oil will certainly not solidify inside one’s arteries. More important, the body’s enzymes (lipases) will metabolize coconut oil almost immediately upon ingestion. This is basic chemistry and it is truly surprising that this fear is being propagated by Dr. Michels and the other detractors of coconut oil who are expected to know better. We note that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans uses this very unscientific method to advise its public how to determine whether a food item is a saturated or unsaturated fat.

The standard scientific method of determining whether a fat or oil is saturated or unsaturated is by the use of a gas chromatograph which is able to analyze fatty acids individually. Table 1 gives the fatty acid profiles of coconut oil and various animal fats.

Table 1. Approximate fatty acid profile and cholesterol content of coconut oil and various animal fats.

The following conclusions can be made from Table 1:
1. Coconut oil and animal fats have very different fatty acid profiles. Further, coconut oil has negligible amounts of cholesterol, while animal fats have considerable amounts of cholesterol. Thus, it is erroneous to say that coconut oil is similar to animal fat.
2. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but it is 63% medium-chain (C6 to C12). Medium-chain fats are metabolized differently from long-chain fats and, in fact, have a number of beneficial properties.
3. Animal fats have considerable amounts of unsaturated fat (>30%) and should not be considered as saturated fats. This is an error that has been blindly accepted by generations of scientists since it was proclaimed by Ancel Keys. An extensive correction of the claims of nutritional science on “saturated fat” is in order.

False claim # 3. Coconut oil causes heart disease.

There is no study that has direct evidence that coconut oil causes heart disease. In fact, there is much direct observational and experimental evidence that coconut oil does not cause heart disease:

Studies on traditional coconut-consuming societies. Tokelau and Pukapuka are remote islands in the Pacific and coconut is a major source of dietary energy, as is the case in all Pacific islands. In 1981, Prior and co-workers reported that Tokelauans and Pukapukans consumed 63% and 34%, respectively, of their diet from coconut. However, despite this high coconut intake, vascular disease was uncommon in both populations [4]. Prior could see the onslaught of the Western diet on the Pacific islands and realized that it was important to document the health status of traditional coconut-consuming societies.

In 1993, Lindeberg and co-workers reported that the inhabitants of Kitava Island, who consumed coconut as part of their staple, did not suffer stroke and ischaemic heart disease [5].

Studies on coconut-consuming societies that switch to the Western diet. Numerous studies have documented the decline in health status of populations that abandon their traditional coconut diet and switch to a Western diet. Prior and co-workers contrasted the higher morbidity and mortality of the Maoris who migrated to New Zealand versus those who stayed at home [6]. Similarly, Stanhope and co-workers reported that in Tokelau, the islanders consumed 53% of energy from fat, 80% of which was from coconut, while migrants to New Zealand consumed less saturated fat and increased their sugar and carbohydrate consumption. Migrant males had higher mean concentrations of serum LDL and triglycerides and lower serum HDL than non-migrant males [7]. Galanis and co-workers reported that American Samoans who shifted to a Western diet showed greater obesity and higher risk for CVD as compared with Western Samoans who retained their traditional island diet. American Samoans consumed more energy as carbohydrate and significantly less as fat and saturated fat [8]. In its report entitled Diet Food Supply and Obesity in the Pacific, the World Health Organization noted that Pacific islanders were “2.2 times more likely to be obese and 2.4 times more likely to be diabetic if they ate imported fats than if they ate traditional fat sources.” The imported fats included vegetable oils and margarine while the traditional fats included coconut oil [9].

• In a recent review of coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors, Eyres and co-workers reluctantly conceded that: “Observational evidence suggests that consumption of coconut flesh or squeezed coconut in the context of traditional dietary patterns does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes,” but added that: “However, due to large differences in dietary and lifestyle patterns, these findings cannot be applied to a typical Western diet.” [10] However, his reason for saying this was not explained in the paper.

• Coconut oil accounts for less than 5% of the total vegetable oil consumption in the US [11] and much of this is processed into hydrogenated coconut oil. Many of the studies that link coconut oil with heart disease were done in the US where hydrogenated coconut oil is the food item that is consumed, not coconut oil [12]. Hydrogenated coconut oil can be found in artificial coffee creamers, cake mixes and bakery products. Thus, coconut oil cannot be logically linked to heart disease in the US, so detractors use statistical tools.

False claim # 4. There is no study that shows significant health benefits of coconut oil consumption.

The truth is quite the opposite. Following is a short summary of the numerous scientific studies which show that coconut oil has many beneficial properties:

Coconut oil is antibacterial: Numerous reports have been published on the antimicrobial properties of lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil, and monolaurin, its natural derivative. These are effective against Staphylococcus aureus [13] and Heliobacter pylori, the causative agent of stomach ulcers [14], among others. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) has been found to be very effective against skin S. aureus infection, especially in the proactive treatment of atopic dermatitis [15]. Coconut oil has been endorsed by the World Dental Association as an antibiotic that can combat tooth decay [16]. The antibacterial activity of coconut oil takes on special significance today when the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria is rapidly increasing with no affordable antibiotics in sight.

Coconut oil improves the lipid profile: A recent study was done involving 94 European Caucasian volunteers who were randomized to one of three interventions: VCO, extra-virgin olive oil, or unsalted butter, at 50 g daily for 4 weeks. Coconut oil and olive oil gave similar LDL cholesterol profiles which were much lower compared with butter. In addition, coconut oil significantly increased HDL cholesterol compared with butter and olive oil [17].

Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties: VCO supplementation has anti-inflammatory effects in the kidney which has been attributed to its antioxidant activity [18].

Coconut oil has anti-cancer properties: In an in vitro study, lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil, was shown to activate apoptosis (or cell death) in cancer cells, which indicates that coconut oil has potential as a therapeutic agent [19]. The phenolic fraction of VCO is an antioxidant and cytotoxic agent against hepatocellular cacinoma (HepG2) cells [20].

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the worsening problem of obesity

In its so-called “Presidential Advisory”, the American Heart Association decried the fact that: “A recent survey reported that 72% of the American public rated coconut oil as a “healthy food” compared with 37% of nutritionists. This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.” [21] However, it is more likely that the American public have finally realized that the AHA and the Dietary Guidelines have been making them obese. As Cohen and co-workers correctly observed: “Americans have been following dietary guidelines, coincident with the rise in obesity” [22]. This can be clearly seen when one compares the dietary advice with the rise in overweight and obesity in the US (Table 2).

Table 2. Anti-saturated fat advice of the Dietary Guidelines and the rise of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults in the US [23].

The advice of the Dietary Guidelines has made the Americans obese by demonizing saturated fat, including coconut oil. Unfortunately, this obesity-causing diet has been adopted by many other countries with the same consequences. As shown by the experience of the Pacific islanders, it is the Western diet that makes people obese and it is the traditional coconut diet that is healthy. Coconut oil may hold part of the solution to the rising obesity in the US, as well as the rest of the world.

The Responsible Use of Science and the Tree of Life

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The sensationalist attack by Dr. Michels is clearly such a lie that is just being repeated. There have been many attacks on coconut oil which, upon analysis, have been shown to be based on deliberate misinformation and false assumptions. This is a highly irresponsible use of science and a grave disservice to the people.

The coconut has a tradition dating back several thousands of years and is unique in being revered by many so cultures as the “Tree of Life.” The truth is that the coconut and coconut oil are among the healthiest gifts that nature has given us. We should use science and technology to ensure the development of these gifts for the benefit of the people and the coconut farmer.

1 European Community: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/pdf/6b_appendix_2.pdf
2 Codex Alimentarius Commission. Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program. Report of the Fourteenth Session of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils. London, United Kingdom. 27 September – 1 October 1993
3 US FDA: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/index.cfm?set=SCOGS&sort=Sortsubstance&order=ASC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=coconut%20oil
4 I. A. Prior, F. Davidson, C. E. Salmond, Z. Czochanska, Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 34, 1552-1561 (1981).
5 S. Lindeberg, B. Lundh, Apparent absence of stroke and ischaemic heart disease in a traditional Melanesian island: a clinical study in Kitava. J. Int. Med. 233, 269-275 (1993).
6 I. Prior, Epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases in Asian-Pacific region. Sing. Med. J. 14(3), 223-227 (1973).
7 J. M. Stanhope, V. M. Sampson, I. A. M. Prior, The Tokelau island migrant study: serum lipid concentrations in two environments. J. Chron. Dis. 34(2–3), 45–55 (1981).
8 D. J. Galanis, S. T. McGarvey, C. Quested, B. Sio, S. Aafele-Fa’amuli, Dietary intake of modernizing Samoans: implications for risk of cardiovascular disease. J. Am. Diet Assoc. 99(2), 184–190 (1999).
9 World Health Organization (WHO), Diet, food supply and obesity in the Pacific. (2003).
10 L. Eyres, M.F. Eyres, A. Chisholm, R.C. Brown, Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors
in humans, Nutrition Reviews, 2016; 74(4):267–280
11 https://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?country=us&commodity=coconut-oil&graph=domestic-consumption
12 F.B. Hu et al. Dietary saturated fats and their food sources in relation to the risk of coronary heart disease in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70:1001–1008
13 A. Ruzin, R.P. Novick. Equivalence of lauric acid and glycerol monolaurate as inhibitors of signal transduction in Staphylococcus aureus. J Bact 2000;182(9):2668–2671
14 B.W. Petschow, R.P. Batema, L.L. Ford. Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to bactericidal properties of medium-chain monoglycerides and free fatty acids. Antimicrob Agents Chemotherapy. 1996;40(2):302–306
15 V.M. Verallo-Rowell, K.M. Dillague, B.S. Syah-Tjundawan. Novel Antibacterial and Emollient Effects of Coconut and Virgin Olive Oils in Adult Atopic Dermatitis. Dermatitis, 2008; 19(6): 308–315
16 “Coconut oil could combat tooth decay” World Dental Organization, http://worldental.org/dental-news/fighting-tooth-decay-coconut-oil/8206/. Article in Dental Tribune U.S. Edition, September 14, 2012
17 K.T. Khaw, S.J. Sharp, L. Finikarides, I. Afzal, M. Lentjes, R. Luben, N. G. Forouhi. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. BMJ Open 2018;8:e020167.
18 A.C. Famurewa et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of virgin coconut oil supplementation abrogate acute chemotherapy oxidative nephrotoxicity induced by anticancer drug methotrexate in rats. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2017; 96: 905–911
19 R. Lappano et al. The lauric acid-activated signaling prompts apoptosis in cancer cells. Cell Death Discovery (2017) 3, 17063
20 F.P.K. Lim, L.F.G. Bongosia, N.B.N. Yao, L.A. Santiago, Cytotoxic activity of the phenolic extract of virgin coconut oil on human hepatocarcinoma cells (HepG2). International Food Research Journal 2014;21(2): 729-733
21 F.M. Sacks et al. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2017;135:00–00.
22 E. Cohen et al. Statistical review of US macronutrient consumption data, 1965–2011: Americans have been following dietary guidelines, coincident with the rise in obesity. Nutrition. 2015;31:727–732
23 C.D. Fryar et al. Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 1960–1962 Through 2013–2014. Health E-Stats, National Center for Health Statistics.

ICP Official Statement Regarding ‘Chemist’ in Marijuana Raid TV Report by GMA News

Below is a copy of the official letter sent to the relevant personalities of GMA News Network for their unfair depiction of chemists in one of their TV reports aired last 13 July 2017. A copy of this letter may be downloaded at this link.


Mr. FELIPE L. GOZON, Chairman of the Board
GMA News


Dear Sirs,

On behalf of the Philippine Chemistry community, I wish to express our profound disappointment regarding your irresponsible use of the term “chemist” of the drug raid titled “Tsongkilate” which aired by GMA News last July 13, 2017.

It was clear from the coverage that the person who was apprehended was NOT a chemist. Such irresponsible use of terms belies a lack of appreciation for truth and accuracy of news reporting.

Chemistry is a very difficult and demanding subject and the country badly needs more Chemists to keep our competitiveness, support public safety and ensure a clean environment. Your thoughtless and incorrect use of the term damages this important profession and paints Chemists as drug pushers and criminals. Would parents encourage their children to take up this subject given your very negative news coverage? This news item has done a great disservice to Chemistry, a discipline and profession that the country needs to strengthen.

We ask GMA News to correct this error and to refrain from committing such irresponsible statements in the future.

Thank you.

Yours truly,


(signed) Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit