The Potential of Coconut Oil and its Derivatives as Effective and Safe Antiviral Agents Against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV-2019)

The Potential of Coconut Oil and its Derivatives as Effective and Safe Antiviral Agents Against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV-2019)

Fabian M. Dayrit, Ph.D.
Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
National Academy of Science & Technology-Philippines

Mary T. Newport, M.D.
Spring Hill Neonatology, Inc. Florida, USA

January 31, 2020

As we write this, the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency over the novel coronavirus, nCoV-2019, that has spread beyond China. There is still no cure for nCoV-2019. nCoV-2019 has been shown to be related to SARS (Zhou et al., 2020), a coronavirus which caused an outbreak in 2003. Several researchers have been designing drugs to specifically target protease enzymes in coronavirus, but testing for these drugs is many months away. What if there is a treatment candidate against the coronavirus that might already be available and whose safety is already established?

Lauric acid (C12) and monolaurin, its derivative, have been known for many years to have significant antiviral activity. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid which makes up about 50% of coconut oil; monolaurin is a metabolite that is naturally produced by the body’s own enzymes upon ingestion of coconut oil and is also available in pure form as a supplement. Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common surfactant that is made from lauric acid, has been shown to have potent antiviral properties. Lauric acid, monolaurin, and sodium lauryl sulfate (which is also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate) are used in a wide range of products for their antiviral properties.

Mechanisms of action

Three mechanisms have been proposed to explain the antiviral activity of lauric acid and monolaurin: first, they cause disintegration of the virus envelope; second, they can inhibit late maturation stage in the virus replicative cycle; and third, they can prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane.

1. Disintegration of the virus membrane. The antiviral activities of lauric acid and monolaurin were first noted by Sands and co-workers (1979) and later by Hierholzer & Kabara (1982). In particular, Hierholzer & Kabara showed that monolaurin was able to reduce infectivity of 14 human RNA and DNA enveloped viruses in cell culture by >99.9%, and that monolaurin acted by disintegrating the virus envelope. Thormar and co-workers (1987) confirmed the ability of lauric acid and monolaurin to inactivate viruses by disintegration of the cell membrane. Sodium lauryl sulfate has been shown to be able to solubilize and denature the viral envelope (Piret 2000, 2002).

2. Inhibits virus maturation. The Junin virus (JUNV) is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever. In a comparison among the saturated fatty acids from C10 to C18 against JUNV infection, Bartolotta and co-workers (2001) showed that lauric acid was the most active inhibitor. From mechanistic studies, it was concluded that lauric acid inhibited a late maturation stage in the replicative cycle of JUNV. From transmission electron microscope images, JUNV is an enveloped virus featuring glycoproteins that are embedded in the lipid bilayer forming viral spikes (Grant et al., 2012); this is similar to nCoV-2019.

3. Prevents binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane. Hornung and co-workers (1994) showed that in the presence of lauric acid, the production of infectious vesicular stomatitis virus was inhibited in a dose-dependent and reversible manner: after removal of lauric acid, the antiviral effect disappeared. They observed that lauric acid did not influence viral membrane (M) protein synthesis, but prevented the binding of viral M proteins to the host cell membrane.

Although lauric acid accounts for much of the reported antiviral activity of coconut oil, capric acid (C10) and monocaprin have also shown promising activity against other viruses, such as HIV-1 (Kristmundsdóttir et al., 1999). Capric acid accounts for about 7% of coconut oil. Thus, at least two fatty acids in coconut oil, and their monoglycerides, have antiviral properties. Hilarsson and co-workers (2007) tested virucidal activities of fatty acids, monoglycerides and fatty alcohols against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human parainfluenza virus type 2 (HPIV2) at different concentrations, times and pH levels. They reported the most active compound tested was monocaprin (C10), which also showed activity against influenza A virus and significant virucidal activities even at a concentration as low as 0.06-0.12%.

Use of coconut oil and C12 derivatives in animals and humans

Coconut oil and its derivatives have been shown to be safe and effective antiviral compounds in both humans and animals. Because of the antiviral and antibacterial protection that it provides to animals, coconut oil, as well as lauric acid and monolaurin, is used in farm animals and pets as veterinary feed supplements in chicken, swine and dogs (Baltic et al., 2017). Monolaurin has been shown to effectively protect chicken against avian influenza virus (van der Sluis, 2015). Li and co-workers (2009) prepared a gel containing monolaurin and found it to be highly active against repeated high viral loads of Simean immunodeficiency virus in macaques and Kirtane and co-workers (2017) developed a 35% gel of monolaurin for application in the female genital tract to protect against HIV. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has been used at low concentrations to inactivate viruses in milk of farm animals (de Sousa et al., 2019). SLS is the active constituent in commercial disinfecting wipes and standard laboratory disinfectants, and is an emulsifying agent and penetration enhancer in pharmaceutical preparations.

Coconut oil itself has been shown to have anti-HIV properties in small clinical studies. The first clinical trial using coconut oil (45 mL daily) and monolaurin (95% purity, 800 mg daily) against HIV-AIDS was conducted in the Philippines. This study involved 15 HIV patients, aged 22 to 38 years, 5 males and 10 females, for 6 months. There was only one fatality and 11 of the patients showed higher CD4 and CD8 counts after 6 months (Dayrit, 2000).

In another study, 40 HIV subjects with CD4+ T lymphocyte counts less than 200 cells/microliter were divided into a virgin coconut oil (VCO) group (45 mL daily) and control group (no VCO). After 6 weeks, the VCO group showed significantly higher average CD4+ T lymphocyte counts versus control (Widhiarta, 2016).


Several in vitro, animal, and human studies support the potential of coconut oil, lauric acid and its derivatives as effective and safe agents against a virus like nCoV-2019. Mechanistic studies on other viruses show that at least three mechanisms may be operating.

Given the considerable scientific evidence for the antiviral activity of coconut oil, lauric acid and its derivatives and their general safety, and the absence of a cure for nCoV-2019, we urge that clinical studies be conducted among patients who have been infected with nCoV-2019 (see below). This treatment is affordable and virtually risk-free, and the potential benefits are enormous.

On the other hand, given the safety and broad availability of virgin coconut oil (VCO), we recommend that VCO be considered as a general prophylactic against viral and microbial infection.

A proposed clinical study

We can propose that a clinical study be conducted on patients infected with nCoV-2019 accordingly:

· Group 1: Control group, standard care
· Group 2: standard care + VCO (45 mL, approx. 3 three tablespoons, daily or higher,)
· Group 3: standard care + Monolaurin (95% purity, 800 mg daily). Monolaurin is recognized as GRAS by US FDA.
· Group 4: standard care + Monocaprin (95% purity, 800 mg daily). Monocaprin is recognized as GRAS by US FDA.
· Group 5: standard care + SLS (pharmaceutical grade, 100 mg/kg/day). SLS toxicity: lowest NOAEL (repeated dose, rat): 100 mg/kg/day (hepatotoxicity) (Bondi et al., 2015).


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Kirtane AR, Rothenberger MK, Frieberg A, et al. Evaluation of vaginal drug levels and safety of a locally administered glycerol monolaurate cream in Rhesus macaques. Journal of Pharmaceutical Science 2017; 106(7):1821-1827.

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Outstanding Chemist of 2020: Call for Nominations

Every year, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) honors the outstanding professional from each profession during the PRC Week which is held every June. We would like to invite active ICP members to nominate individuals for the honor of Outstanding Chemist of 2020.

The criteria for selection include the following:
1. Professional Competence and Integrity in the exercise of the Chemistry profession
2. Meaningful participation in professional activities through the professional organization
3. Significant contributions to the advancement of the Chemistry profession
4. Evidence of social responsibility through meaningful social activities

The Outstanding Chemist can come from government, industry or academe. The evidence for outstanding performance will depend on the sector where the nominee comes from. The nominees have to be evaluated and endorsed by ICP. The deadline for submission to ICP is on February 13 (Thursday).

For relevant forms and further details, kindly contact the ICP via email (

Let us recognize the outstanding chemists among us!

3rd NCCL Tackles Waste Management as Social Responsibility

The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) has successfully organized the 3rd National Conference of Chemical Laboratories (NCCL), held last October 16-17 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. With the theme “Formulating Solutions to Chemical Wastes: The Chemistry Sector’s Social Responsibility”, this edition of the NCCL attracted more than four-hundred chemistry professionals and practitioners from the academe, government, and industry sectors, all with the pursuit of properly managing the chemical waste they generate.

The two-day event started off with the honorable Dr Adoracion Resurreccion, chair of the Board of Chemistry (BOC) of the Professional Regulation Commission, giving an update on important concerns regarding the chemistry profession such as the revised hazard pay guidelines, laboratory inspections, and customized mentoring on laboratory waste management. She also gave a brief summary on the results of this year’s chemist and chemical technician licensure examinations. Concerns of chemical laboratories which are yet to comply with the Chemistry Profession Act were also mentioned.

Ms Maria Josephine Gonzales (Nestle Philippines Inc) shared how Nestle’s chemical laboratories all over the country handle and eliminate the waste they generate. She stressed on the importance of investing in new laboratory tools and techniques to minimize the use of chemicals, thus minimizing waste created. Partnering with reliable and responsible waste treaters, she added, should be an integral part of any waste-generating facility such as a chemical laboratory or a factory.

Mr Roger Evangelista (Environmental Management Bureau) discussed how a laboratory’s chemical waste may be addressed through the implementation of a chemical management program, which is a documented procedure to make sure that chemicals are safely used and disposed of properly. With this, a laboratory should be able to comply with all applicable government regulations while reducing the risk associated with the hazards of certain chemicals.

Capping off the NCCL’s first day was Mr Reynaldo Esguerra of the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) of the Department of Science and Technology. He shared the best practices on how ITDI manages its laboratory waste. Being a generator of all types of waste, including biological and hazardous ones, the ITDI is compelled to have a centralized waste management facility to deal with them. Basic laboratory safety equipment such eyewash stations, mops for chemical spillage, among others, are sufficiently and strategically placed in their workplace.

The honorable Ms Teresa Cayton (member, BOC) started the second day with a report on the many chemical laboratories that the BOC has inspected this past year. She shared that while a lot of them are complying with the law, some continue to dispose of their waste using unfavorable methods. Other observations on waste disposal such as improper labelling of containers, misdeclaration of waste contents, and improper waste management procedure were also revealed. Ms Cayton challenged the audience to ensure that their respective laboratories handle waste properly and with utmost care.

CRL Environmental Corporation’s Ms Maria Carmela Capule, also serving as president of the ICP Region 3 Chapter, discussed practical approaches on managing hazardous chemical waste derived from physico-chemical laboratories. She gave a detailed procedure on how her company processes these wastes, and stressed on the adage “from cradle to grave”, the golden rule of chemical management which means that a laboratory is responsible until the waste it generated has been disposed of properly.

Mr Stephen Tronco (Integrated Waste Management Inc.) discussed how thermal treatment may be used as a new approach in dealing with hazardous chemical waste. He gave a thorough run-down on how pyrolysis works on different types of waste such as plastics and hazardous chemicals.

Lastly, Mr Ariel Entico (Envirocare Management and Precision, Inc.) gave a talk on the proper handling and transport of chemical waste. He stressed mainly on the legalities of how such waste must be handled, including the necessary regulations and penalties that come with it.

A covenant on proper waste management was also initiated by ICP’s President Dr Fabian Dayrit and Vice-President for External Affairs and NCCL Chair Ms Edna Mijares by affixing their signatures on the NCCL’s photo wall. Eventually, the participants also affixed theirs as a pledge to minimize the waste they generate in their respective chemical laboratory.

The 3rd NCCL was also an opportunity for the BOC to distribute License to Operate (LTO) certificates to chemical laboratories who have complied with the Chemistry Profession Act over the past year in a simple awarding ceremony. In addition, gifts courtesy of companies who have participated in the industry exhibition area were raffled off much to the delight of the participants.

The ICP wishes to thank the participants, resource speakers, and company-exhibitors who have attended and made the 3rd NCCL a huge success. Together, as one community, let us promote the proper management of chemicals and waste as this is a commitment not just to the chemistry profession but for the country.

Chemist and Chemical Technician Licensure Examinations 2019: Results

Registration to the PRC. The registration for the issuance of your Professional Identification Card (ID) and Certificate of Registration will be done on-line. Visit and follow the procedure stated.

Membership to the ICP. Newly-registered chemists and chemical technicians are required to become members of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), the accredited professional organization of chemists and chemical technicians in the country recognized by the PRC. Click on the link below to learn how to become an active ICP member.

Oath-taking Ceremony of board-passers. The 2019 Oath-taking Ceremony of New Chemists and Chemical Technicians is organized by the PRC in coordination with the ICP, and will be held on November 16 (Saturday) at the Philippine International Convention Center, Metro Manila. Registration for this event is required. To learn more (including admission fees and procedure), visit

Congratulations to this year’s board-passers, and welcome to the chemistry profession!

RCh: Some Perks and Privileges of Being a Registered Chemist

Congratulations for passing the chemist licensure examination! After years of studying to earn your bachelor’s degree, after all these months (perhaps years even!) of reviewing either on your own or with a group, after answering questions from the five core subjects for two days, you are finally part of an elite few who passed it, an elite few who will further mold the shape of the chemistry profession in our country.

But what comes after that? How can you help improve the state of chemistry in our country with your newfound profession? The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) is more than happy to offer assistance on this matter.

Being the “RCh” Kid

Just like medical doctors who may affix MD after their names, a registered chemist like you may add “RCh” after your name; this is according to Section 38 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10657, otherwise known as the Chemistry Profession Act of 2015.

But having it does not mean you can flaunt it at just about any situation you can think of. You are always welcome to include it in your curriculum vitae; in a professional setting, you may add it after you certify the results of laboratory analyses you have conducted. However, it is not to be used as a bragging right, like when placing an order at a coffee shop, putting it on your Facebook or Instagram profile, or filling up certain registration forms that never require such to be written. As a rule of thumb, display your RCh designation only to individuals who care about it, like your employer and colleagues at work or to people who have asked your assistance to analyze a certain sample.

In addition, the committing of acts that harm or taint the reputation of the chemistry profession is highly discouraged. You may be subjected to disciplinary action when necessary, costing you this hard-earned title.

Head of (Chemical) Household

Aside from being able to conduct chemical analyses and syntheses, a registered chemist can become the head of a chemical laboratory, as well as supervise chemical work done in a chemical laboratory; no other professional (such as a chemical engineer) must become a chemical laboratory’s supervisor or head. In addition, You are also able to oversee your laboratory’s purchase of chemicals and chemical equipment.

In the academic setting, only registered chemists may teach professional chemistry courses in an educational institution’s BS-Chemistry degree program, or conduct review classes for examinees who are about to take the chemist licensure examination.

For more on this, kindly click on the link of the IRR found above.

Seal is the Deal

According to Section 37 of the IRR, each registered chemist must obtain his or her own chemist seal. Have you had the chance to go to a government office to notarize some papers just so they can be declared as true? This is very much like it. Results of testing analyses, certification reports, and other official documents coming out of the chemical laboratory must bear this seal, in addition to your signature, so the public may know that such papers are indeed correct.

This chemist seal is durable and should last a long time. Click on this link to purchase your very own chemist seal.

Welcome to the ICP

The ICP is the accredited professional organization of all registered chemists in the country. As a bona fide chemist, you may now apply as a regular member of the ICP; membership to the ICP is required according to Section 41 of the IRR. Once the appropriate fees have been paid, your membership to the ICP is good for three years.

The ICP frequently organizes events such as seminars and conferences to further enrich the general public on timely and relevant matters concerning the chemistry profession. These events come with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credit units as the ICP is a recognized CPD provider; collecting the necessary number of CPD units is required whenever you need to renew your professional license. By joining the ICP as a regular member, you may avail of discounted registration fees to such events, and even in the annual Philippine Chemistry Congress. Plus, you get to bond with your fellow ICP members during such events, share best practices with them, and formulate solutions to enhance our country through chemistry. If helping other chemists is your thing, you may even run as and become an ICP board officer!

Click on this link to learn how to become an active ICP member.

With great power comes great responsibility, or so the famous comic quote goes. Being a registered chemist is not just an achievement for yourself; it is also a commitment to serve others. The designation RCh may be just three letters, but it carries so much weight once you affix it after your name. So, go out there and put this great power of yours to good use!