Can Coconut Oil Help Fight COVID-19? Why Not Coconut!
Gari Sy Rivera | March 27, 2020
In January 2020, Integrated Chemists of the Philippines President and Ateneo de Manila University professor Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit, along with American Neonatologist Dr. Mary T. Newport, published their study, The Potential of Coconut Oil and its Derivatives as Effective and Safe Antiviral Agents Against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV-2019). Its purpose was to review the scientific literature to determine whether there is enough evidence to support further studies on coconut oil as an effective agent against COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus disease.
Their research delved into the antiviral properties of coconut oil. In the past, coconut oil and its derivates have been used in various studies including ones that involve treatments for animal diseases, therapies for various skin problems, and even as a possible medication for HIV. “I reviewed some of the findings that have been written down previously on coconut oil,” Dr. Dayrit shares, “I know of its general activity against the coronavirus, so I went back, reviewed it and found out there are quite a number of reports showing that the components of coconut oil held anti-viral properties.”
These and other related literature regarding coconut oil was enough for Dr. Dayrit and his partner to investigate whether its would be beneficial for COVID-19 cases. Initial studies show coconut oil’s potential in fighting a COVID-19 infection. “Washing with soap is effective is because the soap destroys the membrane of the virus. But, you can’t drink soap,” Dr. Dayrit points out, “The components of coconut oil have the same effect on the virus inside your body. It can destroy the membrane coating coating of the virus. That's basically the same mechanism.”
While using coconut oil and its derivates as a cure for COVID-19 initially remains as research for now, Dr. Dayrit is optimistic about the viability of his study. “There is a reasonable hypothesis that coconut oil might be active against this novel coronavirus.”
Incorporating coconut oil into a daily diet is relatively easy. “It's quite affordable and risk-free in balanced doses because it's easy to digest,” says Dr. Dayrit. Tablespoons of coconut oil can be ingested on its own or incorporated into a breakfast porridge or afternoon lugaw. It can also be added into a cup of coffee. Dr. Dayrit, however, also cautions against misuse of coconut oil. As with anything, balance is key. “It's not specifically tested, we don't know enough about how it works and how much we should take,” he says, adding that diarrhea could be a common side effect, especially for those unacquainted with regular use of coconut oil.
Further, coconuts and its products seem to be a viable alternative to sustain our wellbeing. Dr. Dayrit observes how regions that commonly eat coconut dishes have less numbers of reported COVID-19 cases. “If you look at the data right now, some of the regions that got the lowest incidents of COVID cases are coconut consuming regions,” he shares, “If you check the data, mababa sila (it’s low). It’s low in Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Leyte because they ingest coconut on a regular basis.” Given that coconut grows profusely around the entire country, it is an affordable and delicious defense against acquiring COVID-19. “You can also take all your food with gata (coconut milk) or eat coconut dishes all the time,” Dr. Dayrit adds.
To date, there are no final conclusions about coconut oil’s effectivity against COVID-19. More testing needs to be done in order to verify the initial findings. Still, Dr. Dayrit shares that its use may still help in boosting human health and immunity. “Coconut oil is not a drug. It does not guarantee that you're going to be cured,” he says, “You can treat it like an optional food supplement.”