Can you use coconut oil to treat herpes? Research has discovered a fatty acid in coconut oil that has anti-viral properties. But can you use this natural plant extract to stop or prevent herpes outbreaks?
Traditional remedies used to treat this condition include antiviral medications and over-the counter creams and lotions. While many of these products can effectively reduce outbreaks, some medications may cause unwanted side effects, including nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal effects and headaches.
Coconut oils do contain antimicrobial ingredients are known as monoglycerides; these active ingredients have been shown to destroy cell membranes of certain bacteria, virus and fungi.
However, there is conflicting evidence if you can use these oils to actively treat herpes outbreaks and infections.
Herpes is an infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV); it's a common virus and most infections can go unrecognized and undiagnosed.
HSV is a family of viruses that includes Epstein-Barr Virus and Varicella-Zoster Virus. Epstein-Barr causes Mononucleosis, also known as 'kissing disease', 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.
Herpes Cold Sore
Herpes Simplex Type 1 typically causes oral lesions and Herpes Simplex Type 2 causes genital lesions. However, these viruses are not typically unique with regards to symptoms and some individuals with Herpes Simplex Simplex 1 may also exhibit genital sores. These sores can be quite painful and embarrassing; however, once the virus enters a dormant stage there may be no symptoms or lesions present.
The virus is easily spread from person-to-person during an active outbreak and even a few days before an outbreak. Affected individuals may not show any symptoms yet it is possible to infect another person; this stage is called 'Asymptomatic Shedding'.
People that exhibit recurrent lesions and skin eruptions may need to go on long-term antiviral medications such as Zovirax (Acyclovir) and Valtrex (Valacyclovir). These medications have been proven effective for destroying the herpes virus and suppressing outbreaks. Side effects (although rare) may include seizures, diarrhea, headaches and nausea.
Recent studies have shown coconut oil contains a fatty acid that can help destroy the lipid membrane of the herpes virus, thus neutralizing the virus and lessening herpes lesions and outbreaks.
Coconut oil is an excellent source of the medium chain triglycerides, lauric and capric acid. Research on lauric acid shows it forms the building blocks of ingredients that have potent antimicrobial properties; these ingredients are proven to destroy certain virus, bacteria and fungi.
Depending on the type of coconut oils purchased, you can get up to 40 - 50% lauric acid and 8 - 10 % capric acid. When properly metabolized, both lauric acid and capric acid change into monoglycerides (a glycerol molecule) called monolaurin and monocaprin.
Research on lauric acid and monolaurin proves they are potent antivirals; scientists have found they kill lipid-coated viruses (such as Herpes, HIV, and Cytomegalovirus) by destroying the lipid membrane of the viruses, causing them to disintegrate.
The unique properties of these monoglycerides have opened the door to an interesting field of research on lauric acid and scientists are currently trying to harness the antimicrobial powers of these powerful fatty acids.
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 needed to achieve therapeutic amounts of lauric acid in your body.
How much lauric acid actually converts into monolaurin for an effective anti-viral response?
The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to our diets, suggests infected individuals eat as much coconut oil as possible to maximize lauric acid levels in the body. Other health food advocates recommend starting with 2 - 3 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil per day and then slowly increasing the dosages until symptoms subside.
Results appear mixed; some individuals found positive results within days with fewer outbreaks and milder symptoms; others found no significant reduction in symptoms. These results may also be affected by the type of coconut oil used and dosage amounts tested.
Research by Dr. Jon Kabara (credited with discovering the antimicrobial effects of monoglycerides), believes it's pointless using virgin coconut oil on herpes.
Dr. Kabara's research on lauric acid showed our bodies convert only a small amount of the fatty acid into monolaurin; not enough for a therapeutic response.
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 to 900 ml of coconut oil and most individuals who try to consume this amount of coconut oil would probably get sick.
Therefore, the best way to get an effective amount of monolaurin and monocaprin is taking it in supplement form. Based on his research, Dr. Kabara created a monolaurin supplement called Lauricidin Pure Monolaurin.
One dose of Lauricidin has been shown to be equivalent to consuming many tablespoons of coconut oil per day. The recommended dosage to suppress herpes outbreaks is 1/2 to 1 scoop per day and one dose is equivalent to consuming many tablespoons of coconut oil.
Many individuals start with a single dose and slowly increase to gauge its effectiveness. Testimonials from people who've used this product claim it effectively reduces herpes outbreaks and it's even effective for candida and yeast infections. Some people have reported no further herpes flare-up since starting a regimen of Lauricidin. Monolaurin supplements need to be taken every day in order to maintain their effectiveness and there have been no reported side effects from long term use.
While some people may experience positive results from taking coconut oil for treating herpes infections, there's no scientific studies to support that ingesting this oil will lessen your symptoms.
While there's no cure for herpes right now, there are many treatments available that may help suppress your outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
Some natural products, such as lysine and monolaurin supplements, may help lessen ongoing symptoms and provide relief. Some people have had success using tea tree oil on herpes; others have had success with optimizing their diet and making positive lifestyle changes to enhance their immune systems. Following these suggestions may help you gain control your herpes and reduce symptoms.
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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