A scientist is looking into coconut oil as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Ateneo de Manila University chemistry professor Dr. Fabian Dayrit said coconut oil has antiviral agents which can help in the treatment of nCoV.
Lauric acid is a fatty acid found in coconut oil while monolaurin is a compound that is produced naturally when one consumes virgin coconut oil (VCO). It is also commercially available through chemical synthesis.
Dr. Dayrit said there had been several clinical studies proving the potential of coconut oil against various diseases including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Junin virus which is similar to nCoV.
“As far as the available literature is concerned, it is very promising. Kasi it had been shown to work in other viruses. So, wala namang risk. So, why not try it,” he said.
“It’s not a proof, but there is enough evidence that it might work,” he added.
Dr. Dayrit said that based on research, the said antiviral agents can potentially destroy the cell membrane of a virus and stop its maturity.
“It has been shown that lauric acid and monolaurin can inhibit the replication,” he said.
The Philippines is also abundant in coconut which can produce cheaper coconut oil.
According to the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Philippines is the number one exporter of virgin coconut oil in the world. Coconut oil is also safe for animals which is also used as food supplements for farm animals and pets.
Dr. Dayrit explained that for a proper clinical study you would need a few hundred subjects depending on study design.
“We don’t have that many coronavirus patients. So, I think we have to design it to test it out just to show that it can actually work and we can move on from there,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) is open to conduct clinical tests for the potential of coconut oil.
DOH USec. Eric Domingo said a lot of evidence is needed when it comes to treatment and management. He also calls on researchers to come up ways to look into potential treatments for nCoV.
“We are requesting iyong ating researchers dito kung pwedeng tingnan, (our researchers if they can look into it),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
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