Coconut industry stakeholders are upbeat on recent trials that show coconut oil has strong potential in fighting Covid-19, as this may provide a much-needed boost to the industry where the country has an advantage.
Marco Reyes, vice chairman of industry advocacy group United Coconut Associations of the Philippines, said there are studies that virgin coconut oil or VCO has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties once consumed.
VCO falls under the bracket of the consumer-rich food, health and wellness segment, worth some $1.8 trillion.
Large companies such as D and L Industries Inc. (DNL) has its own brand called Laurin MCT, which it has been able to produce in large amounts and sell alongside with other smaller producers.
Reyes said VCO is not a vaccine against coronavirus, but fighting the virus starts by consuming monolaurin, a chemical derived from lauric acid and glycerin, both a byproduct of coconut fat.
“It is like having a fierce guard dog, the moment Covid-19 or any virus gets in, you can be sure it is taken care of at the onset,” he said.
The Department of Science and Technology, thru the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, earlier said coconut and VCO compounds such as MCT or medium-chain triglycerides oils not only reduced the coronavirus count by up to 90 percent, but it also improved cell survival of patients with Covid-19. These findings came after six months of initial trials.
Monolaurin is found in coconut oils, VCO and MCT products like those produced by DNL are said to be effective not only against coronavirus, but also against majority of viruses and bacteria which are lipid-coated, or the membrane that envelops the virus for it to attach to other cells.
Coconuts remain the Philippines top export, generating north of $2 billion yearly to the local economy, while employing an estimated 3.5 million farmers in the country.
“If further research and trials prove positive for VCO as a Covid-19 alternative treatment, this will undoubtedly have an impact not only for patients, but also provide a needed boost for coconut farmers and the industry as a whole,” the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said.
The agency said even before onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCA has long been advocating the health benefits of virgin coconut oil.
Ateneo Professor Emeritus of Science Dr. Fabian Dayrit, one of the experts who pushed for the research and testing of VCO against Covid-19, said a daily dose of coconut oil “is a good precaution to take” against Covid-19.
In the late 90’s and early 2000, Dayrit was also part of the research team which administered a controlled dosage of coconut and monolaurin oils to persons living with HIV.
Dayrit noted the patients’ viral count significantly went down, while antibody count increased after being administered with a controlled daily dosage of coconut oil and monolaurin.
“Coconut oil-derived products are functional food; it is the same as taking vitamin supplements daily,” he said.
Other test results are expected to be released by November.