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COVID-19: Can Coconut Oil Help Fight The Pandemic? Doctor Mentions Kerala In Study

The health benefits of coconut oil, when used in controlled quantities, are many. Extracted from the kernel of mature coconuts, the two main varieties of coconut oil include copra oil and virgin coconut oil.

The edge that coconut oil has over cooking oils containing long-chain fatty acids is that coconut oil, especially virgin coconut oil (VCO), is rich in medium-chain fatty acids. This fact makes it a functional food that can be considered to offer various health benefits.

In a recent review published in API (Journal of Association of Physicians), one of India's prestigious medical journals, the immunomodulation benefits of virgin coconut oil and its ability to fight microbes have been examined with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic [1].

From aiding in abdomina fat reduction to boosting immunity, coconut oil improves liver health and treats fungal infections [2][3]. In addition to this, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is essentially effective in fighting off harmful bacteria that attacks your body [4].


Why Coconut Oil For COVID-19?

The antibacterial and immunomodulatory activities of virgin coconut oil against infection-causing bacteria is something that is scientifically proven, and it is this property that the researchers are focusing on to explore, aiming for a possibility of coconut oil's application in the treatment of the coronavirus infection [5].

The review published in the journal focused on the immunomodulation benefits and coconut oil's ability to act against microbes. Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state government task force on Covid-19 pointed out that, "Coconut oil has lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid that can be easily synthesized by the body. Indians consume a lot of saturated fatty acids, especially ghee, which are the right source of fats needed for the body's metabolism" [6].

He stressed on the fact that coconut oil has been used as a cure for several ailments in Ayurveda for more than 4,000 years and also that it contains zinc, something that helps improve one's immunity; using the data to further support his claims on the efficacy of the versatile oil in the possible treatment or prevention of the coronavirus pandemic.


Study Mentions Kerala’s Use Of Coconut Oil

The researcher linked the study to that of the use of coconut oil in Kerala. Labelled as the ‘land of coconuts,' the state has a high consumption of coconut oil and other coconut products, owing to the geography and the abundance of coconut trees in the state [7].

Linking this to that of the applaudable management of Covid-19 by the Kerala government under the outstanding guidance of Health Minister K.K Shailaja and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the study author assumes that this could have a connection to the use of coconut oil in the majority of the households [8].

"While Covid-19 wasn't the main reason for conducting this review on coconut oil, it is a fact that Keralites, who consume a lot of coconut oil, have managed to fight Covid-19 well," said the doctor. He also pointed out that the plethora of health benefits offered by the coconut oil has caused an increase in its production and use in the US in the last few years [9][10].


Researchers In Philippines Study Antiviral Properties Of Coconut Oil For COVID-19

The study by Dr Joshi is not the only one to explore the medicinal properties of coconut oil. The Philippine Council on Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology is currently studying the antiviral properties of virgin coconut oil [11].

The study pointed out that coconut oil and its derivatives contain lauric acid and monolaurin, which researchers believe are responsible for its antiviral properties and this is how they linked the so-mentioned property with that of a possibility of Covid-19 treatment, "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​" [12].


The Study Faces Criticism From Other Researchers

While doctors and researchers said that if coconut oil can in fact help manage the viral infection, it could be a boon. However, the effectiveness of coconut oil is questionable, that too, for a disease as severe as the coronavirus infection.

"It is known that it contains compounds with antimicrobial properties. It has zinc as well which is being given to Covid-19 patients to boost immunity. But we don't know if and how much the human body is able to efficiently absorb all these chemicals from coconut oil" said one of the doctors regarding the review [13].

Because there is no data to ensure if and how the human body will be able to absorb all the necessary chemicals from coconut oil.


On A Final Note…

More studies will be conducted to explore the possible impact of coconut oil on the SARS-CoV-2. According to current reports, India has become the third worst-hit nation by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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