Monolaurin and Enveloped RNA and DNA Viruses

Last Updated: July 8, 2019 | First Published: August 28, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Ahmed Zayed, M.D.

Monolaurin Virus

Enveloped Viruses

What is an Enveloped Virus?

There are two types of viruses – enveloped and non-enveloped. Enveloped viruses are surrounded by a lipid membrane from the host cell in which the virus resides. Examples of these viruses are influenza, HIV/AIDS, and Herpesvirus. The lipid membrane of an enveloped virus originated from the budding of it within the host cell. Unlike non-enveloped viruses, enveloped viruses have lipid membranes that would help their stability, resistance to chemical or physical inactivation, and ease of viral transmission. (Ref #1)

Monolaurin Compounds

Monolaurin has been shown to display antibacterial and antifungal properties in laboratory studies. The naturally occurring fatty ester and monoglyceride makes Monolaurin for what it is. Due to its properties, Monolaurin has shown effects of being virucidal against lipid-containing bacteria or viruses, a trait of enveloped viruses. Studies have shown that Monolaurin had little side effects against humans. (Ref #2) Read more about the characteristics of Monolaurin in the Essential Guide to Monolaurin.

Monolaurin is shown to be significantly potent against 14 types of enveloped viruses (Ref #2). During an in vitro experiment, 99 out of 100 viruses were reduced. The potency of Monolaurin, however, is best shown if it is mixed with other compounds such as tert‐butylhydroxyanisole (BHA), Methylparaben, or sorbic acid. It is so potent that effects begin to show within the first hour. (Ref #2)

Monoglycerides in Human Milk and Enveloped Viruses

Monolaurin is just one example of a monoglyceride. Other studies have shown significant effects of monoglycerides against enveloped viruses. Fatty acids in milk have also displayed the same antiviral properties of Monoglycerides. The lipids in human milk are potent enough to eradicate enveloped viruses such as vesicular stomatitis virus, herpes simplex virus, and visna virus. (Ref #3)

Fatty Alcohols against Enveloped Viruses

Certain studies have already shown the anti-microbicidal properties of fatty alcohols. There are limitations, however, to the potency of fatty alcohols. It is shown to be most potent only at certain pH levels and certain concentrations. At low pH levels, have no increased activity. Enveloped viruses are more sensitive and capable of changing their ions in their enveloped proteins. (Ref #4)

Why Monolaurin?

Monolaurin already proven itself to show little side effects against humans, as it is used in commercial food and cosmetic production as well as in dietary supplements. It has little limitations when compared to fatty alcohols, which are only potent at certain conditions. It is easily available as compared to human breast milk. Monolaurin even has shown a high potency in laboratory studies in eradicating viruses and bacteria with a probability of 99%. Its potency can even go further if combined with other chemicals and compounds.

More researched is needed to determine monolaurin’s potential role in immune function, but the early research is very promising.



  1. Lucas, W. Viral Capsids and Envelopes: Structure and Function. 19 April 2010. In eLS, (Ed.). doi:10.1002/9780470015902.a0001091.pub2

  2. Hierholzer, J. C. and kabara, j. J. (1982), In vitro effects of monolaurin compounds on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses. Journal of Food Safety, 4: 1-12. Doi:10.1111/j.1745-4565.1982.tb00429.x

  3. H Thormar, C E Isaacs, H R Brown, M R Barshatzky and T Pessolano. Inactivation of enveloped viruses and killing of cells by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob. Agents Chemotherapy. January 1987 vol. 31 no. 1 27-31. doi: 10.1128/AAC.31.1.27

  4. H. HilmarssonB. S. TraustasonT. KristmundsdóttirH. Thormar. Virucidal activities of medium- and long-chain fatty alcohols and lipids against respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus type 2: comparison at different pH levels. Archives of Virology. December 2007, Volume 152, Issue 12, pp 2225–2236

  5. Pietila, M., Laurinavicius, S., Sund, J., Roine, E., & Bamford, D. (2009). The Single-Stranded DNA Genome of Novel Archaeal Virus Halorubrum Pleomorphic Virus 1 Is Enclosed in the Envelope Decorated with Glycoprotein Spikes Journal of Virology, 84 (2), 788-798 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01347-09