Last Updated: January 8, 2019 | First Published: October 19, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Jennifer Meza, M.D.
Studies Suggest Monolaurin may be Antiviral
Preventing the Flu
The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu shot. However, the flu shot only protects against two of the four kinds of influenza virus (influenza A and B, of the four A, B, C, D influenza types). Additionally, the vaccine is designed to protect people from three or four strains of the type A and B virus, which research think will be problematic in a given season. While the flu vaccine is an incredibly powerful tool against influenza, it is not comprehensive given the "best guess" nature of the vaccine.
What if this year's flu shot is not effective?
2017 was a very bad flu season because researchers were unable to accurately predict the strains and mutations of flu which circulated that year. Furthermore, the H3N2 influenza strain was involved causing many more complications and is much harder to prevent with a vaccine. If 2018 is also unable to accurately predict the common flu strains, it may be another record year.
How might Monolaurin help combat Influenza?
Monolaurin is a medium chain fatty acid found in coconut oil. Monolaurin has been studied for its antiviral and antibacterial properties in lab studies, and may have virucidal effects against influenza. (Ref #2)
Monolaurin may Kill RNA & DNA Viruses
Monolaurin has been shown to inactivate RNA & DNA viruses which may include influenza. These research studies suggest that Monolaurin has potent antiviral effects in the lab. One study suggests Monolaurin is able to inactivate many RNA & DNA viruses:
"Monolaurin ... were tested for in vitro virucidal activity against 14 human RNA and DNA enveloped viruses in cell culture. At concentrations of 1% additive in the reaction mixture for 1 h at 23°C, all viruses were reduced in infectivity by >99.9%" (Ref #3)
Another research studies goes on to explain how Monolaurin may inactivate these viruses:
"Antiviral fatty acids were found to affect the viral envelope, causing leakage and, at higher concentrations, a complete disintegration of the envelope and the viral particles. Lipids commonly found in natural products could possibly be used as antiviral agents against enveloped viruses." (Ref #4)
Monolaurin may Kill Other Flu Strains
Monolaurin has been shown in research studies to kill other strains of flu which can effect humans and animals alike. While these are not the same strands as seasonal Influenza (Influenza A and Influenza B), the studies are promising in the therapeutic nature of the results.
Some in vitro studies show Monolaurin is able to kill the parainfluenza virus which commonly cause respiratory illnesses in infants and young children, but anyone can get HPIV illness.
"The most active compound tested was 1-monoglyceride of capric acid, monocaprin, which also showed activity against influenza A virus and significant virucidal activities after addition to milk products and fruit juices, even at a concentration as low as 0.06–0.12%. The significant virucidal activities of fatty alcohols and lipids on RSV and parainfluenza virus demonstrated in this in vitro study raise the question of the feasibility of using such compounds as ingredients in pharmaceutical dosage forms against respiratory infections caused by these viruses, and possibly other paramyxo- and myxoviruses.” (Ref#5)
H1N1 Pig Influenza (Swine Flu)
Another study goes on to demonstrate the antiviral effects of Monolaurin on H1N1 ("Swine Flu"), suggesting Monolaurin may dissolve the virus and prevent the virus from maturing or spreading:
"The antiviral action, attributed to monolaurin (the monoglyceride of lauric acid), is that of solubilizing the lipids and phospholipids in the envelope of the pathogenic organisms causing the disintegration of their outer membrane. There is also evidence that medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) interfere with the organism's signal transduction and the antimicrobial effect in viruses is due to interference with virus assembly and viral maturation." (Ref #6)
H5N1 Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Yet another study suggests that Monolaurin can be beneficial in boosting the immune response in birds compromised with Avian Influenza, resulting in higher weight and survival rates.
"Fatty acid in virgin coconut oil (VCO) was potential as immunostimulant, which therefore could increase chicken immunity through the increase of lymphocyte T and Th-CD4. The result showed that the number of lymphocyte and Th-CD4 in chickens given 10 mL per kg feed and vaccinated with Avian Influenza (AI) was higher than that in chickens given VCO without AI vaccine." (Ref #7)
The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu shot, but if the 2018 vaccine is ineffective or if you are unlucky enough to catch the flu, monolaurin may be a natural alternative to help reduce symptoms or duration.
Choosing the best Monolaurin
Interested in giving Monolaurin a try, but not sure how to pick the right brand, source, or formula? Check out the comprehensive Monolaurin Buying Guide which walks you through many important considerations when selecting a great Monolaurin.
As with all dietary supplements, Monolaurin should be taken under the supervision of a medical professional.
Lieberman S, Enig MG, Preuss HG. A review of monolaurin and lauric acid: natural virucidal and bactericidal agents. Alternative & Complementary Therapies 2006;12(6):310-314.
Hierholzer, J.C. and Kabara, J.J. In Vitro Effects of Monolaurin Compounds on Enveloped RNA and DNA Viruses. Journal of Food Safety 4:1-12 (1982)
Thormar H, Isaacs CE, Kim KS, Brown HR. Inactivation of visna virus and other enveloped viruses by free fatty acids and monoglycerides. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 1994 June 6, 724:465–471.
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. Arch Virol (2007) 152: 2225. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-007-1063-5
Arora R, Chawla R, Marwah R, Arora P, Sharma RK, Kaushik V, Goel R, Kaur A, Silambarasan M, Tripathi RP, Bharwaj JR. Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of NovelH1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 586506, 16 pages
Yuniwarti , E.Y.W. et al. The Effect of Virgin Coconut Oil on Lymphocyte and CD4 in Chicken Vaccinated Against Avian Influenza Virus. Journal of the Indonesian Tropical Animal Agriculture, [S.l.], v. 37, n. 1, p. 64-69, mar. 2012. ISSN 2460-6278.