Last Updated: January 4, 2019 | First Published: June 25, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Ahmed Zayed, M.D.
Yeast infections, or candida overgrowth, are becoming increasingly common in women, affecting up to 75% (Ref #1) of women at some point in their lifetime. A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is an opportunistic human fungal infection that occurs either in the mouth and throat as thrush, the genitourinary tract as vaginal candidiasis, and the skin as cutaneous candidiasis. The fungal infection produces its symptoms by the formation of biofilms and the attacking of the immune system.
Current treatment for yeast infections include antifungal agents; however, there is a rise in antifungal resistance because of its widespread use. Furthermore, an infection is increasingly difficult to treat without the risk of chronic reinfection. Since fungal infections are becoming even more common, and there is a growing antifungal resistance, there is a need for a search in new and effective treatments (Ref #2). There is an excellent interest in the investigation of natural compounds as antifungal medications because they can be found easily in food and plant sources (Ref #3). Monolaurin is a natural compound that has been found to have antifungal activity against candida, including candida albicans.
Fighting Candidiasis With Monolaurin
Candida Albicans, the fungus causing thrush and yeast infections, is opportunistic and its targets are those who have weak immune systems. In these immunocompromised individuals, the fungus creates biofilms, a closely packed community of cells that when mature, are characterized by dense communities of yeasts.
Monolaurin, the biologically active form of lauric acid, is a medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil that is capable of destroying fungi, bacteria, and viruses. One study proved the use of lauric acid to be highly effective in the treatment of candida albicans (Ref #4). To fight fungal infections as well as bacterial and viral infections, monolaurin disrupts the protective fat coating (Ref #5) of these organisms so that they cannot attach and enter the host cell.
A number of studies have delved into the role of monolaurin as an alternative natural compound to treat candidiasis and combat antifungal resistance. The studies have found that monolaurin can support in the following:
Monolaurin might halt biofilms and reduce inflamation
A study (Ref #6) found that treatment of candida biofilms with monolaurin significantly reduced yeast concentration. In addition to this, monolaurin was able to cause anti-inflammatory responses which indicate that the infection was stopped dead in its track towards
Monolaurin may be effective at killing candida at even small doses
Another study (Ref #7) found that small doses of monolaurin were already effective in the killing of candida versus the use of capric acid which required a higher dose to kill candida.
Monolaurin may kill Candida albicans
Yet another study (Ref #5) found that monolaurin was most effective against Candida albicans, a species of candida, followed by Staphylococcus.
From this, we can see that monolaurin is an efficient and strong antifungal treatment that stops the production of symptoms of candidiasis.
As antifungal resistance becomes increasingly widespread, and the growing difficulty of effectively treating fungal infections, monolaurin, a completely natural compound, is a welcome addition to the arsenal of antifungal treatments. It has been proven to be effective in the killing of candida itself and stopping symptoms from appearing with the use of minimal doses.
M. C. Stoppler. Yeast Infection (in Women and Men). MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/yeast_infection_in_women_and_men/article.htm
P. Vandeputte, S. Ferrari, & A. T. Coste. Antifungal Resistance and New Strategies to Control Fungal Infections. International Journal of Microbiology. December 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3236459/
C. V. Martins, D. L. Silva, A. T. Neres, T. F. Magalhaes, G. A. Watanabe, L. V. Modolo, M. A. Resende. Curcumin as a promising antifungal of clinical interest. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 26 November 2008. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/562e/46ba09678fdc5103b9c163d6f5386f501651.pdf
G. Bergsson, J. Arnfinsson, O. Steingrimsson, & H. Thormar. In vitro killing of Candida albicans by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Journal of Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy. November 2001. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11600381
V. O. Ezigbo, E. A. Mbaegbu. Extraction of Lauric Acid from Coconut Oil, Its Applications and Health Implications On Some Microorganisms. African Journal of Education, Science and Technology. April 2016. http://www.coou.edu.ng/journals/ajest/vol_3_iss_2/extraction_of_lauric_acis_from_coconut_oil.pdf
D. Saleem, E. Chen, B. Benso, V. Pardi, & R. M. Murata. In vitro evaluation of antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms. PeerJ. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924139/pdf/peerj-04-2148.pdf
G. Bergsson, J. Arnfinnsson, O. Steingrimsson, & H. Thormar. In Vitro Killing of Candida albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2001. http://aac.asm.org/content/45/11/3209.full