Last Updated: May 9, 2019 | First Published: May 8, 2019
Reviewed by: Dr. Razak Nohri, Pharm.D, M.Phil, MBA
Can Monolaurin inactivate an encapsulated virus like measles?
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus (also known as Rubeola or Morbilli). 2019 has seen the greatest number of measles cases reported since 1994 with 764 people in 23 states having a confirmed case of measles (Ref #1). This outbreak has led New York City and Washington DC to declare a public health emergencies due to the rapid spread of this disease.
Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases (Ref #6). If not immunized, a person exposed to someone with measles has a 95% chance of becoming infected, and each infected person spreads the disease to an average of 12 to 18 other people (Ref #5). Measles is spread through two ways: though the air via coughs and sneezes, and through contact with body fluids like nasal secretions and saliva (Ref #6).
Measles Signs and Symptoms
Measles symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection. Symptoms may include a fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth (Ref #2), and three to five days after initial symptoms a rash breaks out.
Measles can cause ear infections and diarrhea (Ref #7), but can also lead to more serious complications like pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), or blindness (Ref 7, Ref 6). In very rare cases Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE) can develop 7-10 years after a measles infection and can fatally effect the central nervous system (Ref #7).
Measles can be easily prevented through proper vaccination protocols. In 2000 the United States declared measles eradicated thanks to these vaccination efforts, but has seen an increase in measles cases due to anti-vaccination sentiments according to the World Health Organization (Ref #3). The recommended measles vaccination protocol is to receive two doses, at least one month apart. One dose of the vaccination is 93% effective in preventing measles, while two doses is 97% effective. (Ref #4)
According to the British National Health Service (NHS), there is no specific treatment for measles and the infection should show improvement in 7 to 10 days. (Ref #8) Instead, the NHS focuses on treating symptoms to help ease discomfort.
The World Health Organization goes a step further and recommends taking two doses of Vitamin A given 24 hours apart. Administering Vitamin A can help prevent eye damage and blindness. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%. (Ref #6)
Monolaurin Research and Measles
Measles morbillivirus (the technical term for the measles virus) is an enveloped virus (Ref #11) with two enveloped glycoproteins on the viral surface — hemagglutinin (H) and membrane fusion protein (F). These proteins are responsible for host cell binding and invasion. Published research suggests Monolaurin may support immune response and inactivate many enveloped viruses.
Laboratory research on Monolaurin suggests:
“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. They also caused disintegration of the plasma membranes of tissue culture cells resulting in cell lysis and death.” (Ref #13)
“Lipids commonly found in natural products could possibly be used as antiviral agents against enveloped viruses” (Ref #14)
Further published research is more explicit about Monolaurin and measles, claiming:
“Anti-microbial effects of coconut oil … Some of the viruses inactivated by these lipids, in addition to HIV, are the measles-virus, herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), visna virus, and cytomegalo-virus (CMV).” (Ref #9)
Another article on monolaurin and lauric acid research cites:
“Monolaurin was found to be active against enveloped DNA and RNA viruses such as the influenza virus, paramyxoviruses, rubeola virus (measles), bronchitis virus, and the herpes family.” (Ref #10)
An academic review of coconut (Cocos nucifera) suggests that monolaurin has history in traditional applications, stating:
“Traditional Health Benefits of Coconut includes treatment of measles” (Ref #12)
These are selected quotes taken directly from published studies on Monolaurin and are not the opinion of this site. The application of monolaurin for measles is not well studied and is not proven.
There is no established clinical treatment for measles and the best way to prevent measles is through proper vaccination. Monolaurin has promising 3rd party published research on its potential immune supporting properties, but the available research is far from conclusive and should not be viewed as a treatment for a serious disease like measles. If you have any questions regarding the health of yourself or a loved one, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional
"Measles | Cases and Outbreaks | CDC". www.cdc.gov. 6 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/signs-symptoms.html www.cdc.gov. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
Mundasad, Smitha (29 November 2018). "Global measles resurging, WHO warns". Retrieved 18 April2019.
"Measles investigation". Clark County Washington. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
"Measles Disease | Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)". alabamapublichealth.gov. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
World Health Organization "Measles Fact sheet N°286". who.int. November 2018.
Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html
NHS Measles Treatment https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/treatment/ August 2018
Niknamian S, “Dodecanoic-Acid in Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, May Reduce the Incidence of Heart Disease and Cancer in Humans” International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) ISSN (Online): 2319-7064 Index Copernicus Value (2013): 6.14 | Impact Factor (2015): 6.391
Lieberman S, Enig M.G, Preuss H.G.A Review of Monolaurin and Lauric Acid - Natural Virucidal and Bactericidal Agents. Alternative & Complementary Therapies - December 2006 (310- 314)
William J. Moss, W. Harry Feinstone, in Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases, 2009 https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/measles-virus
Aggarwal B, Lamba HS, Sharma P, Various Pharmacological Aspects of Cocos nucifera - A Review. American Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 2017, Vol. 5, No. 2, 25-30
H Thormar, C E Isaacs, H R Brown, M R Barshatzky, T Pessolano. “Inactivation of enveloped viruses and killing of cells by fatty acids and monoglycerides.” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy Jan 1987, 31 (1) 27-31; DOI: 10.1128/AAC.31.1.27
Thormar H, Isaacs CE, Kim KS, Brown HR. Inactivation of visna virus and other enveloped viruses by free fatty acids and monoglycerides. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Jun 6;724:465-71. PubMed PMID: 8030974.