Last Updated: March 27, 2019 | First Published: February 2, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Rosmy Barrios, M.D.
Monolaurin is a potentially powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial natural supplement derived from coconut.
Monolaurin has been the subject of laboratory studies and may be used to treat various infections, including herpes (cold sores and genital herpes), yeast infections (including candida albicans, thrush, and other yeast overgrowth), Lyme disease, Epstein Barr virus (EBV), Mono, and more.
Despite its potential beneficial results and relief from nagging symptoms, monolaurin may unintentionally produce a side effect ironically similar to a cold or flu. This side effect is known as the Herxheimer (Herx, sometimes Herxing) Reaction or "Die off" symptom.
Herxheimer (Herx) Reaction
Clinically known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, this complication is the result of a reaction to the release of endotoxin-like products in the body caused by the death of various virus, bacteria, yeast, and other microbes. When microbes are destroyed by antibiotics or antiviral supplements like Monolaurin, proteins and cytokines are released which the immune system may have an inflammatory response.
Monolaurin Herx Reaction
Why would Monolaurin cause a Herx (or Herxing) Reaction? If taken at high doses in a short period of time, Monolaurin may destroy more viruses and bacteria than your body can effectively filter. Monolaurin has been clinically studied for its ability to rapidly destroy various viruses, bacteria, yeast, and other microbes, and if done so in a short period of time it could cause a herx or die off reaction.
Monolaurin Die Off Symptoms
The symptoms of a Monolaurin die-off or herx reaction are strikingly similar to the flu. This is your body's immune response to what it thinks is an infection. A typical herxing reaction or die-off symptoms include body aches, muscle pain, sore throat, sweating, lethargy, chills, nausea, and other flu-like symptoms. If symptoms get worse, this is not necessarily a sign that the treatment is not working - in fact, it could be the opposite - the treatment may be so effective at killing the infection your body is unable to process all the microbial waste.
How long does the Herx reaction last?
Luckily, the Herx reaction is relatively short - from a few days to a few weeks. It will depend on the individual, type of infection, and amount of die off. If the symptoms last more than a few weeks or do not improve over time, you may need to discontinue or change the therapy.
What to do when you get a Herx or Die-Off Reaction
The first reaction by an individual when they start feeling the symptoms of a Herxing Reaction is to discontinue the supplement. However, because the reaction is an indication of the effectiveness of the treatment, many patients actually heal quicker the more severe the reaction is when treatment is continued. The best method is to avoid the herx reaction in the first place by adopting a "low and slow" method of introducing supplements into your routine. If experiencing a due off or herx reaction you should consider reducing or limiting the supplement until your body is able to better cope with the die off and drink plenty of fluids to aid in the removal of cytokines and proteins in the system.
Monolaurin Die Off Symptoms by Disease
Lyme - a very common contributor is of die off symptoms is Lyme disease. Lyme disease die off can be quite severe and cause fever, chills, body pain, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. If symptoms continue, you should lower or stop treatment.
Yeast and Fungi - depending on where the yeast overgrowth is, a herx reaction may be quite prevalent. If there is gastric distress, the herx reaction may be caused by a die off of yeast in the intestine. The rapid killing of yeast can cause nausea, swollen glands, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, sweating, and more.
Viruses - Monolaurin is used to fight carious viral infections (herpes, influenza, measles, Epstein Barr Virus, etc), and depending on the severity of the infection some individuals may experience a die off effect. Die off symptoms for increased viral loads are similar - body aches, fatigue, itchiness, chills, joint or muscle pain, etc.
Looking to Try Monolaurin, but Not Sure Where to Start?
There are many factors which should be considered when choosing a Monolaurin brand, which include:
What Monolaurin source is best - Coconut or Palm Kernel
What is the recommended way to take Monolaurin - Capsule or Pellet
What is an ‘excipient’, and why does it matter - Synthetic or Natural
What hat to look for to ensure manufacturing safety - Certifications and Location
All of these questions can be answered in the comprehensive Monolaurin Buying Guide.
Monolaurin dosing can be tricky. Many factors may come into consideration including (but not limited to) age, weight, infection, severity of symptoms, or personal sensitivity to supplements. Additional details on the recommended dosing of Monolaurin and guidance on different diseases can be found on the Monolaurin Dosing page.
As with any nutritional supplement or medicine, it should be administered and monitored by a healthcare professional.
Ways to buy:
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Batovska, D.I., Todorova, I.T., Tsvetkova, I.V. and Najdenski, H.M. (2009) Antibacterial study of the medium chain fatty acids and their 1-monoglycerides: individual effects and synergistic relationships. Pol J Microbiol 58, 43–47.
Goc, A., Niedzwiecki, A. and Rath, M. (2015), In vitro evaluation of antibacterial activity of phytochemicals and micronutrients against Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia garinii. J Appl Microbiol, 119: 1561–1572. doi:10.1111/jam.12970
Shaw, W. Biological Treatments for Autism and PPD, Third Edition. Chapter 4 Yeats and Fungi: How to Control Them. 2008
Goc, A., Niedzwiecki, A. and Rath, M. (2017), Reciprocal cooperation of phytochemicals and micronutrients against typical and atypical forms of Borrelia sp.. J Appl Microbiol, 123: 637–650. doi:10.1111/jam.13523