As we are heading into the flu season, people always ask me how I stop myself from getting sick. The main substance I can attribute to my avoidance of the flu virus is called monolaurin. It is a version of the fatty acid, lauric acid bonded with a glycerol molecule. If that means nothing to you, just know the the substance is found in nature in human breast milk and coconut oil. This is an indicator to me that it is extremely safe (aside from all of the other science proving that it is) and the fact that it is recognized by the FDA as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substance and the studies that have fed it to animals as much as 25% of their diet, with no negative side effects.

Monolaurin is a pretty cool substance because it is able to destroy not only viruses, but also fungi and bacteria. And it does it in a way that does not lead to resistance. The Center for Disease Control of the US Public Health Service did studies that showed how monolaurin effects the envelope of RNA and DNA viruses. It works on any virus that has a lipid membrane on the outside. Some viruses have a lipid membrane that is made of lipid fat molecules so they can easily penetrate a cell’s outer layer. Monolaurin is the same size as the lipid fat molecule of the virus and so it absorbs into it’s lipid layer. Unfortunately for the virus, the monolaurin doesn’t have good binding power and so the skin envelope breaks apart. It also has the ability to disrupt virus replication.

For some reason, this information is not well known or well shared outside of a small community of people. The guy who discovered it, Dr. Jon Kabara, was a scientist at the University of Detroit who studied fatty acids. On discovering monolaurin he said: “Our studies eventually indicated that certain fatty acids and especially their monoglycerides (a fatty acid attached to glycerol) found in mother’s milk had extraordinary properties.” He created a company to create an easily digestible form of it, called Lauricidin. Aside from his company there are only a few other people selling it.
I really do not understand this, and it is like this with a lot of supplements and other substances that are not backed by large pharmaceutical companies. I found a lot of sites saying that the influenza virus is targeted, but without a lot of sources, so I decided to dig deep into the bowels of science and definitively put all the evidence here. It is in the literature that Monolaurin works against viruses with a lipid outer layer. I had to learn about virus envelope outer layers, which are called capsids. Then I had to find out that the influenza virus is an RNA virus in the Orthomyxovirus class, which has a capsid made of lipids. Once there, I went over to PubMed to learn about the process of the infection of influenza viruses.

There are over 100 articles in PubMed that discuss monolaurin, but only 7 results when combined with the word virus, yet none of them discussing the influenza virus. After poking around, I found myself in a different part of PubMed and I found an amazing journal article titled, Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud. This is probably the best journal article that I’ve ever read. It even asks the same question I asked earlier about why the substances like this aren’t more well known:

“The traditional Indian System of Medicine, namely, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Japanese traditional medicine (Kampo), Unani, Siddha, and so forth, belong to the category of complementary and alternative medicines. For some or the other reason the alternative herbal treatment systems have so far been unable to enter mainstream medicine , though serious efforts are being made, in view of their effectiveness, to develop a strong evidence-based standardization ”

This paper dedicates a whole section to the coconut (Cocos nucifera) and a few sentences to specifically to monolaurin:

“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 MCFA interfere with the organism’s signal transduction [60] and the antimicrobial effect in viruses is due to interference with virus assembly and viral maturation [61].”

It cites two sources and so I chased down those sources to get more information and to see how much deeper the rabbits hole goes. The first source lead to an entire book on fatty acids titled, The Pharmacological Effect of Lipids, which was available on Google books. I read through it and was able to find their evidence on page 92, “We have shown that a vareity of fatty acids and fatty acid derivatives have potent antiviral effects against the lipid-containing bacteriophages PM2, ø6, and PR4 and against at least one enveloped mamalian virus, herpes simplex virus type 2.” They used bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria, because it is very hard to do experiments on human viruses. The specimen had the same structure (lipid outer layer) as the viruses in humans. So their conclusion supports the idea that monolaurin can disrupt the virus outer layer and replication. There is a lot of evidence in the book on monolaurin’s effectiveness on bacteria, microbes, cariogens, fungi, and more, but this article is about its effects on viruses, specifically the Influenza virus.

So if this stuff works, is cheap, and safe, there has to be some downside right? Well, not really. The only negative side effect is one that can occur at the beginning of usage if you take too much monolaurin, too soon. It’s called a Herxheimer Reaction and occurs when all bacteria, viruses, fungi, begin to die off and release their endotoxins and lipoproteins into the body faster than they can be removed. It can cause a sickness that is ironically similar to the flu, including body aches, headaches and sluggishness. Again, this is only if you take a lot really soon. I had a small Herxheimer reaction when I began monolaurin, but I have not been sick since. So start small, be patient and you will be fine. Regular monolaurin is sold by a few companies in pill form, but that is really not the best version. As mentioned previously, there is a brand called Lauricidin, made by the chemist who discovered monolaurin’s power, and it has a patented form of delivery (pellets) that allow you to take the substance and make sure it really its into the right places in your body. It comes with a scoop and directions on it. It is best to begin with a small 1/4 size scoop 3 times a day and then slowly increased. I take 1 scoop, twice a day and I am doing great. I’ve heard of people using it to get rid of h. pylori among other ailments.