A New Weapon Against AIDS
Treatment For Bacterial Fungal and Viral Infections
According to the World Health Organization, in 2004 some 4.9 million
people worldwide became infected with human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV), which causes AIDS. Last year the total number of people with HIV
rose to reach its highest level ever. An estimated 39.4 million people
are currently living with the virus. In the U.S. 40,000 new cases are
reported each year.
The problem with treating HIV: unlike antibiotics that kill bacteria,
antiviral drugs can only reduce the severity of infections; they do not
eliminate them completely. To date, no drugs have been developed that
can effectively eradicate viruses and cure the illnesses they cause.
HIV attacks and weakens the immune system. As the efficiency of the
immune system decreases, other viruses as well as bacteria and fungi
are able to take hold and infect the body. These secondary infections
are what cause most of the pain and discomfort and ultimately the death
of AIDS victims. For this reason, HIV patients are given drug cocktails
consisting of a mixture of antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal
agents. Anti-cancer drugs are usually included in the mix because the
weakened immune system often allows cancer to develop. Adverse
reactions and toxic side effects often result.
Over the years medical science has made great strides in AIDS
treatment. With the proper treatment and lifestyle choices, life
expectancy for HIV infected individuals has increased. Antiretroviral
drugs are able to slow down the progression of the disease. But for the
vast majority of HIV infected people drug therapy is not a viable
option. The cost to control the virus using standard HIV medications
for one person can easily amount to over $15,000 US a year. This is far
beyond the ability of most of those infected to pay.
Finding a safe and effective, yet affordable, treatment is the only way
to bring relief to the millions who suffer from HIV/AIDS. Fortunately,
researchers may have now found a potential solution to this problem:
coconut oil. Although coconut oil may appear to be an unlikely hero,
recent medical research shows that it holds great promise in the
treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Coconut oil is composed of a unique group of fats known as medium chain
triglycerides (MCT). When eaten, our bodies transform MCT into medium
chain fatty acids (MCFA) and monoglycerides both of which possess
powerful antiviral properties. Knowledge of coconut oil’s effect
on HIV has been circulating in the AIDS community ever since Icelandic
researcher Halldor Thormar began publishing studies on this topic in
the early 1990s. Since then, HIV-infected individuals have reported
success lowering their viral loads and improving their overall health
by adding coconut oil or coconut products into their diets.
AIDS victim Tony V., 38, is one of these success stories. Tony’s
experience lends hope to millions of AIDS sufferers worldwide. Coconut
oil changed his life and gave him newfound hope.
In the late 1990s Tony worked as a waiter and florist in Saudi Arabia.
It was here that he contracted the disease that altered his life.
Coming home to the Philippines in 2002, Tony was devastated to learn
that he was infected with HIV.
As time progressed, Tony’s health slowly deteriorated. Secondary
infections ravaged his body. By July 2003, mounting health problems
brought him to the hospital.
The drugs he was taking could not stop the progression of the disease.
His body was covered with fungal infections and skin lesions, he was
losing weight, had repeated bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, accompanied
by fever, chronic fatigue, oral candidiasis, and various other
infections including chronic pneumonia with a persistent cough. Skin
infections covered his head, face, and body. His doctor diagnosed him
with full-blown AIDS and told him to get his affairs in order.
He was released from the hospital with prescriptions to keep the
infections in check that were still raging in his body. But because he
was too sick to work, he could not afford to buy the medications.
Feelings of hopelessness surrounded him. “I felt like a candle
that was starting to flicker and die,” he said.
Unable to afford medication, he sought help from the Department of
Health. He was referred to Dr. Conrado Dayrit, the author of the first
clinical study on the healing effects of coconut oil on HIV infected
patients, which was conducted at the San Lazaro hospital in the
Dr. Dayrit told him about the healing virtues of coconut oil. Tony was
instructed to apply the oil to the sores and infections on his skin
three times a day and consume six tablespoonfuls daily. At first, Tony
was skeptical that coconut oil would have much of an effect on his
health. He had a small wound on his foot that refused to heal, so he
experimented by putting a little oil on it every day. After three days
the wound was completely healed. Encouraged by the results, he began
the coconut oil regimen in earnest.
Within a short time noticeable changes were seen in Tony’s
appearance. As he realized the healing that was beginning to happen to
his skin, he started to “bathe” in the oil, applying it
from head to toe three times daily. The skin infections faded.
When Tony went to the hospital for his periodic blood tests the doctors
were amazed. “They were all excited and couldn’t understand
what was happening,” says Tony. “They asked me what I was
taking. I told them I was using coconut oil.” They couldn’t
believe that something as simple as coconut oil was killing the virus
and infections better than their drugs.
HIV attacks white bloods cells known as T4 cells. The severity of the
virus can be determined by measuring the number of T4 cells in the
body. This is called a CD4 count. On average, a healthy individual will
have a CD4 count between 535 and 1,145. HIV infected individuals
usually have CD4 levels below normal. As the disease progresses CD4
levels continue to drop.
Tony’s CD4 count on diagnosis was 270. A year later when he was
admitted to the emergency room it had fallen to 226. After using
coconut oil for a few months it rebounded to 274, still low but
steadily rising — a clear sign he was improving!
His progress was remarkable. His skin completely healed. The low-grade
fever and symptoms of pneumonia are now gone. Candidiasis gone. Chronic
fatigue gone. Diarrhea and vomiting gone. You couldn’t tell by
his appearance just a few months earlier, he had been diagnosed with
AIDS. Although Tony may never be completely free from the virus, he can
at least live a more normal life and enjoy day-to-day activities.
The social workers and the medical staff handling his case, impressed
by his rapid improvement, are now using coconut oil themselves for
general health purposes.
Less than nine months after starting the coconut oil odyssey, Tony
stood for the first time before an audience to tell his story.
“HIV virus has not been curable until now,” he said.
“The antiretrovirals cannot control the infection, which is why a
lot of my friends died. Doctors cannot predict how long I will live.
When I was diagnosed, my doctors told me I wouldn’t live another
three months. Well, here I am now. I’m still standing. Maybe I
have a mission to share my experience with all whom I meet.
“People like me who have HIV/AIDS are scared. But you don’t
need to be afraid now. Years ago tuberculosis was a worldwide epidemic,
but eventually they found the cure. For HIV, maybe virgin coconut oil
is the solution the world has been looking for.”
Viruses that are the most vulnerable to the killing action of medium
chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil are those which are encased in
a lipid membrane. When MCFA come into contact with these viruses, they
are absorbed into their outer membranes, destabilizing them to the
point that the membrane disintegrates, killing the organism. HIV has a
lipid coat, thus making it vulnerable to the action of MCFA. Studies
have shown that when MCFA are added to human blood and semen infected
with HIV, the virus is effectively killed. Dr. Thormar and colleagues
report that MCFA formulated into a hydrogel for effective delivery are
“highly virucidal in vitro and cause a greater than 100,000-fold
inactivation of viruses in human seamen in 1 minute.” The
researchers add that they are “potent inactivators of sexually
Studies have shown that MCFA are not only effective at killing HIV but
also a large number of lipid-coated viruses that cause a number of
diseases, including the measles virus, herpes simplex virus, hepatitis
C, stomatitis virus (VSV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV). MCFA also kill
lipid-coated bacteria as well as some fungi and parasites including,
Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Staphylococcus aureus,
Helicobacter pylori, Candida albicans, and giardia.
Coconut oil is composed predominately of MCFA and also alleviates many
of the opportunistic infections that commonly afflict AIDS patients.
Unlike the drug cocktails used to treat HIV/AIDS, coconut oil is a
completely harmless, natural product that has been used safely as a
food for thousands of years. It has no harmful side effects.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with AIDS include chronic
diarrhea, fat malabsorption, malnutrition, weight loss, wasting, and
various complications with secondary infections. Studies have reported
significant improvement in all of these conditions when patients are
given diets containing coconut oil or medium chain triglycerides. For
instance, C.A. Wanke and colleagues took 24 adult patients with HIV who
were suffering from chronic diarrhea, fat malabsorption, and weight
loss. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Medium
chain triglycerides were added to the diet of one group. The other
group served as the control. The researchers reported that those that
received the MCT demonstrated significantly decreased stool number,
stool fat, and stool weight, indicating a marked improvement in their
nutritional statues. With better nutrient absorption comes improved
health and better immune function. P. Gelas and colleagues report that
along with improved digestion and weight gain, CD4/CD8 lymphocyte
ratios also improve in MCT fed patients, indicating improved immune
The organization Keep Hope Alive has documented several cases in which
HIV/AIDS patients have reported marked improvement after consuming
coconut products. In some cases all evidence of the infection were
removed. For example, one man dropped his viral load from 600,000 to
non-detectable levels in just 2 months by consuming a bowl of coconut
and cooked cereal every day along with eating a healthy diet containing
lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. He was not using any antiviral
In a second case, a person with a viral load of 900,000 ate half a
coconut a day. After 4 weeks, his viral load dropped to around 350,000.
After the second month, his viral load remained the same and his doctor
added the drug Crixivan to his protocol. After 4 weeks, his viral load
dropped to non-detectable levels. Unlike the first case cited above,
this person ate a typical American diet that included ample amounts of
junk food. His progress would have been quicker with a better diet.
In another case, a man consumed a glass of coconut milk daily for 4
weeks. His viral load for HIV dropped from 30,000 to 7,000. Both his
CD4 and CD8 counts doubled. He used no antivirals.
The first clinical study using coconut on HIV patients was reported by
Conrado Dayrit, MD in 1999. In this study 14 HIV infected individuals
were given daily 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or monolaurin (coconut
oil derived dietary supplement). No other antivirals or treatment was
used. Six months later 60 percent of the participants showed noticeable
signs of improvement. Improvement was measured by increased CD4 count,
lowered viral load, and better overall health. This was the first study
to demonstrate in a clinical setting that coconut oil does have an
antiviral impact and could be used successfully to treat HIV infected
The amount of coconut oil used is important. The higher the dosage the
more effective it is in deactivating the virus and other pathogenic
organisms. The participants in Dr. Dayrit’s study consumed only
3½ tablespoons a day; Tony consumed 6 tablespoons. Case
histories of those who have used coconut oil with other therapies
indicate that diet and lifestyle are also important. Eating a healthy
diet and avoiding junk foods helps strengthen the immune system and
improves the success rate. An ample amount of coconut oil combined with
a healthy diet looks promising as a safe and affordable treatment for
Since coconuts can grow in many of areas of the world where HIV is a
major health problem, coconut oil appears to be a feasible and exciting
solution to this worldwide epidemic.
Ask Dr. Coconut ™
Dr. Bruce Fife a.k.a. “Dr. Coconut” answers your questions about coconut, diet, and nutrition.
Which is better for fighting infections coconut oil or monolaurin?
This is an excellent question. There is a lot of confusion and
misunderstanding concerning monolaurin and coconut oil. Monolaurin is a
dietary supplement derived from coconut oil. It is used to fight
bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Monolaurin has gained
popularity as an effective infection fighter. The most popular brand
To answer this question I need to explain a little bit about the
composition of coconut oil. Fats and oils, including coconut oil, are
composed of fat molecules called fatty acids. When three fatty acids
are joined together by a glycerol molecule they form a triglyceride.
The fats and oils in our diet are all in the form of triglycerides.
When you eat coconut oil, the triglycerides are broken down by
separating the fatty acids from the glycerol molecule. Digestive
enzymes pull off the fatty acids, one by one. When a triglyceride loses
one fatty acids it becomes a diglyceride. When a triglyceride loses two
fatty acids it becomes a monoglyceride. So, a monoglyceride is a
glycerol molecule that is attached to only one fatty acid. When all
three fatty acids are removed you have one glycerol molecule completely
stripped of its fatty acids.
The predominate fatty acids in coconut oil are “medium
chain” fatty acids. There are three medium chain fatty acids
(MCFA): lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. There are also
three monoglycerides formed during digestion: monolaurin, monocaprin,
and monocaprylin. All three of the medium chain fatty acids and medium
chain monoglycerides possess antimicrobial properties, triglycerides
and diglycerides do not.
In general, monolaurin has demonstrated the strongest effect in killing
many bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This has led manufacturers to start
producing and marketing monolaurin as an antimicrobial dietary
supplement. Some of these producers claim that when coconut oil is
digested, only a small amount of the oil is converted into monolaurin,
and therefore, monolaurin or Lauricidin® is more effective than
coconut oil as an antimicrobial agent. In fact, some go so far to say
that since coconut oil produces so little monolaurin that it is not
really effective in fighting infections. This is not true.
Of the three medium chain fatty acids, lauric acid has shown to be more
potent than capric and caprylic acids in killing many microorganisms.
Monolaurin, likewise, has shown to be more effective than the other
monoglycerides as well as the MCFA. But this is a broad generalization.
There are certain organisms in which monolaurin is not the most
effective, while the other monoglycerides or fatty acids work better.
You would do better using monocaprin or capric acid on some
microorganisms than you would monolaurin. The same is true with all the
other fatty acids and monoglycerides.
Monolaurin is a single ingredient. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a
combination of 10 different fatty acids—short, medium, and
long—and their monoglycerides, most all of which possess
antimicrobial properties. Each one has its strengths and advantages.
When combined together they work synergistically to enhance the
effectiveness of the total.
Therefore, coconut oil with its 10 fatty acids and 10 monoglycerides
has greater potential for fighting infection. In my opinion, coconut
oil, as nature made it, is superior to monolaurin alone.
I’ve seen coconut oil work miracles in combating numerous
infections (see the following article). As a food, it is safe and easy
to use and much cheaper than a dietary supplement.