The Philippines is an island country or archipelago of Southeast Asia that lies due north of Indonesia and off the east coast of Vietnam, southeast of China. Along with semiconductors, electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, and fruits, a whopping 70% of the global supply of coconut oil is produced in the 7,641 islands that comprise the nation.
Filipinos watched in 2003 as neighboring China began to report an outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARSr-CoV).
On April 16, 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a press release that SARS-CoV was the official cause of SARS. This contagious disease is often severe. Symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Decreased number of immune-system white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the blood
SARS infected 8,098 people in China with over 600 deaths on record, most of the total 774 cases reported from infected countries. The overall mortality rate of the 2003 SARS epidemic was 9.6% – almost one in ten fatalities. The mortality rate was much higher – nearly half – in patients over age 60.
Today, China has the largest population on Earth, more than 1.4 billion. The much smaller Philippines numbers over 100 million people. In 2003, the two countries had fewer people but China was still, far and away, the more crowded.
During the SARS outbreak, only 14 cases and two fatalities were recorded in the Philippines:
“Of the [first] 12 SARS cases, 5 were imported. One of the imported cases, who carried the disease from Toronto, infected 7 other cases in the only chain of secondary transmission that has occurred in the Philippines. Of the 7 secondary cases, all have been identified as either family members of the index case or health care workers who treated the index case or her father, both of whom died. These are the only 2 SARS deaths reported in the Philippines.”
On May 20, 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed the Philippines from its list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS after 20 days had passed with no further cases detected.
How did this tiny island nation avoid the ravages of SARS so effectively, despite how close it is to China and other infected areas?
Scientists think the answer may lie in Coconut Oil, one of the country’s primary exports and most popular cooking oil.
Coconut oil (or copra oil) is an edible oil extracted from the meat (kernel) of ripe coconuts cut from the lofty branches of the majestic coconut palm Cocos nucifera.
The high levels of saturated fat in the husked coconut drupe (botanically, like a berry rather than a nut) make it slow to oxidize and thereby resistant to rancidification. Coconut oil has a shelf life of up to six months at 75F without spoiling.
The medium-chain fatty triglycerides (MCTs) of coconut oil metabolize differently from the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) common in most other foods. Triglycerides are either burned for energy or stored as body fat.
Most fat in the average diet is made up of long-chain fatty triglycerides with 13–21 carbon atoms. Short-chain fatty acids have fewer than 6 carbon atoms.
MCTs contain fatty acids that have a chain length of 6–12 carbon atoms. They include caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12).
Scientists have known for years that lauric acid (C12) surrounds and destroys viruses. About 50% – half – of coconut oil is composed of lauric acid. Monolaurin is derived from C12 and also has significant antiviral properties.
After consuming coconut oil as a liquid or in pure form as a supplement, enzymes within the human body naturally produce monolaurin, a metabolite (a substance produced during metabolism).
Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common surfactant (something that lowers the surface tension between ingredients), is often added to household cleaners and shampoo. It is manufactured from lauric acid and has demonstrated its antiviral power.
These three substances, lauric acid, monolaurin, and sodium lauryl sulfate (or sodium dodecyl sulfate), are used in a wide range of commercial products to prevent viral infection.
Dr. Fabian Dayrit, Ph.D. and Dr. Mary Newport, M.D., of Spring Hill Neonatology, published a paper about the potential of coconut oil and its derivatives to battle the new Wuhan coronavirus (named nCoV-2019) that has spread from Ground Zero in China.
The research duo concluded that coconut oil, lauric acid, and its derivatives are effective and safe agents against a virus such as nCoV-2019 and presented a trio of possible causes to explain why coconuts are such potent virus killers:
“Three mechanisms have been proposed to explain the antiviral activity of lauric acid and monolaurin: first, they cause disintegration of the virus envelope; second, they can inhibit late maturation stage in the virus replicative cycle; and third, they can prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane.”
The scientists suggest that a safe and effective coronavirus remedy is already available and completely safe for humans: coconut oil.