The Covid-19 Coconut Oil Debate: Unraveling the Details

Scientists have not winked an eye on searching for a vaccine for Covid-19 since it was diagnosed in China. The search for a cure intensified when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic.

As the virus continues to wreck havoc and continuous to be a subject of of interest across the globe, with over 25 million confirmed cases and more than 800,000 deaths, the race for a vaccine to remedy the situation has continued unabated. This has brought about conspiracies, truth, half truths, false and misleading information from credible and non-credible sources respectively.

A recent publication on such nature is that of two Filipino scientists who claim to have found the solution for curing the pandemic.

The story, published on outlets like sekaltimes.com, nutriaingredients-asia.com and Opera News amongst others, says two researchers, Dr. Rey Mondejar and Professor Fabian Dayrit, revealed that the coconut fruit could be the vaccine that was being looked for by scientist worldwide.

Screenshot of the publication on Opera News

Coconut being the game changer as indicated in the publication is really not an issue since various research are underway and one cannot predict what the outcome of one’s hypothesis would be. But what leaves much to be desired is when the two researchers went further to reveal that, “a research carried out on coconut virgin oil, which is extracted from fresh coconut, has shown tremendous results against the virus. It says the oil has been given to 69 Covid -19 patients, where 45 of them later tested negative, while others didn’t show any severe form of the disease.”

The report goes on to say that, at a press conference, Dr Mondejar said, “the results are very positive. Within five to seven days, there were already patients who tested negative’’.

Fact-check Ghana has probed the functions of virgin coconut oil, if it can indeed cure Covid-19, or at least, manage any of the symptoms, to ascertain whether credence should be given to such claim or otherwise.

Kris Gunnars is a nutrition researcher with Healthline, one of the leading health information sites in the world, and nutrition being his passion, Fact-check Ghana has summarised his evidence-based functions of coconut oil.

“It reduce harmful abdominal fat, may boost brain function in Alzheimer’s disease, may protect your skin, hair, and teeth, and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, the findings state.

Other functions stated in the findings say it “may reduce seizures, may have antimicrobial effects, may encourage fat burning and boost heart health.

Fact-check Ghana spoke with Professor Kwaku Tano Debrah of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Ghana (UG), to share with us if any of the functions of virgin coconut oil as indicated above, has any relationship with viral treatment.

Prof. Debrah says even though there’s no evidence to authenticate the virgin coconut oil Covid-19 claim, coconut has aided in fighting viral infections before.

“I’ve not come across a literature that says coconut oil kills COVID-19. I know, however, that coconut oil has been established in some publications in the Philippines, Malaysia and some other places that, it has some antiviral properties, and in some jurisdictions it was used to manage HIV. For virus, I’ve come across a couple of literature and I was interviewed on it for a documentary some years ago on Metro TV,” he revealed.

The Dean of UG Graduate School also noted there are a couple of literature which says the coconut copra has that oil which contains lauric acid oil with C12 antiviral properties.

He, however, indicated there were many types of viruses and since COVID-19 was different from HIV, coconut oil could not be extrapolated to COVID-19 in terms of its role on HIV management, because each virus attacks differently and hence, treated differently.

“Viruses are very unique in the sense that they are very specific in species. For instance, hepatitis virus which infects the liver cannot be a virus that attacks the lungs, so they are very unique,” he said.

Prof. Damoah said the the similarity amongst them is that, all virus are particles and their structure makes it difficult to place them as a living organism. He said generally, a virus has an envelope and a membrane where the envelope develops in various forms and may have some other coats around it, which make it very complex. He said the shapes vary with appendages which help them attack their host.

He said the “treatment we have for one virus may not be put in for other viruses. So what’s used to treat the viral infection that affects the lungs cannot be used to treat one that affects the liver.”

The only time, he said, viruses could be treated similarly, irrespective of the type is when the symptoms become the focus.

“Unless, maybe, you are treating symptoms, let’s say an infection has become cancerous or develops cirrhosis and it’s spreading and you are considering the symptoms that the disease has led into, then you can treat them similarly, but not when you’re destroying the virus itself because that depends on the mode of the virus and the complexity differs. When it comes to the physical methods such as heat and other things, that one too the actions may be similar, but I’ve never come across a situation where coconut oil is used to treat COVID-19,” he explained.

The WHO’s “Frequently Asked Questions” response to the question, “Is there a treatment for COVID-19?” says, “While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon as research results become available.”

 

 

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