What is Monolaurin?
Monolaurin is a physiologic anti-microbial agent that protects the
immune system from a range of infectious agents. A
monoglycerol ester of the fatty acid lauric acid, it can be found in
mammalian breast milk, amniotic fluid, and some foods, most
notably coconut oil. It has been shown to protect newborns, whose
immune systems are underdeveloped, from Respiratory Syncytial
Virus (RSV) and other respiratory tract viruses (1,2). As a dietary
supplement, it has been used as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial
Is Monolaurin safe?
Not only is Monolaurin included on the GRAS (generally
recognized as safe) list, but it may, by virtue of its source of
origin, be safer than many other food supplements that are
designed to boost the immune system.
One of the safest substances known to man is breast milk. This is
where the monoglyceride of lauric acid (Monolaurin) is found.
When an infant is born, it is totally dependent on food factors in
the mother’s milk for immune protection. In analyzing the
composition of human breast milk, medical researchers found
lauric acid monoglycerides in high concentrations, which is what
led them to study Monolaurin as an anti-viral agent (4,5).
Monolaurin is also found in coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream;
only recently has it been isolated and purified. It is highly unusual
in pharmacology to find chemicals that are toxic to lower forms
of life (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) but non-toxic to man.
Monolaurin’s lack of toxicity makes it most promising.
Which microorganisms are killed by Monolaurin?
While Monolaurin is most widely used as an anti-viral agent, it
also has beneficial effects against pathogenic bacteria, yeasts
and fungi; other fatty acids such as caprylic and sorbic acids are
more effective against yeasts, but ineffective against viruses.
In a study performed at the CDC, which focused on Monolaurintested
strains of viruses, Monolaurin was able to solubulize the
enveloped membrane of 14 human RNA and DNA viruses (3).
These include influenza, RSV, Rubeola, Newcastle’s, Coronavirus,
Herpes Simplex types 1 & 2, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
and cytomegalovirus. Monolaurin works by disintegrating the lipid
envelope coat of viruses. Data from these studies suggest that the
loss of virus infectivity is associated with the solubilization
of Monolaurin into the envelope. The virus absorbs the fatty acid
for its own replication, but winds up destroying its own protective
How can I protect myself during the cold and flu season?
20,000 people die each year from the flu, primarily the elderly
and immunocompromised. Neuraminidase inhibitors (Influenzaspecific
antiviral drugs) such as Tamiflu®, Relenza®,
Amantadine, and Rimantadine are important adjuncts but not a
substitute for a vaccine. And aside from being an expensive
per-course of treatment, they can cause serious side effects. At
best, these drugs will cut the illness by a day and a half. If they are
started too late, they won’t work at all. Furthermore, there are
influenza subtypes and strains that may be non-responsive to drug
There are some new monoclonal antibodies administered by
injection that are excellent drugs, and a new inhaled mist will be
available in a few years. Drug developers look to the simple
mechanism factor of Monolaurin in developing these newer
powerful anti-viral drugs. In addition to the commonly known
supplements, Vitamin C, Lactoferrin, and Echinacea, Monolaurin
serves as a valuable nutritional adjunct for people who feel that
they are coming down with a cold or flu. Many physicians have
developed their own clinical protocols in their cold and flu
prevention program and recommend taking several capsules of
Monolaurin on an empty stomach.
Monolaurin is not the type of nutritional supplement one has to
take on a daily basis, but only when the need arises. If one has a
fever or swollen lymph glands, it is always best to see a physician,
but if you sense the early warning signs of the flu, like sniffles, sore
skin and perhaps a scratchy throat, Monolaurin may offer the first
line of defense.
How do I know whether bacteria or a virus is causing an infection?
Pediatricians often practice the best medicine, performing a
differential diagnostic to rule out viruses before prescribing Rx
anti-biotics. They’ve seen too many recurrent ear infections
and use antibiotics more judiciously. Most family practice doctors
don’t perform a differential diagnosis or throat culture to see if
the infection is bacterial or viral in origin, and simply prescribe an
antibiotic, even though antibiotics will not work for viral
infections. The patient is just happy to leave with the prescription
Unfortunately, this is why anti-biotic resistance, resulting from the
over-use of prescription drugs, is one of the biggest problems
facing the medical community today. Resistance is cumulative
(and comes in part from antibiotics in our food supply). That’s
why it’s important to consider starting with nutritional agents, such
as Monolaurin, first.
Uncomplicated flu, while unpleasant, is not life threatening and
doesn’t necessitate drug therapy. Nutritional physiologic agents
may come first.
What is the role of Monolaurin and other nutrients against herpes?
Herpes is one of the most ubiquitous viruses, occurring in both oral
and genital forms. It is also highly contagious and resistant to
Some physicians recommend taking 6 capsules when one has
a flare up and 2 capsules as a maintenance dose during quiescent
periods. Sometimes the herpes virus can be activated by
Monolaurin and then killed, resulting in a Herxheimer-like
Similar protocols have been used with the Epstein-Barr virus
(closely resembling the herpes virus), which may be responsible
for Chronic Fatigue and even MS.
Have there been any studies about Monolaurin in medical journals?
Most of the studies with Monolaurin have been in vitro, studying
the sensitivity of viruses to its effects outside the body; other
studies point to its safety and presence in foods. A literature search
on Medline will produce a range of published scientific articles in
such prestigious journals as: Antimicrobial Agents Chemistry,
Science, Nutrition Reviews, J. Food Safety, and Archives of
The cost of conducting a large scale, multi-centered study and the
lack of patent protection has discouraged pharmaceutical companies
from developing this product further. However, there are a
number of studies pointing to the safety and absorption of
Monolaurin and other fatty acid esters.