DURING the decades-long campaign of the American soybean industry against tropical oils, Filipinos were made to believe that the coconut—oil and cream abundant in the Philippine diet—was bad for one’s health. Only when American biochemists began uncovering the dangers of transfats in commercially processed soybean, corn and canola oils did consumers all over the world take a second look at the once disparaged tropical oil.
With the dangers posed by deadly viruses like HIV, SARS and H5N1, the Philippines has emerged as one of the countries least affected in the region. To this, HIV clinical study author Dr. Conrado Dayrit puts forward the question, “Could it be the coconut diet?”
Thus began the return of coconut oil to the dining table. Filipinos went further by going back to their forefathers’ traditional manner of extracting food oil naturally from fresh coconuts to produce white edible oil and relabeled it virgin coconut oil or VCO.
Amid the hype, are Filipinos swallowing the truth about coconut oil? But that is not for oil producers to tell consumers. In a medical forum organized last month by the nongovernment group VCO Philippines, at least four noted Filipino doctors—a pediatrician, a dermatologist, a cardiologist-pharmacologist and a nutrition support specialist—have come out to exhort the once moribund industry, “You produce the right oil, we provide the science.”
Dr. Arturo C. Ludan
VIRGIN COCONUT OIL (VCO) is immunoprotective in children, superior to Vitamin C.
The fatty acids that make up coconut oil so effective against germs are the same ones nature has put into mother’s milk to protect infants.
Clinical studies show VCO’s significant role in pediatrics as a source of energy, an immune system booster, a local antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory.
Dr. E. Gabriel Martinez conducted a triple-blind, randomized-controlled trial on premature infants who showed a trend toward higher weight gain per day, shorter duration of intervention and fewer adverse events among the treatment group supplemented with 0.5 ml of VCO per ounce of body weight.
Another study by Dr. Daisy E. Davila to determine the effect of VCO on recurrent respiratory infection among pediatric patients in Pasay General Hospital ages 1-5 years showed that VCO supplementation reduces the incidence by 67 percent and the duration by 62 percent.
In my clinical practice, I applied the studies of Doctors Conrado Dayrit, Vermen Rowell and C. E. Isaacs in prescribing VCO as a local antiseptic to keep a nursing mother’s nipple relatively sterile against microbes, and to treat viral infections in children such as herpes simplex (which can cause infections of the mouth, eyes, female genital tract and brain) and Epstein-Barr as cause of infectious mononucleosis, influenza A and measles virus.
But what the pediatrician would like to explore about VCO is its anti-inflammatory potential in treating allergic disorders like asthma and rhinitis.
Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell
VCO IS AN AFFORDABLE, medically acceptable alternative for those who cannot afford conventional antibiotics.
Medium-chain triglycerides of mainly lauric acid becomes active antiseptics when it breaks down into lauric acid monoglycerides or monolaurin in coconut milk (as well as in mother’s milk).
With molecules small enough to be directly absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, monolaurin travels around the body to act as an antiseptic.
Results from my clinical studies tally with those of Dr. Conrado Dayrit’s HIV study. While Dayrit identifies monolaurin as having brought down the HIV viral counts in the study, there are more monoglycerides from the VCO’s other medium-chain fatty acids that are anti-infective.
A study shows monolaurin (in gel) is comparable to alcohol. It can kill common disease-causing bacteria and fungi cultured from the hands of nurses after duty. But unlike alcohol, monolaurin is gentle to the skin and can be taken internally. When taken internally, it does not kill off the desirable intestinal bacteria but acts only on potentially disease-forming microorganisms.
In yet another study, monolaurin proved as effective as the most popular antibiotics in killing bacteria from already infected skin. In one case, it treated and prevented the recurrence of a drug-resistant herpes simplex.
Based on my clinical practice at Makati Medical Center, nutritional supplements of VCO lower the severity of psoriasis secondary infection and atopic dermatitis cases.
Dr. Conrado Dayrit
VCO PREVENTS HEART DI-sease. Coconut oil, like other vegetable oils, has no cholesterol.
In fact, VCO intake in substantial amounts keeps cholesterol low, between 170 and 200 milligrams per deciliter, by promoting the conversion of cholesterol into pregnenolone to be utilized in the production of adrenal and sex hormones. VCO’s cholesterol-lowering effect is a regulatory action since it can also beneficially raise cholesterol when it is too low for the body’s needs, thus maintaining the healthy ratio between low density lipoprotein-cholesterol and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C).
On the other hand, the lowering of total cholesterol by the omega-6 oils (corn and soybean oils) is not beneficial since it also lowers the good HDL-C, subsequently depositing the lost oxidized cholesterol in the arterial plaque, which could clog the arteries.
While statins block cholesterol synthesis, this does not address the inflammatory nature of atherosclerosis. VCO does, having the ability to kill major types of atherogenic bacteria and viruses in the blood while exhibiting anti-inflammatory action in synergy with omega-3 fatty acids.
The saturated fats-heart scare is a big fat lie because it covers up the fact that polyunsaturated oils are the sources of inflammatory prostaglandins, allergic leuko-trienes, and blood clot-inducing thromboxane. And when partially hydrogenated, polyunsaturated oils are converted into trans fatty acids that are even more atherogenic.
For more information, read his book “The Truth About Coconut Oil” (available at National Book Stores).
Dr. Eliza Perez Francisco
Family physician-nutrition support
IN MY CLINICAL PRACTICE AT ST. Luke’s Medical Center, I use VCO for the elderly in relation to physiologic changes that occur with aging.
VCO can address sensory losses, tooth and gum problems, changes in the intestinal tract, changes in the immune system, changes in body composition, and changes that come with menopause and andropause.
With age, the intestinal wall loses strength and elasticity, thus slowing down motility. Two tablespoons or 30 ml of VCO at bedtime ought to regulate constipation. VCO also has a soothing effect on the sore anal area of hemorrhoids.
For arthritis, VCO used as massage oil or taken orally can relieve aches and joint pains.
Bedridden patients who require tube feeding could use nutrition support by blending VCO with tube feed or with commercial milk formulas in consultation with a dietitian.
A combination of old age and malnutrition makes older people vulnerable to pneumonia, UTI and bedsores. VCO can help fight infection in the early stages.
Take the case of a 76-year-old who developed painful herpes zoster on his trunk. The antibiotic cream given to him only lasted for one application because the area affected was so wide. But when VCO was applied all over the skin for a week, the patient reported relief from itch and the lesions dried up.
An 83-year-old patient who complained of loss of strength and lack of energy was able to walk and take a jeep to her favorite mall only after a week of taking two tablespoons of VCO every morning.
"Reprinted with permission from the Philippine Daily Inquirer."