MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Department of Science and Technology on Thursday revealed that virgin coconut oil can be used as a food supplement to reduce the symptoms of probable and suspect COVID-19 cases.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute-led study involved 57 probable and suspect COVID-19 patients in a quarantine hospital in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Half of them were given VCO in their food for 28 days and the other half served as a control group.
3 TIMES A DAY
During the 28 days, the participants were served food by FNRI. Half of the participants or those under the control group did not receive VCO.
An initial dose of 0.6 milliliters of VCO per kilogram of body weight was mixed with the breakfast meal of those in the VCO group for the first 3 days.
It was increased to 1.2 milliliters of VCO per kilogram of body weight mixed in each breakfast and lunch meal from Day 4 to 28.
Those who had VCO intolerance or did not show adverse effects were given VCO with their breakfast, lunch and dinner.
NO MORE SYMPTOMS
The participants were monitored daily for COVID-related symptoms such as cough, colds, body aches, headache, loss of taste and fever.
“Symptoms in the VCO group significantly declined at Day 2 and no symptoms were observed at Day 18,” Science Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena said during a virtual briefing.
Meanwhile, the control group showed improvement on Day 3 and symptoms stopped on Day 23.
Dela Pena said this showed that virgin coconut oil can be used as an adjunct supplement for probable and suspect COVID cases although more studies needed to be done for those with pre-existing medical conditions.
“All of the indications suggest that VCO will certainly at least decrease the symptoms of inflammation. 'Yung cure n'ya against COVID will require further studies,” said Dr. Fabrian Dayrit, who proposed the study.
INFLAMMATION LEVELS LOWER
Among the things they monitored is the C-reactive protein (CRP) of the patients at Day 1, 14 and 28. CRP is being used to check the level of inflammation or infection. A CRP level of 5 milligrams per liter or less means that the patient has recovered from the inflammation or infection.
Those in the VCO group had normal CRP levels at 5 mg/L or less as early as Day 14. But those under the control group stayed at a “borderline of 5 mg/L from Day 14 until end of intervention.”
Asked if the results are significant enough, Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa of FNRI said, “we consider the results of the study very significant from each other. The VCO had better results as compared to the control group in terms of showing to us diminishing signs and symptoms of our probable and suspect cases.”
“Significant in the sense that we studied it statistically. The results speak so loud if we give VCO the CRP or C-reactive protein indicator for the presence of inflammation has actually significantly declined…Day 2 you can already observe it,” she added.
“In a way it’s prophylaxis. It’s good protection. Protection against the virus. But we have not yet studied it on high viral load,” Dayrit explained.
The DOST is still waiting for the results of another VCO study on COVID-19 patients at the Philippine General Hospital.
Dayrit previously explained to ABS-CBN News that the VCO’s antiviral properties come from monolaurin and lauric acid. Monolaurin has long been used to protect farm animals against bacteria and viruses.
Only participants who were 20 years and older and with controlled hypertension and normal liver enzyme tests were included in the study. Not included in the study are those with heart ailments, medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, asymptomatic and pregnant.
The VCO study was a double-blind trial, which meant neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was being given VCO.
The VCO used for the study was screened by the Philippine Coconut Authority to ensure that they are in compliance with the Philippine National Standard for quality.
According to PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal Jr., they analyzed 9 brands but only 6 passed the set standard. However, the DOST said it cannot reveal the brands used.
However, the PCA is planning to develop the protocol in establishing the seal of quality for VCO.
In the meantime, the DOST said consumers should only buy VCO registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
The PCA said there is a lot of opportunity in maximizing the potential of VCO, especially since the Philippines is the largest exporter of the product.
Dayrit said they are regularly in touch with the international coconut community and are hopeful that they can start their own “solidarity trial” to test VCO in other countries.
He said there are already a lot of laboratory studies showing the antiviral effects of VCO and what they need more are clinical studies.
The DOST said while they are not in the position to recommend the use of VCO in hospitals or at home, they hope the study would be of use to the public while taking into account the “inclusions and exclusions” of the study.