VCO as adjunct therapy does not help COVID-19 patients already in hospitals - study

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 08:57 PM

MANILA - Despite its known antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, virgin coconut oil (VCO) did not prove to have significant benefit for hospital-admitted COVID-19 patients, based on the results of clinical trials conducted at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

The study showed that this is regardless of the severity of the patient's COVID-19 condition. 

“In conclusion, our clinical trial on hospitalized patients did not demonstrate significant benefit on the use of VCO as an adjunctive therapy for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Fresthel Monica Climacosa, one of the trial investigators. 

The trials were conducted on enrolled and randomized 77 COVID-19 adult patients in the PGH, where they were divided in 2 groups: 39 in the treatment group and 38 in the controlled group.

They were given at least 15 ml VCO doses or one tablespoon 3 times a day after meals for 2 weeks. This was done orally or “via nasogastric tube”.

Individuals who were excluded in the study were those who had diabetes, chronic heart disease, and those with elevated lipid profile.

The trials also showed that VCO has not helped in significantly improving a patient’s stay in the hospital. 

“We saw no significant difference in the duration of the hospital stay between the VCO group [and] our controlled [group]” said Climacosa.

“We further subdivide our patients according to severity and still found no statistical difference... in their length of hospital stay," she added.

VCO also has no profound effect on easing COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, difficulty of breathing, weakness, and loss of appetite of the patients inside the hospital, according to the study results.

Trial investigators, however, noted that some patients experiencing abdominal pain and diarrhea from the consumption of VCO.

“Four patients experienced intolerable adverse effects which led to the discontinuation of VCO,” Climacosa said.

While no one from the VCO group was admitted to the ICU during the trial, nor was anyone intubated from them, one patient from the control group was admitted to the ICU while 3 were intubated.

In terms of mortality, no one from the VCO group died, while 3 from the control group expired.

But for the investigators, this remains “statistically insignificant”, citing more studies needed to be conducted.

“Exploratory studies on dosage regimen, the type of VCO formulation including the timing of administration may be needed to determine the role of VCO in the management of viral infections such as COVID- 19,” the doctor said.

But the scientists clarified that these results should not be confused from the results of another trial, which say VCO “could be used as adjunct treatment” for “suspect and probable” COVID-19 cases. 

They said this trial was conducted on patients with susceptible infections, unlike in PGH where patients’ cases were more serious.

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