The Health Benefits of Monolaurin

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Coconut oil with fresh coconut half on wooden background

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Monolaurin is a substance derived from lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil and in human breast milk. The body makes monolaurin from lauric acid, but it is also available in dietary supplement form.

Monolaurin has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties and is said to offer a number of health benefits, including treating:

There is limited scientific evidence to support any health claims for monolaurin, but it is generally regarded as safe by the Food & Drug Administration. It is used in the food industry to prevent disease in livestock, poultry, and fishing, and as an emulsifier or preservative in prepared food. Monolaurin is also used in cosmetics, detergents, and as an antimicrobial agent in medical devices.

Health Benefits 

Although clinical trials testing the health effects of monolaurin are currently lacking, some preliminary research suggests that monolaurin may offer certain health benefits.

Lyme Disease

A 2015 laboratory study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology tested the effectiveness of 15 plant compounds and nutrients against Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia garinii —the bacteria known to cause Lyme disease. Tests indicated that monolaurin and baicalein (a compound found in skullcap) were the most effective antimicrobial compounds against Lyme.

However, the study was limited to cell cultures and more research is needed before monolaurin can be recommended as a treatment for Lyme disease.

Candida

A 2010 study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found that vaginal gels containing glycerol monolaurate self-administered every 12 hours for two days effectively reduced Candida and Gardnerella vaginalis. A control gel containing the probiotic Lactobacillus reduced Gardnerella counts only.

While promising, the study sample was small and larger trials are needed before recommending monolaurin as a treatment for yeast infections.

Possible Side Effects

Monolaurin is generally regarded as safe in amounts found in food, however, due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of high dose or long-term use of monolaurin.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use monolaurin supplements as its safety has not been tested.

Dosage and Preparation

Monolaurin is sold as a dietary supplement as well as a topical cream. Currently, there is not sufficient evidence to support a specific dose. If you choose to use monolaurin, follow the instructions on the packaging.

What to Look For

Dietary supplements are not well regulated by the FDA. To ensure you are buying a quality product, look for a third-party certification seal, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

A Word From Verywell 

Although monolaurin may show some promise as a potential treatment for certain conditions, it shouldn't be used as a substitute for medical treatment for any condition. Avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences. If you're considering trying it, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first to weigh the pros and cons and to discuss whether it's right for you.

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