The latest health fad that is trending is coconut oil! It appears to be a go to answer to many
health and beauty related questions. To examine the legitimacy of all those claims is far too massive of a task to try and undertake in one blog post. In this post, I will specifically be looking at whether consumption of coconut oil has antimicrobial benefits.
First, let’s define what an antimicrobial is. According to the Antimicrobial Resistance Learning Site, an antimicrobial is an agent in our bodies which works against microorganisms. Its purpose is similar to that of an antibiotic, the main difference being that an antibiotic is a microorganism developed to fight other microorganisms. An antimicrobial however, is a natural or synthetic material, or a combination of the two, which targets microorganisms, without harming the host too much. Also, with these two terms, we have a square and rectangle situation going on. By that I mean, like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares; the same goes for antibiotics and antimicrobials. In this case, the antibiotic is the square, and the antimicrobial is the rectangle.
A study which was published in the Journal of Medical Foods found that the strongest antimicrobial effects against bacterial were a result of the presence of lauric acid in virgin coconut oil. What makes lauric acid such an effective antimicrobial is the fact that it is a fatty acid. Because of this, they are particularly good are disrupting lipid membranes of the intruding microorganisms. To check the validity of this, I looked for additional research on the topic. A paper in the Asian Journal of Pacific Science, as well as a paper presented at the AVOC Lauric Oils Symposium also saw these benefits.
So it has benefits, should it be taken when you feel a cold kicking in? There was not a lot of information on how to use this information. Perhaps there is a file drawer problem going on if the results are mundane. One book, did connect the beneficial antimicrobial properties to preventative health measure, but it was still vague.
To conclude, because of the lauric fatty acid component which is prominent in coconut oil, it has beneficial antimicrobial properties. What can an SC200 student take away from this? Coconut oil is a good substance to incorporate into one’s diet for general health purposes, and to ward off bacteria which could make you ill. However as far as using it in place of medicine, I would stick to the meds.