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Monolaurin for Genital Herpes: Science, Benefits and Results

A man and woman hug while holding a light therapy device in an article on monolaurin for genital herpes.

 

Most people with genital herpes are anxious to try any remedy that promises to rid them of this uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing ailment.

If you've been diagnosed with genital herpes, you've likely tried at least one of the usual prescription antiviral medications available for your condition. But if you've been considering less traditional options, you may have found yourself curious about the use of monolaurin for genital herpes.

What exactly is monolaurin? Is it safe and effective for treating genital herpes? If you decide to give monolaurin a try, will it interfere with any other treatments you're using?

Let's start by discussing exactly what monolaurin is.

What Is Monolaurin?

As more and more treatment-resistant bacterial and viral infections rear their heads, scientists search for new ways to treat these infections. One treatment option showing promise in killing a range of bacteria and viruses is monolaurin.

Monolaurin is a medium chain fatty acid derived from a combination of glycerin and lauric acid. Lauric acid is found in fatty foods like coconut oil, which the body converts into monolaurin after consumption. There's even some evidence that coconut oil can help with cold sores caused by herpes simplex virus types 1 (HSV-1).

More research is needed to determine exactly how the body produces monolaurin. We also don't yet know the precise amount of lauric acid (in the form of coconut oil) a person would need to ingest in order to produce enough monolaurin for genital herpes treatment.

So even though you can get monolaurin by consuming the lauric acid in coconut oil, dosing is much more accurate if you take monolaurin as a supplement.

Other Potential Benefits of Monolaurin

In addition to the potential use of monolaurin for genital herpes, it may also help with conditions like Alzheimer's disease, skin infections, chronic fatigue syndrome and parasitic infections. It could also strengthen the immune system, boosting natural immunity.

Clinical evidence is lacking, however, for most of these purported benefits. While research is ongoing, many studies have not yet progressed beyond the lab to human trials.

The Science of Monolaurin for Genital Herpes

Fatty acids like monolaurin attack the envelope-like structure that surrounds viruses, including herpes viruses. The attack causes leakage and, in high enough concentrations, disintegration of the viral envelope. This helps to destroy the virus.

Some argue that there isn't sufficient evidence to confirm the claimed benefits of monolaurin. And there are currently no monolaurin clinical trials in humans. But this is often the case with foods being used medicinally.

monolaurin for genital herpes

Is Monolaurin for Genital Herpes Safe?

When you're considering trying a new treatment for a medical condition, you'll naturally want to verify that the treatment is safe. Though side effects are possible with anything you ingest in any amount, monolaurin has an excellent safety profile.

While you can't expect monolaurin or coconut oil to be a miracle cure, the FDA categorizes it as "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS).

Possible Side Effects of Monolaurin

The only known and verified side effect of monolaurin ingestion is an allergic reaction to coconut products. Fortunately, serious and anaphylactic reactions to coconuts and coconut products are very rare. But people with known allergies to coconut should avoid the use of monolaurin products.

Possible "Herx" Reaction

One possible side effect of treatment with monolaurin is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, or Herx reaction for short.

A Herx reaction is thought to result from a large die-off of bacteria or viruses in the body, which then release toxins, cytokines and proteins into the bloodstream. These materials build up in the blood faster than the body can dispose of them, causing an inflammatory response. The inflammation then leads to flu-like symptoms such as headache, body aches, chills, sore throat and nausea.

Herx reactions usually resolve within a day, but can last from several days up to a couple of weeks. If a Herx reaction lasts longer than this, you may need to stop taking monolaurin.

To avoid a Herx reaction, it's best to start a supplement like monolaurin at a low dosage and increase it slowly. If you experience any negative side effects, back the dosage down (or eliminate the supplement altogether for a bit) to give your body time to process the die-off by-products. You can consider slowly increasing the dosage again once the Herx reaction symptoms subside.

Drinking plenty of water is always recommended, but it's especially important when starting a new vitamin or supplement. Staying hydrated is key to helping flush all those proteins and cytokines out of your system.

Purchasing Monolaurin for Genital Herpes

If you decide to try monolaurin, where should you purchase it, and how do you know you're choosing a good product? Every brand claims to be the best, so how can you know which will actually help you?

What To Look for When Purchasing Monolaurin for Genital Herpes

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a monolaurin supplement is its source. Lauric acid occurs naturally in both coconut oil and palm kernel oil, so either can be used as a source for producing monolaurin. While palm kernel oil is a much cheaper source of lauric acid, coconut oil provides a much higher potency and quality.

Many brands derive their lauric acid from palm kernel oil. Check the label of any monolaurin supplement you're considering to make sure it's derived from coconut oil. If the label doesn't specify, the source is probably palm kernel oil.

Additionally, various types of monolaurin products exist, but monolaurin capsules are the most effective way to take the supplement.

How To Buy Monolaurin for Genital Herpes

Monolaurin supplements can be purchased online or from a variety of health food stores. Amazon can have monolaurin at your door in record time. Just be sure to read through reviews, check labels and find a reputable product.

Can Monolaurin Be Used in Combination With Other Genital Herpes Treatments?

Fortunately, there's no evidence at this time to suggest that monolaurin can't be used in conjunction with other genital herpes treatments.

You should always consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your medication and supplement routine. But in general, the use of monolaurin with other antiviral treatments or red light therapy for genital herpes is considered safe.

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