If Virgin Coconut Oil Is Antibacterial, Does It Kill Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut?

If Virgin Coconut Oil Is Antibacterial, Does It Kill Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut?

Recommended Article #14Jun23

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If Virgin Coconut Oil Is Antibacterial, Does It Kill Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut?

Virgin coconut oil has been known for its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties for the longest. Harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi, both in and outside the body, are eliminated, thanks to these powerful properties. With virgin coconut oil's powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it could make one assume that these would work adversely against beneficial bacteria as well. Thankfully, this is not the case. Research has factually shown that medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil only target bad pathogenic bacteria and help fight bacterial infections while supporting beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Virgin Coconut Oil's Effect on Different Bacteria

First and foremost, beneficial and harmful bacteria have different physiological structures. This simply means that "good" and "bad" bacteria are NOT the same, and virgin coconut oil affects them in different ways. One good example is antibiotics and their effect on varying bacteria strains. Some antibiotics only kill certain bacteria strains, and have minimal effect on others; which is the reason why the doctor or veterinarian conducts tests for the bacterial strain before prescribing an antibiotic. Similarly, there are weed killers that kill specific plant types and would not harm the grass though grass and weed may have very similar biological structures.

In the same way, there are certain bacteria that are more sensitive to medium chain fatty acids. While the medium chain fatty acids may disrupt the bacterial cell wall, and interfere with cell communication and reproduction in vulnerable bacteria, they have no effect on beneficial bacteria.

Both beneficial and harmful bacteria reside alongside each other in the gut. These beneficial bacteria are self-propagating and help keep bad bacteria at bay. In a healthy gut, prebiotics provides available food for specific groups of beneficial bacteria to give them a competitive advantage over bad bacteria in the large intestines.

Beneficial bacteria produce bacteriocins, which help kill pathogens and bad bacteria. They also work on improving competition for prebiotics and small chain fatty acids. At the end of it all, the more beneficial bacteria we have in our gut, the better.

CocoTherapy Coconut Oil and a dog

How Virgin Coconut Oil Supports a Healthy Gut Microbiome

Virgin coconut oil has the ability to enable and support a beneficial shift in gut microbes in favor of beneficial gut bacteria. The antimicrobial medium chain fatty acids, specifically lauric acid, decrease enterotoxins and carcinogens that have a negative effect on the gut.

Approximately 50 percent of the fatty acids in virgin coconut oil are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid. It also has the additional beneficial function of converting into a molecule called monolaurin, which destroys the lipid membrane of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. One of the world's leading authorities on fats and oils, Dr Mary Enig, a Ph.D, nutritionist and biochemist, explains:

"Lauric Acid in coconut oil is formed into monoglyceride monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animals to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria including Listeria monocytogenes and Helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as Giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of lauric acid."

Monolaurin does not have a negative effect on desirable, beneficial gut bacteria, but rather, only on potentially pathogenic microorganisms. To illustrate this point, a study by Isaacs et al. (1991) reported that there is no inactivation of the common Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus strains, Bifidobacterium, Bacillus Coagulans by Monolaurin, but major inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms, such as Hemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Group B gram positive Streptococcus. In short, monolaurin did no harm to good bacteria, instead, eliminating bad bacteria and pathogens.

Bacteria Killed by Medium Chain Fatty Acids:

 BacteriumDisease/Illness Caused
StreptococcusThroat infections, pneumonia, sinusitis, earache, dental cavities
StaphylococcusStaph infections, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, toxic shock syndrome
NeisseriaMeningitis, gonorrhea, pelvic inflammatory disease
ChlamydiaGenital infections, lymphogranuloma venereum, conjunctivitis, parrot fever pneumonia, periodontist
Helicobacter pyloriStomach ulcers
Gram-positive organismsAnthrax, gastroenteritis, botulism, tetanus
Gram-negative organismsSalmonellosis, cholera, brucellosis, campylobacter infections, typhoid fever
Hemophilus influenzaeInfections of the spinal cord & lining of the brain
Groups A, B, F & G StreptococciThroat and skin infections, scarlet fever, impetigo, pneumonia, meningitis
Listeria monocytogenesListeriosis, food poisoning

Reference.: The Coconut Oil Miracle, Dr. Bruce Fife, C.N. N.D, ©2001, The Penguin Group (USA) Inc. ISBN 1-58333-204-9

In a different study by D Mitic-Culafic et al. (2019), research was conducted to test virgin coconut oil’s impact on the intestinal caecum microbiome. The research showed the positive effect virgin coconut oil had on the microbiota populations, and an increase in the abundance of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Allobaculum, and Bifidobacterium species was proven.
Reference: "Effect of virgin coconut oil on caecal microbiota composition in alloxan-induced diabetic rats"
D Mitic-Culafic et al 2019 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 333 012080

Mother's milk is rich in medium chain fatty acids, including lactic acid - the very reason for supporting and building immune and gut health in babies and young animals. Nature-designed medium chain fatty acids found in mother's milk and virgin coconut oil protect and build the immune system rather than harm beneficial gut bacteria.

This is a major benefit of medium chain fatty acids in mother's milk. They work to kill the bad bacteria in the gut and prevent sickness and death in the developing infant. They also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that will give infants a healthy digestive and immune system. Similarly, the medium chain fatty acids in virgin coconut oil work in the same way and could be considered nature’s “antibiotic". They help fight bacterial infections and eliminate the overgrowth of bad bacteria while posing no harm to beneficial gut bacteria.

Looking for more information about the antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties of virgin coconut oil? Check out CoCoTherapy's article: The Proven Antiviral Properties of Coconut Oil.

You can purchase CocoTherapy virgin coconut oil from our retailers today!

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This blog first appeared on the CocoTherapy website, where this article "If Virgin Coconut Oil Is Antibacterial, Does It Kill Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut?" was curated and sourced from.

Original source: https://www.cocotherapy.com/blogs/blog/does-virgin-coconut-oil-kill-beneficial-bacteria-in-the-gut

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