E-Mail Edition  Volume 8   Number 5

Published December, 2011

Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.

Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org

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  • Ask Dr. Coconut

  • Jon J. Kabara, PhD: Lipid Researcher and Discoverer of the Antimicrobial Power of MCFAs and Monolaurin (1926-2011)

  • Health Oil from the Tree of Life (Nutritional and Health Aspects of Coconut Oil)

  • The Coconut Tool






























Ask Dr. Coconut TM


What do you think about Silk brand coconut milk?  How much of it would you need to drink to get the equivalent of 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil?



Over the past few years a number of new coconut products have come on the market including coconut milk based ice creams and yogurts. Some of the most popular are the coconut milk beverages such as Silk Pure Coconut and So Delicious Coconut Milk.

Coconut milk is a versatile product that can be used in making a variety of foods including smoothies, chowders, soups, casseroles, curries, etc. It makes a good alternative to dairy milk and can be used in place of milk or cream in many recipes. For those who are allergic to dairy milk, coconut milk provides an excellent alternative.

Another benefit to coconut milk is the fat content. Coconut milk provides a good source of health-promoting medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Coconut oil is the richest source of MCFAs. Coconut milk, however, provides another way to incorporate the oil into the diet.

Coconut milk is a traditional food that has been consumed for generations. It's made by grating fresh coconut meat, adding a little water, and squeezing the liquid from the meat. The resulting fluid is the coconut milk or cream depending on how much water you use. The product is considered coconut cream if the fat content is above 20 percent. Coconut milk usually has a fat content of about 16-18 percent. This type of coconut milk is usually sold in stores in 14-ounce cans. The milk has not been sweetened so it does not taste sweet, it tastes creamy and can be used to make savory dishes. It is often cooked with fish or rice, along with onions, garlic, and other herbs or spices. Curries are often made in a base of coconut milk. Coconut milk can be used in place of dairy milk to make baked goods such as bread, muffins, cakes, etc.

These new coconut milk products like Silk and So Delicious are not the same as traditional coconut milk. They are not really coconut milk, they coconut milk beverages. In other words, they are drinks made with coconut milk and other things (water, sugar, thickeners, calcium, natural flavorings, etc.). They are meant to be consumed by the glass or poured over breakfast cereal. They do not work well in many of the standard recipes that call for real coconut milk. They are also homogenized to have a smooth even texture like store bought milk. Real coconut milk tends to separate if left to sit undisturbed for several weeks (just as real dairy milk does). The coconut fat gradually rises to the top, with the water, protein, and other ingredients sinking to the bottom. Shaking the can before opening or stirring after opening will blend them back together. I prefer to have the separation because the rich creamy top can be used like a thick cream in recipes. However, many brands of canned coconut milk have thickeners added to prevent separation.

Coconut milk beverages taste good and are suitable for drinking or pouring over breakfast cereal but they are not good sources of coconut oil. They have been watered down. One cup of real coconut milk contains 40 grams of fat. That is the equivalent of 8 teaspoons or about 2½ tablespoons of coconut oil. A cup of coconut milk beverage, on the other hand, contains only 5 grams of fat. That is equivalent to only 1 teaspoon. You would have to drink eight cups of coconut milk beverage to get the same amount of coconut oil from one cup of real coconut milk.








Jon J. Kabara, PhD: Lipid Researcher and Discoverer of the Antimicrobial Power of MCFAs and Monolaurin (1926-2011)

By Bruce Fife, ND



Like most everyone else, I was fooled. But it was a clever deception. Scientists, educators, and politicians were fooled as well. Thanks to the research of scientists such as Jon J. Kabara, PhD, I discovered the truth and was able to tell others about it and back it up with hard science. Dr. Kabara's research has provided much of that science.

In the late 1950s an idea was proposed called the lipid hypothesis that suggested that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol













Dr. Jon J. Kabara













































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would raise blood levels of cholesterol. The higher the blood cholesterol, the more likely some would stick to the artery walls. Over time this build up of cholesterol would clog the arteries blocking blood flow. If the clogged artery fed the heart it would cause a heart attack, if it fed the brain it would cause a stroke. For years scientists had been searching frantically for an explanation as to why heart disease rapidly rose from an obscure affliction in the early 1900s to epidemic proportions, eventually becoming the number one cause of death by 1950. Since there was no other explanation, most doctors looked at the lipid hypothesis as the long awaited for answer—mystery solved. At the time, however, this hypothesis was hotly debated. Many scientists could not accept it because it did not fit all the facts. Pharmaceutical companies supported the new theory because it offered justification for taking the newly developed cholesterol-lowering drugs, which became a multi-billion dollar bonanza for them. Later, politicians got involved and they brought about government sanctioned health policies endorsing the theory.

By the early 1980s people were becoming increasingly leery of saturated fats. Fearing they might suffer a heart attack, many had already taken them out of their diets or at least reduced the consumption of high fat foods. The soybean industry saw this as a golden opportunity and devised a multi-million dollar publicity campaign to demonize all saturated fats in an attempt to take over the tropical oils and animal fats markets. Their campaign was very successful. Food manufactures and restaurants fearful of customer's perceptions about saturated fats began removing coconut and palm oils and other saturated fats from their foods and replacing them with soybean oil, primarily hydrogenated soybean oil. By 1990 coconut oil had virtually disappeared from the American market as well as from the shelves of many other countries throughout the world.

Like most everyone else at the time, I believed that saturated fats and cholesterol were unhealthy. I was taught this in school. Then one day a colleague told me that coconut oil, a highly saturated fat, was actually one of the good fats. She said it did not cause heart disease and possessed many beneficial properties. I was shocked. How could a saturated fat be healthy? She backed up her statement by showing me some studies verifying the benefits of coconut oil. I was intrigued. How could something so high in saturated fat have any useful purpose? I wanted to know more.

There was a lot of confusing and misleading information about fats and oils written in books and magazine articles. I realized that if I was going to learn the truth about coconut oil, I would have to go to the medical literature and read what researchers had to say. That's what I did. As I began to read the studies I was shocked at what I found. It didn't take long to realize that coconut oil was not the artery-clogging villain it was made out to be. It in fact, possessed many incredible nutritional and medicinal properties. Doctors were actually using coconut oil to treat many health problems like malabsorption syndrome, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and epilepsy. I was amazed.

Probably the thing that impressed me most was the large number of studies on the antimicrobial properties of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil. There was even a three volume set of books edited by Dr. Jon Kabara titled The Pharmacological Effect of Lipids, in which many of the antimicrobial effects were described.

I became so intrigued, that over the next couple of years I looked up every study I could find on coconut oil. In the process, I also looked up studies on other types of fats and oils. As a result, I gained an in-depth understanding of the science of fats and oils. I learned that saturated fats were not the evil villains they were often made out to be and that polyunsaturated fats, like soybean and corn oils, were a far greater danger to health. This was totally unexpected as I believed just the opposite at the time. But the more I read, the more I realized what a dramatic influence the pharmaceutical and food industries had on influencing public opinion and controlling policies on diet and health.

Intrigued by this revelation and somewhat angered by the deception, I wrote a book published in 1999 on fats and oils titled Saturated Fat May Save Your Life. To my knowledge this was the first book written exposing the dangers of polyunsaturated fats and revealing the truth about saturated fats and cholesterol. I sent a copy of the book to key individuals. One of which was Mary Enig, PhD, who along with Sally Fallon (Morell) founded the Weston A. Price Foundation that same year. The following year Dr. Enig came out with her own book on the same topic titled Know Your Fats.

In my book I devoted an entire chapter to the wonders of coconut oil. This was the first published detailed description of the health benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil continued to fascinate me. I began using it and recommending it to others. I saw it work wonders in treating hemorrhoids, bladder infections, and pre-cancerous skin lesions, boosting energy, and aiding in weight loss. As I learned more about coconut oil I realized that I needed to write an entire book on the topic.

One day, to my surprise, I received a phone call from Dr. Jon J. Kabara. Now retired, Dr. Kabara, had been a professor of pharmacology and biochemistry at Michigan State University for many years. He was a lipid researcher and focused much of his attention on cholesterol and fatty acid research. He was the first to discover the antimicrobial effects of the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil back in the 1960s. He developed and patented an antimicrobial dietary supplement from coconut oil called Lauricidin. His academic and professional background made him an expert witness on behalf of the lowly coconut.

Dr. Kabara, along with cardiologist Conrado Dayrit, MD, lipid researcher Vigen K. Babayan, PhD, of Harvard, pathologist Hans Kaunitz, MD, of Colombia University, and others, was one of the early investigators who championed the use of coconut oil in the 1970s and early 1980s, when coconut oil was still commonly sold in stores and used in food manufacturing and restaurants. I felt honored that he contacted me. He ran across a copy of my book Saturated Fat May Save Your Life and was intrigued. I was surprised he found a copy of the book. At this time, prejudice against saturated fats was still universal, so I had not yet sold many copies. After he read the book, he had to talk to me and somehow tracked me down. He agreed with what I had to say about saturated fats, and particularly about coconut oil. He was happy that someone was finally speaking up and had written a book on this topic. Serious lipid researchers, like himself, knew that the lipid hypothesis was false and that saturated fats and cholesterol did not cause heart disease. Yet due to powerful industry interests, greed, and clever marketing, the theory had taken hold. The cholesterol-heart disease idea was so strong at this time no one would listen to contrary opinions. He and other long time lipid researchers were ignored and even ridiculed when they suggested that saturated fats weren't dangerous. No financial sponsor would dare back research that supported these ideas and were leery of anyone who did, making research funding harder to obtain. Consequently, most of these researchers learned to keep quiet. I think that's why my book intrigued him so much, someone was finally speaking out publically in favor of consuming saturated fats. This phone call began a friendship and correspondence that lasted until his death in 2011.

Dr. Kabara had studied the effects of fats and oils on health for over 30 years. One of his biggest achievements was his work on monolaurin. In the 1960s he was looking for a harmless substance that could be used to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria in food products. He was intrigued by the potent antimicrobial effects of certain fatty acids, most notably lauric acid, the primary fatty acid found in coconut oil. He discovered that all medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil possessed potent antimicrobial activity. When lauric acid is attached to a glycerin molecule it forms a monoglyceride known as monolaurin. The germ-fighting properties of monolaurin are more powerful than all the medium chain fatty acids, including lauric acid. It was effective against many viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and protozoa, making it not only an ideal food preservative but a novel, harmless antimicrobial agent with potential medical use. Referring to medium fatty acids and monoglycerides Kabara said, "It is rare in the history of medicine to find substances that have such useful properties and still be without toxicity or even harmful side effects." Kabara noted that monolaurin is a natural product that is produced by the body from dietary fats. Laboratory and clinical research showed that monolaurin was effective in killing a variety of disease-causing microorganisms including candida, oral bacteria, herpes virus, hepatitis C virus, and HIV. This was significant because there are no drugs currently available that can effectively kill viruses. This led Kabara to develop a monolaurin dietary supplement, which he patented under the trade name Lauricidin. This supplement comes in the form of tiny pellets that are taken by the spoonful.

Later he founded Med-Chem Laboratories, Inc to make and market Lauricidin. Unlike other dietary supplements, Lauricidin was sold only to physicians or other health care professionals or to individuals with recommendations from their doctors. It was not sold in health food stores or to supplement manufacturers. Customers had to get it from their doctors or directly from Med-Chem Labs.

During the anti-tropical oils campaign in the 1980s one of the weapons the soybean industry tried to use against the tropical oils was legislation on product labeling. They sought to have the words "Contains no tropical oils" allowed on food labels. Such a statement implies a health claim indicating that the tropical oils were unhealthy. Coconut oil producers and distributors objected to this action. This led to government hearings on the topic. Standing before a congressional committee Dr. Kabara testified in behalf of coconut oil, stating that there was no evidence demonstrating that coconut oil was in any way harmful and that putting such warnings on food labels was in fact deceitful. Others including, George Blackburn, MD from Harvard University, sided with Kabara. Without proof that coconut oil caused heart disease or any other harm, the soybean industry backed off this issue.

Kabara participated with Conrado Dayrit, MD in the first clinical study on the use of coconut oil and monolauin in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. This 1998 study verified previous studies on the anti-viral effects of MCFAs and monolaurin and their use in treating HIV. Over the years he published many studies involving coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides, and monolaurin as well as cholesterol and its affect on health.

In 1999 I was working on my next book, which was titled The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil. The title was later shortened to The Coconut Oil Miracle. Before publishing this book, I sent the manuscript to Dr. Kabara and asked him to read it over to make sure it was accurate and factual.

He studied the material and responded that the book was right on target, but cautiously counseled "Don't publish it."

I was shocked, "Why not?" I asked. "If the material was accurate why shouldn't it be published?"

"No one will believe you," he said. "The book will not sell, you will waste your money, and you will open yourself up to ridicule." He spoke from experience, he had been trying to tell people these same things for years and as a result had faced severe criticism. He was trying to save me the trouble and pain he had experienced.

Fortunately, I didn't take his advice. The information in this book came directly from published medical studies, the historical record, and my own experience. It was true and factual. The information in the book offered a natural solution to many health problems. Except for researchers like Kabara, who were actively involved in the study of fats and oils, only a few people were aware of the incredible health benefits of coconut oil. I felt an obligation to share this knowledge with the rest of the world. I told Dr. Kabara I was going to go ahead and publish the book and asked him if he would be willing to write the foreword. He willingly agreed.

His endorsement gave the book greater credibility. He was an established authority on fats and oils and a distinguished researcher from a respected university. When the book was published in 2000 it faced stiff opposition. The idea that a saturated fat could be healthy was foreign to most people. The book was ignored by the media and a hard sell to most customers who had heard nothing but anti-saturated fat propaganda for the past two decades. However, once someone read the book they were convinced because the book was simple and straightforward and backed by numerous references to medical studies.

This book launched the coconut revolution. It opened people's minds to the many wonderful health-promoting properties of coconut oil and coconut products in general. Within just a few years coconut oil was being sold in all health food stores, on the Internet, and praised by open-mined nutritionists and physicians. Coconut products of all types soon began appearing in store shelves everywhere. A change had occurred. Dr. Kabara's research on the antimicrobial properties of medium chain fatty acids and monoglycerides provided much of the scientific background for convincing people that coconut oil was not an "artery clogging fat" but a heart friendly, disease fighting health food.

The Coconut Oil Miracle describes the antimicrobial effects of MCFAs in some detail. It also mentions monolaurin. During digestion, MCTs in coconut oil, as well as mother's milk (another source of MCTs), are broken down and transformed primarily into MCFAs, with some monolaurin. The amount of monolaurin produced is small in comparison to MCFAs and the vast majority of the oil's antimicrobial effects come from these fatty acids, not the monolaurin, although it does contribute.

In an effort to promote the benefits of coconut oil in their sales materials and websites some dealers mistakenly began attributing all of coconut oil's antimicrobial power to monolaurin. To the annoyance of Dr. Kabara, this misconception spread all over the Internet and in print. Since Dr. Kabara was the expert on monolaurin, many people began asking him how coconut oil compared with Lauricidin in fighting off infections. He would emphasize that coconut oil produced only a small amount of monolaurin and suggested that they would get better results using his product. Sometimes his replies could be misconstrued as being anti-coconut but they really weren't. Dr. Kabara was always an advocate of coconut oil, but he wanted to stress the differences between the two products, and of course he favored his own product.

Research by Kabara and others demonstrated that in head to head comparisons between monolaurin and lauric acid and other MCFAs, monolaurin was generally the most potent.  However, there were few studies that compared monolaurin with a combination of all the MCFAs, as is found naturally in coconut oil. In the only clinical study I am aware of, to compare monolaurin to coconut oil, coconut oil performed just as well and perhaps slightly better. This suggests that the synergistic effects of all the MCFAs working together are comparable to monolaurin. The major advantage of Lauricidin over coconut oil is that it is a pharmaceutical-like product that has more appeal to physicians. Doctors are much more likely to prescribe Lauricidin to their sick patients than they are coconut oil. The advantage of coconut oil is that it is far cheaper, it is easier to obtain, and is much more versatile (can be used in food preparation as well as topically).

Dr. Kabara was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 26, 1926, the only child of John and Mary Kabara. Young Kabara had an aptitude for the sciences and wanted to dedicate his life to science and medical research. He attended St. Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota graduating in 1948 with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics and philosophy. He attended the University of Miami from 1948-1950 earning a Master's Degree in organic chemistry. He studied pharmacology and biochemistry at the University of Chicago where he earned his PhD. He worked as a professor at the University of Detroit, Michigan, and later at Michigan State University, where he taught and did research for over 30 years.

In 1969, as a Professor and Associate Dean at Michigan State University, he helped establish a new private College of Osteopathic Medicine which became the first affiliated school of Osteopathic Medicine at a major University. During his career Dr. Kabara was awarded 16 US and foreign patents. He authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific articles and eight books. He received many awards for his scientific research and his humanitarian work. He was listed in America Men of Science, Who's Who in Science, Outstanding Educators of America, Who's Who in Technology Today, and Two Thousand Men of Achievement.

In 2005, he and his wife, Betty, gave a gift to St. Mary's University, in order to establish the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. The goal of that program was to instill in the students a desire for the entrepreneurial spirit, no matter their area of study and to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship to society. In 2008, Jon and Betty gave another gift to the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation with the intent to create the Cancer Research Institute that now bears their name.

In his 80s he remained active co-authoring new studies and writing books. With the publication of The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, Know Your Fats by Mary Enig, and similar books, the importance of fat, and particularly saturated fat and cholesterol, in the diet was becoming better recognized. In 2008 Kabara published his eighth and final book Fats are Good for You and Other Secrets. In this book he distilled 50 years of research on fats and oils explaining how and why saturated fats and cholesterol are important for good health, and why they do not promote heart disease.

At the age of 84, Dr. Jon Joseph Kabara passed away on March 24, 2011 at his home in Bradenton, Florida. We owe a debt of gratitude to this great man of science.








Health Oils From The Tree Of Life

(Nutritional and Health

Aspects of Coconut Oil)


By Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University and Consultant to Private Industries, Universities and Government Agencies, Galena, Illinois, USA.






The palm tree has a long history of providing man with useful materials for his daily life. None is more important than the oils obtained from the palm nut. Coconut and palm kernel oils were recognized as health oils in Ayurvedic medicine almost 4000 years ago. The same health effects were also found in Sanskrit medicine for mother's milk. Mention was made that freshly expressed human milk was adopted as an "antibiotic" after eye surgery. Modern research has now found a common link between these two natural health products—their fat or lipid content. For over thirty years our lipid laboratory has pioneered finding relationships between natural and synthetic lipids and their biological activity. Our studies indicated that the fatty acids and monoglycerides found in these two natural products had extraordinary antimicrobial properties. Over a period of 30 years my colleagues and I screened other lipids hoping to improve on nature. During this period we screened some 300 lipids and other structures for antimicrobial activity. We failed and so I returned to nature for clues. The medium chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found primarily in these two tropical oils and mother's milk have miraculous healing power. It is rare in the history of medicine to find substances that have such useful properties and still be without toxicity or even harmful side effects. My students and I then vigorously pursued the industrial and medical application of the most active species, monolaurin. The highly purified monoglyceride is better known as Lauricidin® rather than simply monolaurin since the usual commercial monolaurin is only 45-55% pure and has no antimicrobial properties. The first utilization of monolaurin was the incorporation into margarine as a food preservative and then into a sanitizer for the prevention of bovine mastitis.

 Since that time monolaurin (Lauricidin®) has found use in cosmetic, pharmaceuticals and in clinical medicine. Monolaurin as a dietary supplement has shown extraordinary and exciting results as an antibiotic and as an antiviral agent. The latter property against lipid coated viruses was first demonstrated by Hierholzer and Kabara more than sixteen years ago. Since that time our studies have been confirmed and extended by others. Literature references for the use of monolaurin are now appearing at an increasing rate showing application in dental cares, peptic ulcers, benign prostatic hyperplasia, genital herpes, hepatitis C as well as HIV/AIDS. After years of neglect by others I have finally convinced the medical community and now important clinical studies are finally increasing at a rapid pace.

 Our prediction at an international conference of the American Oil Chemist Society (1995) that these tropical oil derivatives were going to be the new health oils for the next millennium is coming true. Not only does monolaurin have antibiotic and antiviral activity but also these remarkable derivatives have been shown not to cause resistance organisms to appear. In addition, it has now been shown that monolaurin can reduce the resistance of germs to antibiotics.

Never before in recent times has recognition of the positive health effects of tropical oils been stronger. New and exciting health and industrial uses of monolaurin are available and predictable. Monolaurin derived from coconut and palm kernel oils suggest a bright future for an industry that was once referred to as a "sunset industry". This means that the oil industry must move quickly to modernize itself in making value added products from these oils which will contribute to a more vigorous and healthy agriculture future.





Never before in the history of man is it so important to emphasize the value of Lauric Oils. The medium-chain fats in coconut oil are similar to fats in mother's milk and have similar nutriceutical effects. These health effects were recognized centuries ago in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic (knowledge of life) medicine is based on the teaching of the Veda, the oldest (circa 1500 BC) scripture of Hinduism. Sanskrit is the literary language of the Vedas and Hinduism. The knowledge of the aborigines of Nicobar Islands and the tribal population of other parts of India on the medicinal application of coconut palm products is extensive. They depended on these products for treating numerous ailments. Even a transient account of ancient therapeutic applications of coconut palm products would be too extensive for this review. Consequently, only a brief accounting will be given on the historical use of coconut oil as a medicine whose benefits results from its content of medium-chain fats.

 According to the Ayurvedic classics, coconut oil (CNO) nourishes the body and increases strength. The oil was also valued for its antimicrobial properties. The use of the oil medicated with herbs is widespread among the people of India. Different preparations of CNO promote luxurious hair growth and protect the skin from bacterial, protozoal, and viral infections. For some head diseases, such as lice, an application of coconut oil medicated with the roots of palm is known to be an effective treatment. Fresh lauric oil is wholesome to heart and relieves skin troubles.

 In the past four decades misinformation and disinformation provided by certain politically biased agricultural groups and repeated in professional and lay press have lead people to believe that all saturated fats are unhealthy. Little attention is focused on the fact that saturated fatty acids are not a single family of fats but comprise three subgroups; short- (C2-C6), medium- (C8-C12) and long- (C14-C24) chain fatty acids. The medium chain fats are found exclusively in Lauric Oils.

 If we are to understand the health benefits of medium chain saturated fats, it is necessary to specify the affects of each saturated subgroup. While it has been known for decades that subgroups existed for unsaturated fats i.e. monounsaturated fats (omega-9) and polyunsaturated oils ((omega-6 (vegetable oils) and omega-3 (fish oils)], little recognition is given even today to subgroups of saturated fats. Each fat subgroup has different metabolic, biological and pharmacological functions.



Medium vs. Long Chain Saturated Triglycerides


It needs to be emphasized that both the composition and stereo-specific location of a saturated fatty acid on the glycerol structure is critical to its biological affects. The acyl groups located at the sn-1 and sn-3 position are absorbed as free fatty acids while the acyl group in the sn-2 position is absorbed as a monoglyceride. Short and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) are solubilized in the aqueous phase of the intestinal contents, where they are absorbed, bound to albumin and transported directly to the liver via the portal vein. Long-chain FA's however are transported via lymphatic and systemic circulation as chylomicrons before finally ending up in the liver. However the location of longchain fatty acids (LCFA) on the glycerol molecule can also influence their metabolic destiny. Free palmitic and stearic acid in the sn1 and sn3 position of glycerol have low coefficients of absorption because of melting points above body temperature and their ability to form calcium salts. Therefore, fats that have long-chain saturated fatty acids located at the sn-1 and sn-3 positions of triglycerols can exhibit different absorption patterns and metabolic effects compared to fats with palmitic or stearic acids found at the sn-2 position, which are absorbed more efficiently as monoglycerides.

 Although long-chain fats have a kilocalorie values of 9.0 per gram, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) fats have ~10% less (8.3 kilocalorie/gram). MCT have been shown easier to digest and are absorbed and oxidized faster than LCT fats. MCFA are transported directly to the liver and enter mitochondria without the benefit of carnitine. Compared to long-chain fats, MCT's are deposited less into adipose tissue, decrease protein catabolism in hyper-catabolic states, raise thyroid function and do not form esters with cholesterol.

 Medium-chain saturated fats fail to raise cholesterol levels when supplied with sufficient polyunsaturated fatty acids to avoid EFA deficiency. Studies showing harmful effects of so-called "tropical oils" were generally carried out in the absence of essential fatty acids in the diet.

 The following will document several examples of medium-chain saturated fatty acid derivatives as nutriceuticals:



Dental Caries and Cancer


Numerous papers from our laboratory and others have shown the positive health consequence of MCFA and their monoglyceride (MCMG) derivatives on dental caries formation in experimental animals. Because of their antimicrobial action reductions in dental caries as high as 80% have been reported.

 MCT as opposed to polyunsaturated fats have no growth- promoting affects in tumor-bearing animals. In 1987 a 50-year review showed the anticancer effects of coconut oil. In chemically induced cancers of the colon and breast, coconut oil was by far more protective than unsaturated oils. For example: 32% of corn oil users got colon cancer whereas only 3% of coconut oil eaters got the cancer. Many studies since the early 1920's have shown an association between consumption of unsaturated oils and the incidence of cancer. Animals fed unsaturated oils developed more tumors. The known immune-suppressive effects of unsaturated oils can explain the adverse increase in cancer.

 Details on these positive health effects of saturated lipids in dental and cancer research can be found in Pharmacological Effect of Lipids, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, edited by J. J. Kabara and published by AOCS Press.



Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)


It is common for the prostate gland to become enlarged as a man ages. Doctors call the condition benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or benign prostatic hypertrophy. More than half of men in their sixties and as many as 90 percent in their seventies and eighties have some symptoms of BPH.

 While the exact cause of BPH is not known, one theory focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a substance derived from testosterone in the prostate. This steroid may help control the increase in prostate size. Older men continue to produce and accumulate levels of DHT in the prostate even when there is a drop in blood testosterone level, This accumulation of DHT can encourage the growth of cells in the prostate. Dihydrotestosterone is produced from testosterone by the action of the enzyme 5-alphareductase. Compounds that inhibit this enzyme can be expected to have a beneficial effect on BPH.

 The fuzzy rat has been used to examine the effects of inhibitors of human steroid 5-alpha-reductase isozymes. Finasteride, a prescription drug, induces a moderate degree of lobular and ductal reduction. The weight of the prostatic lobes was reduced significantly in rats treated with finasteride. Hence compounds (finasteride) that inhibit 5-alpha-reductase are useful in the treatment of BPH.



Nutriceutical treatment of BPH with MCMG/MCT


One of the more common plant lipid extracts used for treating BPH is obtained from the Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens). The benefits of Saw Palmetto can be traced back to the early 1700's, when the aborigines of the Florida peninsula depended largely upon the berries to treat atrophy of the testes, impotence, and inflammation of the prostate.

 Therefore, it is of interest to determine whether this phytopharmacon has any influence on the androgen metabolism in the human prostate. It was found that crude lipid extracts of the berries inhibited 5-alpha-reductase activity in the epithelium and stroma of human BPH. The mean inhibition was 29% and 45%, respectively. This inhibitory effect was mainly due to the saponifiable subfractions where the mean 5-alphareductase inhibition of 39% and 38% in epithelium and stroma, respectively was found. The inhibition was dose dependent and noncompetitive. The nonsaponifiable subfraction, consisting mainly of phytosterols, showed a mean inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase in the epithelium and stroma of 15% and 10%, respectively. Finally, the hydrophilic subfraction, containing carbohydrates, amino acids, and polysaccharides showed no inhibitory effect.

 Thus, this inhibition is mainly due to the saponifiable subfraction (FA's). Previous studies however have shown that the biological effects of monoesters of fatty acids are always more active than the non-esterified fatty acid. Further confirmation of this generality was recently found in the work of Shimada, Tyler and McLaughlin (1997). They reported the following. Brine shrimp lethality-directed fractionations of the 95% EtOH extract of the powdered dried berries of S. repens without saponification was carried out. This led to the isolation of 2 monoacylglycerides, 1-monolaurin and 1- monomyristin. Both compounds showed moderate biological activities in the brine shrimp lethality test (BST) and against renal (A-498) and pancreatic (PACA-2) human tumor cells; borderline cytotoxicity was exhibited against human prostatic (PC-3) cells. (Table 1).



Table 1: Bioactivities of FOO5*, 1 and 2











F005 (MeOH)





Monolaurin (1)





Monomyristin (2)





Adriamycine e






*Alcoholic extract of the Saw Palmetto

a Brine shrimp lethality test; LC50 values are in μg/mL.

b Kidney carcinoma.

c Prostate adenocarcinoma.

d Pancreas carcinoma.

e Positive control standard for MTT test; all cytotoxicities are ED50 values

in ug/m L.



As the search for the ideal antiandrogen continues, the lipidic extract of the Saw Palmetto containing medium-chain monoglycerides appears to be one therapeutic treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, hirsutism and other similar problems. Since tropical oils and MCT's can be converted to these biologically active FAs and/or MCM's in vivo, a dietary (nutriceutical) approach to healing BPH may be available.



Nutriceutical Treatment for Ulcers with MCT


 Evidence from 1982 has focused on what constitutes mucosal resistance and how it can be disrupted to produce, in the presence of gastric acid, ulcers. Depletion of endogenous prostaglandins and the presence of Helicobacter pylori have emerged as prominent evidence to support the role of this microorganism in this clinical situation. Recent epidemiological data indicate an association between H. pylori infection and the subsequent development of gastric carcinoma.

 Antibacterial regimens directed against the bacterium have provided a permanent cure for these chronic disorders. Most patients with ulcers can be cured by a one-week course of anti-H. pylori therapy, thereby removing the need for long-term acid inhibitory therapy. The clearest indication for H. pylori eradication is in the treatment of H. pyloripositive duodenal and gastric ulcer since eradication of the infection prevents ulcer relapse, effectively curing the disease. However, evidence has been presented that treatment of H. pylori like other bacteria produces resistant organisms.

 The search for the ideal antimicrobial treatment regimen, which will combine high efficiency, safety and patient acceptability, continues.

 Our laboratory was the first in the modern (1970) era to reintroduce the value of natural, medium chain lipids for inactivating microorganisms. A number of free fatty acids (FFA) and their corresponding esters were shown to have potent antibacterial and antiviral activities. One example can be found in table 2.



Table 2: Comparison of Antifungal Activities of Fatty Acid Monoesters

With Some Commonly Used Preservatives


Minimum inhibitory

concentration (μg/ml)


Food additive

Aspergillus niger

Candida utilis

Saccharomyces cerevisiae














Sodium lauryl sulfate




Sorbic acid




Dehydroacetic acid





Prior to our work earlier reports only indicated, that such bactericidal activity was associated with FFA. Our research indicated that the monoglycerides (MG) but not di- or tri-glycerides were more active than the non-esterified fatty acid. The greatest antibacterial activity was with the medium chain saturated fatty acid having 12 carbon atoms. The mechanism by which MG and FFA exert their antibacterial activity has been defined. The disruption of the cell membrane permeability barrier and inhibition of amino acid uptake is the best explanation for their activity.

 H (Campylobacter) pylori was found to be sensitive to the toxic effects of an unsaturated fatty acid (arachidonic acid, linoleic and oleic acids). The effect was probably due to the formation of peroxides since exogenous catalase added to basal media enhances the growth of H. pylori by preventing the formation of toxic peroxidation products from long-chain unsaturated fatty acids.

 More recent studies have shown greater inhibition by saturated lipids to the growth of Helicobacter sp, a gram-negative organism. Incubation of H. pylori with saturated MG ranging in carbon chain length from C10:0 to C14:0, at I mM caused a 4- log-unit or greater reduction in the number of viable bacteria after exposure for I h. Lower levels of bactericidal activity were observed with C9:0, Cl5:O, and C16:0 MGs. In contrast, the free lauric acid (C12:0) was the only medium-chain saturated FA with bactericidal activity against H. pylori. The MG and FFA were bactericidal after incubation for as little as 15 min at neutral or acidic pHs.

 Resistance to antimicrobial agents remains an important clinical problem for H. pylori treatment strategies. Therefore it was of interest to measure and compare the frequencies of spontaneous development of resistance to several MG and antibiotics among different laboratory strains of H. pylori. The frequency of development of resistance by, H. pylori was higher for metronidazole and tetracycline than medium-chain MGs. The failure to show that microorganisms become resistant to medium-chain saturated lipids over time is critically important to their wide spread use. Recent papers have shown that resistant organisms have evolved from the use of a popular germicide, Triclosan.

 Collectively, the data demonstrate that H. pylori are rapidly inactivated by medium-chain lauric acid esters. These saturated lipid derivatives exhibit a relatively low frequency of spontaneous development of resistance to the bactericidal activity of MG.



Medium-Chain Monolaurin versus Viruses


When coconut oil is consumed, the body makes the disease fighting monolaurin, the monoglyceride of lauric acid. Kabara and co-workers have shown as early as 1966 that lipophilic compounds had an adverse effect on lipid coated viruses. Later it was found that simple lipids could inactivate bacteria, yeast, fungi and enveloped viruses by disrupting the lipid membranes of the organisms. The antimicrobial effects of added and endogenous fatty acids and monoglycerides are additive and total concentration is critical for inactivating viruses. Among the saturated fatty acids, lauric acid has the maximum antiviral activity.

 Kabara, although a professor emeritus from Michigan State University, continues to promote the practical aspects and the potential benefit of nutritional support regimen for individuals infected with genital herpes and other herpetic viral problems using medium chain lipids. While anecdotal stories have suggested that coconut oil or monolaurin (Lauricidin®) have positive effects in AIDS patients, controlled studies have been lacking or of short duration.

 In one study by Wanke et al however HIV patients with chronic diarrhea were randomly assigned to one of two complete nutritional products with either medium- or long-chain triglycerides fat exclusively for 12 days. All patients responded to intervention with both nutritional products overall with 45% fewer stools, decreased stool fat and weight, and a significant increase in urine nitrogen. The group that received the MCT product demonstrated significantly decreased stool number (mean 4 to 2.5), stool fat (mean 14 to 5.4 g), and stool weight (mean 428 to 262 g) compared with baseline (P < 0.01 for all). HIV patients with diarrhea, regardless of etiology, and documented fat malabsorption benefited symptomatically from a diet composed of an MCT-based liquid supplement. Unfortunately this study was of short duration and effects on viral load or other blood clinical markers were not examined.

 Kabara with the cooperation of the Philippine Coconut Research and Development Foundation (PCRDF) has helped initiate the first controlled clinical trials in1998 on the use of tropical oil and/or monolaurin (Lauricidin®) in HIV patients. While the studies have not been completed, early reports are encouraging. The most evident finding is that the quality of life for those unfortunates to have HIV is improved. Prof. Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit (PCRDF) will present details of this study at this meeting.

 Meanwhile over 20 clinics in the USA are now investigating the use of monolaurin (Lauricidin® Med-ChemLabs., Galena, Il. USA) in various viral diseases including Hepatitis C.

 These examples indicate that simple medium-chain saturated lipids, which are non-toxic, and produce nutriceutical effects may represent the new health lipids of the next millennium. The illustrations presented are only a few of the health benefits of medium-chain saturated lipids. A book giving more examples and details is currently in preparation. Again, I wish to emphasize that the Tropical Oil Industry in producing monolaurin as a nutriceutical have a unique opportunity of expanding the economic an medical uses of lauric oils.

 Considering all the baseless bad press in the USA that has been given to tropical oils it is time for the coconut industry to advocate an oil change. Our body similar to our car made be in need of an oil change if we want it to function properly and to reach our optimal health.   ■





Pharmacological Effect of Lipids Volumes 1,2, and 3 edited by J. J. Kabara, AOCS Press, Champaign, Illinois, 1978, 1985, 1990, respectively


Petschow,BU, R P Batema, L.L. Ford, Gastric Ulcers and MCM, Antimicrobial Agents Chemother , 40(2): 302-306 (1996)


Plosker, GL and R.N. Brogden, Serenoa repens: A review on the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Drugs & Aging, 9: 379-391 (1996)


Shimada, H, V.E.Tyler, J.L. Mclaughlin, Biologically Active Acylglycerides from the Berries of Saw-Palmetto, J Nat. Prod, 60: 417-418 (1997)










The Coconut Tool



Often people ask me how to open a fresh coconut and extract the meat. This can be a time consuming and even a dangerous job! The traditional way to open a coconut is to hold the coconut in one hand and strike it sharply with a huge machete. Many three fingered, one armed coconut enthusiasts swear by this method, or swear at this method. It is a time tested method that does work—with a little practice. You don't need a machete, the dull side of a large knife will do just fine. The trick is to hit the coconut on the equator. A few hard hits with the knife will split the coconut into two fairly equal halves.


Coconut Tool


Once you get the coconut opened, you are faced with another challenge—removing the coconut meat from the shell. This can be a most difficult task! For this reason, I normally open a coconut not with a machete or knife but with a hammer. I smash the shell into many pieces. This allows me to pry the meat off the shell fragments with an ordinary table knife. This is still a time consuming process, but it is easier than trying to dig the meat out of a half shell.

Recently I discovered a new tool that makes the job of removing the coconut from the shell relatively simple. It's called The Coconut Tool. It's basically a curved shaped knife.  You insert the point of the knife down along the edge of the meat and shell and scoop the meat out. See the pictures below. With a little practice you can remove the meat from a half of coconut in a couple of minutes. I haven't perfected it yet, but it sure beats trying to remove the meat from a bunch of broken coconut shell fragments with a table knife.



Figure 1

Figure 2



Figure 3

Figure 4



Go here to see a video showing how to open a coconut and how to use the coconut tool to remove the meat.







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Copyright © 2011,  Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.