What Are the Medicinal Uses of Lauric Acid? (with pictures)

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Lauric acid has been used to treat bad colds and the flu.
Lauric acid has been used to treat bad colds and the flu.

Lauric acid, a saturated fat found in a number of foods but perhaps best known for making up a significant percentage of coconut oil, has anti-microbial properties that make it useful as a treatment for a variety of diseases. A number of viral infections, including colds, flu, and herpes, respond to treatment with it, and it may even help control HIV/AIDS. It is also useful for killing bacteria that cause diseases such as chlamydia, MRSA, and bronchitis. This also makes it a potentially good alternative treatment for acne sufferers. Other medicinal uses include treatment of diseases caused by certain fungi and parasites.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid.

One of the main uses of lauric acid for medicinal purposes is as an anti-viral agent. Some research has indicated that it can block the ability of certain viruses to replicate, thus limiting their ability to cause disease. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of different strains of influenza, including swine flu and bird flu. Viral venereal diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes can be treated with lauric acid, as can the strain of herpes that causes cold sores.

Coconut oil can be used for cooking.
Coconut oil can be used for cooking.

An important potential application of lauric acid’s anti-viral properties is treating patients with HIV/AIDS. Though it is not thought to be a cure, it may be useful in supplementing normal drug treatments in controlling the disease and slowing its progression. It might also help stop transmission of the virus from a pregnant mother to her child.

Bacteria is also susceptible to treatment with lauric acid. Both listeria and Helicobacter pylori have been shown to be destroyed when treated with it. Research has shown that it can also be effective against the sometimes deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a disease commonly acquired by hospital patients.

Helicobacter pylori bacteria are susceptible to treatment with lauric acid.
Helicobacter pylori bacteria are susceptible to treatment with lauric acid.

One particular problem that the anti-bacterial properties of lauric acid may be useful for treating is acne. Studies indicate that acne-causing bacteria are greatly reduced when it is applied. Other potential diseases for which it can be used include bronchitis and bacterial venereal diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

A number of other disease-causing agents can also be treated effectively with lauric acid. Fungal infections are susceptible to it, meaning it can be used for problems like yeast infections and ringworm. The parasitic protozoan called Giardia lamblia, which infects the small intestine, has also been shown to respond well to lauric acid.

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    • Lauric acid has been used to treat bad colds and the flu.
      Lauric acid has been used to treat bad colds and the flu.
    • Coconut oil contains lauric acid.
      Coconut oil contains lauric acid.
    • Coconut oil can be used for cooking.
      Coconut oil can be used for cooking.
    • Helicobacter pylori bacteria are susceptible to treatment with lauric acid.
      Helicobacter pylori bacteria are susceptible to treatment with lauric acid.