In this time of pandemic, scientists around the world are dashing to scour for ways to shield our bodies from the virus and hopefully find the right medicine to defeat it. While they are experimenting with medicine, some local entrepreneurs are looking at one of the country’s top products for the possible solution.
The Philippines is one of the top producers and exporters of coconut products in the world. In spite of the fact that we have been trading coconuts to the Chinese and Malays since the 1840s, we still have not reached its full potential.
One of the coconut by-products proven to boost the body’s immune system is virgin coconut oil or VCO – oil extracted from fresh and mature coconuts without the application of heat and chemicals.
“It is now considered as one of the superfoods of the awakened generation,” said Joy Taray, owner and general manager of TreeLife, a local producer of VCO products.
Taray’s company started in 2004 in Carmen, Cotabato under the Green Philippines Program. However, it was only in 2009, after reconditioning the soil of their 50 hectare coconut farm “by planting of leguminous plants and application of vermi compost and practicing contour farming” when their trees began to bear fruits.
According to Taray, using coconut oil has always been a Filipino practice since time immemorial. “It is being used in rituals and traditional “hilot” (massage) to relieve one from aches and body pain,” she added.
“The components of the coconut oil have the essential ingredients to build our immune system. It will provide solid protection – the first line of defense – for cells against invading viruses,” said Romulo Ybiernas, a Surigao-based medical homotoxicologist. Homotoxicology is a theory of medicine that views the symptoms of a particular disease as evidence of the body’s defense mechanisms at work against toxic and harmful substances.
Based on scientific studies, VCO is proven to have high vitamin content, antioxidants, minerals, medium-chain fatty acids, protein, most importantly, monilaurin and lauric acid, which lead in the antiviral activity of coconut oil that “cause disintegration of the virus envelope, inhibit late maturation stage in its replicative cycle, and eventually prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane”.
Today, since it is organic and chemical-free, VCO is taken in by the body as food. Doing so will not only boost overall health but will also help strengthen immunity, balance the good and bad bacteria in one’s gut and give one a better shot at fighting off certain types of viruses and pathogenic bacteria.
“We have always regarded coconut as the ‘tree of life’ since every part of it, from its roots to its fruits, can be useful and beneficial to one’s health. Nature has given us this gift that can be eaten daily to nourish our body”, Taray added.
With no 100% effective vaccine yet in sight, the Philippine Council on Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology is also studying coconut oil as a potential treatment for COVID-19, a coronavirus that has infected 532,263 persons and claimed 24,090 lives worldwide, as of this writing. According to its website, the PCHRD-DOST has started testing “functional food” with coconut oil in COVID-19 patients since February as coconut oil and its derivatives have been studied previously for its antiviral properties.
With 48% of all coconut in the Philippines planted in Mindanao, producing 56% of the total production in the country, who knows the affordable and virtually risk-free solution of our current pandemic is just in our backyards. As they say, we just need to use our coconuts.