Further study needed to use virgin coconut oil vs COVID-19 – DOST

Aika Rey
The Department of Science and Technology says that the prospective alternative treatments need to be tested on a live virus, which means the study needs to be done outside the Philippines

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that further study is still needed for the Philippines to be able to use virgin coconut oil (VCO) and herbal plants lagundi and tawa-tawa against COVID-19.

At the Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, October 23, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeling requirements – in this case, that these could be used as alternative treatments for COVID-19.

“Ang requirement ng DOH (Department of Health) kailangang mailagay ng FDA sa mga label na ito ay para sa COVID-19. Para magawa ‘yon, may kailangan pa tayong gawin na study na kung saan ‘yong live virus mismo ang paggagamitan natin nitong VCO, lagundi, at saka tawa-tawa,” said Guevara.

(The DOH’s requirement is that the FDA should be able to put in the label that this could be used against COVID-19. To do that, we still need to do another study where we test VCO, lagundi, and tawa-tawa against the live virus.)

But Guevara said that the Philippines does not have a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory where the coronavirus can be handled.

“Gagawin pa natin ito sa ibang bansa. (We have to do this in another country),” said Guevara.

In the region, Indonesia, India, and Singapore have BSL-3 laboratories.

“‘Yung ating mga clinic trials na ginawa, ngayong hindi pa niya ma-establish ‘yong anti-viral properties, na-establish na niya ‘yong nagagawa nitong tatlong ito sa sintomas ng COVID-19,” said Guevara.

(With the clinical trials we have done, while the anti-viral properties have yet to be established, we already established what it could do with the symptoms.)

Based on the results of the clinical trial done in the lab, VCO decreased the coronavirus count by 60% to 90% for asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19.

In community trials, VCO reduced the symptoms, which could have prevented the progression of the infection.

Lagundi helps in stopping the loss of smell symptom. Guevara said that the study team found that lagundi could be used for patients with mild symptoms who do not have comorbidities.

Trials using tawa-tawa, meanwhile, showed that symptoms disappear between the third and fifth day since it was given to them.

Asked if other countries have taken notice of the Philippine study, Guevara answered in the affirmative and said that they have been exchanging notes with some of their counterparts.

In April 2020, the DOST said it was conducting clinical studies on the possible benefits of VCO for COVID-19 patients.

So far, antiviral drug molnupiravir has been touted as effective against COVID-19, according to the results of its Phase 3 trial. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at