Monolaurin: A Viral Membrane Destabilizer with anti-Borrelia Activity

Monolaurin (glycerol monolaurate) is an ester of lauric acid, a 12-carbon, medium chain fatty acid naturally present in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, human breast milk, cow’s milk and butter. The esterified form of lauric acid, monolaurin, is made by combining coconut oil-source lauric acid with glycerol.

Lauric acid itself provides anti-microbial and virucidal activity, but research suggests that its ester, monolaurin, is even more active than the parent compound against pathogens such as lipid-coated viruses. Specifically, monolaurin has been studied for its ability to solubilize the phospholipid bilayer surrounding RNA- and DNA-enveloped viruses. By directly helping to disintegrate their protective lipid envelopes, monolaurin can help inhibit the ability of viruses to both bind to host cells and to replicate themselves.

In addition to anti-viral activity, monolaurin has been shown to exhibit activity against a wide variety of bacteria and other pathogenic organisms, including two specific microbes associated with tick-borne Lyme disease: Borrelia burgdorferi (prevalent in the United States) and Borrelia garinii (prevalent in Europe).

In recent research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, fifteen natural compounds were tested on the three morphological forms of Borrelia: active motile spirochete, rounded latent form, and biofilm. Of all the natural compounds tested, only four—including monolaurin—exhibited activity against the spirochete and rounded latent forms of Borrelia spp. And only monolaurin (along with one other compound, baicalein, from Chinese Skullcap) exhibited significant activity against the biofilm matrix which houses and shields the Borrelia organism within the body.

Other research has reported on the antimicrobial efficacy of monolaurin in inhibiting biofilm dispersion in a number of gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial species. Its ability to disrupt lipophilic cell membranes might be responsible for the reported ability of monolaurin to destabilize the Borrelia biofilm matrix as well. As flu season subsides and tick season emerges, monolaurin may continue to serve a useful role in the functional medicine practitioner’s tool kit of nutritional support supplements.

Lauric Select® provides monolaurin in high potency 600 mg vegetarian capsules. For further information on dosing and clinical protocols, please refer to the Lauric Select® product page and product Technical Sheet.

By Diana Allen, MS, CNS, Product Development Manager

Moss Nutrition Digest #18 – 4/1/2020 – PDF Version


Shari Lieberman, et al. A Review of Monolaurin and Lauric Acid: Natural Virucidal and Bactericidal Agents. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Vol. 12, No. 6 .

Goc A, et al. In vitro evaluation of antibacterial activity of phytochemicals and micronutrients against Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia garinii. J Appl Microbiol. 2015 Dec;119(6):1561-72.