Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell

December 23, 2018

By Melody Mendoza Aguiba

The Philippines is leading a pioneering evidence-based research on the anti-inflammatory property of virgin coconut oil (VCO) together with Rockefeller University.

The study is envisioned to be a multinational program. It is expanding earlier research proving VCO’s potential to be a medically-proven treatment for inflammation.

“We’ll get help from India. They have dermatologists. They are very good in research. Thailand, Singapore maybe, Indonesia definitely I can get their residents and anywhere-else so that we have validity in numbers so we can now have multinational studies,” said Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell, entrepreneurial founder of VMV Hypoallergenics.

Research such as this, much as other clinical researches pursued by VMV Skin Research Centre Clinics (VMV-SKRC), will make VCO more recognized as a medical treatment, according to Rowell.

“The best evidence studies that we doctors do is what we call randomized clinical trials,” said Rowell in “Interactive Lecture on Lauric Monoglyceride in Dermatology Application.”

The Philippines has introduced VCO to the world in 2000-2001 and remains to be world’s number one VCO exporter. But scientific researches, sought for by opinion-maker doctors and consumers alike, should establish this leadership.

The other types of evidence-based research that medical experts recognize as the best evidence-type are called “double blinded randomized clinical trials” and “meta analysis,” a review/analysis of many researches.

VMV-SKRC is completing a research on VCO’s anti-inflammatory trait that just proved VCO is far more anti-inflammatory compared to corn oil.

In September 2016, VMV-SKRC made public its “Anti Inflammatory Diet Study” on VCO and corn oil. It was funded by the government-run Philippine Institute of Traditional Health Care (PITAHC).  It was carried out in collaboration with Rockefeller University-New York.

It chose corn oil to represent long chain fatty acids and coconut oil for medium chain fatty acids. It aimed to study the oils when taken internally by patients as part of food.

One set of patients took coconut oil as part of diet, and the other set took corn oil. It is a double-blinded type of clinical trial where neither the researchers nor the patients know what type of food they are taking.

“We got regional biopsies at the beginning of the study and non regional for control.
I was stunned –when we finally opened it. The amazing thing about coconut oil is that it is so much more anti inflammatory than corn oil,” Rowell said.

Rockefeller University is also carrying out genetic studies called RNA sequencing of these two sets of patients.

Proving the anti-inflammatory quality of VCO may have numerous applications in medical treatment.

“Inflammation is the key of mechanism of diseases –whether in the skin or psoriasis, or dermatology or even acne. All of that is given by inflammation. That is the same with inflammation inside the body -–diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and others,” Rowell said.

VMV has already been using coconut oil as treatment for psoriasis and other skin diseases as a far more effective cure than other treatments. For skin asthma or “hika ng balat,” coconut oil proved to be an excellent cure.

“Coconut oil practically eradicated it. Olive oil is able to do it up to 50%.”

What is good about coconut oil is it has clinical or biological mechanism of action in treatment rather than enzymatic which is how antibiotics work in the body—going against enzymes’ action.

“Coconut oil is different. It’s medium chain, and as such carbon chain penetrates through the wall in the cell membrane.”

Besides, it has very light molecular weight of 256, compared to olive oil, 857 and sunflower oil, 876. The big fatty acids cannot penetrate into the skin.

VMV-SKRC’s clinical researches on such skin treatment substantiated its claims. Rowell herself has published more than 150 articles in dermatology scientific journals.

However, she stressed the Philippines has to do more clinical trials on VCO.

“The world is watching, and people are reading researches that are evidence-based, she said.

“In the Philippines, if we are to produce more understanding by the world that coconut oil is really quite safe internally and with food, we need to convince the doctors, the academics because they are after all the opinion leaders. They are the ones who told the rest of the world that coconut oil back in the ’50s, ’60s and onwards was not good for the diet.”  Melody Mendoza Aguiba

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