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Revolutionary Discovery: Virgin Coconut Oil’s Key Role on Ulcerative Colitis Prevention and Potential Cure

Insights from an Indonesian Doctor’s Dissertation

On 22 Januari 2024, dr. Ni Made Rika Trismayani, Sp.B., SubspPed (K), M.H. has defended her dissertation, The Influence of Oral Virgin Coconut Oil Supplementation on Curative Ulcerative Colitis Inflammation Prevention. The Examination took place in the Faculty of Medicine Auditorium, Brawijaya University, Malang, Indonesia.  Chair of Examination, as the Faculty of Medicine Dean was Dr. dr. Wisnu Barlianto, M. Si. Med. Sp.A. (K). As the Promotor: Prof. Dr. dr Kusworini, M. Kes. SP. PK (K); Co-promotor 1: Prof. Dr. Dian Handayani, S. KM., M. Kes, Ph.D; Co-promotor 2: Dr. dr. Umi Kalsum, M. Kes.; Examiner 1: Prof. Dr. dr. Teguh W.S., DTM&H., M. Sc., Sp. Park; Examiner 2: Prof. Dr. dr. Handono Kalim, SP. PD., KR.; Independent Examiner: Dr. dr. Riana Paulina Tamba, Sp. B, SubSpPed (K).

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine characterized by diffuse mucosal damage accompanied by ulceration and mucosal damage. The diseases related to the immune system and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. UC can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, anemia, and systemic symptoms like weight loss, anorexia, slow growth, delayed puberty, depression, and anxiety. UC is associated with proinflammatory cytokines. Currently, many herbal medicines are used to prevent various diseases. One of them, virgin coconut oil (VCO), is thought to be used as UC therapy.

The research aims to see the VCO supplementation effect as prevention of Ulcerative Colitis by measuring inflammatory cytokine levels, Mouse Colitis Histopathology Index (MCHI) scores, and Disease Activity Index scores. The research results were: VCO supplementation can be used to prevent ulcerative colitis by increasing IL-10 levels while reducing IL-6, TNF-α, DAI, and MCHI scores. These effects can be caused by compounds in VCO with potential as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. 

These findings implied that VCO has nutritional and therapeutic benefits as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic. VCO has bioactive components, including tocopherols, tocotrienols, and polyphenols, which may be responsible for the above effects. Other ingredients are monolaurin, glycerol, and lauric acid, which are known to modulate inflammatory processes, and have immunomodulatory and antimicrobial properties. VCO Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) in the form of oleic acid, linoleic acid, and flavonoids functions as an anti-inflammatory. Linoleic acid has attracted the attention of food and supplement industries because it is widely used as a diabetes therapy and has potential as an anti-inflammatory.

Dr. Rika also found that long-term VCO use is generally harmless and can even treat physical problems and protect against disease. The study is unique because it uses native Indonesian VCO, whose benefits have not been studied much. Besides, limited research has been done regarding the relationship between VCO consumption and UC because VCO is well-known as a dietary supplement for people with diabetes and high cholesterol. Notably, most studies on VCO  have focused on Lauric Acid, whereas the investigation into VCO’s role in suppressing the inflammation pathway of NF-kB, acting as a ligand for Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-y) ligand is still limited.  

The conclusion of the research was, VCO supplementation can be used to prevent ulcerative colitis by increasing IL-10 levels while reducing IL-6, TNF-α, DAI, and MCHI scores. These effects can be caused by compounds in VCO with potential as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

The study results provide a scientific basis for administering VCO to colitis in general to achieve a safe and efficient UC prevention composition with effective results, minimal complications, and relatively economical costs. With these facts, Dr. Rika proposed that VCO can be used as a UC preventive and curative agent, while also serving as functional food.

Dr. dr. Wisnu Barlianto, M. Si, Med. Sp. A. (K), from the Faculty of Medicine at Brawijaya University, anticipates that upcoming clinical tests will validate the efficacy and safety of VCO as a preventive and potential cure for ulcerative colitis. This promising endeavor calls for heightened teamwork, collaboration, and focused efforts in promotion and marketing to establish a foundation for widespread use in the near future.

The compelling findings of Dr. Ni Made Rika Trismayani's research on Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) not only underscore its potential as a groundbreaking treatment for Ulcerative Colitis but also illuminate the broader spectrum of health benefits that VCO and other coconut-derived products might offer. This study, pioneering in its focus and outcomes, paves the way for further exploration and encourages universities and research centers worldwide to delve deeper into the extensive benefits of coconut products.

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