Olive leaves are from olive trees, part of the Olea genus, a plant that has been central to Mediterranean culture for thousands of years. The other product of the plant are olives, from which olive oil is derived. Olive oil has found worldwide acclaim and is now a staple in kitchens around the world. Olive leaf and products produced from the extract have become popular health supplements, particularly as a body detoxifier. This is largely due to its antioxidant capacity, which is comparable to (if not greater than) vitamin c, mangosteen and green tea!
The primary active ingredient responsible for its efficacy is oleuropein, a bitter chemical compound known as a polyphenol. Polyphenols are present in a range of Mediterranean foods such as grapes and red wine, and are thought to contribute toward the benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet. Polyphenols have been shown to interfere with critical amino acid production, which are essential for the replication of viruses, and have proven lethal to human breast and prostate cancer cells in laboratory tests. Traditionally, olive leaf has been shown to act as an anti-microbial remedy, as well as a treatment for colds and flu, whilst green olive leaves have been used in tea as a treatment for malaria.
What's good about it?
Olive leaf is a versatile supplement that is indicated in numerous conditions. Some of the well documented actions include:
- Boosting the immune system via its powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties
- Inhibiting the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites in the body, specifically any infection threatening the body such an ear, dental or urinary tract infection.
- Helping to maintain a normal healthy cardiovascular system. Polyphenols have been shown to inhibited the aggregation of blood platelets or clots, which offer protection from thrombosis and other cardiovascular diseases
- Inhibiting the effects of the herpes virus, with study's showing that oral (cold sores) and genital herpes viruses were inhibited or killed by olive leaf, whilst the effects of shingles, another herpes variant, is also inhibited
- Reducing blood pressure by dilating blood vessels so that blood may flow more freely, particularly in the coronary arteries
- Relief from the effects of arthritis
- Relief from the effects of chronic fatigue
- Helps reduce the effects of skin conditions such as acne
- It may therefore be a viable alternative to pharmaceutical medication
Dosage and Side effects
Like any supplement some people may experience a range of symptoms after they begin to take olive leaf. This will vary depending on the volume of toxins in your system and the amount of olive leaf being taken. Drinking plenty of water between your doses of olive leaf is recommended to help flush out excess toxins and reduce any reaction. Alternatively you may choose to stop taking the extract for 24-48 hours and then restart on a smaller dosage.
Common side effects associated with olive leaf products include:
- muscle/joint aches or flu-like symptoms The effects of olive leaf on a developing foetus or an infant are unknown, therefore, its use it is not recommended during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding.
Olive leaf comes in a variety of forms, including liquid, capsule, tea, and powder form. Lotions for topical application and soaps are also available. It is recommended that any olive leaf products are kept away from direct sunlight in a cool place to protect the active ingredients from deterioration. A cool cupboard or refrigerator is ideal in this regard.
If you think you have a condition that may benefit from the use of olive leaf consult your naturopath or complementary health stockist for further advice.