OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT *
Olive leaf is the leaf of the olive tree, Olea europaea.
Olive leaf extract is derived from the olive leaves. The record of olive leaf’s medicinal use goes back thousands of years: it was used by ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean cultures to treat a variety of health conditions, including infections, fever and pain. The Bible notes its use as a natural healer (Ezekiel 47:12): “The fruit thereof (olive tree) shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.”
In the ancient Egyptian culture, the olive leaf was regarded as a symbol of heavenly power.
In the late 19th century, scientists investigating olive leaf’s medicinal properties isolated a phenolic compound which they named oleuropein. It is generally accepted that this substance is responsible for olive leaf’s therapeutic properties.
Later research in the Netherlands isolated the active ingredient of oleuropein, a substance later called elenolic acid. By the late 1960’s, the pharmaceutical company Upjohn showed that elenolic acid was able to inhibit the growth of viruses. It was shown to counteract a variety of viruses known to be linked to the common cold in humans.
More recently, research has documented that extracts from olive leaf can:
Ÿ Promote relaxation of the arterial walls
Ÿ Reduce high blood pressure
Ÿ Stabilise blood glucose levels
Ÿ Inactivate bacteria by dissolving the outer layer of individual cells
Ÿ Inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, the ‘bad cholesterol’ involved in the formation of various types of heart disease.
It also has other antioxidant properties.
Active Compounds in Olive Leaf
The active medical constituents found in unprocessed olive leaf are oleuropein (containing elenolic acid), oleuropeoside and hydroxytyrosol, as well as several other polyphenols and flavenoids including oleocanthal.
Nutritional and Medicinal Uses of Olive Leaf Extract
1) As an Antioxidant
One of the health benefits of oleuropein, the major component of olive leaf extract, is that of combating free radical damage to individual cells. It is a powerful antioxidant.
Free radicals cause damage to the cells of the body. They are responsible for ageing, cardiovascular diseases and degenerative diseases. Free radicals are formed as the result of many factors such as poor diet, stress and pollution. Antioxidants play a major role in fighting free radicals.
Using ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) testing, olive leaf extract has been shown to be almost twice as powerful as green tea extract and grape seed extract and five times more powerful than vitamin C.
2) As an Antibacterial and Antiviral Agent
Olive leaf extract is a very effective antiviral and antibacterial agent. A large number of viruses and bacteria have been shown to be destroyed by olive leaf extract. These are listed in the excellent book ‘Olive Leaf Extract’ by Jack Ritchason (published in 2000 by Spectrum Marketing, Australia). Dr Ritchason also explains how olive leaf extract has antibacterial and antiviral properties (pages 10-15).
Olive leaf extract also stimulates the body’s own immune system to function more effectively in fighting the microbes. This has far-reaching ramifications for some very common health conditions caused or worsened by infection such as the common cold.
Olive leaf extract has also been shown to be effective in the management of candida infection (yeast infection, thrush) and other fungal infections.
Thus, olive leaf extract is commonly used to fight colds and ‘flu, yeast infections and viral infections, for example, Epstein-Barr (glandular fever), shingles and herpes.
3) To Maintain a Healthy Cardiovascular System
Oleuropein promotes a healthy dilation action in coronary arteries. It can increase the coronary blood flow in laboratory animals by more than 50%, indeed a significant increase.
In addition to the coronary artery dilating effect, oleuropein displayed other cardiovascular health-enhancing effects. Animal studies showed protection against induced arrhythmia. There was also a long-lasting effect of lowering elevated blood pressure.
As already mentioned, olive leaf extract lowers high blood pressure. Oleuropeoside is responsible for the vasodilator effect on the smooth muscle layer of the arteries (including the coronary arteries) thus reducing high blood pressure by causing constricted arteries to relax and become more flexible, and thereby allowing for more blood flow.
· LDL cholesterol
Olive leaf extract has been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, and the lower the level, the better it is for health.
Thus, live leaf extract appears to be a powerful agent that enhances cardiovascular health.
4) In the Management of Diabetes
Olive leaf extract could have a significant effect on the management of blood sugar/glucose levels. The hypoglycaemic activity of oleuropeoside may result from (a) potentiation of glucose-induced insulin release and (b) increased peripheral uptake of glucose. In other words, the researchers hypothesise that oleuropein and oleuropeoside could actually stimulate the production of insulin as well as enhance the utilisation of blood sugar in the extremities.
5) To Increase Energy Levels
One of the most frequent comments heard from patients after taking olive leaf extract is that they experience a dramatic increase in energy levels and have a greater sense of well-being. Especially is this so in ‘fatigue’ type disorders, such as the chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and glandular fever.
6) As a General Tonic
Olive leaf extract is an excellent general tonic and ‘pick-me-up’.
7) As an Anticancer Agent?
A joint venture of the University of Queensland and Southern Cross University (Australia), in a media release on 6th July 2006, reported that “Olive leaf extract has proven lethal to human breast and prostate cancer cells in the laboratory.” They indicated that “a great deal of additional laboratory work will be need to be performed to confirm these findings which would then need to be the subject of extensive clinical trials.” These new findings followed research in 2005, when olive leaf extract was shown to have an antioxidant capacity 5 times higher than vitamin C and almost double that of green tea or grape seed extract.
We await further research results.
The therapeutic benefits of olive leaf extract have been widely researched and documented in more than 30 medical and scientific journals around the world.
Sufferers of low blood pressure (hypotension) and those with diabetes should exercise caution when taking olive leaf extract. Interaction with antihypertensive drugs and antidiabetic drugs may take place, resulting in a greater than expected response.
There are several commercial preparations of olive leaf extract. Some of these are merely herbal teas, ie dried olive leaves boiled in water and steeped for a short time. The tea is then mixed with glycerol to sweeten and thicken the tea and give an appearance of a genuine extract.
However there are reputable sources of quality extracts with standardised amounts of opeuropein. Two such Australian companies are Olive Leaf Australia and SAFE Pty Ltd.
Olive Leaf Australia (Coominya, Queensland), which produces “High Strength Olive Leaf Extract”, claims that “University Research places Olive Leaf Australia’s Extract as Top Again”, and states that its product is “Australia’s No 1 Olive Leaf Extract” (at least in Australia).
Olive Leaf Australia’s extracts are all fresh extracts with a high strength of oleuropein. The extracts are standardised to contain an oleuropein content of 4.4mg/ml, or 22mg per 5ml dose. Each 5ml contains olea europaea (olive) leaf extract equivalent to 5gm (5,000mg) of fresh leaf. Olive Leaf Australia’s extract is made from fresh ‘alive’ leaves, meaning that the key ingredients are easily bio-available. It also contains vegetable glycerine, added to sweeten the extract which tends to be bitter.
SAFE (Sustainable Agriculture and Food Enterprises Pty Ltd) is a long established company (Burleigh Junction, Queensland) producing a wide variety of quality products. They market several strengths of the ‘Olive Leaf Extract’. The ‘Original’ is similar in strength to Olive Leaf Australia’s product, namely standardized to contain 4.5mg/ml of oleuropein. They also have ‘Olive Leaf Extract High’ and ‘Super’ with 7mg/ml and 14mg/ml respectively. All three products are produced from mature 10-year old olive trees, grown organically in Australia, and are made from the fresh leaves. A cold extraction process over a 4-6 week period is used to break down the tough cellular structure of the mulched plant.
SAFE also have a capsule form, ‘Olive Leaf Boost’ (vege capsules). Each capsule contains: “500mg Olea Europaea (Olive Leaf) powder dry standardised to 60mg minimum Oleuropein component.” This is a convenient high dose form of olive leaf extract.
The recommended dose for adults is 5ml (one teaspoon), three times per day, of Olive Leaf Australia’s product or the ‘Original’ SAFE product. Children over the age of two years can take 2.5ml (half teaspoon) two times a day. It is generally taken with food or added to a juice. It can be taken daily as a general tonic to maintain health.
The capsule form (SAFE) should be taken once a day with food.
A higher dose of olive leaf extract than that recommended above can be taken for specific health problems, as short-term treatment.
Where necessary, seek advice from a health care professional.
For more information on Olive Leaf Australia’s extract, visit www.olea.com.au. For more information on SAFE’s products, including olive leaf extract, visit www safe.com.au.
Olive leaf extract has the following properties:
Ÿ It contains a range of powerful antioxidants.
Ÿ It is a free radical scavenger.
Ÿ It helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and normal heart function.
Ÿ It is antiviral and antibacterial, and helps relieve fevers.
Ÿ It maintains and improves general wellbeing.
*Copyright 2009: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material on the Huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
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