Olive oil is a well known part of the Mediterranean diet and has found a way into many kitchens far from the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. So while we are happy to use Olive oil on salads and as a dressing for vegetables and in stir frying most people are surprised to hear of the leaves of the Olive tree being used medicinally.
Not only has the leaf been found to have many extraordinary healing benefits but extracts of Olive leaf have been found to be effective in a wide range of applications.
So in this article we can mention a broad range of these discoveries and find out if there is a place for Olive leaves or Olive leaf extracts in our lives.
Let’s turn to the most well known extract first. Called oleuropein, it is responsible for the taste of extra virgin oil. It belongs to a group of plant chemicals called phenols widely present in foods such as tea and onions. No surprise to find Olive leaf has health benefits like being anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumour.
This means that Olive leaf has a place in all chronic and even acute health issues where inflammation is a key feature.
These situations include Alzheimer’s disease, Arthritis, Asthma, Diabetes and cardiovascular problems but there are many others because inflammation is a major tool used by the body in its drive for self-healing.
The health of our blood vessels is crucial for our overall performance and day to day health. We want our arteries to be free of sludge and cholesterol and for the artery walls to be healthy and not inflamed.
Our diet in the key here and a diet high in vegetables and low in meat is a major step in the right direction.
Using Olive oil is another although you may no get enough oleuropein to be useful and may need to get an extra boost from an Olive leaf supplement.
One of the results of taking oleuropein is of producing a big enough supply of nitric oxide which stimulates the artery to expand and allow more blood through and lower the blood pressure.
It also gives some antioxidant protection to cholesterol in the blood. It is totally healthy to have some cholesterol circulating in our blood – what we don’t want is for that cholesterol to get oxidised because that then causes major problems.
Just to be clear on the cholesterol point – because a lot of incorrect information is spread on this – the amount of cholesterol in your blood does not matter; what matters is whether it is oxidised or not.
Diabetes and Olive Leaf
Diabetes is one of the most important diseases facing society today. It has risen with alarming speed to be a major problem causing serious harm to millions.
And it easily controlled and even reversed by diet and supplements. Like the other serious chronic disorders we are looking at in this article it is an inflammatory disease so many of the measures you can take to counter other inflammatory diseases, can be taken here.
Including a plant based and that mostly means a vegetable based diet.
Diabetes control rests on stabilising blood sugar and reducing the harmful effect of sugar spikes when they occur.
Oleuropein slows digestion and absorption of sugars and starches and acts to marshal our oxidation defences so that damage from free radicals is minimised.
We could go through all the chronic diseases pointing out how the anti-inflammatory effects of a plant based diet and the use of Oleuropein can be harnessed into a powerful one two punch!
But we’ll finish now with a discussion of what is the most feared disease in the world, cancer.
Although fewer people die of heart disease than cancer it does not attract the same degree of fear and hopelessness.
Both are chronic inflammatory diseases and that means that both need a plant based diet and a clever combo of anti-inflammatory supplements. Part of that combo for Cancer would be an optimal supply of vitamin D and C and of course Oleuropein.
In this case the Olive leaf Oleuropein can give some extra protection against DNA damage that characterises Cancer. And it does so in the same way as it works in other circumstances – by providing protecting our tissues against damage by free radicals.
In breast cancer it even inhibits Cancer growth factors and block both the response to oestrogen ( estrogen in US) and the pathways cancer cells use to communicate with each other.
There are many other measures a Naturopath can take in each of the diseases mentioned but the Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on vegetables and fruit and low use of meat and fish is better than the vast bulk of diets and the use of Olive oil and Olive leaf adds a powerful herbal remedy to add a bigger anti-inflammatory response than diet alone can do.
I think in time Olive Leaf will find its way into our herbal medicine cabinet in the same way than Echinacea and Garlic have. They are good to have on call for when we need them.
You can check out some well reviewed Olive leaf remedies here at these Amazon links…
You may find them in a local store too. And if you have any questions or experience to share please do chime in below.
Photo credit Olive leaf photo