6 benefits of Olive leaf extracts: A Health wonder or Hoax ?

A health wonder which needs attention right now: Olive leaf extracts

Olive tree, a gift of nature, is an age-old symbol of peace, health, and wisdom since the age of ancient Greek and Roman Empire.  Also known as the tree of eternity, Olive tree is a treasure trove of health benefits. The delicious flavour of olive fruit has had everybody swoon over them.

Also Read: Vitamin D – All You Need to Know

Adored for its elegant structure and poised leaves, these majestic and beautiful olive trees ask very little from the Mother Nature. After only a few months of care, these trees begin to harvest the fruit and give back the love in the form of olive fruit. Olive fruit, a distant cousin of Peach has similar properties like the latter. It too is rich in healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants.

The world is already aware about the health benefits of what is commonly known as liquid gold aka olive oil, but the latest feather in the olive tree’s cap is olive leaf. Apparently, Olive leaf too is a treasure chest of a number of medical applications.

Olive leaf extracts – History Behind

History of cultivation of Olive tree and its relevance in the current world

First grown in the Mediterranean region, about 8000 years ago, Olive tree is now being cultivated in many areas of the world primarily because of their medication properties.The legend goes like King Tutankhamun, the most famous pharaoh of Egypt, had wreathes and ornaments made from olive branches and flowers.

Olive tree has its roots in The Old Testaments as well. It is considered to be a sacred tree. In the biblical story of Noah’s ark, post the great flood, Noah sent out a dove to check whether or not the water had subsided, and the dove came back with an olive branch in her beak which is a long known symbol of peace.

The olive legacy was well known in the ancient Greek Olympics as well. The then victors were crowned with a wreath made using olive leaves and even the Olympic torch was lit using the oil from the olive fruit.It has even made appearance in the literature of writers from the Mediterranean areas. It is safe to say that if we play our part well, the tree will certainly return the favour.

Olive leaf extracts – Explained

Let’s not digress from the topic and discuss what all Olive Leaf has to offer

In ancient times, crushed olive leaves were given to treat people having high fever. The same was used to treat malaria too. In Moroccan medicine, Olive leaf was used to treat high blood sugar and control diabetes.

Though olive oil and olive leaf extracts are both by-products of olive plant but the latter contains a much higher concentration of therapeutic substance, oleuropein. You can include olive oil extracts (OLE) in your daily routine in three ways. You can either have in tea, or in the form of supplement, or topically, in the form of cream.

Till now scientists have only conducted research about its benefits in animals but the same appears to show promise in human trials as well. Some researches also suggest that one can replace their green tea with OLE tea to witness greater health benefits as OLE tea has twice the amount of anti oxidants as compared to green tea.

Olive leaf extract is obtained by soaking them in either alcohol or water for long durations.

Olive Leaf Extract Benefits.

Olive leaf extract has a laundry list of potential health benefits. Some of them are as follows

Reduce blood pressure

When evaluated for effectiveness in comparison to a common hypertension drug called Captopril, OLE was proven to prevent high blood pressure in addition to reducing the triglyceride levels or bad cholesterol.

Five hundred milligrams of OLE when taken twice a day for two months continuously could significantly decrease systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure.  Also, there are a number of side effects with Captopril such as loss of taste, cough, and dizziness. The above study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Prevent diabetes

OLE may act as an effective weapon in the fight against high blood sugar level or diabetes. A research conducted on the type 2 diabetes patients concluded that it can significantly drop the HbA1c levels – which is an indicator of how have the blood sugar levels been since past three months.

The OLE impacts the way the body interacts with sugar. It controls the levels of glucose in the body and keeps the blood sugar levels from spiking.

One can even reap anti-inflammatory benefits from OLE even if they aren’t diabetic. A small study conducted on middle-aged overweight individuals who were on the brink of developing metabolic syndrome, suggested that OLE indeed can increase the insulin sensitivity by fifteen more as compared to placebo. The beta cells, which are responsible for secreting insulin, showed increase by twenty eight percent.

May have anti cancer properties

Several researches conducted on animals found that OLE has the ability to prevent an array of cancers such as skin, prostate, and breast to name a few.

Considering the fact that olive leaves are rich in bioactive antioxidants, they may have the capacity to prevent as well as treat cancer, as the disease starts with inflammation. Some studies state that antioxidants present in OLE prevents DNA from damaging and stops formation of malignant cells and thus, play a chemo preventive role. These antioxidants may also kill the tumor cells without affecting the healthy ones. Oleuropein, the substance present in OLE can prevent the multiplication of cancer cells in addition to curbing the growth of new blood vessels to feed on the cancer cells. However, more research is required on the same. It can be taken alongside the chemotherapy under the guidance of the oncologist.

Treat skin wounds, diseases and acne

Oleuropein, the star substance also stimulates collagen synthesis and curbs pro-inflammatory cell infiltration. It can also curb free radicals in the affected area and accelerate the process of wound healing.

One can apply OLE two to three times a day on the affected areas and witness significant reduction in pimples, and acne. It can work well to treat other skin problems such as eczema, itching, cold sores et al.

Treat infections

Olive trees live for centuries. It could be because of the antimicrobial and antiviral properties present in olive polyphenols. OLE is capable of killing several kinds of bacteria and pathogens, which cause intestinal infections.

There is even a possibility that it can treat HIV-1. Till now the results are just limited to cell cultures and a lot more research is required to know whether or not it interacts with human body in the same manner.

Weight loss process

An inference from animals studies suggest that OLE has anti-obesogenic effects at the molecular level. It may also regulate the expression of genes, which are involved in the fat accumulation in the human body.

A study conducted on mice stated that an olive leaf supplemented diet might reduce the food intake by around twenty six percent. Incorporating OLE in regular routine may help to shed pounds.

Additional Olive Leaf Extract Benefits

  1. Tooth ache relief
  2. Heartbeat regulation
  3. Increased energy levels
  4. Stimulate hair growth
  5. Increase immunity

Olive Leaf Extract Facts

Some studies suggest that the rate of heart diseases and cancer are the lowest in the Mediterranean regions because their daily diet is rich in olive, and its byproducts.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015 found that the Mediterranean diet high in herbs, antioxidant-rich foods better cognition. The usage of antioxidants in daily diet does make a major difference when it comes to age related cognitive decline.

Out of 334 individuals who took part in the five year long study, the group, which followed the Mediterranean diet and consumed olive oil supplement showed the maximum improvement in the end. The diet consisted to less red meat and more vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.

Olive Leaf Extract Dosage        

Olive leaf extract tea

OLE tea has a pleasant taste. It is less bitter and comparatively sweeter than green tea. It tastes like weak green tea.

To make this amber colored infusion all you need is

  1. Dried olive leaves
  2. Water
  3. Sugar or honey

Procedure of making OLE tea

Take a pan and add 1000 milliliter of water in it. Bring it to a boil and add around 30 grams of dried olive leaves, let it simmer till it reduces to half the quantity. Add honey or sugar as required and drink up for better health.

It is safe to consume 1- 2 cups of OLE tea in a day.

Olive leaf extract cream

The easiest way to reap the benefits of OLE is to purchase an organic extract either online or from a store.

One can add a few drops of it to their regular face wash or body lotion and use it as per need. One can even add OLE to their toothpaste to keep mouth infections at bay.

Olive leaf extract as powder and tincture

Dried OLE leaves can be crushed and made it into powder, this powder can be effective to treat an array of health issues. It can be used in a number of ways

  1. Have it as it is with honey
  2. Sprinkle it over food, shakes, or smoothies
  3. Use it in face packs

Olive Leaf Extract as sprays

Individuals with blocked nose, sinus, and respiratory issues can use it as a spray. However, the correct dosage depends upon the severity of the problem.

Olive Leaf Extract Dosage

There aren’t any official guidelines as to how much how much OLE extract is safe to take. In the above-mentioned studies, participants consumed around 500-1000 milligram of OLE everyday. However, one should consult a doctor prior to taking it for a particular cause.

Olive leaf extract Side Effects? Is it safe to consume?

There is very limited data about the possible side effects or long term safety of OLE. It could be because Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers OLE to be a dietary supplement rather than a medicine.

However, one study states that possible side effects of the same can headache or mild discomfort. Individuals who are experiencing any of these should immediately seek medical help.

It isn’t known if OLE can interact with other medications. It is best to consult a doctor prior to taking it.

How should one choose? What to look for while choosing an OLE brand?

When opting for selecting a particular brand of OLE, one should keep a number of things in mind. Only purchase certified products, which have a stamp of FDA, NSF International, or U.S. Pharmacopeia.

Understand that these supplements have not yet been tested for safety and the OLE market is still highly unregulated.

Read the instructions carefully on the pack and then only consume as per recommended amounts.

Olive leaf extract Review & Side-effects

Though the exact side effects of OLE are not known but one should be careful with it, remember it was an herb, which killed Socrates.

Start using small doses, and see how well it works to treat your health issues. Watch out for mild side effects such as headache, muscle pain and dizziness. When consumed in high quantities, OLE may cause diarrhea.

People on medication or blood thinners should avoid consuming them in high quantities. When an individual with low blood pressure consumes them, it may further lower their blood pressure and cause them to pass out.

Pregnant women and lactating mothers should only consume it after consulting their respective doctors.

Preliminary studies state that OLE can have numerous health benefits as explained above. But, it is necessary to conduct large-scale studies in humans to confirm the findings and safety of taking it for a long duration.

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About Dhruv Athi, Nutritionist, Dietician

Dhruv Athi is a Licensed Nutritionist based in India. Dhruv is a Health Care Professional & Diet Consultant with a successful track record of helping people cure their ailments with natural and alternative means of healing medicine. In a nutshell, Dhruv offers every assistance for your Health-related concerns and Goals.

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