Olive leaf extract, as the name suggests, is sourced from the leaves of olive tree. The olive tree is said to originate from ancient Mesopotamia and Persia – present day Israel and Syria. Today, much of it is found in Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia and the Mediterranean basin. Many people are familiar with the culinary and cosmetic uses of olive oil, however, today; special attention is being paid to the leaf’s extract for its medicinal benefits. It is popularly marketed as Olive Leaf Extract (OLE) for its antioxidant, anti aging and anti bacterial properties. Olive goes by the botanical name of Olea europa which translates to the oil of Europe.
The Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract
Throughout history, the olive tree and its products have always been held in very high esteem. Its use for medicinal purposes also dates back to the Middle Ages. It was used as poultice to treat skin conditions, to treat wounds and for fevers.
According to an article published on the University of Michigan’s Health Systems’ website, the use of olive leaf extract today still needs further research as well as clinical trials. Most of the information that is known about this leaf’s extract is based on animal trials –however, this also shows great potential for use as human medicine.
Olive oil extract in the form of oleuropein has shown great and encouraging results from experimental studies for the treatment of high blood pressure. It is administered either by injection or intravenously. It was seen to dilate the coronary arteries thereby effectively decreasing the blood pressure. The University of Michigan’s post asserts that this is probably why it was used traditionally to treat hypertension.
Oleuropein has also shown potential in inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the kind that is considered bad. By inhibiting this oxidation process, oleuropein protects the arteries from damage caused by a build-up of fats and cholesterol on the walls of the arteries. In this study, scientists concluded that this is the reason why people who eat Mediterranean diets have a lower risk of getting atherosclerosis – the hardening of veins.
Olive leaf extract has antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties. During storage in brine, oleuropein undergoes a chemical process that results in its conversion to elenolic acid. According to the University of Michigan, this chemical exhibits antibacterial properties against many common classes of bacteria and fungi.
Due to its high antioxidant activity, the olive leaf extract protects the body cells from damage by free radicals. This kind of cellular damage, if left unchecked, could lead to far worse infections and diseases. Although clinical studies are still not sufficient, there is a great chance that olive leaf extract could be effective in treating some cancers and tumors. Its antioxidant property is made more potent when used with other antioxidants.
Although no standard amount has been established yet, olive leaf extracts containing 6%-15% oleuropein are available and sold commercially. Taken as a dietary supplement, 1 or 2 capsules are recommended as daily dose. (500mg, 6%-15% oleuropein)
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
There are no known cases of adverse side effects arising from the use of olive leaf extract. It is well tolerated, being a popular ingredient in different types of food. As for interaction with other drugs, doctors advice against taking this extract when you are on high blood pressure medication, diabetes medication or insulin injections or if you are undergoing chemotherapy.
It is not possible to clearly state who should or shouldn’t take olive leaf extract. However, always discuss the benefits and the potential risks of adding this supplement to your current medication with your doctor. You must also disclose any preexisting conditions.