Olive leaf & fruit is derived from the ol ive tree (Olea europaea), which is native to the Mediterranean.
Olives and olive leaf are the first botanicals prominently noted in the Bible, in Ezekiel 47:12, “The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” – thus its nickname, “Tree of Life.”
In Ancient Egypt the olive leaf was a symbol of heavenly power. The Egyptians extracted the oil from olives and used it to mummify pharaohs. In ancient Greek mythology the olive tree was a gift from the goddess Athena.
In Europe Olive leaf was first mentioned officially as medicine about 150 years ago. The olive tree is incredibly hardy and resistant to disease; astonishingly, many olive trees have lived for as long as two or three thousand years!
“Based on my research, I am convinced that olive leaf extract is destined to become the most useful, wide spectrum herbal ingredient of the 21st century.”
– Morton Walker, medical journalist, 92 published books including:Nature’s Antibiotic: Olive Leaf Extract.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Widespread Benefits of Olive Leaf & Olive Oil
- The Mediterranean diet offers a host of benefits that prolong life and improve health.
- Olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, contains a unique compound called oleuropein that provides its characteristic biting, astringent taste.
- Oleuropein is responsible for most of olive oil’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-fighting characteristics.
- Olive leaves contain high amounts of oleuropein, making their extracts a valuable source of this nutrient without the need to consume large amounts of olive oil
- Olive leaf extracts show tremendous promise in preventing or mitigating conditions as diverse as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
Scientists have isolated the unique molecule that provides olive oil and olive leafs with its multitude of health and life-extending benefits.
The olive tree (Olea europaea) produces oleuropein abundantly in its leaves as well as in the olive fruit itself, and special processing techniques now allow for the extraction of a stable, standardized form of oleuropein.
That means that consumers can have access to one of the most beneficial components of olive oil without the necessity of consuming excessive amounts of olive oil.
Olive leaf extracts and their oleuropein constituents are best known for their blood pressure-lowering effects, but the latest studies reveal their health benefits extend well beyond that. Additional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties offer promise in fighting atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and even arthritis.
Oleuropein provides the distinctive tangy, pungent, almost bitter flavor found in high quality extra virgin olive oils. It’s also responsible for most of olive oil’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-fighting characteristics. In fact, when oleuropein was given to animals with tumors, the tumors completely regressed and disappeared in 9 to 12 days!
The Therapeutic Power of Olive Leaf & Olive Oil
According to Dr. Hoffman, health professionals began prescribing Olive leaf extract (OLE) in 1995. Dr. Ronald Hoffman, MD is a practitioner of integrative medicine who has been practicing medicine for 30 years and is the Medical Director of the Hoffman Center in New York. He also hosts the Intelligent Medicine, Podcast series, is the author of many books and frequently gives health related lectures geared to his colleagues and the general public.
Dr. Hoffman has found, based on research and clinical data that olive leaf extract is very beneficial in the treatment of a wide variety of health conditions including:
- Conditions related to a virus, retrovirus, bacterium or protozoan.
- influenza, the common cold,
- candida infections,
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV),
- herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and 7, shingles (Herpes zoster),
- chronic fatigue,
- hepatitis B,
- severe diarrhea,
- dental, ear,
- urinary tract
- surgical infections.
- Additionally, olive leaf can also be used long-term as a preventative agent or daily tonic, especially for those with stressful lives or who may be especially susceptible to colds or other viruses. In fact, olive leaf may be one of several herbs that usher in the new and improved holistic antibiotic era replacing harmful, toxic and now increasingly ineffective Big Pharma antibiotics.
The health benefits of Olive Leaf Extract are being published widely throughout the world. A recent book by medical researcher Morton Walker is filled with case histories, testimonials and studies of health problems that were helped through the regular use of Olive Leaf Extract. Walker is the author of numerous books, over 1,800 clinical journal and magazine articles and the winner of many awards.
One factor that makes olive leaf a superior antibiotic as compared to Big Pharma’s indiscriminate synthetic antibiotics is its ability to selectively block an entire virus-specific system in the infected host. Although, olive leaf acts as a broad spectrum antibiotic, “it selectively interferes with critical amino acid production for viruses; it has the ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses, by preventing virus shredding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane; and the ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.”
Animal studies demonstrate that olive leaf extracts lead to significant drops in elevated blood pressure.6,7 Remarkably, these effects are evident when supplementation occurs either before or after the animals develop hypertension. This means that the extracts have the ability to both prevent and treat high blood pressure.8
The drop in blood pressure is accompanied by reduced pressure in the heart’s left ventricle. This results in improved blood flow to the heart’s own coronary blood vessels.
Additional human studies demonstrate the ability of olive leaf extracts to significantly reduce blood pressure measurements.9
One particularly fascinating study was conducted among identical twins with borderline hypertension (blood pressure in the range of 120-139 mmHg over 80-89 mmHg).10 Studies of identical twins virtually eliminate genetic variations which may impact study results. After 8 weeks, placebo recipients showed no change in blood pressure from baseline, but patients supplemented with 1,000 mg/day of olive leaf extract dropped their pressures by a mean of 11 mmHg systolic and 4 mmHg diastolic.10 The supplemented patients experienced significant reductions in LDL cholesterol.
A human study measured olive leaf extract against captopril, one of the conventional drugs used for treating hypertension.11 In this study, patients with stage-1 hypertension (140-159 mmHg over 90-99 mmHg) took either500 mg of olive leaf extract twice daily, or 12.5 mg of captopril twice daily, which was increased as needed to 25 mgtwice daily. After 8 weeks of treatment, both groups experienced a drop in mean blood pressure from baseline (11.5and 13.7 mmHg) systolic; 4.8 and 6.4 mmHg diastolic, respectively), with no significant difference between the two groups. In other words, the olive leaf extract performed as well as the prescription drug. A closer look in the laboratory reveals the reason for this equivalence. Although they utilize different mechanisms of action (oleuropein acts as a natural calcium channel blocker and captopril is a well-known ACE-inhibitor), both oleuropein and captopril function inside the vasculature to decrease the tension in the walls of blood vessels and promote widening of the vessels (vasodilation), ultimately lowering blood pressure.12-15
The proven blood pressure-lowering effects of olive leaf extracts are potent enough to warrant caution if you are taking prescription blood pressure drugs.60 If you are on blood pressure medication, it’s essential that you speak to your prescriber before starting supplementation.
Arterial health is an important indicator of overall cardiovascular health.
Endothelial cells, which line the arterial walls, are largely responsible for insuring adequate and even blood flow through the arteries, as well as regulating blood pressure. Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is directly related to endothelial dysfunction, which leads to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. Over time these plaques can cause a blockage of blood flow thus triggering a heart attack or stroke. Olive leaf extract combats endothelial dysfunction in a variety of ways.
Blood pressure is only one measure of cardiovascular health; arterial health is equally important. The endothelial cells that line arterial walls play a key role in maintaining blood flow and pressure; they also regulate the distribution of smooth muscle cells and sustain an even flow of blood through vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is one of the earliest stages in hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which occurs when plaques build up in the arterial walls. These plaques eventually block blood flow and can trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Olive leaf extracts fight endothelial dysfunction at multiple levels:
- They increase the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels.16,17
- They reduce the production and activity of a class of molecules known as matrix metalloproteinases, or MMPs.18-20 Excessive MMP activity literally dissolves the gel-like matrix that holds cells together, making vessel linings increasingly vulnerable to plaque damage.
- They also help prevent the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, which is one of the earliest events in developing atherosclerosis.21-23 Oxidized LDL triggers inflammation, further damaging arteries, and olive leaf extract has multi-targeted anti-inflammatory effects.20,24,25
Polyphenol compounds found in olive leaves have been shown to help directly prevent the formation of arterial plaques (and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke) in two ways:
- They reduce the production and activity of a series of “adhesion molecules.”26-28 These substances cause white blood cells and platelets to stick to arterial walls, resulting in early plaque formation.
- They reduce platelet aggregation (clumping) by multiple mechanisms, which reduces the risk that tiny clots will form at sites of plaque to produce a stroke or heart attack.29,30
The diabetic (and pre-diabetic) state of chronic blood sugar elevation imposes substantial oxidative stress throughout the body, triggering inflammation and tissue damage that rapidly accelerates aging.
Treatments for diabetes have two main goals:
- Lowering blood glucose to normal levels
- Limiting the damage done by the inevitable blood sugar spikes that still occur.
In animal and in lab studies, olive leaf extract has been shown to lower blood sugar via several pathways
- Slowing down the digestion of starches and simple sugars in the intestine
- Increasing the cells ability to uptake glucose from the blood.
- Olive leaf protects healthy tissues from oxidative damage and increases the overall level of antioxidant activity throughout the body.
Human studies reveal that supplementing with 500 mg of olive leaf extract once daily resulted in significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c levels, the standard marker of long-term exposure to elevated blood sugar in diabetic people.31 Supplementation also lowered fasting plasma insulin levels, an important point because chronic insulin elevations may contribute to diabetics’ higher cancer risks.31,37
The Mediterranean diet is renowned for its ability to reduce the risk of cancer.38,39
The oleuropein enhances antioxidant activity throughout the body it’s a potent cancer preventative.
- Olive leaf extract protect cells from DNA damage due to oxidative stress, which is how malignant cells initially proliferate.
- It also disrupts the chemical signaling pathways that tumors rely on to organize, as well as inhibiting tumor growth factors. Interestingly, in one recent study, animals with tumors were given oleuropein and within 9 to 12 days the tumors were gone! 4
Oleuropein and olive leaf extracts have numerous other mechanisms of action against cancer:
- Helps prevent inflammation,
- Major promoter of tumor growth.41
- In breast cancer cells specifically, oleuropein reduces malignant cells’ ability to respond to estrogen, the female hormone that many breast cancer cells depend on for their survival.43
- Inhibits the production of the “protein-melting” enzymes that cancer cells need in order to invade healthy tissues and metastasize to distant parts of the body.19
- Suppresses an enzyme cancer cells rely on to derive and store energy from dietary carbohydrates.
- Oleuropein inhibits the production of the “protein-melting” enzymes that cancer cells need in order to invade healthy tissues and metastasize to distant parts of the body.19
These mechanisms have now been shown in laboratory and animal studies to reduce the rates of occurrence, and subsequent development, of a broad variety of cancers, including those of the brain, head and neck, breast, liver, bladder, prostate, and skin, as well as leukemia.42,43,45-49
In one especially vivid study, mice with a high spontaneous cancer rate were orally supplemented with oleuropein.5The tumors completely regressed and disappeared in 9 to 12 days.5 When the tumors were examined before they vanished, they were found to have a disordered, crumbly consistency, and no cancer cells remained alive within.5
Olive leaf extract is a potent anti-inflammatory, which protects the brain and central nervous system from
- other age related degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.50
- They accomplish this by suppressing inflammation and reducing the damage done by oxidative stress.
In acute brain injuries such as those caused by a stroke or trauma, damaging processes such as oxidative stress occur within minutes of the original event—and, ironically, are worsened by the return of normal blood flow to the area.50,51
Researchers found a number of positive effects in animals that were pre-treated with olive leaf extract and then induced with a stroke. Compared with untreated animals, the treated animals experienced a sharp reduction in markers of oxidation and an increase in normal cellular antioxidant systems.52,53
Microscopic examination of brain tissue revealed a similar decline in injury to brain cells and up to a 55% decrease in the volume of dying brain tissue.50
Similar results are shown in experimental spinal cord injury in animals pretreated with oleuropein.53
Olive leaf extracts offer similar protection for neurodegenerative diseases. Oxidative stress occurs more gradually in neurodegenerative diseases. However, the effects add up over a lifetime, producing inflammation and other changes that result in the accumulation of abnormal proteins that interfere with brain function and kill neurons. Olive leaf extracts help prevent these abnormal proteins from assembling into the neurofibrillary tangles seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and similar diseases.54-56
Olive leaves and their extracts have long been used in the Mediterranean as folk remedies for arthritis. Now, scientific evidence has proven that olive leaf extracts can in fact interfere with the development of several different kinds:
- Rheumatoid arthritis,
- Plain old arthritis.
Oleuropein can successfully prevent and treat rheumatoid arthritis. Animal models demonstrate that when oleuropein is applied at the onset of arthritic symptoms it effectively neutralizes them. Moreover, microscopic examination of arthritic joint tissue from test animals after the administration of oleuropein showed significant improvement compared to untreated tissues. When used to treat fully blown arthritis, oleuropein significantly reduced joint inflammation. The benefits were similar for osteoarthritis.
Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, the byproducts of impaired recycling of DNA and RNA in cells. In a mechanism identical to that of allopurinol (the gold standard drug therapy for gout), oleuropein prevents the buildup of uric acid by inhibiting xanthine oxidase, the enzyme responsible for converting DNA and RNA into uric acid.57
Oleuropein had similar benefits on osteoarthritis. In animal models of this degenerative joint disease, olive leaf extract improved joint swelling, improved the microscopic appearance of joint tissue, and prevented the production of inflammatory cytokines.59
The Mediterranean diet reduces your risk for virtually every condition associated with aging.
Olive oil is a major component of that diet.
Olive leaves contain higher amounts of oleuropein, a polyphenol with unique health-improving attributes. These extracts have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to improve age-related diseases.
Now, scientific evidence has shown that these extracts have a remarkable impact on blood pressure and heart disease—and they can help protect against other age-related chronic conditions as well. Convincing evidence now shows that oleuropein-rich olive leaf extracts help prevent many of the underlying factors leading to diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, and arthritis.
Extra-virgin olive oil and olive leaf extract should be considered an important component of one’s health and longevity program.
Oleuropein-rich olive leaf extracts safely help prevent and or treat many of the most common life threatening, chronic and age related diseases of our time.
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- Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Busjahn A, Schmidlin C, Schmidt A, Bradl B, Aydogan C. Food supplementation with an olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf extract reduces blood pressure in borderline hypertensive monozygotic twins.Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1239-42.
- Susalit E, Agus N, Effendi I, et al. Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril. Phytomedicine.2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.
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- Zare L, Esmaeili-Mahani S, Abbasnejad M, et al. Oleuropein, chief constituent of olive leaf extract, prevents the development of morphine antinociceptive tolerance through inhibition of morphine-induced L-type calcium channel overexpression. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1731-7.
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- Scoditti E, Calabriso N, Massaro M, et al. Mediterranean diet polyphenols reduce inflammatory angiogenesis through MMP-9 and COX-2 inhibition in human vascular endothelial cells: A potentially protective mechanism in atherosclerotic vascular disease and cancer. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2012 Nov 15;527(2):81-9.
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