Heart, Immune | May 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Olive leaf from Olea europaea, the olive tree, has been used for centuries in many countries for its medicinal purposes. It is a potent antioxidant, helping to support a healthy cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure, high blood sugars and cholesterol levels. Olive leaf extract is also a powerful weapon against pathological microbes—bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. To top it all off, it can also enhance the production of energy in the body, relieving fatigue and exhaustion.
Antioxidants play a pivotal role in reducing the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Increased oxidative stress caused by free radicals can leave the body prone to advanced ageing, degenerative diseases and poor health in general.
Olive leaf extract is rich in antioxidants, having almost double the antioxidant capacity compared to green tea extract. The most studied antioxidant in olive leaf extract is oleuropein, but it also contains others such as hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, rutin, luteolin, catechin and apigenin. These active constituents present in the plant help to protect it against insects and disease.
Research conducted at Australia’s Southern Cross University (SCU) identified olive leaf as being the most potent antioxidant herb when compared to 55 others using the ORAC assay. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a test often used in science to evaluate antioxidant activity. It’s mainly the polyphenols in the olive leaf which give it this activity, and it’s the combination that work synergistically to quench a variety of free radicals that occur in the body.
Extracts from the leaves of the olive tree has up to 40 times more phenolic compounds than olive oil, with none of the fats. Although the active polyphenols are present in the olive fruit and oil, the active polyphenols are significantly higher in the leaves.
It’s also important to note that there are different ways in which olive leaf extract is made. Some companies use the fresh leaves whilst others extract the active ingredients from the dried leaves.
Looking for an olive leaf extract which details a standardized amount of an active constituent, usually oleuropein, is one indicator that the product is excellent quality.
Your heart, and blood vessels work together to pump blood around the body—essential for delivering nutrients and oxygen to organs and tissues. Constriction or poor function of these blood vessels can lead to poor health and serious trouble for your heart. Components which contribute to this occurring can include having elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDL’s) and high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque on our arteries narrows and stiffens our blood vessels. High cholesterol levels can contribute to the formation of these plaques.
In clinical trials, olive leaf extract has been shown to reduce elevated LDL-cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
One particular study also found Olive leaf extract reduced triglycerides and reduced interleukin-8, a key mediator associated with inflammation.
Olive leaf extract works to relax and dilate our blood vessels, helping to improve flow in blood vessels.
Research has also found this extract to be beneficial for people who suffer an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia).
Olive leaf extract is believed to have all these benefits due to its potent antioxidant properties.
It’s also important to note that LDL cholesterol molecules and the blood vessels themselves are susceptible to damage from free radical damage. The antioxidants in olive leaf extract help to reduce this oxidative damage and decrease the risk of damage associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Another benefit that olive leaf extract supports is help reduce the blood from sticking together and forming clots.
Taking olive leaf extract can help enhance the functioning of the immune system, helping us to avoid nasty colds and flu all year round.
In vitro studies have shown olive leaf extract to be effective against a number of disease-causing microbes, including some that cause influenza or similar respiratory conditions.
Research suggests that olive leaf compounds inhibit bacteria and viruses by “inactivating” specific virus cells or by inhibiting their replication. They also directly stimulate the formation of immune cells that fight off infection.
While preventing colds and flus are of importance to most people, a significant cause of many of today’s heath concerns involve infection with fungi, yeasts and parasites. Olive leaf extract has also been shown to be effective against a wide-range of other microbes such as candida, pinworms, tapeworms, ringworm, giardia and malaria-causing protozoa.
Although there are no studies to date on humans, in vitro and animal’s studies have demonstrated an anti-diabetic effect for olive leaf extract.
In these studies olive leaf extract was shown to increase peripheral uptake of glucose and raise insulin levels and decrease blood glucose levels.
Other animal studies found that Olive leaf extract improved thyroid function by increasing T3 levels and significantly reducing thyroid stimulating hormone levels. This may explain why many people experience an increase in energy while taking this extract.
Olive leaf extract is a safe herb for use in both adults and children, especially for long-term use, with little known side-effects. However, it’s best taken with food to avoid gastrointestinal irritation. If you’re taking blood-pressure lowering medication and/or blood thinners, caution is advised. It’s best to check with a health professional to see if this combination is safe for you.
No authors listed. Olive leaf. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Mar;14(1):62-6
Wojcikowski K, et al. Antioxidant capacity of 55 medicinal herbs traditionally used to treat the urinary system: a comparison using a sequential three-solvent extraction process. J Altern. Complement Med. 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):103-9
Lockyer S, et al. Impact of phenolic-rich olive leaf extract on blood pressure, plasma lipids and inflammatory markers: a randomised controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Mar 7 [Epub ahead of print]
Singh I, et al. The effects of polyphenols in olive leaves on platelet function. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008 Feb;18(2):127-32
Ritchardson J (2000). Olive leaf extract: potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. Spectrum marketing, Australia