Healing properties of Olive leaf:
The fruit thereof shall be meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
MS Guardio is writing a series of short articles about the healing properties some plants, flowers and foods at this time of pandemic and national crisis.
The healing properties of the olive tree have been known for centuries. The tree is likely to have originated from the island of Crete where it was grown as early as 3500 BC for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Olive oil was used for anointing the body in ancient Greece, and it was an important crop of the Romans about 600 BC.
Homer called it ‘liquid gold’, and Hippocrates ‘the great healer’.
Olive oil has probably first arrived in Britain with the Romans but its use became common only recently.
Mrs Beeton, the celebrity chef of the 19th century, wrote in her 1861 Book of Household Management:
“The oil extracted from olives, called olive oil, or salad oil, is, with the continentals, in continual request, more dishes being prepared with than without it, we should imagine.
With us, it is principally used in mixing a salad, and when thus employed, it tends to prevent fermentation, and is an antidote against flatulence.”
~ Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management
Amazing healing properties of olive leaf
It is only in the 1990s that olive oil has become a general public staple, promoted for its culinary use and healing properties.
But it is not only the oil extracted from the olives that is valuable. The small, leathery, oval leaves of the olive tree are precious as they hold amazing properties – the healing compounds in far stronger concentration than found in the olives themselves.
The secret of the leaves’ healing properties lies in the amount of powerful antioxidants – polyphenols, packed inside them. The polyphenols help protect olive trees from insect attack and combat the stress of prolonged exposure to the dry heat of the Mediterranean region where the olive trees grow.
The main polyphenol compounds found in the olive leaves are oleuropein and flavonoids. They protect the trees which are known for their longevity , but also scavenge free radicals in humans, offering strong protection against disease, especially in relation to cancer and inflammation-related conditions.
The polyphenol compounds in the olive leaf have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
In particular they can:
- protect from cancer and support cardiovascular health
- reduce bacterial infections
- re-balance blood sugar
Cancer and cardiovascular health
While further human studies are needed, there is good evidence that olive tree polyphenols through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can prevent cancer.
The particular combination prevalent in olive leaf, can protect our DNA and may also inhibit the progression of certain cancer diseases. Research suggests that olive leaf oleuropein in particular is able to target specific cancer cells and cause their collapse and death.
Since olive polyphenols have a similar structure to oestrogens, they may also reduce the prevalence of hormone related cancers, such as breast, prostate and pancreas. .
Healing properties of Olive leaf and bacterial infections
Olive leaf is probably best known for its antibacterial properties.
The oleuropein in the olive leaf can heal by decreasing the severity of bacterial infections and is especially effective against:
• urinary tract infections
• certain types of pneumonia
• skin infections including abscesses
• heart valve infections
• throat, sinuses and middle ear infections
• listeria food poisoning.
An interesting study was carried out in New Zealand in 2019. After nine weeks of olive leaf supplementation, the sick day absences among the secondary school school sports team reduced by an impressive 28 percent due to its beneficial effect on upper respiratory illness.
The importance of the anti-bacterial properties of olive leaf must not be underestimated. Not only it is effective against bacterial infections but it can heal without any major side effects. As bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, natural anti-bacterial compounds like olive leaf take on a new significance.
Healing properties of Olive leaf and blood sugar
Olive leaf extract has been studied for its role in prevention and treatment of high blood sugar levels. Various studies showed that the polyphenols in the olive leaf helps control the production of sugar levels in animal studies and can be effective among humans.
Olive leaf capsules or extract are readily available in health food shops and chemists.
I take capsules but children often prefer to take it in a liquid form.
I regularly add a few drops of the extract to my face wash and creams to ensure my skin also benefits from the antioxidant properties of the olive leaf.
Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury make olive leaf tea which can be purchased on Amazon. It is slightly bitter but tastes delicious with a bit of honey.
Carefully goes it!
You can take olive leaf as a preventative measure during the flu season.
I take it whenever I have a cold or flu coming to give my body a healing boost and to prevent secondary bacterial infections that so often follow viral illness.
I have used it for many years, and fed it to my kids and my grandchild always with excellent results and minimal side effects.
However, if you have low blood pressure, be mindful that olive leaf can reduce it further and give you a headache and dizziness. Some people may also experience mild diarrhea.
A symbol of health
The World Health Organization features olive tree branches, chosen as a symbol of peace and health, on its official seal and emblem for a reason.
Olive leaf has been used to heal since ancient times and the recent scientific research confirms its healing properties.
Polyphenols-rich olive leaf can prevent disease and significantly improve our health and wellbeing. It is safe to take and I consider it an essential addition to the healing foods in the medicine cabinet.
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