Olive leaf extract (Olea Europaea) is derived from the leaves of the olive tree and has been used for thousands of years by traditional medicine systems from around the world.
What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
A significant body of anecdotal evidence exists to support the effectiveness of this extract upon immune function.
The active fractions in olive leaf - oleuropeins - exhibit pronounced antibacterial and antimicrobial activity.1 Ancient peoples believed that the olive tree was a "curing" gift from the gods. For this reason many ancient religious traditions use olive oil to invoke divine healings.
The oleuropeins in olive leaf extract serve to detoxify the body by destroying harmful viruses and bacteria, and they can directly stimulate the immune system by supporting the action of white blood cells.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that olive leaf extract may be beneficial in the treatment of the following conditions:
| Nail infections
Chronic fatigue syndrome
HIV and AIDS2
Olive leaf extract is a very powerful natural antibiotic and antioxidant5 that kills bacterial infections by supporting immune system function. Because of this, olive leaf extract administration can lead to a reduction in flu symptoms including muscle aches and fevers.
Olive leaf extract can lead to a lowering of blood pressure by causing the arterial walls to relax. It may also prevent arterial hardening and may increase blood flow to the heart. In an indirect way, then, olive leaf extract may lead to a reduction in adverse cardiac events.
The destruction of harmful bacteria brought about by olive leaf extracts administration may result in improved immune function and a reduction in oxidative stress. In this way olive leaf extract may help to prevent some types of cancer. It is believed that olive leaf extract helps to prevent benign prostate hypertrophy - an abnormal increase in prostate size that can lead to difficulties in urination.
The mechanisms of action by which olive leaf extract work are not yet fully understood, but substantial anecdote and limited clinical research support its ability to positively impact immune system function.
Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Everyone who wants to improve the strength and function of their immune system can benefit from supplementing with olive leaf extract.
The elderly, the young, and the competitive athlete may benefit most from olive leaf extract use. Members of these populations may suffer from impaired immune function that can result in sickness.
No symptoms of deficiency exist.
How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Strictly adhere to label recommendations.
While no long-term side effects of use have been identified in clinical research, anecdotal evidence has indicated that users may experience what is known as a "Herxheimer response" - the die-off effect.
The die-off effect results from the rapid destruction of bacteria. Because of its powerful antibiotic properties, olive leaf extract will destroy a large number of harmful bacteria in a short period of time. The toxic by-products of rapid organism apoptosis can temporarily worsen ones condition.
Because this initial worsening of ones condition results from the rapid destruction of harmful bacteria, this is viewed as a positive sign that olive leaf extract is killing large numbers of harmful bacteria.
1. Briante R, et. al. Olea europaea L. leaf extract and derivatives: antioxidant properties. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4934-40.
2. Gonzalez, M., et. al. Hypoglycemic activity of olive leaf. Planta Med 1992 Dec. 58(6):513-15.
3. Bisignano G, Tomaino A, Lo Cascio R, Crisafi G, Uccella N, Saija A. On the In-Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1999; 51: 971.
4. Walker, M. Antimicrobial attributes of olive leaf extract. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. No. 156, July 1996, pp. 80-85.
5. Kashiwada Y, Wang HK, Nagao T, Kitanaka S, Yasuda I, Fujioka T, Yamagishi T, Cosentino LM, Kozuka M, Okabe H, Ikeshiro Y, Hu CQ, Yeh E, Lee KH. Anti-AIDS agents. 30. Anti-HIV activity of oleanolic acid, pomolic acid, and structurally related triterpenoids. J Nat Prod. 1998 Sep;61(9):1090-5.