Olive Leaf Extract

July 21, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

When you walk into a health food store you have a few different ways of acquiring information about prospective products. You can look product labels, ask for guidance from a store employee, or peruse the books that are often sold alongside nutritional supplements. There’s no question that you’ll get some information from all three of these resources. Part of what you’ll learn will likely be accurate and some of it will be based mostly on well meaning, but anecdotal and/or preliminary information. When I worked in the natural health industry, I experienced a similar advisory experience whenever a customer asked about olive leaf extract.

Perhaps the most common application of olive leaf extract (OLE) is to support the body in fighting infections. Not surprisingly, OLE tends to sell best during the typical cold and flu season. While there is evidence that OLE possesses antimicrobial properties, there’s actually very little scientific data supporting its use against the common cold and influenza. In fact, a recent summary published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review could only cite one study from 1977 as proof of its seasonal immune boosting properties. (1) This doesn’t mean that OLE is ineffective in this application, it simply emphasizes the fact that most of the evidence to support this use is based on personal testimonials and not controlled studies.

There are however several other health conditions that do appear to respond to OLE. Ironically, these are generally not the medical issues that come to mind when olive leaf is discussed. Here’s a brief overview of what the past several years of research have taught us about OLE:

  • Cancer – Olive leaf components are now being studied in human cancer trials because of their potential ability to combat tumor growth. Substances found in OLE such as flavonoids, oleanolic acid and phenols have shown preliminary activity against bladder, breast, colon and gastric cancer, as well as leukemia. (2,3,4,5,6,7)
  • Diabetes – Phytochemical antioxidants in OLE have demonstrated properties that lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes related cardiovascular damage. This effect may also be related to cancer in that elevated blood sugar levels have recently been associated with an increased risk of a variety of cancers (see image below). (8,9,10,11,12)
  • Heart Disease – Olive leaf extracts may benefit the cardiovascular system in a variety of ways: a) decreasing LDL “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and increasing HDL “good” cholesterol”; b) protecting the kidneys and liver via antioxidant action; c) lowering high blood pressure; and d) improving circulation through healthy platelet aggregation. (13,14,15,16,17)

There are two other positive points that I found while reviewing the medical literature: 1) OLE is building a good track record with regard to taming inflammation. A chronic state of low level inflammation may contribute to all of the previously mentioned conditions and more. OLE has exhibited anti-inflammatory action in various sites throughout the body. (18,19,20) This indicates promise in the management of everything from arthritis to vascular dementia. 2) A recent safety review determined that olive leaf extract appears to be safe, even when used in rather large dosages. (21)

In my opinion, the current status of olive leaf extract is actually quite promising. The trouble is that the information being presented to most consumers doesn’t quite match up with the hard data. It could very well be that the many anecdotal testimonials about OLE will one day prove to be accurate. I’m certainly rooting for that to be the case. Until then, I hope that you’ll continue to research and expand your knowledge about what is actually known about this ancient remedy and what is still left to be discovered.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP


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Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements

12 Comments & Updates to “Olive Leaf Extract”

  1. Christina Crowe Says:

    I personally love to eat olives and put olive oil products in my hair. I’m not sure if these have the same health benefits as oil leaf extracts, but they might.

    Great read!

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, Christina.

    They do appear to possess many of the same benefits of the leaf extracts and oils.

    I love olives too. Lately, I’ve been craving them like mad! My favorite is olive stuffed with feta cheese. So good. 🙂

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Rob Says:

    The last thing anyone needs to worry about is high cholesterol. If you love olive oil fine, but don’t worry about the fat in cheese and meats. Most of our cholesterol is manufactured by our liver, and what we eat makes nary little difference. Furthermore, the idea that so-called raised cholesterol levels is a risk factor for heart disease is an outright fraud.

    I suggest the following link for those who fear cholesterol. This will help point out the facts, and lead you to the actual research itself.
    http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm

  4. JP Says:

    Thank you for your input, Rob.

    I tend to take a slightly different view. I don’t think cholesterol is completely irrelevant but I also would never resort to artificial means of lowering my cholesterol – such as the use of statin medications.

    I think Dr. William Davis is on the right track about the various factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease and wellness.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    My ex-wife, who is fighting cancer, and I both take Now Allibiotic which contains olive leaf extract.
    http://www.nowfoods.com/M044509.htm

  6. JP Says:

    That’s an interesting product, Iggy.

    Have you noticed any effect while using it? Or, are you taking it mainly as a preventive measure?

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Robin Says:

    We’ll we’ve been getting quite a bit of news over the past few years about the benefits of the ‘mediterranean diet’ with its high use of olives and olive oil. So it makes some sense that there are benefits from the leaves of the tree too.

    There is increase research being done in this area, although it looks to currently concentrate on what is in it rather clinical trials of its effectiveness.

  8. Thelma Says:

    I recently came back to taking the olive oil let me explain ..

    Taking the olive oil by toast and jam just a teaspoon in the mornings every mornings well its suppose to cure ulcers and help out with cancer.

    Now i find companies(making the olive leaf oil) saying there product does this all what the olive oil does how is that? Is there a difference?

    I find some ingredients in these olive leaf products can actually have containments (spelling) lol in them so i am sticking with the pure olive oil that comes in a bottle rather than a pill/capsules in a box with a name and what it can heal!!!!!

    The leaf is not the oil people! Can the companies prove this? There just taking what the olive oil has done* for people and putting it on their ‘box’ to sell ‘Leaves’ leafs; oil from it…off by one ingredient and it wont work like the oil remember that…one.

    These places who sell the ‘Olive Leaf’ capsule cannot prove this is the same ingredients of the ‘Olive Oil’ oil people not a leaf theres a big difference and when catching this ‘phrase’ on there bottles …think again just because it comes from a tree its not the same thing..NOT and will not work the same way and could have harmful results..one tiny ingredient if not made correctly can and will make you sick

    Theres a process..is what it is all about.. ‘Olive Oil’ is the only thing that can cure ulcers and cancers help with your system to grow stronger Don’t be fooled by a company with a label sure you can take the Olive Leaf but can they prove what we all know about the oil? On paper from a lab? We will see…and it won’t be the same nor will they have the comparison to both Olive oil not Olive leaf there not the same..

    Remember dont be fooled with a name or label..research this all.

  9. JP Says:

    Thelma,

    Olive oil and olive leaf extract aren’t the same. However, they do share some of the same components. Likewise, they possess distinctive and shared health promoting properties.

    Be well!

    JP

  10. JP Says:

    Update 06/05/15:

    https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0035-1546017 (Full Text)

    Planta Med. 2015 Jun;81(8):648-54.

    Effects of the olive tree leaf constituents on myocardial oxidative damage and atherosclerosis.

    The olive (Olea europaea) leaf is considered an important traditional herbal medicine utilized against infectious diseases, and for the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. Moreover, olive leaf constituents have been related to cardioprotection, probably due to their association with cellular redox modulating effects. The pathogenesis of certain common diseases, including those of the cardiovascular system, involves oxidative stress and tissue inflammation. Olive polyphenolic compounds, such as oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, or tyrosol, possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiatherosclerotic, anti-ischemic, and hypolipidemic effects on the myocardium as demonstrated by various in vitro and in vivo studies. In this review article, we summarize the current knowledge on the role of the olive leaf constituents in the prevention of cardiac dysfunction and highlight future perspectives in their use as cardioprotective agents in therapeutics.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. JP Says:

    Update 06/10/15:

    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9759832&fileId=S0007114515001269

    Br J Nutr. 2015 Jun 8:1-9.

    Secoiridoids delivered as olive leaf extract induce acute improvements in human vascular function and reduction of an inflammatory cytokine: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial.

    The leaves of the olive plant (Olea europaea) are rich in polyphenols, of which oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol (HT) are most characteristic. Such polyphenols have been demonstrated to favourably modify a variety of cardiovascular risk factors. The aim of the present intervention was to investigate the influence of olive leaf extract (OLE) on vascular function and inflammation in a postprandial setting and to link physiological outcomes with absorbed phenolics. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over, acute intervention trial was conducted with eighteen healthy volunteers (nine male, nine female), who consumed either OLE (51 mg oleuropein; 10 mg HT), or a matched control (separated by a 4-week wash out) on a single occasion. Vascular function was measured by digital volume pulse (DVP), while blood collected at baseline, 1, 3 and 6 h was cultured for 24 h in the presence of lipopolysaccharide in order to investigate effects on cytokine production. Urine was analysed for phenolic metabolites by HPLC. DVP-stiffness index and ex vivo IL-8 production were significantly reduced (P< 0·05) after consumption of OLE compared to the control. These effects were accompanied by the excretion of several phenolic metabolites, namely HT and oleuropein derivatives, which peaked in urine after 8-24 h. The present study provides the first evidence that OLE positively modulates vascular function and IL-8 production in vivo, adding to growing evidence that olive phenolics could be beneficial for health. Be well! JP

  12. JP Says:

    Updated 03/10/16:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1188-y/fulltext.html

    Eur J Nutr. 2016 Mar 7.

    Impact of phenolic-rich olive leaf extract on blood pressure, plasma lipids and inflammatory markers: a randomised controlled trial.

    PURPOSE: Dietary polyphenols have been demonstrated to favourably modify a number of cardiovascular risk markers such as blood pressure (BP), endothelial function and plasma lipids. We conducted a randomised, double-blind, controlled, crossover trial to investigate the effects of a phenolic-rich olive leaf extract (OLE) on BP and a number of associated vascular and metabolic measures.

    METHODS: A total of 60 pre-hypertensive [systolic blood pressure (SBP): 121-140 mmHg; diastolic blood pressure (DBP): 81-90 mmHg] males [mean age 45 (±SD 12.7 years, BMI 26.7 (±3.21) kg/m2] consumed either OLE (136 mg oleuropein; 6 mg hydroxytyrosol) or a polyphenol-free control daily for 6 weeks before switching to the alternate arm after a 4-week washout.

    RESULTS: Daytime [-3.95 (±SD 11.48) mmHg, p = 0.027] and 24-h SBP [-3.33 (±SD 10.81) mmHg, p = 0.045] and daytime and 24-h DBP [-3.00 (±SD 8.54) mmHg, p = 0.025; -2.42 (±SD 7.61) mmHg, p = 0.039] were all significantly lower following OLE intake, relative to the control. Reductions in plasma total cholesterol [-0.32 (±SD 0.70) mmol/L, p = 0.002], LDL cholesterol [-0.19 (±SD 0.56) mmol/L, p = 0.017] and triglycerides [-0.18 (±SD 0.48), p = 0.008] were also induced by OLE compared to control, whilst a reduction in interleukin-8 [-0.63 (±SD 1.13) pg/ml; p = 0.026] was also detected. Other markers of inflammation, vascular function and glucose metabolism were not affected.

    CONCLUSION: Our data support previous research, suggesting that OLE intake engenders hypotensive and lipid-lowering effects in vivo.

    Be well!

    JP

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