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The Secret Life of Olive Oil

December 23, 2008 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

There’s a trend in modern medicine in which natural substances are isolated and then transformed into artificial chemicals which can be tested, patented and eventually sold as prescription medications. This has become the accepted mode by which conventional medicine has chosen to incorporate nature into science. But a lesson that’s been learned time and time again is that science is often not very good at accurately replicating nature. A recent example of this is currently under development. It’s a work in progress and I’d like to give you a tour of the process. Our story picks up in Granada, Spain.

Olive OilDrs. Javier Menendez and Antonio Segura-Carretero just published a study in the journal, BMC Cancer. Their research showed that extra virgin olive oil could suppress the activity of a certain type of breast cancer cell.

Before we get to the heart of the matter, let’s examine exactly what extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is. EVOO is made from the first pressing of the olive fruit. It is not purified or stripped of any of its healthful components, which is the case with other olive oils. Therefore, EVOO is widely regarded as the healthiest and most natural form of olive oil.

EVOO vs Breast Cancer

In this current investigation, Dr. Menendez and Dr. Segura-Carretero tested a number of EVOO extracts on a very aggressive form of breast cancer cells. Their preliminary results were very promising: All the EVOO extracts they tested successfully combated the breast cancer cells.

But there’s a twist to this story. The researchers then tried to find drug-like chemicals in the olive oil. They isolated individual chemicals from olive oil and also tested them against the same breast cancer cells. The results speak for themselves: the drug-like chemicals failed to combat the cancer cells.

What this tells us is that a) the natural extracts of olive oil successfully fought the breast cancer cells and b) when drug-like chemicals, derived from olives, were tested … they failed to produce positive results.

In this instance nature was shown to be more effective than conventional medicine. But at this time, the modern medical establishment doesn’t allow foods to be used as therapies for major illnesses such as cancer. So, we often end up getting chemical versions of natural substances. Sometimes they’re improvements over what nature first provided. Often times they’re not.

Perhaps a time will come when the best remedies can be prescribed regardless of their origin. Until then, I believe the wisest approach is for all of us to stay well in the first place. And we can help improve our odds of doing so by utilizing the many gifts that nature provides.

Tip of the Day: You can incorporate more EVOO into your diet by making your own salad dressing and marinades at home. You can also use EVOO for low temperature cooking (preferably less than 300F degrees). Or go one step further and simply eat whole olives. They’re delicious and are even less refined than EVOO!

Be well!


Referenced Material

Link – The Health Benefits of Whole Olives

Link – Olive Oil vs. Breast Cancer Study

Link – Olive Oil May Suppress Breast Cancer

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2 Comments & Updates to “The Secret Life of Olive Oil”

  1. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:


    BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015, 15:52

    Can red yeast rice and olive extract improve lipid profile and cardiovascular risk in metabolic syndrome?: A double blind, placebo controlled randomized trial

    Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) comprises a spectrum of clinical phenotypes in which dyslipidemia, dysglycemia and hypertension are clustered and where all share a high level of oxidative stress and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This study examines the effect of a nutritional supplement combining red yeast rice and olive fruit extract on the lipid profile and on oxidative stress in a population of patients with MetS.

    Methods: In a double blind placebo controlled randomized trial, 50 persons with MetS, as defined by the ATPIII criteria, received the study product or placebo for 8 weeks. The study product contained 10.82 mg of monacolins and 9,32 mg of hydroxytyrosol per capsule, and is commercialized as Cholesfytol plus. The primary outcome measure was the difference in LDL reduction between intervention and control groups. Furthermore, differences in changes of CH, HDL, ApoA1, ApoB, HbA1c and oxLDL were measured, as well as side-effects, CK elevation, changes in clinical parameters and in cardiovascular risk.

    Results: In the intervention group, LDL cholesterol was lowered by 24% whereas it increased by 1% in the control group (p < 0.001). Other effects observed were a change in total cholesterol (−17% in the intervention group vs +2% in the control group, p < 0.001), apolipoprotein B (−15% vs +6%, p < 0.001), and TG (−9% vs + 16%, p = 0.02). Oxidized LDL decreased by 20% vs an increase of 5% in the control group (p < 0.001). Systolic and diastolic arterial blood pressure decreased significantly by 10 mmHg (vs 0% in the control group, p = 0.001) and 7 mmHg (vs 0% in the control group, p = 0.05) respectively. One person in the intervention group, who suffered from Segawa’s syndrome, dropped out because of severe muscle ache. Conclusions: The combination of active products in this study may be an alternative approach to statins in people who do not need, or cannot or do not want to be treated with chemical statins. Side effects, effects on oxidative stress and on glucose metabolism need to be examined more thoroughly. Be well! JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update 06/06/15:


    J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015 Apr 29;14:38.

    The effect of topical olive oil on the healing of foot ulcer in patients with type 2 diabetes: a double-blind randomized clinical trial study in Iran.

    BACKGROUND: Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) is the most costly and devastating complication of diabetes mellitus which can lead to infection, gangrene, amputation, and even death if the necessary care is not provided. Nowadays, some herbal products have shown therapeutic effects on healing of DFU. So, this study aimed to assess the effects of topical olive oil on the healing of DFU.

    METHODS: This double-blind randomized clinical trial study was conducted in Diabetes Clinic of Ahvaz Golestan hospital, Iran, in 2014. Thirty-four patients with DFU of Wagner’s ulcer grade 1 or 2 were enrolled in this study. Patients who were randomly assigned to intervention group (n = 17) received topical olive oil in addition to routine cares, whereas patients in control group (n = 17) just received routine cares. Intervention was done once a day for 4 weeks in both groups, and in the end of each week; the ulcers were assessed and scored. Data was collected by demographic and clinical characteristics checklists as well as diabetic foot ulcer healing checklist, and was analyzed by SPSS version 19 software using descriptive (mean and standard deviation) and analytic (student’s sample t-test, chi-square and repeated-measures analysis of variance) statistics.

    RESULTS: At the end of 4(th) week, there was a significant differences between two groups regarding to 3 parameters of ulcer including degree (P = 0.03), color (P = 0.04) and surrounding tissues (P < 0.001) as well as total status of ulcer (P = 0.001), while related to ulcer drainages no significant difference was seen between the two groups (P = 0.072). At the end of the follow up, olive oil significantly decreased ulcer area (P = 0.01) and depth (P = 0.02) compared with control group. Complete ulcer healing in the intervention group was significantly greater than control group (73.3% vs. 13.3%, P = 0.003) at the end of follow up. Also, there were no adverse effects to report during the study in intervention group. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicated that olive oil in combination with routine cares is more effective than routine cares alone, and is without any side effect. However, further studies are required in the future to confirm these results. Be well! JP

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