The Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract

What Should I Know About It?

olive leaf extract
Olive leaf extract is sourced from the leaves of the olive tree. Zero Creatives/Cultura/Getty Images

Olive leaf extract is a natural substance long used in traditional medicine. Sourced from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea), olive leaf extract is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Olive leaf extract contains a number of compounds thought to influence health. These compounds include oleuropein, a substance found to possess antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating properties in scientific studies.

Uses for Olive Leaf Extract

In alternative medicine, olive leaf extract is typically touted for treatment or prevention of the following health problems:

Benefits Of Olive Leaf Extract

Although there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of olive leaf extract, a number of preliminary studies have found that olive leaf extract may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:

1) Diabetes

Olive leaf extract may aid in diabetes control, according to a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2012. For the study, 79 adults with type 2 diabetes took either a supplement containing olive leaf extract or a placebo every day for 14 weeks. By the study's end, participants given olive leaf extract showed a significantly greater decrease in blood sugar levels (compared to members of the placebo group).

2) High Blood Pressure

Olive leaf extract shows promise in the treatment of high blood pressure, according to a 2002 study published in the German journal Arzneimittel-Forschung. In the study, tests on rats revealed that olive leaf extract may have blood-pressure-lowering effects.

Another animal-based study (published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2003) also found that olive leaf extract may help lower blood pressure.

In a series of experiments involving rats, the study's authors determined that olive extract may help prevent atherosclerosis and insulin resistance as well.

3) Osteoporosis

Preliminary research suggests that olive leaf extract may help protect against osteoporosis. In tests on human cells, the authors of a 2011 study from Osteoporosis International discovered that oleuropein may help inhibit the buildup of fat cells in bone marrow (a process known to interfere with bone-building and, in turn, contribute to the development of osteoporosis).

4) Arthritis

Olive leaf extract holds promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis, according to a 2012 study published in Phytotherapy Research. In tests on rats, the study's authors found that olive leaf extract may help alleviate osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation.

Caveats

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of supplements containing olive leaf extract. However, there's some concern that olive leaf extract may trigger certain mild side effects, such as stomach pain and headache.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Where To Find It

Widely available for purchase online, olive leaf extract is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using Olive Leaf Extract for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend olive leaf extract as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using olive leaf extract for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

Sources

Briante R, Patumi M, Terenziani S, Bismuto E, Febbraio F, Nucci R. "Olea europaea L. leaf extract and derivatives: antioxidant properties." J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4934-40.

El SN, Karakaya S. "Olive tree (Olea europaea) leaves: potential beneficial effects on human health." Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):632-8.

Gong D, Geng C, Jiang L, Wang L, Yoshimura H, Zhong L. "Mechanisms of olive leaf extract-ameliorated rat arthritis caused by kaolin and carrageenan." Phytother Res. 2012 Mar;26(3):397-402. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3567.

Khayyal MT, el-Ghazaly MA, Abdallah DM, Nassar NN, Okpanyi SN, Kreuter MH. "Blood pressure lowering effect of an olive leaf extract (Olea europaea) in L-NAME induced hypertension in rats." Arzneimittelforschung. 2002;52(11):797-802.

Santiago-Mora R, Casado-Díaz A, De Castro MD, Quesada-Gómez JM. "Oleuropein enhances osteoblastogenesis and inhibits adipogenesis: the effect on differentiation in stem cells derived from bone marrow." Osteoporos Int. 2011 Feb;22(2):675-84.

Somova LI, Shode FO, Ramnanan P, Nadar A. "Antihypertensive, antiatherosclerotic and antioxidant activity of triterpenoids isolated from Olea europaea, subspecies africana leaves." J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Feb;84(2-3):299-305.

Wainstein J, Ganz T, Boaz M, Bar Dayan Y, Dolev E, Kerem Z, Madar Z. "Olive leaf extract as a hypoglycemic agent in both human diabetic subjects and in rats." J Med Food. 2012 Jul;15(7):605-10. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0243.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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