Historical use of olive leaf extract
As noted by Şahin & Bilgin (2018), olive leaf was first used medicinally in ancient Egypt, and was the symbol of heavenly power. Egyptians used the oil extracted from olive leaf in mummification ceremonies. Olive tree leaves have been also widely used in traditional remedies in European and Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and others (El & Karakaya 2009), where olive leaf has been used in the treatment of conditions such as influenza, common cold, severe diarrhoea, dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections.
Health benefits of olive leaf extract
As described by Şahin & Bilgin (2018), many health benefits of olive leaf are related to the properties and chemical characteristics of olive leaf compounds such as biophenols, synthesized to protect the olive tree from environmental stresses such as high temperature and UV-radiation. Other potentially bioactive compounds found in olive leaves include oleuropein, flavonoids, and triterpenes (El & Karakaya 2009).
However, most of the researchers agree that the health benefits of olive leaf are mostly attributed to oleuropein, a compound with significant pharmacological effects such as powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-fighting activities (Sun et al 2017). As reported by Roxas & Jurenka (2007), the phytochemicals found in olive leaf extract have shown high antimicrobial and antiviral properties by interfering with the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate themselves and cause infection.
Anecdotal reports suggest that olive leaf extract taken at the onset of cold or flu symptoms prevents or shortens the duration of the disease. For viral sore throats, gargling with olive leaf tea may alleviate symptoms, possibly by decreasing inflammation and viral infectivity.
In recent in vitro study by Altındiş et al (2020), researchers investigated antiviral efficacy of olive leaf extract and propolis alone or in combination with acyclovir (a drug used to treat infections caused by certain types of viruses) in herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The authors observed antiviral efficacy of olive leaf extract with 1-hour and 3-hour incubation at a concentration 1.2 mg/ml. They observed the greatest decrease in viral quantity in the first one hour. The authors suggested that olive leaf extract may have direct antiviral activity or viral inhibition in early stages of replication by inhibiting binding of viral particles to the cell. The authors recommended that further comprehensive studies to identify the efficacy of olive leaf extract against other viruses should be conducted.
Olive leaf extract is available on Amazon in various forms (e.g. liquid, capsule or tablet)
References available on request
if you are taking any medications, always check drug-nutrient interactions first.
If nutrition is your passion, please click here to read about our restructured Level 6 Diploma course, credit rated by the University of Greenwich.
To sign up to our mailing list and receive details of Open Days, new courses and the BCNH Newsletter, please click here and make sure you check the ‘Email’ box to give us permission to contact you. We promise we’ll never share your details with a third party and we will try to send you only things you’re really interested in.