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Olive Leaf Extract – The Healing Power of Plants

Science has been studying the chemical world of plants trying to find compounds that will benefit mankind for many years now. These natural compounds are found in roots, stems, leaves, fruits and vegetables. Science gives them technical names like polyphenols, flavanoids, flavonols, carotenoids, tocotrienols and proanthocyanidins for examples. To keep things simple we will call these substances phytochemicals or phytonutrients. The research surrounding these phyto (plant based) nutrients is very exciting and is on the forefront of leading vitamin, herbal and pharmaceutical companies. It is believed that many of these compounds protect us from our environment. Today’s article will center on the benefits of a new/old plant, the olive leaf.

The use of olive leaf as medicine goes far back in history. The olive leaf is the first botanical listed in the bible. In Genesis 8:11 “and the dove came in to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth” and in Ezekiel 47:12 “the fruit thereof shall be for meat and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Was this the olive leaf? It was the ancient Egyptians that may have first used the olive leaf in practical applications. The first formal medical mention of olive leaf was a cure for malaria and fevers in the mid 1800’s. A preparation of the boiled leaves was used and also an alcoholic tincture.

These early uses of the olive leaf led researchers in the mid 60’s to isolate a bitter compound names oleuropein (oh-lee-or-oh-pin). It is this compound that helps keep insects and bacteria from damaging the olive tree. It is present in the oil, the bark, the leaves and fruit of the tree. A Dutch researcher determined that the active ingredient in oleuropein is a substance called elenolic acid. It was found to exhibit powerful anti-bacterial effects.

Upjohn, a major pharmaceutical company, did numerous experiments with this substance. They found that it inhibited the growth of many viruses and parasitic protazoans. They also discovered that there were no toxic side effects to the host even at high doses. Due to obstacles encountered by the company in animal testing, research into the substance calcium elenolate was dropped as a powerful anti-viral drug.

In the early 1990’s research was resumed by another company and the substance trademarked Olivir, a non toxic herbal virucide and bacteriacide became available on the market. Olivir is a proprietary preparation made by extracting certain chemicals form a specific species of olive leaf.

So what is the big deal about olive leaf? What is it good for and what benefits can a person see when using this compound?

Oleuropein has been shown to be effective in the treatment of cold and flu, lowering blood pressure, relieving arrhythmias, and preventing intestinal spasms, cholesterol lowering, blood sugar lowering, and reduction of uric acid build-up. This is in addition to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions.

Researchers credit a number of unique properties to olive leaf preparations. These are:

  • An ability to interfere with critical amino acid production essential for viruses.
  • The ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by interrupting virus shedding and budding in cell membranes.
  • The ability to penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.
  • It is able to neutralize enzymatic actions by retroviruses thus preventing altering of RNA of healthy cells.
  • It can stimulate phagocytosis, which is an immune response where white cells ingest harmful microorganisms.

Olive leaf may be a true anti-viral agent since research shows it selectively blocks an entire virus specific system in the infected host.

From a more clinical perspective, olive leaf extracts have been used for a short period of time. Health professionals started using this in 1995 when it became available. It is showing promising results in many of the patients that have been using this product. Some of the conditions that it is being researched for are conditions associated with viruses, retroviruses, bacterium, and protozoa. These are influenza, the common cold, meningitis, Epstein Barr (EBV), Herpes I and II, shingles, HIV/ARC/AIDS, chronic fatigue, candida albicans, hepatitis B, pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, severe diarrhea, blood poisoning, and dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections.

Many people have stated that when they began using an olive leaf extract that they experienced more energy and a better state of well being. Olive leaf is potent and can generate an intestinal cleansing action. This cleansing action may produce in some people detox symptoms. This is known as the “die off” effect. It can affect us differently but the following are the reactions noted. Extreme fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, muscle/joint ache, and or other flu like symptoms. Not everyone experiences these effects, but if you do the following will reduce them:

  • Reduce the number of tablets or stop for a while.
  • You may need a day or two or even a week to allow the body to process this die off effect.
  • When you feel better resume the supplement at a low dose.
  • Use other co-nutrients to aid liver detox processes.

Other than this “die off” effect olive leaf appears to create no side effects.

There is no doubt that olive leaf extract has real healing power but it is important to remember that it should not be considered a cure-all or panacea. It can be part of a comprehensive holistic program that includes diet, exercise and nutritional support. It is equally important that you research for yourself the benefits of any substance you are considering using. A great resource on this substance is an article written by James R. Privitera, M.D., Olive Leaf Extract- A New/Old Healing Bonanza For Mankind.

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