Olive leaf extract, as the name suggests, is an extract from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea). It is a potent medicinal extract that is known to:
- reduces cardiovascular risk
- lower blood pressure
- help treats type 2 diabetes
- support weight loss
- eliminate free radicals
- boost immunity
- fight herpes
- reduce inflammation
- and prevent cancer
It is classified as, gastroprotective (protects digestive system), neuroprotective (protects central nervous system), antimicrobial (inhibits microorganism growth), anticancer (reduces risk of cancer), anti-inflammatory (reduces risk of inflammation), antinociceptive (reduces pain stimuli), antioxidant (prevents oxidation or cell damage).
The benefits of Olive Leaf in Preventing and Aiding Maladies
Many of these incredible medicinal properties are attributed to the fact that the leaves of the olive tree contain an active ingredient called oleuropein. This nutrient is thought to contribute to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive leaf extract. Oleuropein has been shown to offer a protection against Alzheimer’s disease, and the antioxidant effects of olive leaf extract may also help with preventing damage or loss of dopamine neurons that is associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers believe olive leaf extract can have positive effects on atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which is the highest risk factor for heart disease. High levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and total cholesterol are risk factors for developing this disease. One animal study from assessed the effects of olive leaf extract on cholesterol levels. Rats who took the extract for eight weeks had significantly decreased cholesterol levels.
In one study, olive leaf extracts were shown to stop cancerous cell growth. Researchers suggest that the extract has strong antioxidant properties, but this is also one of the first studies on olive leaf extracts and their anticancer effects.
A review of olive leaf extract and type 2 diabetes found that olive leaf oil extract can also help to improve insulin secretion in cells. Animal studies have shown that olive leaf extract may reduce hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), reduce hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood) reduce blood glucose, plasma malondialdehyde, and other signs of oxidative stress (an imbalance of free radicals that can harm the body), reduce cholesterol, decrease serum glucose, and increase serum insulin. One human study found that people who took olive leaf extract tablets lowered their average blood sugar level and fasting plasma insulin levels. Olive leaf extract may also help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A 2017 study found that olive leaf extract successfully lowered blood pressure. A lower blood pressure can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
Along with heart-healthy benefits and type 2 diabetes protection, it makes sense that olive leaf extract could also help with weight loss. An animal study from 2014 researched the effect of olive leaf extract in preventing high-fat, diet-induced obesity. It’s thought that olive leaf extract prevents obesity by regulating the expression of genes that affect weight gain. It can also aid in reducing food intake.
Olive Oil as an Important Part of the Diet
Many people are familiar with the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which has commonly been linked to a decrease in chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. This is thought to be due to the focus on olive oil, leaves, and fruit in the diet, which have been used as traditional medicine for centuries in countries like Greece, Morocco, and Tunisia. Based on modern research of olive leaves, it appears that these Mediterranean cultures knew what we are now discovering—that the olive tree offers a diversity of incredible health benefits and medicinal uses.