Olive leaf comes from the tree that gives us olives. It was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt. (5) Today, it is gaining recognition as being effective in not only helping the immune system combat invading pathogens, but it also has been shown to assist other body systems in fighting ailments, as well.
What is Olive Leaf?
Olives contain compounds called polyphenols which occur naturally in plants and have been shown to act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which cause damage leading to inflammation and illness. Many factors can contribute to free radical damage including: pollution, stress, too much sun exposure, poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. The two main polyphenols in olives are oleacein and oleuropein. They have been shown to boost the immune system, promote cardiovascular health, provide antioxidant protection and increase energy. (4) Olive leaf contains all of the same polyphenols as olives but with less fat and in a higher concentration. Olive leaf is typically used in the form of tea, pills, or tablets.
Olive Leaf as a Virus Fighter
Recent scientific studies have shown that olive leaf may truly be an antiviral compound due to its ability to interfere with amino acid production that is critical for the survival of a virus within its host. It has also been shown to stop a virus’s ability to replicate. Its broad-spectrum killing power has proven effective against viruses, bacteria and fungal infections. (6) According to a report published in Alternative Medicine Review, olive leaf interacts with proteins in flu and cold virus particles to stop infection. (7) It has been shown to shorten the duration of illness and to sometimes ward it off altogether.
Olive Leaf and Weight Management
A study in 2014 demonstrated that supplementation with oleuropein in mice consuming a highfat diet resulted in reduced body weight and reduced weight gain. (2) In a 2016 study, researchers administered one of the main polyphenols in olive leaf, oleuropein, to obese rats that were consuming high levels of cholesterol. Over the course of eight weeks, they had lost fat and body weight and exhibited an overall improved metabolism. (1) These are exciting findings if they translate to humans in a similar manner–olive leaf may potentially help manage weight and reduce obesity.
Olive Leaf and Heart Health
Multiple heart conditions seem to be affected positively by olive leaf. From an antioxidant perspective, olive leaf protects blood vessels from damage. The above mentioned 2016 study involving rats showed that, in addition to reducing body weight, the olive leaf extract also reduced cholesterol. The potential of similar effects in humans is compelling. In a 2008 study in 40 hypertensive identical twins, olive leaf extract lowered blood pressure over an eight-week period. (3) The ability for olive leaf to reduce blood pressure has been studied for two decades. Researchers continue to find this same result and it comes without side effects. Multiple studies confirm that oleuropein provides important health benefits that may help support various areas of healthy heart function. (6)