Olives are native to Asia Minor and Syria, but are cultivated in Mediterranean countries and also Chile, Peru and South Australia. Olive leaf was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt and was a symbol of heavenly power. It was also used to mummify pharaohs. More recent knowledge of the olive leaf's medicinal properties dates back to the early 1800s when pulverised leaves were used in a drink to lower fevers. A few decades later, green olive leaves were used in tea as a treatment for malaria.
Modern health professionals first started using Olive Leaf extract in 1995 when it first became available and although a long-term perspective is not yet possible, initial results are very positive. It is emerging as a very promising and unique herb with multiple applications. It shows considerable therapeutic action against many common conditions. Olive leaf extract is gaining recognition as a powerful defender against sickness, and numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the extract's beneficial properties. The reported benefits of olive leaf extract's range from promoting increased energy and healthy blood pressure, to supporting the cardiovascular system, and the immune system.
From research and clinical experience to date, we can say that supplemental olive leaf may be beneficial in the treatment for conditions caused by, or associated with, a virus, retrovirus, bacterium or protozoan. Among those treatable conditions are: influenza, the common cold, candida infections, meningitis, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), encephalitis, herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and 7, shingles (Herpes zoster), HIV/ARC/AIDS, chronic fatigue, hepatitis B, pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, dengue, severe diarrhea, and dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections.
Many people who live stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf as a preventive agent. Some patients have expressed other unexpected benefits of olive leaf, including improved psoriasis, normalisation of heart beat irregularities, diminished cravings, less pain from hemorrhoids, toothaches and chronically achy joints.
In the early 1900s scientists isolated a bitter compound called oleuropein from olive leaf that was thought to give the olive tree its disease resistance.
In 1962 an Italian researcher recorded that Oleuropein had the ability to lower blood pressure in animals. It dilates the blood vessels so that blood may flow more easily throughout the system. Other European researchers validated that claim and also found it to increase blood flow in the coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmia and prevent intestinal muscle spasms. In the years to come, a Dutch researcher identified that a primary ingredient in oleuropein inhibited the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. This chemical was elenolic acid. Further European research determined this compound to have strong bactericidal, antiviral and antifungal capabilities. A safety study on calcium elenolate was tested with laboratory animals and published by the Upjohn pharmaceutical company in 1970. The study concluded that even in doses several hundred times higher than recommended; no toxic or other adverse side effects were discovered.
Research suggests that olive leaf may be a true anti-viral compound because it appears to selectively block an entire virus-specific system in the infected host. This appears to offer healing effects not addressed by pharmaceutical antibiotics. Olive leaf's broad killing power includes an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production for viruses; an ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses by preventing virus shredding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane; the ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.
As an antioxidant, Olive leaf extract protects those blood vessels from damage, and has been shown to be effective in protecting the heart from coronary occlusion. When taken over an extended period of time, it is believed to reverse arteriosclerosis. Olive leaves are astringent and antiseptic. Both the leaves and the bark have valuable febrifuge qualities.