In many parts of the world, including Morocco, Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon and Syria, olives are a staple food found on every table.
They are abundant and cheap, and come in a variety of forms, from green to pink to black, and are cured in a multitude of ways.
But another part of the olive harvest is less known, yet imparts tremendous health benefits. That part of the harvest is olive leaf – a traditional medicinal herb whose therapeutic uses date back centuries.
Early references to the olive leaf as medicine can be found in the Bible:
“The fruit thereof shall be for meat and the leaf thereof for medicine.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
The ancient Egyptians attributed heavenly powers to the olive leaf and used preparations of it in the process of mummification.
In traditional Moroccan medicine, an infusion of olive leaf has been consumed to stabilize blood sugar and control diabetes. This use has been corroborated in published studies.
Today, olive leaf is becoming increasingly well-known and appreciated outside of olive-growing regions, as science on its benefits expands.
They contain many potentially bioactive compounds that have antioxidant, antihypertensive, antiatherogenic, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic properties.
The Amazing health benefits of olive leaves:
- Inhibition and prevention of cancer
Olive leaf extract has been shown to have anti-melanoma effect in mice. Late phase tumor treatment significantly reduced tumor volume. Other studies have also shown protective capabilities against breast cancer and showed an arrested growth in a tissue culture of human breast cancer cells at an early stage in the growth cycle.
- Building bone
A Spanish study from 2011 found that oleuropein stimulates the production of bone-building cells (osteoblasts), thus preventing the loss of bone density and fights osteoporosis.
- Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties
The oleuropein and other compound found in olive leaf have a unique feature that makes the leaves particularly effective in fighting against various micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses. These substances impair the ability of the viruses to create amino acids, thus preventing their ability to reproduce and multiply. These compounds act just against the micro-organisms, actually achieving what antibiotics could not achieve – a targeted attack of the problem, instead of attacking the micro-organisms along with the body.
- Antioxidant effect
Olive leaf also contains many phenols, antioxidants that neutralize the action of free radicals. Free radicals are active substances that damage the process of creating DNA. A damaged replication of DNA causes our cells to age more rapidly.
- Anti-inflammatory properties
One of the most common uses of olive leaf is healing various infections in the body. The antimicrobial activity of oleuropein reduces and improves the inflammation.
- Lowering blood pressure
It has been found that oleuropein is able to relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure and even prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition, olive leaf also helps to stop irregular heartbeat, improve blood flow in the coronary arteries and balances blood sugar levels.
- Fighting cholesterol
In addition to all these benefits, olive leaf is able to fight the formation of bad cholesterol (LDL) by preventing its oxidation. This oxidized cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol and is detrimental to our health.
- Strengthening the immune system
Olive leaves have traditionally been used to enhance the functioning of the immune system and enhance the body’s efforts to fight invading organisms. A liquid extract made from fresh olive leaves was shown to have an antioxidant capacity almost double green tea extract and 4 times higher than vitamin C.
- Medicine against cold
Because olive leaf works excellently against different viruses, it is effective in preventing and treating viral diseases that often have no cure by conventional medicine. Among these viral diseases are cold, flu and even herpes.
- Treating other diseases
Since olive leaf works against bacteria, viruses and even against fungal infections (such as candida), it is effective for treating a wide variety of diseases. Among other things, the leaves act against malaria, polio, psoriasis, allergies, colds, tuberculosis, various infections (in the lungs, liver, teeth, ears and many others), chronic fatigue and more.
How to prepare olive leaf tea at home?
Olive leaf can be purchased as an extract in health stores or online. Always make sure the extract was made from organic olive leaves to make sure it’s pesticide free.
If you have access to olive trees, you can make your own tea, just make sure the leaves are of a good quality and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Pick olive leaves in the mid-morning when any dew has dried. The leaves should ideally be oven-dried at just below 150 deg F. (65 deg C). When the leaves are dry, crush them by hand and remove the stalks. Steep 1 tsp of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain. You may drink three cups a day. The tea is bitter so sweeten with honey. Take this tea with food to avoid stomach irritation.
Olive leaf considers to be safe, but can interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs. In addition, people with low blood pressure are better to pay attention to their blood pressure, so the extract doesn’t reduce it too much. As a general rule, it’s always best to check with your doctor first before taking it.