By Dr Ruth Cilento MB BS DBM DAc FACNEM ©dementiacareinternational.com
Olives as food and medicine are big news in Australia at present. They have been around almost as long as history itself, having been farmed in Crete about 3500 BC and mentioned many times in the Bible.
The tree, Olea Europea, comes originally from southwest Asia, and is related to the ash, lilac and jasmine. The green (unripe) and black (ripe) fruits are used for the extraction of oil and pickled for eating. The tree has a long life and records exist of trees up to 700 years old. Olive groves and orchards are found in the Mediterranean region, South Africa, China, Australia and New Zealand. Olives, olive oil and other olive-based products are sold worldwide.
The olive is unique because it produces oil that, when cold-pressed and unrefined, has the best health-giving properties of all fruit and vegetable oil. This is because, when heated, it does not break down into dangerous trans fatty acid until it reaches more than 200ºC, and most cooking is at temperatures less than that. Another huge advantage is that olive oil contains no cholesterol. These properties are the reason the Mediterranean way of eating tends to protect the heart and blood vessels from disease.
Backed by research, recently discovered benefits have created a resurgence of interest in olive extracts. Olive leaf extract is now recognised for its medicinal properties because it can help to control infections from germs, viruses and fungus. It has become valuable in medicine because so many strains of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.
The leaf contains 85% unsaturated fatty acid and 15% saturated omega 9 fatty acid plus vitamins A, C, D and E and carotene. But these figures can vary with the region and the soil in which trees are grown.
Olive oil extract is tasty, appetising and mildly laxative, and may be used to carry medicines taken internally. It can also be used on the skin as a moisturiser and liniment.
The oleuropein and elenolic acid contained in the pulp and leaves has been found to:
- Lower high blood pressure and positively affect blood flow to relieve spasm, arrhythmia and occlusion in the heart, muscles and brain
- Relieve inflammation, infections, fever and pain
- Aid the liver and pancreas in stabilising blood sugar levels in diabetics
- Stop the formation of the low-density lipid (‘bad’ one) because of its antioxidant properties
- Help in the formation of red blood cells and so control anaemia
- Assist in controlling pyorrhoea of the gums and falling hair.
Notable studies have shown that olive leaf extract has powerful healing properties as an antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent. So it can prove effective in treatment of herpes, Epstain-Barr, HIV and Cytomegalo viruses, intestinal worms and protozoa. It also assists in managing haemorrhoids, eczema, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, candida and many other conditions.
Add to all these pluses the fact that the olive itself is completely natural, non-toxic and totally safe, even in high doses, and it would seem to make sense to take olive leaf extract as a tonic or for the ailments listed in this article. As always, this should only be done under the supervision of your health care professional.