Olive leaf is a medically important herb with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. The ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean cultures were aware of olive leaf benefits and used it to promote good health. Olive leaf extract finds mention as a healing tincture to treat tropical illnesses in Volume 13 of the 1854 issue of Pharmaceutical Journal. Since 1995, olive leaf extract and olive products have been used in alternative medicine to treat a variety of health issues.
The presence of a bitter chemical called oleuropein in the olive leaf is responsible for the many olive leaf benefits; this chemical can also be found in other parts of the olive tree and explains its overall hardiness. Taking olive leaf supplements daily can enhance the immune system, and contain and stop the spread of pathogens. In case of viral infections, olive leaf interrupts amino acid production in viruses and prevents viral replication. Olive leaf has been found to be very effective in treating influenza, common cold, pneumonia, malaria, dengue, meningitis, encephalitis, shingles, psoriasis, candida infections, herpes and gonorrhea.
The antioxidant properties of olive leaf curtail the activities of free radicals and prevent these reactive chemical substances from causing cellular damage. Researchers are looking into the effectiveness of using olive leaf extract to treat cancers and tumors. Extract from the olive leaf is used with olive oil to make soaps and anti-wrinkle cosmetics.
Olive leaf extract is available as olive leaf liquid concentrate, olive leaf capsules, olive leaf powder and dried olive leaf tea. There may be more olive leaf benefits from fresh-picked leaf liquid extract than from the dried versions. If taking olive leaf dietary supplements and nutritional supplements, it is a good idea to check if they are made using pure olive leaf extract; some products use inferior extracts that are, naturally, not as effective.
While olive leaf benefits are plentiful, it is important that users be aware of olive leaf side effects before trying any olive leaf supplements. The body detoxification brought about by olive leaf extract can cause some adverse reactions and some people may suffer from headaches, joint pains or diarrhea; resting and drinking plenty of water can usually clear these issues. Since olive leaf extract is known to lower blood glucose and blood pressure, it may not be advisable for patients suffering from diabetes or low blood pressure. There has been little research about how olive leaf extract reacts with other medications, or if it is entirely safe to be taken during pregnancies. As in the case of most alternative medications, it is best to take olive leaf extract products under the guidance of a qualified doctor.