Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke introduces olive leaf extract.
Olive leaf extract is taken from the Olea Europaea tree, which grows widely across the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. It is thought that the trees originated in Mesopotamia and Persia 7,000 years ago with the leaves being used as a medicine in the form of a tea made from the powdered leaves since Ancient Egyptian times. The main benefits of the leaves are down to their powerful anti- inflammatory and antioxidant constituents.
Here are some of its many health benefits:
Olive leaf may help prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure, managing blood cholesterol levels and helping to maintain the health of the arteries[i]. It increases the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes the arteries and increases blood flow, especially in cases of angina attacks where blood flow is temporarily restricted. It is thought that the polyphenols contained in olive leaf are responsible for its heart-healthy benefits[ii].
Olive leaf helps to reduce blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which starches are converted into simple sugars therefore preventing blood sugar ‘spikes’ which can damage cells and ultimately lead to diabetes. One study even showed olive leaf to be more effective than some blood sugar- lowering drugs[iii].
Olive leaf has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as a traditional remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, osteo-arthritis and gout. Recent studies[iv] back this claim citing that olive leaf may significantly reduce pain and inflammation and actually improve the microscopic appearance of joint tissue. It also appears to help reduce uric acid levels, which if they build up in the blood can crystalize around the joints leading to gout.
Olive leaf extract may help strengthen the immune system by increasing the production of killer cells. It’s a good herb to take just before the start of the cold and flu season to help strengthen immunity for the winter months ahead[v].
Olive leaf may help protect the brain from age-related degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia[vi]. It works by reducing inflammation and reducing oxidative stress, which can damage the neurons in the brain. It may also help in both the prevention and recovery of stroke.