"Olive leaf extract is exactly what it sounds like—an extract of nutrients derived directly from olive tree leaves," says Nora Minno, RD, a New York-based dietitian and Daily Burn trainer. It is highly concentrated with antioxidants, mostly polyphenols, that have been shown to help prevent certain diseases and provide a number of health benefits."
One of the key components of olive leaf extract is a polyphenol called oleuropein, which is a powerful antioxidant most known for its blood-pressure-lowering properties.
"Oleuropein is also thought to have other cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-angiogenic, hypoglycemic, and neuroprotective functions, and is considered a key contributor to many of the benefits often associated with the Mediterranean diet," says Minno. "While many of these associations have been made in the research, it’s important to remember that that does not guarantee the prevention of certain diseases or certain outcomes."
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Minno explains that there are many ways to make olive leaf extract.
"Scientists are still researching different methods for extraction that allow for maximum potency and purity," she says. "Some make their own extracts by soaking olive leaves in a 40-percent or more alcohol solution, such a vodka, for several weeks then straining to create a tincture."
There are three ways of getting your fix of OLE according to Charles Passler, DC, a nutritionist and life coach: in supplement form, in a tea, or topically in a cream. A pill, capsule, or tincture offers the highest dosages of oleuropein. Teas, on the other hand, "are mostly for disease prevention because their content of oleuropein is usually much lower than is found in supplements," says Dr. Passler; however, he says that replacing your green tea with olive leaf extract tea is still beneficial since it has twice the number of antioxidants. Minno adds that "there is no one method of consumption that has been proven more effective than others." If you're dealing with a wound, acne, or irritated skin, Dr. Passler says a topical OLE cream can be helpful.
But before you start any new treatments or supplement routines, be sure to first consult your doctor.
"Since oleuropein is known to lower blood pressure, it is typically not recommended for those with already low blood pressure or for those who are on medications to lower blood pressure," says Minno. "Oleuropein has also been shown to help lower blood sugar, therefore it’s not recommended to consume if you are taking insulin or other blood sugar medications."
Where to buy olive leaf extract
This cream from Attitude Super Leaves Science is made with feuilles d’olivier, aka, olive leaf extract.
The top benefits of olive leaf extract
1. Olive leaf extract battles inflammation
A number of studies first conducted on mice, then humans, have found that oleuropein has major anti-inflammatory properties. And since inflammation is responsible for no shortage of physical and mental health issues, this is a major health benefit.
2. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can help treat arthritis
"Studies have shown that oleuropein may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and may also be helpful in treating the pain and discomfort of both osteoarthritis and RA" says Dr. Passler. This is because OLE is anti-inflammatory and arthritis is essentially inflammation of the joints.
3. OLE could play a role in cancer prevention
"Olive Leaf Extract’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory seem to play a role in the findings of several animal studies showing its ability to prevent a wide variety of cancers (breast, prostate, bladder, and skin)" says Dr. Passler. More research must be done to determine how and to what extent OLE plays a role in cancer prevention.
4. It could also help prevent cognitive decline
"Animal research has indicated that oleuropein may help reduce the brain inflammation related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s," says Dr. Passler. Oleuropein helps promote a process responsible for fighting against indicators and potential causes of cognitive decline.
5. Taken regularly, OLE can help lower your blood pressure
Another way in which olive leaf extract boosts your overall health is by lowering your blood pressure, a 2017 study found. A lower blood pressure lessens your risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. It was a small study performed on men only, but its results were enough to make more research worthwhile.
6. It's good for heart health
The same study found that OLE could be beneficial when it comes to combatting cardiovascular diseases. "Compounds in Olive Leaves have been shown to help prevent the formation of arterial plaques related to heart attacks and strokes," says Dr. Passler.
7. It's helpful in preventing diabetes
"Studies have shown significant reductions in elevated LDL cholesterol blood sugar and Hemoglobin A1C in diabetic subjects taking olive leaf extract," says Dr. Passler. Advanced glycation end products are a compound that leads to diabetes. The study found that olive leaf extract was able to prevent the formation of this harmful compound.
The extract also impacts the way your body interacts with sugar—it controls glucose levels in the body and has hyperglycemic effects meaning it will keep your blood sugar from spiking.
8. It can increase your energy
Another beneficial compound found in olive leaf extract is oleanolic acid. This acid interacts with bile acids in a way that increases the metabolism, boosts the thyroid, and ultimately leads to increased energy, a 2006 study found.
Learn all about the benefits of olive oil, a cousin of olive leaf extract:
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