Olive Leaf is one of my favorite herbs for this time of year. I use olive leaf for immune enhancement and flu prevention. However, olive leaf is more than just a great anti-viral.
Olives in some form have been used throughout history. Olives and olive oil are referenced throughout the Bible. Olive leaf is the first herb mentioned after the flood. Olive oil was used in ancient times as a special anointing oil for priests and kings. The ancient Egyptians used an olive leaf extract to mummify their kings. Throughout the ages, teas made from olive leaf have been a popular folk remedy, particularly for combating fevers.
Tea from olive leaf is extremely bitter, and it is the bitter principle that is thought to have healing properties. Scientists have now isolated the bitter phytochemicals contained in the tree and leaves and have done significant research on these compounds. It is thought that these bitter compounds enable the olive tree to live for thousands of years by protecting the tree against insects and harmful microorganisms.
For the immune system, olive leaf inhibits many types of harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungus. Olive leaf has been used for Lyme disease, malaria, meningitis, Epstein-Barr, Herpes, HIV, shingles, the common cold and flu.
For the digestive system, olive leaf helps alleviate symptoms caused by harmful microorganisms such as diarrhea and peptic ulcers.
Olive leaf may also help alleviate certain chronic immune system disorders that may be caused by certain viruses or bacteria. These include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive leaf is helpful when dealing with parasitic and fungal conditions such as chronic yeast and fingernail and toenail fungus.
Olive leaf is also considered a cardiovascular herb. It is a potent antioxidant that may help prevent atherosclerosis by inhibiting oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Olive leaf increases blood circulation to the heart and improves the pumping action of the heart. Olive leaf also lowers blood pressure.
The best form of olive leaf has the highest content of oleuropein which is considered to be the “active constituent”. Many of the less expensive brands contain 10 percent or less oleuropein. The best supplements contain a minimum of 18 percent oleuropein. Remember this when shopping because the higher oleuropein content tends to increase price and with olive leaf, you really get what you pay for.
During flu season, I recommend taking 500 mg. of high oleuropein content olive leaf daily. This can be doubled or tripled during acute periods of exposure to colds and flu.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. She is available for private consultation by appointment.