It’s no secret that the oil from olives is full of health benefits. The stuff is a staple of the Mediterranean diet—those who follow the eating plan have been shown to live longer. But there’s a lesser-known byproduct of the plant that could bring a major boost to your life: olive leaf extract (OLE).
Olive oil and olive leaf extract “are both products of the olive plant, but the leaves contain much higher concentrations of the therapeutic substance oleuropein than is found in the fruit where the oil is derived,” says Charles Passler, DC, a nutritionist and life coach. Oleuropein, for those of you wondering, “is an immune booster with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities,” he says.
There are three ways of getting your fix of OLE according to Dr. Passler: 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” Dr. Passler says; however, he says that replacing your green tea with olive leaf extract tea is still beneficial since it has twice the amount of antioxidants. And 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, first consult your doctor.
Below are 8 olive leaf extract benefits to know about.
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” Dr. Passler says. 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)” Dr. Passler says. 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,” Dr. Passler says. 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,” Dr. Passler says.
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.