Leaves of the olive tree were first used in Ancient Egypt for medicinal purposes. Considered to symbolize heavenly power, olive leaves have since been therapeutically included in the diet as herbal tea, an extract or powder. The leaves are rich in compounds that are potentially bioactive that may possess some anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, and antioxidant/anti-hypertensive properties.
There is an increasing number of studies that look into the medicinal capacity of olive leaf extract, highlighting its benefits in regulating blood pressure, increasing energy as well as supporting the immune system.
As a result of these promising scientific findings, many are looking into the medicinal potential of olive leaf extract as it steadily gains popularity and recognition in traditional and modern medicine.
Olive Leaf Extract - What is it?
The extract is sourced from the olive tree (Olea europaea) leaves. The tree belongs to the Oleaceae family that jasmine, lilac, the true ash tree, and forsythia are apart of. The evergreen shrub or tree is naturally found in Africa, the Mediterranean, and Asia. It is believed by researchers that the tree may have originated 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, where ancient Mesopotamia and Persia used to be.
The tree is typically short in stature and will rarely exceed 26-49 feet in height. Its small flowers are feathery and white-colored with leaves of a silver-green hue to match. Olives are generally harvested when they are green to purple. The olive seed is often called the pit while the British usually call it the stone.
Around the early part of the 1980s, crushed leaves of the tree were used to help lower fever. Some few decades down the road, the leaves are now used in the treatment of malaria via tea blends.
In Morocco, the leaves are also infused to help control diabetes and to regulate blood sugar. The numerous medicinal properties of the leaf extract are credited to the numerous powerful compounds that the plant possesses.
One compound found in olive leaf is secoiridoid oleuropein. This bioactive compound makes up for about 9% of the leaves’ dry matter.
Pure Mountain Botanicals notes that there are also a variety of other bioactive compounds that can be found in olive leaf including flavonoids, secoiridoids, as well as triterpenes. Known as plant metabolites, these components offer a whole host of benefits through their antioxidant effects and pathways that signal the cells.
Another important component of olive leaf, oleuropein, has received attention since the 1900s due to its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. There are studies revealing that the polyphenol oleuropein is a powerful antioxidant that can be instrumental in naturally lowering blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease. The compound has also displayed functions that are anti-cancer as it seems to help animal tumors regress if not totally disappear.
Olive Leaf Extract and Olive Oil— What’s the difference?
A lot of people should be forgiven for thinking that the two are the same; They come from the same source, after all. However, they are actually different. Olive oil comes from the olive fruits where-as olive leaf extract comes from the tree’s leaves. Sure, they are sourced from the very same plant but they are made using different parts of the tree.
Olive Leaf Extract for Skincare
A number of studies concerning the extract and its effects on the skin were conducted and it was revealed that the extract can be instrumental towards helping the skin heal itself more rapidly. They have also found that it can help inhibit skin cancer and tumor growth.
There is a bevy of products for skincare that use the extract from the olive leaves that are out there today. These products range from those that hydrate and moisturize the skin.
When applied topically, it’s soothing and hydrating properties will help reduce blood flow and redness and it is even considered more effective than Vitamin E. The polyphenol oleuropein is credited for this particular characteristic. After scientists have identified and isolated it, they have determined that it is the same source of the all-too-familiar bitter taste that top-quality olive oils have— and that’s on top of the many medicinal properties it possesses.
The leaves are also known to contain flavonoids including kaempferol, rutin and quercetin. These phytonutrients are known to help protect the skin against a variety of harsh elements in the environment.
Who should use olive leaf extract?
Anybody can benefit from the use of the extract. Those with acne scars can benefit from the use of these products too as well as those with superficial wounds.
Antibacterial and non-irritating, the extract is ideal for keeping sensitive skin moisturized, even those that are riddled with conditions like eczema or acne. The oil can just be used as a treatment via topical application to protect and hydrate the skin.
Things to Remember when Taking Olive Leaf Extract
This amazing super-ingredient should be safe for anyone to consume. On top of its multiple benefits to the skin, the extract is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which will allow it to work wonders in addressing a whole host of health conditions.
This includes regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, keeping the cognitive functions properly functional, preventing certain cancers, as well as fighting off arthritis and diabetes.