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Olive Leaf Extract

What Should I Know About It?

By

Updated June 27, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Olive leaf extract is a natural substance long used in traditional medicine. Sourced from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea), olive leaf extract is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Olive leaf extract contains a number of compounds thought to influence health. These compounds include oleuropein, a substance found to possess antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating properties in scientific studies.

Uses for Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract is typically touted for treatment or prevention of the following health problems:

Benefits Of Olive Leaf Extract

Although there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of olive leaf extract, a number of preliminary studies have found that olive leaf extract may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:

1) Diabetes

Olive leaf extract may aid in diabetes control, according to a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2012. For the study, 79 adults with type 2 diabetes took either a supplement containing olive leaf extract or a placebo every day for 14 weeks. By the study's end, participants given olive leaf extract showed a significantly greater decrease in blood sugar levels (compared to members of the placebo group).

2) High Blood Pressure

Olive leaf extract shows promise in the treatment of high blood pressure, according to a 2002 study published in the German journal Arzneimittel-Forschung. In the study, tests on rats revealed that olive leaf extract may have blood-pressure-lowering effects.

Another animal-based study (published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2003) also found that olive leaf extract may help lower blood pressure. In a series of experiments involving rats, the study's authors determined that olive extract may help prevent atherosclerosis and insulin resistance as well.

3) Osteoporosis

Preliminary research suggests that olive leaf extract may help protect against osteoporosis. In tests on human cells, the authors of a 2011 study from Osteoporosis International discovered that oleuropein may help inhibit the buildup of fat cells in bone marrow (a process known to interfere with bone-building and, in turn, contribute to the development of osteoporosis).

4) Arthritis

Olive leaf extract holds promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis, according to a 2012 study published in Phytotherapy Research. In tests on rats, the study's authors found that olive leaf extract may help alleviate osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation.

Safety

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing olive leaf extract. However, there's some concern that olive leaf extract may trigger certain mild side effects, such as stomach pain and headache.

Where To Find Olive Leaf Extract

Widely available for purchase online, olive leaf extract is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Briante R, Patumi M, Terenziani S, Bismuto E, Febbraio F, Nucci R. "Olea europaea L. leaf extract and derivatives: antioxidant properties." J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4934-40.

El SN, Karakaya S. "Olive tree (Olea europaea) leaves: potential beneficial effects on human health." Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):632-8.

Gong D, Geng C, Jiang L, Wang L, Yoshimura H, Zhong L. "Mechanisms of olive leaf extract-ameliorated rat arthritis caused by kaolin and carrageenan." Phytother Res. 2012 Mar;26(3):397-402. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3567.

Khayyal MT, el-Ghazaly MA, Abdallah DM, Nassar NN, Okpanyi SN, Kreuter MH. "Blood pressure lowering effect of an olive leaf extract (Olea europaea) in L-NAME induced hypertension in rats." Arzneimittelforschung. 2002;52(11):797-802.

Santiago-Mora R, Casado-Díaz A, De Castro MD, Quesada-Gómez JM. "Oleuropein enhances osteoblastogenesis and inhibits adipogenesis: the effect on differentiation in stem cells derived from bone marrow." Osteoporos Int. 2011 Feb;22(2):675-84.

Somova LI, Shode FO, Ramnanan P, Nadar A. "Antihypertensive, antiatherosclerotic and antioxidant activity of triterpenoids isolated from Olea europaea, subspecies africana leaves." J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Feb;84(2-3):299-305.

Wainstein J, Ganz T, Boaz M, Bar Dayan Y, Dolev E, Kerem Z, Madar Z. "Olive leaf extract as a hypoglycemic agent in both human diabetic subjects and in rats." J Med Food. 2012 Jul;15(7):605-10. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0243.

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