Any time you pass along the proverbial olive branch — a sign of peace and forgiveness — you’re metaphorically passing along an ancient plant, Olea europaea. From this plant, we get olives — and olive oil. But did you know that the humble olive leaf provides many of the same health benefits as world-renowned olive oil — and more? Olive leaf extract benefits include boosting heart, digestive, and brain health, soothing joints, and supporting a healthy immune system.[1, 2, 3] It may even increase longevity and reduce signs of aging!
Throughout history, the olive branch — and its leaves — have been a sign of peace and forgiveness. Scholars note that doves brought an olive leaf back to Noah’s ark to show the flood was over. The olive tree is even referred to in Ezekiel 47:12 (NIV): "The fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." Later on, olive leaves made an appearance at the first Olympics in Greece. Winners received an olive wreath to represent peace, victory, honor, and unity.
What Is Olive Leaf Extract?
Unlike olive oil, which is made from pressed olives, olive leaf extract is made by condensing all the beneficial parts of the olive leaf itself into a liquid, or by creating a raw herbal extract by soaking finely ground leaves into a mixture of triple distilled water and glycerin, then gently extracting them into a concentrated liquid. This extract can be used by itself or combined with other herbs.
Olive leaves are packed full of polyphenols, notably oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, as well as caffeic acid, which you’ll also find in green coffee beans. Polyphenols are "reducing agents," which means they counter oxidative stress from free radicals and other cell damage.
The two main polyphenols (oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol) in olive leaves are beneficial for your heart, brain, and immune system. Further, they promote normal blood sugar and blood pressure and deter harmful organisms. What's not to love?
8 Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract
Here are a few of the benefits you’ll find in olive leaf extract.
1. Supports Immune Health
You can thank olive leaf’s oleuropein for giving your immune system a boost. Olive leaf extract can help you breathe easier and reduce the number of sick days you experience.
When student-athletes took olive leaf extract, it did just that. It not only reduced the number of sick days they needed but also improved their respiratory health. So, if you’re feeling stuffy or short of breath, give it a try.
2. Acts as an Antioxidant
Antioxidants are phytochemicals and compounds that counteract oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is just the damage caused to cells, often by so-called free radicals.
Olive leaf extract is a powerful antioxidant. Taking it regularly can protect your cells from damage before it happens. Olive leaf extract is an all-natural way of staying healthy, and it is sustainable too, since olive leaves are often considered a waste product of olive producers, but now you can use them for your health!
3. Promotes Heart Health
Taking olive leaf extract can support a healthy heart, thanks to its powerful polyphenols. Olive leaf promotes normal levels of LDL ("bad") and total cholesterol. This extract supports normal blood pressure and improves vascular function — in other words, how your heart and circulatory system operates.
Olive leaf can even reduce the levels of cytokines, molecules that can cause inflammation in your body. Cytokines can rapidly elevate when dealing with an assault on the immune system. By reducing cytokines when they aren’t needed, olive leaf promotes a normal response to inflammation.
4. Deters Harmful Organisms
Olive leaf’s oleuropein and caffeic acid can deter organisms that cause the sniffles and seasonal concerns. Better yet, they can help keep you from getting sick in the first place by boosting your immunity.
5. Protects Brain Health
As we age, we become susceptible to some age-related neurological issues. Most experts believe that aging results from oxidative stress caused by free radical damage, particularly to your cell’s mitochondria.
When free radical damage happens in the brain — and your natural antioxidants can’t keep up — it affects your ability to think, remember, and perform your bodily functions. You need to boost your brain power with healing foods and nutrients! Researchers suggest that olive leaf extract counteracts oxidative stress in the brain, which helps keep memory sharp and strong.
Olive leaf’s polyphenols may also prevent amyloid β protein aggregation in the brain, which is associated with age-related cognitive decline. This is a good thing because amyloid β protein aggregation is associated with age-related cognitive decline.
6. Promotes Normal Blood Sugar
Watching blood sugar levels is important for people with Type 2 diabetes, including people following a high-fat diet and anyone else whose body might struggle to regulate glucose levels.
Indeed, all people should strive to keep blood sugar levels in balance. Maintaining balanced blood sugar is especially important for those wanting to maintain or lose weight. The compounds in olive leaf extract actively work to promote normal insulin and blood sugar levels, which is helpful for everyone.
7. Protects Joints
Say goodbye to creaky bones and joints! Olive leaf extract has a chondroprotective effect, meaning it protects joints and cartilage. It also promotes a normal response to inflammation around joints, easing discomfort. Thanks to those properties, the cartilage protecting your bones stays intact.
Olive leaf extract promotes autophagy, which is the process where your body recycles unneeded tissues or cells that can accumulate. With olive leaf, you can continue to move fluidly without stiffness.
8. Reduces Signs of Aging
People following a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer, so it’s no surprise that olives and olive oil are a large part of the cuisine. Olive leaf extract, though, is even more concentrated in beneficial compounds than foods.
Best Ways to Take Olive Leaf Extract
Reputable manufacturers sell olive leaf extract either on its own or mixed with other herbs. Here are a few ways you’ll typically see this supplement.
For the healthiest option, choose a plant-based capsule filled with olive leaf extract. Always choose organic supplements.
You can buy olive leaf powder in bulk bags. Some people like to use it to make their own capsules or add it to tea, coffee, smoothies, or other beverages.
Liquid olive leaf supplements are taken with a dropper and are either pure olive leaf extract or mixed with other herbs. Global Healing’s Plant-Based Immune Boost Raw Herbal Extract™ is an advanced formula containing organic olive leaf along with elderberry, echinacea, enokitake, pine bark, and birch polypore mushroom.
Points to Remember
Olive leaf extract is made from the leaves of the olive tree and has the same healthy compounds as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) — plus more. The polyphenols in olive leaf extract include oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, and it also contains caffeic acid.
The effects of olive leaf include promoting a normal response to inflammation, deterring harmful organisms, supporting your immune system, and boosting heart and brain health. Olive leaf extract also promotes normal blood sugar, normal blood pressure, and normal total and LDL cholesterol. The polyphenols act as potent antioxidants, deterring free radical damage that causes oxidative stress.
You can find olive leaf extract available in stores as capsules, powder, or liquid extract. It’s sold alone or mixed with other herbs.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.