Nowadays, we like to think that science has all the answers – that, until it is proven, nothing is fact.  And it is true, science in many cases can provide supporting data to confirm something we know already.

This is especially the case in terms of herbal medicine.  Time and again we see results from studies confirming actions that have been used traditionally by herbalists.

One such study[1] was carried out on Olea africana (African olive).  Olea africana has been used for many years by the Bapedi people in South Africa.  The purpose of the Study was to validate its traditional use as an anti-microbial treatment.

Use Olive leaf an antibacterial or antifungal

Researchers from the University of Limpopo, South Africa found, as people have known traditionally, Olea africana has antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal actions and may be anti-microbial.

This comes as no surprise to herbalists.  In Europe herbalists have used its sister plant, Olea europaea, European Olive for years as an antiseptic and an antioxidant.

Reduces insulin sensitivity, diabetes

In another case of science confirming traditional use, olive leaf has been used traditionally to treat diabetes.  In 2013, scientists in New Zealand[2] carried out a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial with 46 participants and found that found olive leaf extract significantly improved insulin sensitivity in men at risk of metabolic syndrome.

Lowers blood pressure and triglycerides

In February of this year a double-blind, randomized, parallel and active-controlled clinical study[3], found that extract of olive leaf could lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and in those with Stage 1 hypertension, it was as effective as the drug Captropril.  Furthermore, the olive leaf extract group saw a greater reduction in triglycerides than the Captropril group.

Keeps you Supple

Finally, also traditionally Olympic athletes in Egypt and Crete used to rub the oil into their muscles and joints to keep them supple, still used today, though often internally – lubricating from the inside out.

So don’t discount traditional use.  It is good Science is confirming what we knew, but it is amazing how in touch our ancestors were with their natural environment.

Use it as a Condiment

Olive leaf can be used as an oil or herb.  When choosing the oil use good quality, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil.   But don’t heat it! Use it as a condiment – add it to fish as you would salt and of course use on salads and other foods.

If you do have high cholesterol or blood pressure, considering coming to see us at Fresh Perceptions Health in Dublin.  We’ll work with you naturopathically to find the best solution for you.  As always everything we do is based on diet, herbal solutions and common sense.

[1] Antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activity of olea Africana against pathogenic yeast and nosocomial pathogens, Masoko et al, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 15, 409, doi:10.1186/s12906-015-0941-8 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/15/409

[2] Olive (olea europaea L. leaf polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in middle-aged overweight men: a randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, de Bock M et al, PLoS One, 2013;8(3):e57622. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057622. Epub 2013 Mar 13, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23516412

[3] Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril, Susalit E et al, 2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.08.016. Epub 2010 Oct 30, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036583

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