Olive leaf extract is a concentrated form of the nutrients found in olive tree leaves. Many know of olive oil, but olive leaves themselves are a part of the Mediterranean diet, and research indicates that this diet could have many health benefits. But anyone can enjoy the benefits that come from olive leaf, specifically in the form of an extract. It’s a powerhouse of antioxidants that could support the immune system and reduce the risk of different illnesses. But that’s only scratching the surface of the potential of this supplement.
The Health Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract contains many helpful properties, containing antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It also has elements that can protect the digestive, central nervous, and immune systems. All of these traits indicate that the extract may help people attain different goals with their health, including:
1. May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Research shows that olive leaf extract can lower cholesterol levels in animal studies. High levels of LDL, also called bad cholesterol, and high levels of cholesterol as a whole are common risk factors for heart disease. But that’s not the only way the extract can benefit the heart. Researchers say that it can help fight atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries narrow, the highest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Another study found that olive leaf extract can help lower blood pressure. This also lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
2. May Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Olive leaf extract’s antioxidants can help lower and stabilize blood sugar levels, which has an important effect on reducing the risk of diabetes. Researchers found it could also benefit people already with diabetes and help manage the disease, especially since the extract can help reduce insulin resistance. This is one of the worst risk factors for becoming diabetic. However, more research is needed to confirm the extract’s effects on diabetes. For instance, one study found that it helped lower the participants’ average blood sugar levels and fasting plasma insulin levers, but it had no significant effect on insulin levels after meals.
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3. Supporting the Immune System
Olive leaf extract’s most noteworthy nutrient is called oleuropein, and it’s thought to be the backbone of the extract’s health benefits. In terms of fighting off diseases, research shows that oleuropein has the potential to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. It may also help prevent the damage and loss of dopamine neurons, an effect associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, an early cell study indicated that olive leaf extract could help stop the growth of cancerous cells. It’s a promising start but more research is needed to examine this anticancer effect.
But that’s not all the extract can help treat. Another potential use is treating herpes by applying one or two droplets onto a cotton ball and putting it against the sore. A study found that the antimicrobial and antiviral properties could help prevent the spread of the virus to nearby cells.
4. Managing Weight
Since olive leaf extract can protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease, it’s only natural that it also helps with weight loss. An animal study examined its potential in preventing obesity. The researchers found that the extract may help regulate the genes that contribute to weight gain, and it may also influence appetite to prevent overeating. However, despite the success in animal trials, clinical trials have yet to show the same success in humans.
Risks and Side Effects
The research into olive leaf extract has been promising so far, but more studies need to confirm its potential for treating different ailments and to figure out the proper dosages for each one. Because this information isn’t available yet, there is no standard dose for taking this extract, so follow your healthcare provider’s directions or what’s written on the label. Because of this limited research, it’s not recommended to take olive leaf extract while pregnant or breastfeeding since it hasn’t been proven safe yet.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements like they do medications. As a result, supplements don’t have to be tested for effectiveness and safety before they hit the shelves. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose supplements tested and approved by a trustworthy third party like Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab, or the National Science Foundation.
Furthermore, supplements deemed to be safe may not be safe for everyone. Olive leaf extract may interact with certain medications, negatively affect underlying medical issues, or cause side effects. Therefore, talking to your healthcare practitioner before taking any new supplements is important. Keep in mind, this extract has the potential to help with certain health problems, but it cannot replace standard treatment or truly prevent certain diseases.
Side effects are rare, but they can include acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach irritation. Olive leaf extract can also trigger severe allergic reactions in people who are allergic to olive trees, jasmine, lilacs, ash trees, forsythia, and rivets. Stop using the extract immediately if you suffer a reaction from it.
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- “Olive Leaf Extract: Dosage, Benefits, Side Effects, and More.” Healthline. Emily Cronkleton. August 16, 2018
- “Olive Leaf Extract.” Examine. Kamal Paten. September 28, 2022
- “Health Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract.” WebMD. Kamal Paten. November 27, 2022
- “What Is Olive Leaf Extract?” Very Well Health. Brittany Lubeck, RD. October 19, 2022