The olive tree is a small evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean. The tree grows green to blue-black edible fruit, and also from which can be processed an edible oil. The oil and the leaves are both processed for therapeutic purposes (1).
Olive leaf is commonly used for treating conditions caused by, or associated with, a virus, retrovirus, bacterium or protozoan. Hence its applications include conditions such as colds and influenza, meningitis, Epstein-Barr Virus, encephalitis, herpes, shingles, HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue, hepatitis B, pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, dengue, and assorted infections (3).
Olive leaf has been used in traditional medicine to reduce fever, blood sugar, blood pressure, and as a diuretic (2). In 1854, the Pharmaceutical Journal contained an article outlining its use to counter cases of fever and malaria (4).
Olive leaf is listed in Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as antibacterial, antioxidant and a hypoglycemic, with indications against such diverse conditions as malaria, lymphatic disorders and schistosomiasis (5).
Because the olive leaf is well known to be resistant in nature to both microbial and insect attack, many studies have focused on the antimicrobial properties of its chief constituents. Laboratory studies have found that oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, constituents in olive leaf, have a high antimicrobial activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. These results suggest that olive leaf can be considered a potential source of antimicrobial agents for treating intestinal and respiratory tract infections in humans (6).
Oleuropein has both bacteriostatic and antioxidant activity (3).
In animal experiments olive leaf has demonstrated itself to reduce fever, blood pressure and blood sugar levels (1), and to normalize irregular heartbeat (7). During the course of the 1960’s research at Upjohn showed that constituents of olive leaf also has antiviral properties. Further related research has confirmed olive leafs efficacy in countering bacteria and parasitic protozoa also (4).
Typical administrations of olive leaf extract include up to 500 mg doses 4 times per day over a limited period (4). Due to the lack of reliable information, olive leaf should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding (3).
- “Olive Leaf.” Healthwell. Health Notes. 2002. (Accessed May 31, 2003) http://www.healthwell.com/healthnotes/Herb/Olive_Leaf.cfm
- Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy Phytochemistry Medicinal Plants. Second Edition as Translated by Caroline K. Hatton. Paris: Lavoisier Publishing, 1999.
- Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens K. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Third Edition. Stockton, California: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2000.
4. Privitera JD. “Olive Leaf Extract: A New/Old Healing Bonanza for Mankind.” 1996. (Accessed May 31, 2003). http://www.alphazee.com/olive-leaf/olea.html
- Duke JA, et. al. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Second Edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 2002.
- Bisignano G, Tomaino A, Cascio RL, Crisafi G, Uccella N, Saija A. On the in-vitro antimicrobial activity of oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1999 Aug; 51 (8): 971-4
- Gruenwald J, et.al. PDR for Herbal Medicines. First Edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.