Herb Reference Guide

Olive

History

This small evergreen tree is a member of the Oleaceae family and has been cultivated for over 3,000 years. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians all used this tree as a food source and source of plant medicine, and referenced it in their religious writings as a symbol of peace, purity and goodness. Egyptians used olive oil in the mummification process for both practical and spiritual purposes. Victors in the ancient Olympic Games were crowned with wreaths of its leaves. The English herbalist, John Gerard (1633) reported that Olive leaves and buds were useful in supporting the body's proper function. In the 1898 edition of King's American Dispensatory, it was reported that a strong decoction of Olive leaves could play a role in regulating body temperature.*

Function

There are few human clinical trials conducted using Olive Leaf extract, however numerous pharmacological studies conducted in vitro focus on its heart healthy benefits. The main focus of research has been on the oleuropein compounds. First isolated in 1908, oleuropein supports immune system function and offers antioxidant protection. Olive leaf may also show promise in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and in promoting a normal balance of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. More research is warranted to validate its use for these purposes.*

Uses of Olive

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Olive leaf contains numerous antioxidant flavanoids including quercitin, rutin, kaempferol and oleuropein.

Parts Used

  • Leaf

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Antiviral Res. 2005 Jun;66(2-3):129-36.

Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular, Universidad Miguel Hernandez, E-03202-Elche, Alicante, Spain.

Arzneimittelforschung. 2002;52(11):797-802.

Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.