Natures weapon against Infection
Throughout the Mediterranean the olive tree is revered for its many qualities. It has traditionally symbolised peace and harmony and the fruit and oil it bears have long formed a staple part of the region’s diet. According to Greek mythology, the olive tree was created by the goddess Athena. She endowed it with powers to illuminate the darkness, cure illness, heal wounds and provide nourishment. In keeping with the myths, olives and olive oil were used for these purposes for thousands of years. They still hold merit today. Researchers have claimed for some time that Mediterranean’s have healthier hearts, lower cholesterol levels and less incidences of heart disease due to their consumption of olive oil. Some have even gone as far as to say olive oil may also reduce the incidence of breast cancer in women. Either way, it should come as no surprise that another part of the olive tree is emerging as a beneficial and powerful tool in keeping and regaining health. Lauded in the Bible as a healing agent, olive leaf is again enjoying increasing attention for its ability in helping to prevent and treat an extensive range of infections.
How Olive Leaf Works
Despite olive leaf tea being used medicinally for centuries, the therapeutic components of olive leaf were only properly identified this century. Oleuropein, a bitter compound present throughout the entire olive tree and removed from olives in the curing process, was determined to be a major part of the tree’s ability to resist disease. In turn, oleuropein itself contains several constituents such as elenolic acid and calcium elenolate which work synergistically to repel a wide spectrum of micro-organisms.
It’s no secret that the effectiveness of some antibiotics has diminished over the years. By consistently overusing antibiotics and taking them unnecessarily, several strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been created – a frightening scenario some believed could never happen. In light of this, olive leaf represents a viable antibacterial alternative against a variety of common bacterial infections. In one trial, compounds isolated from olive leaf inhibited the growth of the following bacterial and fungal strains: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Bacillus cereus, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. In laymen’s terms, this means olive leaf may be effective against some of the bacteria that cause common ailments. These include bronchitis, tonsillitis, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections and ear infections. It is worthy to note that olive leaf does not harm the beneficial bacteria present in the intestines.
Whilst there are antibiotics available to assist the treatment of bacterial infections, there is no equivalent for viral infections. The general ‘treatment’ of viral infection usually involves rest and alleviation of the symptoms. In the instance of the Herpes viruses responsible for cold sores, genital herpes and shingles, there is strong medication available to eliminate the symptomatic blisters. The virus, however, remains in the body and waits for the immune response to be compromised and then strikes again. A study incorporating, among others, the viruses responsible for herpes (all types), influenza, polio, encephalomyocarditis (heart inflammation), Newcastle’s Disease and vaccina (similar to smallpox) were found to be highly susceptible to olive leaf’s anti-microbial activity.
Olive leaf has also been identified as highly effective in eliminating the common candidiasis yeast infection that causes thrush and other complaints. Fungal infections of the nails, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and tinea capitis have also responded well to olive leaf treatment.
Other Beneficial Effects
Olive leaf has been shown to have remarkable effects on a host of infectious diseases and other conditions. Among those documented are: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, diabetes, AIDS, hypertension, parasitic infestation, ulcers, psoriasis and fibromyalgia. Many people have also experienced a dramatic improvement in a variety of unrelated symptoms and conditions and overall increases in health and vitality – even if the herb was only initially being taken for one specific problem. A common theme amongst those supplementing with olive leaf is the notable increase in energy they experience.
The ‘Die-Off’ Effect
There is one side-effect, called the Herxheimer reaction or ‘die-off’ effect, that has been identified with olive leaf. When the olive leaf supplement kills off a large number of bacteria in a short space of time, the toxic by-products of these dying micro-organisms are said to temporarily worsen the patient’s symptoms. Practitioners, however, see this as positive and believe this reaction indicates the treatment is working effectively. This effect is more common in people suffering more serious and chronic conditions and even then is usually controlled by lowering the dose until the body can process the toxins of the dying infection.
Olive Leaf For The Future
In an era of evolving and antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms, olive leaf presents a real and powerful alternative to conventional treatments for a wide range of infectious diseases. Whether used in the short term against the common cold or for chronic and multiple conditions, the continuing success of olive leaf will assure its future in the fight against infectious diseases.