Olive leaf extract contains a molecule known as oleuropein that has been shown to provide a wealth of benefits for the body, such as protecting brain tissue, potentially lowering blood pressure as well as LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and many others.1 Olive oil is a known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and is also known to help fight many different types of illnesses.2 These are just a few of the benefits provided by this incredibly powerful substance and the polyphenol found in it, oleuropein.
Protection Against Fungi and Bacteria
One of the more important benefits provided by the oleuropein found in olive leaf extract is its ability to help the body ward off a wide range of potentially serious problems, such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, and others. One study showed that olive leaf extract killed nearly all of the bacteria and fungi that were tested, including candida (linked to genital and oral infections), dermatophytes (fungi that can lead to infections affecting the hair, skin, and nails) and Escherichia coli.3 The latter is better known as E. coli, a bacteria that can lead to severe intestinal problems.
Reducing the Risk of Arthritis Development
People in the Mediterranean area of the world have long used olive leaf extract to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. Now, modern medical science is providing further evidence that oleuropein, the active ingredient in olive leaf extract, may help stunt the development of several different forms of the disease, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.5
Oleuropein has been shown to help prevent the production of cytokines, which have been linked to development of the disease.6 Olive leaf extract may also help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a condition that affects not only the lining of joints, but can also damage the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and more. Oleuropein can boost the health of affected tissue.7
Gout, which is another painful form of arthritis, results from an excessive accumulation of uric acid crystals in a particular joint. Some people, for instance, experience gout in an ankle, while others may develop it in an elbow or wrist. Studies indicate that olive leaf extract may help to prevent uric acid accumulation by inhibiting development of the enzyme responsible for producing it.8
Helping to Maintain the Health of the Arteries
One of the most important components of overall cardiovascular health is arterial health. The walls of the arteries are lined by a substance known as the endothelium. The cells that make up this lining help to maintain a healthy blood pressure as well as proper circulation. If these cells are damaged, that leads to the early stages of a serious condition known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
There are several ways in which olive leaf extract can help protect the cells of the endothelium from being damaged. This, in turn, may help provide protection against serious cardiovascular problems. For example, oleuropein helps the body produce nitric oxide, a substance that helps the blood vessels relax.9
In addition, olive leaf extract helps to inhibit the production of molecules known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). If there is too much MMP activity in the body, that can lead to the destruction of cells in the endothelium. MMP can dissolve the substances that bind cells together, leaving the lining of blood vessels at risk for the accumulation of dangerous plaque.10
Another contributing factor to the development of hardening of the arteries is the accumulation of LDL cholesterol, more commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Studies indicate that olive leaf extract can inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a process that can lead to inflammation of the arteries.11
Protecting the Brain
Degenerative conditions of the brain are caused in large part by destruction of both brain tissue as well as nerves. One major factor that leads to the destruction is oxidative stress. Olive leaf extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have shown promise in helping inhibit these processes.12
The accumulation of abnormal proteins is another contributing factor to neurodegenerative conditions, and these proteins also develop largely due to oxidative stress and inflammation. Oleuropein has not only been identified as a potential protector against nerve and tissue destruction, but also the development of damaging proteins.13
Reduction of Glucose in the Blood
People suffering from diabetes experience a great deal of oxidative stress due to the elevation of glucose levels in the blood. This can trigger severe breakdowns in tissue and rapidly accelerate the aging process. Olive leaf extracts have been shown to be effective in helping improve how the body manages insulin, which, in turn, helps to keep blood glucose levels normal.14 Studies have also shown that supplementing a diet with olive leaf extract once a day could substantially reduce the amount of glucose that binds to hemoglobin, the protein that helps the blood carry oxygen through the body.15
The body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of olive leaf extract continues to grow. Olive leaves are rich in the beneficial component oleuropein, which can have a substantial impact on protecting the body from a host of ailments. However, like any supplement, it’s not completely clear how olive leaf extract may affect those taking certain medications. Those who are using blood pressure medications, in particular, should speak with a doctor before taking olive leaf extract or any other supplement.