People have been using parts of the olive tree for thousands of years. Historically, the olive branch has been a used as a peace offering. Even today, the emblem for the World Health Organization is surrounded by olive branches, which emphasize its peaceful, healthy nature. Olive trees are grown around the world, with a large concentration of them thriving in the Mediterranean. Because they are abundant, we should be using them for more than the typical culinary applications.
Olive leaves don’t get a lot of attention, but they should. The polyphenols in olive leaves have potent antioxidants and have displayed anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties in recent studies. One of the primary antioxidants, oleuropein, may work to decrease blood pressure, which may be beneficial for those with hypertension. Additionally, olive leaves also work to inhibit oxidation, ultimately lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Certain types of cancer have lower rates in the Mediterranean, when compared to other areas around the world. This primarily has to do with the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to decrease cancer risk by 61%. The Mediterranean diet is high in fresh herbs and spices, fiber-rich foods, whole grains, large amounts of fruits and vegetables, legumes, mild wine intake, and high intake of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil.
Fun Fact: In ancient times, herbalists mashed olive leaves into a poultice to help treat skin rashes and boils.
If olive leaves are so magnificent, how much is safe for one person to consume at once? According to research, an effective amount to consume in one sitting is one teaspoon of dried olive leaves. The dried olive leaves are readily available and contain about 6-15% oleuropein, the active antioxidant in olive leaves. Brew them into a tea with one cup of hot water. Let the leaves steep for about 10 minutes before consuming the tea.
More research needs to be done on the olive leaf, but all of the current research points to it being an amazing herbal remedy. It has many applications and can be used to help reduce fever, relieve rheumatic pain, soothe stomach pain, benefit those with dermatitis, and much more. Try consuming olive leaf tea and let us know how you feel.