October 2006 Ageless herbal newsletter
The olive tree with its gnarled, irregular trunk, gray-fissured bark and leathery leaves is a well-known sight in most Mediterranean areas and reaches up to 10 meters or +-32 feet in height and is olive leaf extract is sourced from this tree.
Ancient Greek mythology attributes the planting of the 1st olive tree to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, who is said to have planted the 1st tree at the acropolis and is said to have imbued the tree with the powers of light, healing and nourishment.
Olive oil was used in the mummification process when embalming Egyptian pharaohs.
Humanity has used olive tree products since ancient times and olive leaf tea has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern cultures, to treat disorders such as coughs, sore throat, cystitis, fevers and gout. Poultices are also made from olive leaves to treat boils, rashes, warts and other skin problems.
Hippocrates, the said founder of modern allopathic medicine, prescribed olive oil for the treatment of ulcers, but it was only in the 1900’s that the main component of olive leaf – oleuropein - was isolated.
Olive leaves were used to treat malaria and other fever producing diseases in the late 1800’s in Europe and were a popular remedy in Spain.
Olive leaf tea was reported to be far more effective than quinine (an old fashioned remedy for malaria) was, when treating malaria.
Olive oil is very well known as an oil used in cooking and is a base for salad dressings, but the leaf is mostly used in herbal medicine.
The leaf contains secoiridoids (oleuropein is one), triterpenoids, sterols, flavonoids and various other phenolic acids, but the main constituent in the leaf, which is usually discussed in research, is oleuropein.
Elenolic acid (Oleuropein) is said to interfere with the production of essential amino acids contained in viruses and bacteria, as it destroys the outer wall of these germs and therefore stops them from multiplying and kills them off.
Olive leaf is also used as a treatment for fungal disorders and infections such as candida and psoriasis and is said to relieve the symptoms that coincide with various yeast infections and allergies.
We found mention of animal studies using olive leaf, which showed a significant reduction in blood pressure in animals and reports have been received that olive leaf extract seems to reduce blood pressure levels in humans.
Most research on olive leaf that you will encounter on the Internet seems to have been done on animals or in a laboratory and we could not trace any clinical trials on humans, but there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence, which seems to confirm the findings as listed above.
The leaves of the Mission and Manzanillo olive trees are said to be the only leaves that contain the correct amount of all the necessary compounds for internal use.
A strange reaction may occur when using an effective olive leaf supplement and it is called “Herxheimers Reaction.” What may happen is that the oleuropein in the olive leaf extract may cause a large number of the pathogens (germs) in your system to die.
When this happens your liver and kidneys are loaded down with a great number of waste products (the dead germs) to get rid off.
This may cause you to feel sick, show ‘flu like symptoms or allergic reactions". This usually occurs when taking large doses of olive leaf and shows that the olive leaf extract is doing its work properly.
If this does occur it is a good idea to halve the dose that you are taking for a few days. Help your body get rid of the waste by flushing out your system with 3 or 4 glasses of fresh pure water whenever you take the olive leaf.
Olive leaf can mess around with the action of antibiotics; so if your doctor puts you on a course of antibiotics, rather stop taking olive leaf extract until you have finished the course.
Olive oil has been used since ancient times as a moisturizer for the skin. The ancient Greeks used olive oil as a base for many perfumed unguents, which were massaged into the skin and then scraped off. Therefore, instead of taking a shower or a bath, the ancient Greeks would oil themselves up, then scrape off the oil and vigorously rub the skin until the oil was totally removed.
Olive oil was also used as a base for medical decoctions, where herbal extracts were infused into the oil.
In modern day, olive leaf extract is incorporated into a number of cosmetics and skin care lotions and moisturizers, being specifically effective when used to combat skin damage caused by UV radiation and to assist in wound healing.
The oleanolic acid and flavonoids in the extract stimulate certain components in the connective tissue of the skin, promote regular growth and balance and thereby boost the health of the skin.
The oleuropein contained in the extract constricts the surface veins in the skin, helping to promote a smooth and clear complexion.
Olive leaf is used in topical preparations to stimulate blood flow, quite like capsicum (a fiery extract from peppers). Capsicum however directly stimulates the nerve endings in the skin, while olive leaf extract acts directly on the muscle, increasing blood irrigation (flow), thereby relieving muscular aches and pains. This makes olive leaf extract an excellent ingredient if used in a massage gel for sports injuries, or sore and stressed muscles.
Olive leaf extract is used in the following products
Some researchers also believe that the hole in the ozone has a lot to do with the rise in skin cancer, as the hole in this protective layer in our atmosphere is said to let through more harmful UV rays from the sun.
We decided to write a little about skin cancer, as we believe that it is vital for anyone in the modern world to be aware of the sun and the rising dangers of skin cancer.
There are many different types of skin cancer, but the types usually occur in 3 forms:
The squamous and basal cell types of skin cancer usually form slowly and are easier to treat, but a malignant melanoma is the most dangerous type, that spreads very quickly and can also attack other organs in the body.
Melanomas, which may or may not become malignant or cancerous, usually appear on the parts of the body most exposed to the sun, i.e. the head, arms and upper torso. They can appear to be black, dark brown, light brown or speckled in color.
They usually form a little lump and are most often known as a mole. If a melanoma starts changing shape and color, or starts bleeding and becomes all crusty for no apparent reason, a visit to the doctor is called for.
Melanomas can be the most dangerous form of skin cancer as they can spread quickly to other organs, and may be untreatable if not diagnosed early.
Basal cell carcinomas can start to grow and form a tiny volcano like shape on the face (raised edges). The centre then starts to bleed and an ulcer may form. This type of ulcer is known as a rodent ulcer, which eats away at the face, becoming bigger and bigger. This form of skin cancer reportedly responds well to treatment.
Squamous cell carcinomas are usually slightly painful to the touch. This form of skin cancer should be diagnosed early to enable it to be successfully treated.
Radiation and long-term exposure to various substances such as coal tar, soot, pitch or arsenic can increase the risk of contracting squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer.
If you have a lot of moles, are very fair skinned, if you have a family history of skin cancer or are being treated with anti organ rejection drugs, you have to be extra careful of the sun or sun beds.
Be on the look out for strange growths or lumps and marks on your skin, as your risk of developing cancer is much higher in these cases.
Parents should ensure that their children take adequate measures to protect their skin, as over-exposure to the sun can lead to the risk of their forming melanomas later on in life, apart from the fact that exposure to the sun is extremely aging for anyone.
Ultra-violet light causes skin cancer by damaging the DNA of the cell. There are 3 different types of ultra-violet light: A, B and C. UVB was thought to be the only type to cause cancer, but it has been discovered that UVA is just as dangerous to the skin.
Sun beds were thought to be safer than the sun as they use UVA rays, but although sun beds are currently designed to limit the amount of UVA and UVB rays, they can still cause skin cancer.
Using a well formulated sunscreen that limits the amount of UVA and UVB rays is essential in the modern world, but care should still be taken when in the sun, as a sunscreen may only prevent you from burning and may still be letting through harmful UV rays.
The best idea is to stay out of the sun as much as possible and if a tan is required, use a fake tan. Extremely effective fake tan or instant tan products are available, which don't leave your skin looking an unsightly shade of orange or full of streak marks.
Treatment for skin cancer most probably will involve surgery or some chemical treatment. The malignant growth and part of the surrounding tissue may be removed, but this will all depend on the assessment by the consulting specialist.
To sum up, it is most important to stay out of the sun as far as possible, to wear protective clothing and a hat when in the sun and to use an effective sunscreen daily, as a matter of course. Try not to tan in the sun or on a sun bed and rather use an instant tan if you have to look bronzed.
PLEASE NOTE - the information contained above is only meant for general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition. If you have health concerns, please contact your medical practitioner.