11 Amazing Olive Leaf Extract Benefits & Uses

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Emily Borth

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While olive oil is famous around the world for the number of benefits it offers, the olive leaf extract is less well known for impressive health effects that can make it a valuable addition to your diet. The most important health benefits of olive leaf extract include its ability to protect against cancer, lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, regulate blood sugar fluctuation, improve brain function, and strengthen immunity. It also helps to lose weight, improve the appearance of the skin, and treat arthritis and herpes breakouts.

However, before you start using a specialized supplement such as this, it is critical to first understand the source, the potential benefits, and any possible side effects.

What is Olive Leaf Extract?

Olive leaf extract is derived from the leaves of the olive tree and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The key ingredient in olive leaf extract is oleuropein, along with other flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds, that deliver a host of health benefits for those who regularly consume this extract, regardless of what form it comes in.

Olive trees, scientifically known as Olea europaea, are some of the oldest cultivated plants. Native to the Mediterranean region, olives have been naturalized in dozens of countries and is highly valued for the oil in its fruit.

Unlike olive oil, the olive leaf extract is acquired from the leaves themselves and can be prepared at home, if you have the time and willingness. Otherwise, this extract is commonly available in supplement form. There are various other ways to benefit from the dense nutrient value of olive leaves, such as teas or tinctures, but they aren’t as efficient or potent when it comes to this extract’s health potential.

Olive Leaf Extract Benefits

Let’s take a look at the most important health benefits of olive leaf extract:

Lowers Blood Pressure

Research in animal models has shown that olive leaf extract can quickly and consistently lower blood pressure. Olive leaf extract potentially influences compounds that affect the diameter of artery walls. A double-blind clinical study conducted on humans showed that olive leaf extract was just as effective as a commonly used anti-hypertensive drug, and in addition to lowering blood pressure, it also lowered triglyceride levels. These effects, in turn, help reduce strain on the cardiovascular system and lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Daily intake of this supplement effectively decreases both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with stage-1 hypertension.

Anti-Aging Properties

The antioxidant abilities of this extract can help to protect the skin and protect against UVB radiation that can speed up the aging process. Additionally, the antioxidants found in this extract will help soothe oxidative stress in the upper layers of the skin, which can minimize the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and other blemishes. Regular use of this extract can also inhibit the degradation of structures in the inner layer of the skin and speed up the proliferation of skin cells.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

The compounds found in olive leaf extract are able to prevent the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol that causes deposition of plaque in arteries and leads to a higher risk of coronary heart diseases. These plaques increase the risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions. As mentioned earlier, daily supplementation with olive leaf extract has also been shown to reduce triglyceride levels, further reducing risk factors in the development of heart disease.

An olive leaf extract bottle next to olive leaves and olives in a bowl on a wooden table

Olive leaf extract comes from the leaves of olive plants and is distinct from olive oil. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Regulates Diabetes

In humans, the olive leaf extract is associated with improved blood glucose levels. Animal studies indicate that this might be through the reduction of starch indigestion and absorption, which will mean better regulation of your blood sugar levels. If you are at high risk for diabetes or have already been diagnosed, this extract may be helpful to maintain steady blood sugar. Other active ingredients also minimize your other risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity and high cholesterol.

Improves Brain Function

Olive leaf extract offers protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as per a study by Joaquín G. Cordero, UAM Medicine, Madrid, Spain. Regular use of this supplement has also been prescribed for people following strokes or other acute brain injuries, as it can reduce oxidative stress and potentially help improve cognitive performance.

Helps to Fight Cancer

There are v powerful antioxidants found in olive leaf extract, some of which have been linked to anti-cancer properties. A 2009 research study by Dr. V. Goulas from the University of Ioannina, Greece highlights that olive oil and olive leaf extracts are a major part of the Mediterranean diet and they help to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. The bioactive phytochemicals in olive leaf extracts have shown antioxidant and antiproliferative potential in the breast, pancreatic, bladder as well as brain cancer cell lines.

The latest study in 2019 shows that olive leaf extracts are rich in polyphenols and they display anti-tumor effects in human cervical cancer cells.

Although all the experiments are taking a positive route, more human trials are still required to determine the exact outcome.

Improves Digestion

Anecdotal evidence and formal studies have shown that regular use of olive leaf extract can improve digestion and soothe symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. This is partially due to the “stimulation of probiotic bacteria growth and metabolism,” which can potentially rebalance the bacterial levels in the gut, and improve digestion in a major way. This is particularly effective if you brew a tea made from olive leaves.

Has Analgesic Qualities

If you regularly suffer from pain, the analgesic qualities of olive leaf extract may help to reduce that discomfort and inhibit the signaling of nerve receptors from the site of the injury.

Boosts Immune System

The immunomodulatory effects of olive leaf extract along with a high level of antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and relieve any strain on the immune system. It has even been shown to restore the intestinal epithelial barrier, further helping the body’s defenses. Healthy gut bacteria are important in immune system function. Olive leaf extract may help maintain healthy microflora in the gut by reducing harmful bacteria (such as those associated with stomach ulcers and staph infections) while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria.

Prevents Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Olive leaf extract is rich in antimicrobial properties and inhibits the growth of certain foodborne pathogens including listeria, E. coli, and salmonella. This helps give the immune a boost and protect against a variety of viral, fungal and bacterial infections as well as foodborne pathogens.

Joint Pain Relief

In terms of reducing inflammation in the body, people have been taking this extract for sore joints and muscles for generations. Hydroxytyrosol, a compound found in olive leaves, “has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.” In a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, patients who received this extract showed significant improvements in pain. Through its ability to suppress inflammation, and other mechanisms, the olive leaf extract is known to ease pain and discomfort in the joints, particularly for people with gonarthrosis and osteoarthritis. Though more studies are needed, this likely makes it an effective remedy for chronic pain of other types as well, particularly those from old injuries.

May Aid in Weight Loss

A study published in the journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research showed that subjects supplemented with olive leaf extract gained significantly less weight than controls. A different 2016 study showed that rats given this extract had lower body weight and improved metabolic profiles. Though more studies are needed, this research indicates that olive leaf extract shows promising results in the fight against obesity.

Treats Herpes

Herpes is a virus causing contagious sores, most often around the mouth or on the genitals. The olive leaf extract, along with regular treatment as prescribed by your doctor, can be used as a natural supplemental treatment for herpes. According to a 2016 study, the antiviral and antimicrobial factors of the olive leaf extract reduces the ability of the herpes virus to invade surrounding cells and provide quick relief.

Uses of Olive Leaf Extract

There are many uses of olive leaf extract and some of the popular ones include:

  • Supplement form: The capsules tend to be 500-1000 milligrams in strength, and the recommended concentration is one with 20% oleuropein. That is the active ingredient and most important component in the extract that delivers the majority of the nutrients and health benefits. It is safe to take a supplement of olive leaf extract every day, as the body doesn’t store excess amounts of the active ingredients.
  • Olive leaf tea: The other way to benefit from this extract is to prepare an olive leaf tea. While fewer active ingredients will be released in the tea than that are present in the pure extract, this can still be quite beneficial for health.

How To Prepare Olive Leaf Tea? 

  • Boil water in a pan
  • Simply steep 4-5 olive leaves in hot water for 7-8 minutes to brew a cup of tea.

Note: The flavor can be a bit earthy for some people, so adding a teaspoon of honey is recommended.

Where to Buy Olive Leaf Extract?

You can buy olive leaf extract from any local health store as well as online stores.

Olive Leaf Extract Side Effects

As always, check with your doctor before significantly changing your diet, or taking olive leaf extract to treat a specific condition. Also, to prevent potential drug-nutrient interactions, check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any prescription medications. Some of the potential side effects of olive leaf extract include:

  • Allergies: The body’s immune system could overreact trying to defend itself which can potentially result to kick and detox itself which can potentially result in inflammatory or allergy responses.
  • Stomach Issues: The powerful nature of this extract can cause stomach irritations or excessive diarrhea in some cases. This is why it is always recommended to take olive leaf extract with food. Even when you simply prepare a tincture or brew a cup of olive leaf tea, drinking extra water is a good idea. If you experience these gastrointestinal side effects, discontinue use of the supplement and speak to your doctor.
  • Heartburn: Some people have reported experiencing heartburn when they drink olive leaf tea or consume a tincture, but this isn’t a common side effect with people who take supplements in capsule or tablet form. You can relieve these symptoms by drinking more water or switching to capsule supplements.
  • Drug Interactions: For people who are taking medications for diabetes or hypertension, check with your doctor before adding olive leaf extract.
  • Dizziness: A small number of people report dizziness or lightheadedness after taking these capsule supplements. This seems to be concentrated in people who already suffer from low blood pressure, as olive leaf extract has a hypotensive effect on the body.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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