The leaves of the olive tree or Olea europaea have been renowned for their medicinal properties since ancient times. The evidence of using these leaves for medicinal purposes dates back to thousands of years. Earlier, they were primarily used in the Mediterranean regions and in the ancient Egypt, to treat a host of health problems.
Later, olive leaves and their therapeutic uses became a subject of many scientific studies and research. In the recent times, olive leaf extract is being promoted as an immune booster with anti-aging and antifungal properties. However, some individuals can experience a few adverse effects while using this herbal extract, which are discussed in this article.
The main active compounds found in olive leaves are, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal, and several other flavonoids and polyphenols. The health benefits of olive leaves can be mainly attributed to the presence of such compounds. The herbal extract prepared from the leaves can help strengthen the immune system. It can inhibit the replication of virus, and this is the reason why this extract can be effective in treating cold and flu, herpes, and shingles.
It is also used to treat yeast infections, pneumonia, meningitis, malaria, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, ear infections, and dental and surgical infections. This herbal extract has been found to possess antioxidant properties, due to which it can help protect the body from the cellular damage caused by the free radicals. Apart from these, olive leaves can be beneficial for the health of the heart and the cardiovascular system.
This herbal extract can help lower the level of harmful LDL cholesterol in the body, which in turn, can reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, the compound 'oleuropein' present in the leaves has been found to be effective in lowering blood pressure in animals, by dilating the blood vessels. In addition to these, this herbal extract may help prevent intestinal muscle spasms, improve blood circulation, and promote digestion, besides lessening the symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Possible Side Effects
So far, no serious side effects of this herbal extract have been reported by the users. Some individuals can however, experience a few side effects, which are more commonly referred to as 'die-off effect', or 'Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction'. The 'die-off effect' refers to the detoxification symptoms, i.e., the symptoms produced when this herbal extract detoxify the body from pathogens or microbes. When the harmful microbes die or when they are broken down, they release endotoxins. As a result, we experience the 'die-off effect'.
People having chronic fatigue, as well as those suffering from certain other illnesses are more likely to experience the detoxification symptoms. Such symptoms can include, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, muscle and joint aches, flu-like symptoms, and skin rash. Such symptoms can become evident immediately after taking the extract, and persist for a while, until the toxins and the dead microorganisms are expelled from the body. In the meantime, the amount of the extract taken may need to be reduced until the symptoms of detoxification disappear.
This herbal extract can lower blood pressure and the level of blood glucose. Therefore, individuals with low blood pressure and low blood glucose levels need to take this herbal extract with care. The effects of olive leaf extract on pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been evaluated properly, and therefore, they are usually advised to avoid this supplement.
Even people taking other medications and supplements should talk to their physicians, prior to taking this herbal extract. If the side effects are quite severe, then be sure to lower the dosage and talk to your health care provider. To sum up, any herbs or herbal supplements should be taken only under the guidance of a health care provider. Lastly, be sure to drink plenty of water while taking this supplement. Water can help eliminate the endotoxins from the body, and thus minimize the symptoms produced by the die-off effect.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.