Olive Leaf Extract -- A New/Old Healing Bonanza For Mankind is intended exclusively for informational and educational purposes only and not for medical advice. Consult a medical or health professional for any questions regarding your health.
Olive Leaf Extract
A New/Old Healing Bonanza for Mankind
Science has long stalked the chemical world within plants to uncover their amazing healing secrets. Lately, these investigations have yielded discovery after discovery of natural compounds with promising health and medical potential.
Some of these compounds stimulate the production of anti-cancer enzymes in the body. Others bind and neutralize certain carcinogenic chemicals. Other have antioxidant effects,protecting the body from oxidation damage caused by harmful molecular fragments known as free radicals that contribute to aging and illness.
These natural compunds are found abundantly in roots, stems, leaves, fruits and vegetables. They go by a variety of scientific names like polyphenols, flavonoids, flavonols, pycnogenols, glucosinolates, isoprenoids, carotenoids, tocotrienols and proanthocyanadins. To keep things simple and pronounceable, we will just call them phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phyto stems from the Greek word for plant.
The volume of current research is intense. Some experts say these compounds may offer the best protection we know of against the diseases that plague us today. There's much yet to learn about the tissue-specific way they work. But with time, these phytonutrients, in the form of supplements or medical preparations, may play a major role in anti-aging medicine and how we prevent and treat disease.
Among the many phytochemicals that have interested me, as a clinician, is oleuropein (pronounced oh-lee-or-oh-pin), a substance found in the olive leaf. I, as well as other health practitioners, have found that a natural supplement of olive leaf extract contains substantial medicinal benefits. Among them, boosting the energy among patients and aiding in the treatment of herpes and other viral conditions, flu and colds, fungal infections, chronic fatigue and allergies. I have also been surprised by unexpected results generated by this supplement.
The Olive Leaf in History and Medicine
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is something very special about the olive leaf. For one thing, it is the first botanical mentioned in the Bible.
"And the dove came in to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leafplucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth." (Genesis 8 : 11)
After the Great Flood we didn't hear too much about the olive leaf for a long time. Obviously this was a hard act to follow.
In a much later biblical time (Ezekiel 47 : 12), God speaks of a tree: "The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine."
Was it the olive tree?
In Revelations, at the very end of the New Testament, there is an angelic vision of a "tree of life" whose leaves "were for the healing of the nations." Today, as modern medicine increasingly embraces phytochemicals it is interesting to speculate about the biblical "tree of life."
Again, was it perhaps the olive tree?
The ancient Egyptians may be been the first to put the olive leaf to practical use. They regarded it as a symbol of heavenly power, and in keeping with that belief, they extracted its oil and used it to mummify their kings.
Later cultures found the leaf was better utilized for the living than the dead. Over the ages, there is documentation that it was a popular folk remedy for combating fevers.
The first formal medical mention of the olive leaf - an account describing its ability to cure severe cases of fever and malaria -- ocurred about 150 years ago. In 1854, the Pharmaceutical Journal carried a report by one Daniel Hanbury and contained the following simple healing recipe:
Boil a handful of leaves in a quart of water down to half its original volume. Then administer the liquid in the amount of a wineglass every 3 or 4 hours until the fever is cured.
The author said he discovered the effective tincture in 1843 and had used it successfully. This method became well known in England for treating sick Britons returning from His or Her Majesty's tropical colonies. The author believed that a bitter substance in the leaves wasthe key healing ingredient.
He was right.
Decades later, scientists isolated a bitter substance from the leaf and named it oleuropein. It was found to be one ingredient in a compound produced by the olive tree that makes it particularly robust and resistant against insect and bacterial damage. From a technical angle, oleuropein is an iridoid, a structural class of chemical compounds found in plants. It is present in olive oil, throughout the olive tree, and is, in fact, the bitter material that is eliminated from the olives when they are cured.<
In 1962, an Italian researcher reported that oleuropein lowered blood pressure in animals. This triggered a flurry of scientific interest in the olive leaf.
Other European researchers confirmed this interesting finding. In addition, they found it could also increase blood flow in the coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmias, and prevent intestinal muscle spasms.
Around this time, a Dutch researcher determined the active ingredient in oleuropein to be a substance he called elenolic acid. It was found to have a powerful anti-bacterial effect.
By the late 1960's, research by scientists at Upjohn, a major American pharmaceutical company, showed that elenolic acid also inhibited the growth of viruses. In fact, it stopped every virus that it was tested against. Among others, the substance was found to counteract a variety of viruses associated with the common cold of humans.
Moreover, a number of laboratory experiments at this time with calcium elenolate, a salt of elenolic acid, demonstrated a strong effect against not just viruses, but bacteria and parasitic protozoans as well.
The compound worked effectively at low concentrations without any harmful influence on host cell mechanisms, the American researchers concluded. That meant they believed it to be extremely safe and non-toxic, even at high doses.
Following test tube experiments, the pharmaceutical company launched animal tests. Experiments showed the compound was indeed extremely well tolerated. There was a hitch, however. In the body of an animal, the substance rapidly attached to protein in blood serum. For all intents and purposes, this meant calcium elenolate was of no use. The binding action essentially took it "out of action," rendering it ineffective. As a result of this obstacle, research into the compound as a potential virus and bacteria killing pharmaceutical drug was dropped.
Nevertheless, research and interest in olive leaf extracts has moved forward, primarily in Europe. Among the most recent findings are these:
- In a series of experiments, oleuropein was found to inactivate bacteria by apparently dissolving the outer lining of microbes.
- At the University of Milan Pharacological Sciences, researchers found that oleuropein inhibited oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, the so-called "bad cholesterol" involved in heart and aterial disease. This revelation, if confirmed by further research, suggests that oleuropein may contain antioxidant properties similar to other phytochemical compounds. Medical researcher Morton Walker, D.P.M., writing about olive leaf extract in the July 1996 issue of the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, comments that the intake of flavonoids "is correlated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease indicated that the daily intake of olive oil and/or olive leaf extract containing phenols will likely bring on a similar result." At the present time, the cardiovascular research community is excited about such actions. Studies have shown that some phytochemicals can reduce the harmful oxidation of cholesterol as well as slow down the accelerated clumping of blood platelets that can lead to dangerous clots.
- At Spain's University of Granada, pharmacologists determined that olive leaf extract causes relaxation of arterial walls in laboratory animals. Such results suggest a possible benefit for hypertension, an effect first mentioned by researchers more than 30 years ago.
- In Tunis, researchers found that aqueous extract of olive leaves reduced hypertension, blood sugar, and the level of uric acid in rodents. This finding again indicates potential in the treatment of hypertension, as well as diabetes and heart disease. An elevated uric acid level is a risk factor for heart disease.
Remember the biochemical snag mentioned earlier -- that elenolic acid binds with proteins in the body to nullify any therapeutic use? The problem has been overcome and the door opened for the development of effective olive leaf extract supplements.
Such products are now available, containing oleuropein and synergistic olive leaf extracts, including flavonoids.
The medicinal firepower is there.
The safety is there.
The added benefit of other phytochemicals is there. In short, we now have an exciting new herbal with a promising future.
Olive Leaf Firepower
For the record, the researchers at Upjohn found calcium elenolate effective in test tube experiments against the following viruses: herpes, vaccinia, pseudorabies, Newcastle, Coxsacloe A 21, encepthlomyocarditis, polio 1, 2, and 3, vesicular stomititus, sindbis, reovirus, Moloney Murine leukemia, Rauscher Murine leukemia, Moloney sarcoma, and many influenza and parainfluenza types.
They found it effective against these bacteria and parasitic protozoans: lactobacillus plantarum W50, brevis 50, pediococcus cerevisiae 39, leuconostoc mesenteroides 42, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus subtilis, enterobacteraerogenes NRRL B-199, E. cloacae NRRL B-414, E. coli, salamonella tyhimurium, pseudomonas fluorescens, P. solanacearum, P. lachrymans, erwinia carotovora, E. tracheiphila, xanthomonas vesicatoria, corynesbacterium Michiganese, plasmodium falciparum, virax and malariae.
The researchers credit a number of unique properties possessed by the olive leaf compound for the broad killing power:
- An ability to interfere with critical amino acid production essential for viruses.
- An ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses or by preventing virus shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane.
- The ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.
- In the case of retroviruses, it is able to neutralize the production of reverse transcriptase and protease. These enzymes are essential for a retrovirus, such as HIV, to alter the RNA of a healthy cell.
- It can stimulate phagocytosis, an immune system response in which cells ingest harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.
Clinically, the olive leaf extract has been used for a relatively short time. Health professionals began using it early in 1995 when it first became available. Although we do not have long-term perspectives as yet, initial results are very positive. We see a very promising and unique herbal with multiple applications. It shows considerable therapeutic action against many common conditions. In short, it appears to be living up to its unique background and expectations.
From research and clinical experience to date, we can say that supplemental olive leaf extract may be beneficial in the treatment for conditions caused by, or associated with, a virus, retrovirus, bacterium, or protozoan. Among such conditions are influenza, the common cold, meningitis, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), encephalitis, herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and 7, shingles, HIV/ARC/AIDS, chronic fatigue, hepatitis B, pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, dengue, bacteremia, severe diarrhea, blood poisoning, and dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections.
In our clinic, we use olive leaf extract for a variety of infectious and chronic conditions. We also believe that many people who lead stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf extract as a preventive agent.
As I mentioned earlier, I am constantly surprised by unexpected benefits reported by patients. This indicates that we are perhaps just scratching the surface in our understanding of phytochemical benefits. Patients have told me about improved psoriasis, normalization of arrhythmias (heart beat irregularities), and less pain from hemorroids, toothaches and chronically achy joints.
I myself cured a chronic toenail fungal infection after starting on the supplement. It had not responded to the many other nutrients that I take.
One woman with bad allergies reported significant improvement and a level of energy she hadn't felt for years.
One elderly male with severe arrhythmia told me his condition had vastly improved in about eight days just from taking olive leaf extract alone. A woman with mild arrhythmia said her condition improved substantially while she took the supplement and then slowly became irregular again after she ran out.
We know from the oleuropein research done in the 1960s that the substance improves blood flood to the heart and acts to normalize arrhythmias. Currently, we are learning much about the cardiovascular benefits of the phytochemical compounds found in grape seeds, onions, kale, green beans, broccoli, and other vegetables. It will be interesting to see what benefits the particular phytochemicals in olive leaf extract produce for heart and arterial health.
Phil Selinsky, a naturopathic doctor at the Institute for Holistic Studies in Santa Barbara, and biochemist Arnold Takemoto, who has been developing patient nutritional programs on behalf of physicians in Arizona for 15 years, have found olive leaf extract to be an effective addition to their array of natural healing tools.
After using the supplement in dozens of cases for over a year, Selinsky is impressed with the benefits and looks forward to continued use and greater understanding about its most effective applications.
There is no doubt that olive leaf extract has real healing power. In a moment I will go into much greater detail on how it has helped patients.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that like any nutritional supplement it should not be considered a cure-all or panacea. In holistic practices such as mine, individual supplements are part of a comprehensive program that includes better diet, exercise, and stress control methods. That's how we maximize health and minimize symptoms.
In such a program, a patient may start with supplement X, Y and Z, get involved in an exercise program, and experience perhaps 50 percent relief for a given condition. That's a lot of relief but then we keep trying to improve the situation. We now add another supplement, let's say the olive leaf extract, and we get another degree of improvement, often quite large. In this manner, we continually tailor the program of an individual patient for the best results. And in this scheme of things, olive leaf extract is making a very positive contribution. It complements all the good things patients are doing.
There is always the possiblity that one ingredient, one supplement, can fill a large gap or particular need in the body and by itself lead to major improvement. We see that happen all the time. But usually it is all the elements in a nutritional program that work together -- like a team of horses pulling a wagon -- that gets the job done most effectively.
Biochemist Arnold Takemoto puts it this way: "Olive leaf extract is not a single magic-bullet. There are very few such things, especially in non-pharmaceutical medicine. In many cases it takes a whole lot more than just one ingredient to get over a particular condition. Yet I find it a very valuable addition against chronic fatigue syndrome and many other viral conditions, especially those that are more tenacious. It fills a hole that we haven't been able to fill before."
In the Townsend Letter article, Takemoto told Morton Walker that he has "yet to discover another herbal substance that accomplishes antimicrobially what this substance achieves."
Takemoto went on to say that Lisa Weinrib, M.D., one of the physicians he works with, treats many cases of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
She has noticed that patients with these problems exhibit much improvement from use of the extract, according to Takemoto. "It's the missing link that functions as an antiviral and antiretroviral agent by slowing down the organism's reproductive cycle. A slowdown...allows the patient's immune system to go on the attack."
Takemoto says olive leaf extract has helped patients eliminate stubborn viral infections they have had for years. One patient, who had suffered from shingles (herpes zoster) for nine years, experienced complete relief within two days of starting olive leaf extract and other supplements.
"In my approach," Takemoto says, "I target key antibody responses for specific viruses, stimulate the immune system, and with olive leaf extract attempt to inhibit the reproduction of the virus. It takes everything to get over some of these real chronic conditions."
One of the most frequent comments we hear from patients after they start taking olive leaf extract is that they feel more energetic and have a greater sense of well-being. Many want to continue the supplement even after the treatment program has cleared up or reduced specific problems.
Some patients are energized to the point that they inquire whether there is an "upper" in the product. There is not. It simply generates a natural "upper" effect. Healthy people who take it say they also feel this infusion of energy.
One of my patients is an 18-year-old professional ice-skater who says that one or two olive leaf extract tablets a day helps her sustain the high energy level she needs for practice and performance.
In my clinic, as in many others, fatigue is the No. 1 complaint. I am not refering to serious chronic fatigue situations but just routine tiredness, likely caused by a combination of consuming a dead food diet and not exercising. The average person, of course, is not going to change eating habits and is not going to go on a regular exercise program. In such cases, the olive leaf extract looks like a good source of pep for the pepless.
In my experience, olive leaf extract also has helped in many chronic fatigue cases, even the most serious. One female patient described to me what she called a "really quite unbelievable" recovery within one month of taking the supplement.
"For the last few years I have not been feeling like myself. I've had little energy and enthusiasm for anything. This is not my usual nature. I attributed it to weight, unemployment and just being down. My head was always somewhat achy and I couldn't figure out why. The only way I could describe it would be as a constant low-degree headache which never left.
"I started taking olive leaf extract and noticed an immediate elevation of my spirits. What I liked about the product was that it was effective but gentle and didn't make me hyper or unable to sleep. Quite the contrary, I slept better.
"After a few days I began to notice more energy and a stronger sense of well-being. The cobwebs in my brain started to diminish. I also noticed a bad shoulder and a bad knee started to get better. The pain associated with these joints remarkably improved.
"The only side-effects I had were a couple of headaches in the beginning which disappeared with some aspirin. I started to feel much, much better. It was amazing to see the fatigue disappear and my general health improve. I couldnít believe I felt so well. I stopped taking the product after 30 days and experienced no withdrawal or anything. I simply felt better and that has stayed the same for the last 60 days without the product."
Another female patient with Epstein-Barr Virus reported that the supplement "has helped me very much in overcoming the tiredness I feel. It has given me energy."
For some very sick individuals, including people with chronic fatigue syndrome or particularly heavy loads of virus or bacteria in their bodies, olive leaf extract may possibly generate detoxification symptoms -- known as the "die-off effect" -- that may be unpleasant.
Such people may actually feel worse for a short time before feeling better. As an example, many chronic fatigue patients suffer from an associated depression. Patients of mine who toughed it out through the"die-off" period emerged highly energized and no longer depressed.
The "die-off effect," or Herxheimer Reaction as it is medically called, refers to symptoms generated by a detoxification process. If you are sick and use this product, you should be aware of the possibility. For this reason it may be advisable to consult first with a holistic health practitioner before using it.
If you have ever used Nystattin to fight yeast infections, you are probably familiar with this situation. Nystattin kills yeast. As the body becomes full of dead yeast, you may experience a variety of detox symptoms. Symptoms may intensify to the point where you need to stop or reduce the dosage of the medication in order to give your body a chance to eliminate the toxic waste.
Olive leaf extract is potent stuff. It can generate an internal cleansing action that may similarly cause significant detox symptoms. Refer to the next chapter about what to do if you experience such a reaction.
"Die-off" symptoms can begin almost immediately after starting the supplement. It can hit different people in different ways. Reactions include extreme fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, muscle/joint achiness or flu-like symptoms. Severity differs also from person to person, depending on the extent of infection.
Keep in mind that such symptoms are positive signs. Nevertheless, they can be unpleasant. Some people may not want to continue because of the discomfort. Others handle it better. Others experience no such effect.
Here's what to do in case of substantial detoxification symptoms:
- Reduce the number of tablets, or even stop them altogether for a while.
- You may need a day or two, or even a week, to allow your body to process the "die-off."
- When you feel better, you can resume the supplement at a low dose and increase slowly.
- Holistic practitioners can usually provide a supportive detoxification program for individuals who experience a strong "die-off" response. In my clinic, this program includes taking vitamin C to bowel tolerance. Such a regimen is best done under professional guidance.
The research indicated that doses many times higher than recommended are unlikely to produce toxic or other adverse side effects. During 1993 testing of the liquid form of the product against the herpes virus, there were no observed or reported side effects.
Potential Against Serious Infectious Diseases
Deaths from infectious diseases, formerly on the decline, have recently taken an alarming upward turn in this country.
According to federal researchers, such deaths rose by 58% from 1980 to 1992, pushing this category of illness up behind heart disease and cancer in the No. 3 spot of killer diseases.
While the AIDS epidemic accounts for most of the rise, experts say there has been an unusual increase in mysterious respiratory infections among the elderly and blood infections among people of all ages. When you eliminate the AIDS the death rate during the same period for all other infectious diseases rose by 22 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO), back in 1978, looked to the future and issued a report which contended that by the year 2000, sources other than Western, technological medicine would be needed in order for all people to have adequate health care. The organization subsequently adopted the report that recommended the use of traditional forms of healing and medicine, such as the use of herbs, to meet the demands of an factor, exploding global population.
As we approach the year 2000, the wisdon -- and the urgency -- of this advice is obvious in the light of the serious side-effects and shortcoming of pharmaceutical drugs.
With the emergence, for instance, of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, natural products such as olive leaf extract take on greater importance. Even if new antibiotics are developed, new infectious bacteria would emerge that are resistant to new drugs. In the case of herbal medicinals, their complex chemistry may often render them potentially more effective against a wide variety of microorganisms for which pharmaceutical drugs prove to be ineffective.
It will be interesting to see if olive leaf extract can benefit AIDS cases. We know that it inhibits the production of reverse transcriptase and protease, enzymes necessary for certain viruses, such as HIV, to damage healthy cells.
Informal, preliminary reports are promising.
Mark Konlee, editor of "Positive Health News," a newletter on alternative treatments that circulates widely in the AIDS community, has reported exciting initial results with olive leaf extract, either in the tablet supplement form or directly as a tea brewed from leaves, in combination with other ingredients.
Those other ingredients, according to Konlee, have been found to be highly beneficial over the years. They include:
- Naltrexone, an immune-stabilizing drug used in the treatment of heroin and alcohol addiction. Clinical trials conducted by Bernard Bihari, MD, a New York City physician specializing in HIV/AIDS, demonstrated that this preparation stops the progression of the disease and the decline of the immune system in a majority of patients who take it regularly.
Naltrexone stimulates key hormones regulating the immune system and the communication between the brain and immune function. No side effects have been reported.
- DNCB (dinitrochlorobenzene), a chemical used in photography labs that is applied in small doses on the skin. This compound acts as anti-viral agent by stimulating killer cell activity. An estimated 7,000 patients with AIDS have used this substance for some 10 years.
- A blend of olive oil/whole lemon juice. This "grassroots" recipe appears to be uniquely helpful in reversing neuropathy, swollen lymph nodes and wasting syndrome associated with the HIV.
Konlee reports that the combination, with added olive leaf extract, "has producted stunning results," including viral loads dropping dramatically within a month. Among the cases he describes are these:
1. A patient had been using Naltrexone since October 1995 along with weekly topical applications of DNCB. He had not used the olive oil/lemon juice blend. In August of that year he had had a CD8 count of 700. CD8 refers to killer T cells, which, along with so-called Natural Killer cells, are major immune destroyers of virus infected cells. They reduce viral loads and inhibit damage to the body's defenses.
In January of 1996, his CD8 count had risen to 1380. In March of 1996 he added olive leaf extract at the standart dose of one capsule four times daily. He initially experienced a mild headache, a probably "die-off effect." Within days, he reported a significant increase in energy along with the disappearance of swollen lymph nodes. He said he felt 20 years younger. On March 21, his CD8 count had soared to 1920! His physician said never before in his career had he seen such improvement in an AIDS patient.
2. One patient reported that after finishing a bottle of olive leaf extract, one of three Kaposi Sarcoma lesions on his chest vanished. He experienced headaches and flu-like symptoms for about two weeks, again a probable "die-off effect." Continuing with a second bottle, he said the second lesion was completely gone and the last one was "fading fast."
His HIV viral load, as measured by PCR technology, had dropped from 160,000 to 30,000 in two months. Soon afterward, he reported that his PCR results for HIV were now down to 692.
3. An HIV patient reported his genital herpes vanished within four days of starting on the olive leaf extract.
4. Another patient with Kaposi's Sarcoma and retinitis added five capsules of olive leaf extract daily along with Naltrexone and DNCB. After doing this, he said that the sarcoma lesions stopped growing. This prompted him to stop two drugs he had been taking -- Ganciclovir and Biaxin -- because of severe intestinal side effects. A few days after discontinuing the drugs, his digestion returned to normal. He soon reported improved vision and that lesions were becoming lighter in color.
5. One patient took the olive leaf extract by itself for about 3 1/2 months. His HIV viral load dropped nearly in half as a result, along with significant improvements in his white blood cell counts. After adding Naltrexone and the lemon/olive oil drink, his improvement accelerated.
I have recommened olive leaf extract to many patients with herpes. The results have been encouraging.
One man in his early 40s suffered from repeated lesions plus fatigue. In a week after starting the supplement, his lesions disappeared and his energy level increased. He told me that olive leaf extract was the only preparation that had ever cleared up the herpes. "Even the most minute blisters are gone," he said.
A female patient had an unusually stubborn herpetic cold sore in the mouth for four months. She also suffered from cancer, thus there may have been some significant immune exhaustion involved. After one week with the olive leaf, the sore disappeared.
These and other similar clinical successes are consistent with a private 1993 herpes study in humans. In that investigation, a weaker and ethanol (alcohol-based) form of olive leaf extract was used by six individuals with herpes.
All reported symptomatic relief.
Three said their lesions disappeared within 48 hours. The remaining three, who experienced no improvement, then received a stronger dose. One said that three days later, most of the lesions were gone. The other two also reported doing better.
All six subjects said the olive leaf extract produced better results than Acyclovir, a medication they had previously used.
Flu and Colds
Results to date indicate that olive leaf extract may be a good weapon against the common cold and flu. Consider the following letter written to me in August of 1995 by a female patient suffering from persistent flu symptoms:
"I became ill with the flu in February and had several immune boosters, extra vitamins and three antibiotics. My fever was 102-103 every afternoon and this continued even after the antibiotics. I developed paralyzing chest and abdominal pain, being confined to the couch for weeks -- not able to hardly walk. My weight dropped to 84 pounds. Medical tests revealed nothing specifically wrong.
I started taking olive leaf extract on July 18. Within a few days my temperature started dropping and it is slowly and steadily going down, so that some days I haven't needed to take Tylenol to reduce it. The pain is subsiding gradually and my appetite and strength is returning."
At the time of her next medical examination, the woman's temperature had been normal for a week. She hadn't needed pain-killers for two weeks.
I received a striking testimony from an elementary school teacher with a history of asthma and vulnerability to colds and flu. She felt that olive leaf extract fortified her against the constant exposure to germs circulating throughout her classroom.
"I used to get sick all the time," she told me. "One school year I got strep throat eight times. If you sneezed at me, the chances are I would get sick. Not any more. When many kids in my class were coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses before Christmas, I caught a slight cold and that's it."
The ability of olive leaf extract to destroy bacteria was demonstrated dramatically in the case of a 64-year-old physician who had been bedridden for several years following a serious stroke. He also had recurrent bladder infections which caused considerable pain, smelly urine and fever.
All efforts to alleviate his condition had been generally unsuccessful. Even a $1,000 antibiotic specially made for him had not worked. He had constant discomfort. His urine was cloudy "and looked like soup." Often it was bloody.
After one month on olive leaf extract, the infections had vanished. After six months, the condition has not recurred.
The doctor also suffered from frequent allergies and colds and had to take medication to keep these under control. The incidence and severity were significantly minimized with the supplement and as a result he requires considerably less medicine.
Naturopath Phil Selinsky reports success against bacterial infections in a number of cases. These include sinus and bladder infections and oral infections associated with tooth or gum disease.
"Some patients have told me that olive leaf extract took down their dental-related infections within hours," according to Selinsky. "They were quite impressed by the response."
The general recommendation for olive leaf extract is four tablets daily. For these kind of infections, Selinsky recommends patients begin with two tablets followed by another every four hours.
"That usually gets you on top of the situation," he says. For more serious infections, tablets can be taken at shorter intervals.
One night a patient of mine developed swelling and intense pain from an abscess and decided to take several tablets at one time. It reduced the pain. In the morning, when the pain returned, he took a "handful" of tablets -- about eight or nine, he guesses. An hour-and-a-half later, the pain and swelling were gone. The pain did not return but a dental examination determined that the involved tooth had to go.
Researchers have found that the natural olive leaf compounds can decrease the level of blood sugar. I have had several cases in my clinic confirming this finding.
One involved a 15-year-old girl with juvenile diabetes. The teenager had been regularly taking 350 units of insulin daily for control. After one month on olive leaf extract, she was able to maintain similar control with just 220 units.
In another case, the blood sugar level of a diabetic elderly priest dropped from 450 to 160 after three months. In an yet another instance, the blood sugar of a middle aged man stabilized at 140, down from 250, after one month. He reported a great increase in energy during this time.
These results are exciting. I look forward to more opportunities to gauge the benefits of olive leaf for diabetics. Will it generate improved blood flow and antioxidant effects to help against the destructive vascular complications of diabetes that contribute to stroke, heart disease and peripheral circulatory problems?
Time will tell.
A number of patients have experienced significant easing of joint pain. We don't know yetprecisely how this is happening.
A male patient, who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis five years before, had this to say: "After taking all the medicines I could stand with no real results, I was informed about some nutritional supplements. One of them was an olive leaf extract.' "After taking it for three weeks I noticied more flexibility in my fingers, elbows, and neck. There was marked relief of muscle tension surrounding my joints. Overall I am enjoying olive leaf extract with my daily routine."
One of our clinical observations is that olive leaf extract appears to work on many different levels in the body. As a result we often hear reports from patients that a variety of symptoms begin improving.
One woman with chronic fatigue, frequent colds, asthma, and vaginal yeast infections said that all her symptoms had virtually cleared up within five weeks. The woman, a teacher, was able to take on new projects she wouldn't even begin to think were possible before.
A male patient wrote a detailed letter about his experience:
"I became ill in December 1993 and was diagnosed with a stomach and prostrate infection. I was treated with high doses of antibiotics, but never fully recovered. I was troubled with multiple symptoms, some of which were back and neck pain, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, sinus and digestive problems. I was subsequently diagnosed with fibromyalgia (chronic fatigue syndrome) and the physicians recommeded Prozac-type antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs. But I refused them. I began taking olive leaf extract along with my regular vitamin and mineral supplements in August of 1995 at the rate of one tablet every six hours. I increased the dosage after five days and began to feel better."
"I tried different dosages for a number of days until I found the optimum amount for me. Today I take three tablets four times a day. My overall health has greatly improved and so has my energy and disposition. One very interesting thing has occurred. My finger nails were infected, by whatever infection I had, leaving them wrinkled looking. Now they are slowly returning to their normal shape."
A female patient, after taking olive leaf extract for a month, gave me this happy report:
"It has improved my allergy-like psoriasis, and symptoms of a kidney infection. I have been having back aches for almost a year and frequent urination. These have improved a lot also.
Fungus and Yeast Infections
Earlier I mentioned my own positive experience with olive leaf extract. I started taking the supplement and it completely cleared up a stubborn toenail fungus infection. A number of other patients have told me similar stories.
A woman with an infection of the large toenail said that within 60 days her condition was about three-quarters healed. For five years, she had tried many types of medication and natural agents without help.
More than 10 million Americans are said to have disfiguring fungal nail infections, a widely ignored medical problem. It is frequently found among patients with AIDS, cancer and diabetes, athletes, elderly individuals, people who spend considerable time standing or who wear the same shoes day after day, or who wear artificial fingernails. Drugs taken for cancer and AIDS lower resistance and are believed to make people more susceptible to infection.
For the first time in 35 years, a new drug has been approved for the condition. It is called Sporanox and is reported to be more effective than previous anti-fungal preparations. But none of these preparations come cheap. Patricia Anstett of the Knight-Ridder Newspapers reports that two 100-milligram pills of Sproranox are taken daily for about three months at a cost of $900. Older drugs, taken for 12 months or more, cost double or more that amount over the longer duration. Even with the new drug, the condition may return if the medication is stopped.
Olive leaf extract may offer a natural -- and for sure, less expensive -- method of self-treatment.
One patient said a fungal infection of the tongue he had for 30 years responded virtually overnight to the olive leaf. "I had tried all kinds of diets, treatments and regimes but to no avail," he told me. "Within three weeks on olive leaf extract the fungus disappeared!"
More than a dozen patients with candidiasis have reported significant improvements. They say they have fewer infections, allergic reactions, less dullness and more energy. One woman said she was finally able to clean out her dust-ridden garage. Before olive leaf extract that would have been impossible for her.
One 36-year-old woman, who had suffered repeated vaginal yeast infections for several years, told me this account of her experience with olive leaf extract:
"I have seen several doctors using conventional medicine. They prescribed every medication available to combat yeast, all to no avail. After less than three weeks of taking the olive leaf supplement, all symptoms cleared up and have not returned. As a sufferer of herpes simplex II, I would experience outbreaks several times a year. Now, I have had no more flare-ups."
A chronic scalp infection that had stubbornly resisted all treatment for more than 10 year responded directly to olive leaf extract within 60 days. The patient wrote me this detailed letter:
"The condition would flare up causing very painful eruptions and lesions in my scalp, which, over time, have killed quite a few hair follicles. Modern medical doctors and dermatologists have been unable to eradicate (the condition). I had resolved my self to the fact that there was no cure.
"I am satisfied that I am getting some significant results from using the olive leaf extract. My scalp remains a little tender, but the eruptions have all but ceased. I am continuing to use the product about twice a day, and the skin color is much healthier than it has been in recent time.
"No matter what drug therapy my doctors have prescribed in the past, none has provided me with the level of relief I am currently experiencing. I would gladly recommend this product to others suffering chronic skin aliments."
A female patient reported better energy and disappearance of a rash in 30 days. The rash occurred in winter, or during times of extreme cold.
Olive leaf extract may offer considerable potential in the treatment of tropical infections such as malaria and dengue.
Malaria is caused by parasitic protozoans injected into the body by infected mosquitoes. Protozoans, in case you are interested, are one-celled organisms, the simplest creatures in the animal kingdom.
As far back as 1827, reports have appeared in medical literature indicating the benefits of olive leaf extract in the treatment of malaria. In 1906, one report stated that olive leaves were, in fact, superior to quinine for malarial infections. Quinine was preferred, however, because it was easier to administer. In studies performed by the Upjohn company, calcium elenolate, the substance within oleuropein, was found to be effective against the malaria protozoa.
Now in tablet form, there may be renewed interest in olive leaf extract as an anti-malarial agent. Preliminary reports from Latin America are promising.
A full-fledged case of malaria at a clinic in Mexico was totally cured with a dosage schedule of two olive leaf extract supplements every six hours. A clinic report said that the 34-year-old female patient made a steady recovery and after six months, "she was without any of the malaria symptoms, not even anemia or shivers. Her breath is good. Her state of mind excellent and she does not show any signs of chronic or contagious disease."
Malaria has been reported recently in Texas and continues to be a leading cause of illness and deaths worldwide, particularly because of the development of drug-resistant strains. "It is a continuing concern in the United States because of increased international migration, travel, and commerce, " according to the publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
Another serious tropical disease giving concern to public health officials is dengue fever. This ailment is also mosquito-borne, in this case caused by a virus, and occurs mainly in tropical Asia and the Caribbean. It can cause vomiting, high fever, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, and is deadly in 50 percent of the cases. Some 50 million people are affected each year and about half a million require hospitalization, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are trying to find a vaccine but no breakthroughs have occurred yet.
In 1995, large outbreaks of dengue were reported by health authorities in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Olive leaf extract is currently available in the form of 500 mg. tablets. The routine dosage is one tablet every six hours or four throughout the day. Take the supplement between meals for best results.
In the case of bad colds or flu, you can use two tablets every six hours. For acute infections, some individuals have taken more -- three and even four every six hours -- and reported rapid relief.
If you encounter a "die-off" effect, cut back on the number of tablets you are taking or temporarily discontinue them. See the section on "die-off effect."
For healthy folks seeking more energy or the prevention benefits of olive leaf extract, we suggest one or two tablets a day. The younger and cleaner the body, the more responsive it is to supplements such as this. When a person becomes older and more toxic, more of the supplement is required to do the job.
Dr. James R. Privitera, M.D.
Dr. Privitera, M.D. earned his medical degree at Creighton University and completed an Internship in Internal Medicine at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washintion and his residency at Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco, CA. Following a Clinical Fellowship in allergy, immunology and rheumatolgy at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, he entered private practice in allergy and nutrition in Covina, California where he practices today. Affiliated with the American Preventive Medical Association and the International College of Applied Nutrition, among others, Dr. Privitera has served on the boards of several top health organizations including the National Health Federation. A pioneer in dark field microscopy, Dr. Privitera has been asked to consult to some of our nations's leading vitamin manufacturers. He has a book soon to be released entitled "Silent Clots - the Nation's Biggest Killer".
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