Uses for Olive Leaves and Health Benefits
You may be familiar with olive oil and its health benefits. But what about olive leaves? Do they offer any health benefits as well? Olive leaves may not be as well-known, but many emerging studies may just catapult olive leaves into the limelight. They’ve been overshadowed in all the glory of olive oil acclaim, but actually olive leaves have been quietly serving up its health magic for as long as history remembers. According to studies in Milan, olive leaves contain compounds that exhibit potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. These characteristics have been cited as the reasons for their vast healing and medicinal values. From treating colds to herpes, olive leaf extract (the most readily used means of utilizing the goodness of olive leaves) may be the elixir of good health.
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Olive Leaf extract
Olive Leaves and History of Use
Olive trees feature prominently in Biblical times—olive oil was used to anoint kings, used in culinary preparations, in cosmetics, for lighting, sacrificial offerings, and for mummification. Olive leaves were first mentioned in Ezekiel for use in medicine: “The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” This reference referred to a number of trees that grew in Biblical times, olive trees included. Traditional Moroccan medicine used an infusion of olive leaves to stabilize blood sugar and to treat diabetes. The people of Crete from as early as 3,500 B.C. used it to treat wounds. In some cultures, olive oil extract was used to treat the common colds and flu, and sinus infection. Other than medicinal purposes, a branch of olive leaves carries symbols of abundance, glory and peace. Olympians were crowned with olive leaves and they are also used often for benediction and purification. In all, olive leaves shine.
Olive Leaves and Health Benefits
- The green thin blades of olive leaves with peekaboo silvery underside can be beautiful to look at but they are also chokefull of antimicrobial properties. A tincture of olive leaves may serve as powerful arsenal against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Quite the superman of busting undesirable germs and bacteria. It is known to destroy candida, the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infection and oral thrush. Certain reports also indicate that the antimicrobial properties of olive leaves may be effective against e. coli, S. aureus, K. pneumonia and other microbes.
- Olive leaves are rich in oleuropin, an iridoid (a chemical found in plants that possess pharmaceutical properties). Oleuropin exerts strong antioxidant activities. In fact, the antioxidant content of olive leaves is higher than that found in green tea. Whenever antioxidants are present, they serve to protect cells from cellular damage and reduce inflammation, the major trigger for a number of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It goes to say, that the antioxidants found in olive leaves may potentially reduce such risks.
- If you’re on a constant warfare with flab, you may be happy to note that oleuropin also stimulates the production of thermogenin, a substance that helps to burn fat more effectively. There is also indication that olive leaves may reduce triglycerides, the bad fat that increases risks of heart disease.
- Certain animal studies also show promise for those suffering from diabetes. Olive leaf shows ability to stimulate the release of insulin in the presence of glucose, thereby controlling sugar spike.
Homemade Olive Extract
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of olive leaves--buy organic olive leaves or fresh from your olive tree.
- 1 gallon distilled water
- 1 crockpot
- Wash olive leaves and drain.
- Add olive leaves and water to crockpot.
- Cook for 12 hours at 175 degrees.
- Cool, strain and store in glass bottles.
Keep up to approximately two weeks.
Typically, adults can drink 1/2 cup twice.
P.S. Consult a certified practitioner before drinking homemade olive extract.
Olive Leaves and Uses
- Fresh olive leaves are bitter and astringent due to the presence of oleuropin. As such, they’re not palate-friendly. You can dry olive leaves to be used in tea or make tincture out of them. Commercially, olive leaf extract is prepared for easier use.
- Crush them to make poultice to heal skin infection, wounds, pimples, scratches and warts.
- Olive leaf extract may be used for treating colds, flu, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis. However, it is important to note that all these claims are still not conclusive and it is best to use olive leaf extract under the care of medical practitioners.
- Olive leaves can be made into preserves to be used in eating and cooking purposes. In my culture, we use preserved olive leaves in a variety of ways. We often eat it with congee or use it to season a variety of dishes, notably stir-fry.
- Olive leaf extract is used to make soaps and a variety of cosmetics.
Preserved Olive Vegetables
My Adventures with Olive Leaves
When I went home to visit Singapore, I couldn’t help but notice a food craze—olive rice. Preserved olive leaves cooked with rice. When was this idea hatched? I don’t know but looking at it, fluffy rice glistening with the richness of black olive leaves, I was already smitten without even tasting it.
One bite and I told myself, I’ve to learn how to make it. No way, I’m going home without a recipe.
Turned out I didn’t have to search the all-knowing google world to find it. I went to a potluck and sure enough, someone showed up with a pot of rice topped with preserved olive leaves. I watched with fascination as she proceeded to toss the rice to ensure that each grain was coated and then she threw in some cashews for crunch. How brilliant.
Of course, I had to waylay her, even though I didn’t know her personally. I cornered her and tried to start a small talk before fishing the recipe out of her. It didn’t take much effort and she was more than happy to share.
Since then, I've been making olive rice way too often. Maybe, too often for my own good. You know what they say about too much of a good thing.
You can't keep a good thing to yourself. So, here's the very simple recipe.
- 1 cup of rice cooked to perfection, either in a rice cooker or over the stovetop. As always, one cup of jasmine rice to two cups of water.
- Once the button pops up, indicating the rice is ready. Toss rice with 3 tablespoons of preserved olive leaves.
- Serve warm.
If you’re craving a more substantial and complete meal, add cubes of cooked chicken, chopped green onion or cilantro (or any vegetable of choice) and nuts (or whatever you deem delicious).
Some people love fried rice. Go ahead, add a tablespoon of preserved olive leaf. The preserved olive leaf can be very salty, so use sparingly and accordingly.
My experiment also led me to another recent favorite:
Stir-fry Chicken with Olive Leaves
- 1 chicken breast, cubed
- 1 tsp of soya sauce
- 1/2 tsp of sugar
- a pinch of corn starch.
- 1 tbs of sesame oil
- 1 chopped red chili pepper (Thai variety is very spicy)
- 1 thumb of ginger, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk of green onion for garnishing.
- 1 tbs of preserved olive leaves
- Marinate chicken with the first 3 ingredients (soya sauce, sugar, cornstarch)
- Coat pan with sesame oil.
- Sauté ginger, garlic and red chili pepper until fragrant or until they turn golden brown.
- Add seasoned chicken cubes, sauté until done.
- Add preserved olive leaves, chopped green onion. Toss until evenly coated.
Dish it up and serve hot.
Stir -fry Chicken with Olive Leaves
In summary, olive leaves exert a wide variety of health benefits:
- Fights cold, flu, sinus infection.
- May control diabetes
- Reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, certain cancers and fights inflammation.
- May lower blood pressure.
- Boost immunity
- Treats any number of wounds and promotes healing. Used to control herpes and lyme disease
- Exerts strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Only take olive leaf extract under the direction of a certified practitioner.
Copyright @ Angeline Oppenheimer
The information contained here is not meant to replace medical advice.
© 2013 anglnwu
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