As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.
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.
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
anglnwu (author) on August 13, 2015:
Hey Lady E, good to hear from you. Glad you found this useful:))
Elena from London, UK on July 25, 2015:
Thanks. I found this useful. I enjoy eating olives but have never used the leaves. Happy weekend.
anglnwu (author) on October 18, 2014:
Hi ChitrangadaSharan, thanks for dropping by to comment and the vote up. Try some of them!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 17, 2014:
This is great information about Olive leaves! I had no idea about its health benefits.
Thanks for sharing its usefulness and the recipes. I would definitely like to try some of them.
anglnwu (author) on October 15, 2014:
Hi Audrey, good to see you here. The leaves need to be cured before they can be eaten. These are preserved leaves I'm talking about. You can find them in the Asian supermarkets.
Hi alexadry, the extract may be too strong. I know cloves ease tooth pain too. I'm glad you found something that works for you. Thanks for commenting.
Adrienne Farricelli on October 15, 2014:
I got olive leave extract to try to cure a tooth infection, but the taste for me was unbearable, even when diluted. I wonder if there are ways to make it more palatable. I still have the bottle and would like to keep it just in case. Luckily for my tooth problem, colloidal silver did the trick.
Audrey Howitt from California on October 15, 2014:
Very interesting --I have never used the leaves before!
anglnwu (author) on September 27, 2014:
Hi RTalloni, good to see you here. I've such respect for olive trees. They offer so many healing qualities. Thanks for commenting.
RTalloni on September 24, 2014:
Though I have heard of using them before, I have been looking at using olive leaves for health in the last few weeks. Thanks much for the info and the recipes!
anglnwu (author) on April 16, 2014:
Thanks, Vellur, for visiting and commenting.
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 11, 2014:
Great hub about the olive leave, thank you for sharing.
anglnwu (author) on April 02, 2014:
Good to see you here, Jill. You may be able to find olive leaves in the Asian supermarkets. Thanks for the rating it up.
jill of alltrades from Philippines on March 31, 2014:
Oh, I didn't know about the olive leaves before. Thank you for this wonderful and useful hub, my friend! I am going to try your recipes as soon as I find find some olive leaves! I can almost imagine how yummy they are based on your description and photos.
Rated up and useful!
It's great to connect with you here again! I'll try to be more active in HP again.
anglnwu (author) on January 01, 2014:
poetryman, thanks--the stir fry chicken looks as good as it tastes.
Jimmy, yes, I would say give it a try. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Jimmy432 on December 28, 2013:
I don`t like the taste of olive but with some many health benefits, I think I should give them one more chance! :)
poetryman6969 on December 22, 2013:
The stir fry chicken looks good.
anglnwu (author) on November 20, 2013:
Hi vespawoolf, you may be able to find preserved olive leaf in the Asian market. I did an Amazon search and it came out empty. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Prasetio, so good to see you here. Glad you find it informative.
Jackie Lynnley, thanks for readin.g
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 19, 2013:
This looks very good and good for you. ^
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on November 18, 2013:
Very informative hub. I learn something new here. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. Voted up :-)
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 17, 2013:
I must admit that I have never cooked with olive leaves. Now I see that I've been missing out! Too bad I didn't know about this last year, when we lived in the olive oil capitol of Peru. Maybe I'll have a chance to try this again someday. In the meantime, I'll look for olive leaf extract. The health benefits sound worth looking into. Thanks!
anglnwu (author) on November 13, 2013:
Suzanne, thanks for reading and commenting.
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on November 11, 2013:
What an interesting idea! I didn't know you could use olive leaves at all. Sounds like I'll have to give olive leaf extract a try to assist fat burning next time I'm in the health food shop! Voted up.
anglnwu (author) on October 23, 2013:
Eileen, thanks for dropping by to comment. Olive leaves are very bitter due to the oleuropin, so it has to be dried first before using it for tea. As for eating fresh leaves, I'm not quite sure. It has to be treated to draw out the bitterness.
Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on October 20, 2013:
We have olive trees growing in our back yard. Can you use the leaves fresh from the tree in tea or cooking. We preserve our own olives but had not thought about the leaves.
anglnwu (author) on October 03, 2013:
teaches12345, thanks for the vote up. Glad you've heard of the olive leaves and their health benefits.
Dianna Mendez on October 01, 2013:
This looks like a really good recipe and I am going to have to try it soon. I have heard of the wonderful benefits of olive leaves and you have encouraged me to try it. Voted up!
anglnwu (author) on September 30, 2013:
Glad you found it useful, enamateur.
Om, so long no see? Thanks for dropping by to comment. Agree--olive rice is a must try--it's totally yummy.
Om Paramapoonya on September 30, 2013:
Howdy Angeline! This is very interesting. I've never used olive leaves in cooking or for any other purpose. The olive rice sounds like a must-try. Thanks a lot for this lovely hub :)
Perry on September 30, 2013:
Thank! This is very helpful and informative.
anglnwu (author) on September 29, 2013:
rajanjolly, it's always fun to play with food. Glad you find it interesting.
anglnwu (author) on September 28, 2013:
Thanks, Pamela. Always good to hear from you. Olive leaf extract is amazing.
anglnwu (author) on September 27, 2013:
thumbi7, good to see you here. You can possibly buy it online. Thanks for commenting.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2013:
Very interesting and useful info. I'd no idea olive leaves were so healthy. good to see recipes that can incorporate these healthy leaves especially the olive leaf rice look damn good.
Voted up and interesting.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2013:
I had no idea olive juice was so good for you. Your recipes look delicious and I would certainly like to try some olive juice as I never have before. Awesome hub.
JR Krishna from India on September 25, 2013:
Another wonderful hub,
It is informative. Enjoyed the pictures. Olive leaves are not available here;otherwise I would have tried your recipe