The Versatile, Longevity Giving Olive Tree
Olive Tree History & Olives
For over 6,000 years the olive tree has provided mankind with a variety of life-enhancing gifts. In the Bible it is referred to as the “Tree of Life”. There are some olive trees in the Mediterranean that are estimated to be over 2,000 years old. Olive trees are drought resistant and even if the tree itself becomes damaged, the root system can regenerate and grow a new tree. If we follow the “Doctrine of Signatures” we’ll follow the olive tree to longevity. Let’s take a closer look at the olive fruit itself, the oil the fruit produces and the olive leaf. You may be surprised just how versatile this beautiful tree is!
You’ve seen them on pizzas, in salads, on sandwiches and in some grocery stores – in olive bars. Green, black, stuffed with cheese or peppers, little, big – there are many varieties of olives. Olives are considered a stone fruit and are related to cherries, mangoes, peaches, almonds & pistachios. The largest supplier of olives in the world is Spain, not Italy – although many are imported to Italy for processing & packaging. Olives only become edible after being vinegar or salt water brined, dry cured with oil or fermented. In recent years, they’ve gained popularity as being part of the famous “Mediterranean Diet”. The olive is packed with Vitamin E and other potent anti-oxidants. Black olives have a high iron content and in general, olives are high in calcium and copper (copper is not abundant in Western diets). They’re known to help protect against cancer, stroke, osteoporosis and heart disease. Olives are anti-inflammatory and contain ‘good fats’ that are also seen in nuts and avocados. You will not gain fat by eating olives in moderation nor will you increase your bad cholesterol (LDL). Olives tend to be salty so precaution is necessary for those on low-sodium diets. These little fruits are packed with fiber and low in carbohydrates. Use these little wonders in appetizers, sandwiches, salads and main dishes to enhance your health. From the book ‘The Complete Mediterranean Diet’ by Michael Ozner, MD. This recipe has the benefits of olives and olive oil together:
Classic Greek Salad (serves 6)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Pinch of low-calorie sweetener (try Stevia liquid – 1 drop will do nicely)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ head of escarole, shredded
6 large firm tomatoes, quartered
½ English cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ red onion, sliced
½ pound Greek feta cheese, cut into small cubes
20 Greek black olives
¼ cup freshly chopped Italian Parsley
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, sweetener, salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Combine escarole, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and cheese in a large salad bowl and toss. Drizzle oil mixture over salad and toss again. Scatter olives and parsley over salad and serve.
Approx. 268 calories per serving
23g protein, 17g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 44g carbohydrates, 0g cholesterol, 595mg sodium, 3g fiber.
The Beauty & Benefits of Olive Oil
All the benefits of olives are packed into olive oil. Extra Virgin olive oil (EVOO) is best, especially cold-pressed. There is much controversy over olive oil as it was discovered some suppliers are cutting in cheaper oils (like soybean with chlorophyll added for coloring) and continuing to label it as 100% olive oil. Researchers conclude that up to 69% of olive oils sold in the United States are impure. It’s best to purchase a reputable brand. Perhaps you’ll notice the inauthentic olive oils have a difference in smell and taste than the real deal but even so-called experts have difficulty telling the difference! There’s the refrigerator test that’s supposed to help determine if your olive oil is authentic. Place a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a glass cup and refrigerate it overnight; if it comes out solidified or congealed, it’s supposedly authentic. The refrigerator test has been debunked, though. Different olives have varied fat contents and processing methods which may skew the results of the refrigerator test. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where olive trees grow, then you have direct access to a local farmer who may sell direct. Otherwise, research is your best ally in purchasing an authentic, quality olive oil. Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place. It is light sensitive so you’ll notice most olive oils are sold in tinted glass or plastic containers.
One of the benefits of olive oil is that you do not have to ingest it to experience its benefits, although some olive oil enthusiasts insist on taking it internally regularly – a shot glass daily! Olive oil makes for a fantastic moisturizer for the skin or massage oil. Because of its high antioxidant and Vitamin E content, it can help prevent and reduce the appearance of fine lines and age spots as well as evening the tone of skin. Try adding a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to olive oil to create a healing, relaxing massage blend. Olive oil will penetrate the skin to make its way into your system and will improve the health and appearance of your skin along the way. If you have a sunburn, apply olive oil to the affected areas for relief. It’s said that olive oil massaged into stretch marks can help reduce the appearance of these lines. Olive oil blended with course sea salt makes for a fantastic exfoliant. Have you ever tried using olive oil to remove makeup? It works like a charm. Dry cuticles can be treated with the application of olive oil along the nail bed. Apply the olive oil to the affected areas at bedtime and wake to softer, healthier cuticles. Did you know that olive oil can help remove grease and grime from your hands? Apply olive oil to greasy hands, rub into the hands, rinse and wash with soap – repeat if necessary.
There are many soaps that contain olive oil as well as shampoos and conditioners because it is such an excellent moisturizer. You can use a small amount of olive oil to reduce frizz by massaging it through the hair. Be careful not to use too much because it will create an appearance of greasiness if you do, so just a tiny amount is needed. Olive oil soap is good for not only bathing but for shaving – you can even use plain olive oil instead of soap or shaving cream! You’ll have the benefit of it as a moisturizer when you use it this way.
As mentioned earlier, you do not have to ingest olive oil to receive the benefits but it’s a delicious oil that has antibacterial qualities. Studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil can help prevent ulcers and stomach cancer. It’s also good for relieving constipation. Try this delicious recipe to add olive oil to your diet…it can be drizzled on pasta, steaks, chicken, fish, vegetables, used as a salad dressing or a dip for a crusty bread:
Basil-Herb Olive Oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 fresh basil leaves chopped finely (or 1 tablespoon dry basil)
1 teaspoon pressed or finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon grated parmesan (optional)
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and let set for 30 minutes to marinate; serve.
Olive oil can also be safely used for general stove top cooking. It can be the oil used to fry eggs, sauté vegetables or pan fry fish. There was debate some years ago about the flashpoint of olive oil but new data suggests that cooking with olive oil is safe and the heat will not deteriorate the nutritional value of the oil. So – massage with it, drink it, eat it, moisturize with it and exfoliate with it knowing it’s good for you…inside and out! Just be sure to do some research before purchasing extra virgin olive oil – the labels and what’s actually inside the bottle can be misleading.
Olive Leaf Extract
So far, we’ve explored the history of the Olive Tree, the beneficial fruit of the tree known as the olive and the beauty and health-enhancing properties of olive oil. Let’s move on to yet another feature of the Olive Tree – the leaf. Please note that the information provided is not meant to diagnose or treat disease. Readers are encouraged to do further research.
According to Dr. Morton Walker, author of the book “Nature’s Antibiotic – Olive Leaf Extract”, extract derived from the leaf of the olive tree is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. The active component in olive leaf extract lies in the ‘oleuropein’ – a bitter glucoside. This component is believed to be what gives the olive tree its disease-resistant properties. It also helps ward off pests that enjoy the fruits of the olive tree. Even though olive leaf extract has potent antibacterial qualities, it does not interfere with good gut flora like acidophilus and will not upset the digestive system. Some of the benefits of taking olive leaf extract (available in capsule or tincture form) include:
- Relief of malaria, dengue fever, and other exotic diseases which produce fever as a primary symptom.
- Relief of arthritic inflammation, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Reduction of insulin dosages for diabetics
- Elimination of chronic fatigue and its symptoms
- Normalization of heart beat irregularities
- Improved cardiovascular and /or peripheral vascular function
- Removal of fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, nail fungus, candida (yeast infection)
- Addresses Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalorivus (walking pneumonia), herpes, retroviruses, influenza virus, common cold and HIV.
- Addresses variety of parasitic issues and protozoa including microscopic worms.
- Olive leaf extract is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. The list above is a condensed list of what this amazing supplement does.
Most people haven’t heard of olive leaf extract. The Upjohn pharmaceutical company tried patenting a component of oleuropein back in the 1970’s called calcium olenolate but found it bound to proteins in blood serum too rapidly for the product to be useful. This is a case where the whole is more effective than the single component as olive leaf works synergistically. Luckily, olive leaf extract is available as a nutritional supplement and affordable, unlike patented prescription drugs that must be obtained through a doctor. As a matter of fact, the Hungarian government has adopted olive leaf extract as an over-the-counter food supplement in its Medicare system as an official infectious disease remedy. Dr. Lyons, who practices in Budapest, reports this, “The people under treatment responded remarkably well against a variety of microorganisms including many types of viruses, bacteria, yeast and other fungi…The product was incredibly effective against respiratory diseases of bacterial origin, such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis and tracheitis; it improved patients suffering from gastric/duodenal ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori, and it worked just great against viral diseases such as the herpes infections.”
As with all supplements, there are varying degrees of quality and efficacy. Olive leaf extract is no different. Purchase olive leaf extract from a reputable health food store or online dispensary. Olive leaf extract supplements should have a minimum content of 6% oleuropein, the active ingredient in olive leaf. Keep in mind that olive leaf extract works synergistically so a ratio of 6% to 25% oleuropein is beneficial. You’ll find the supplement in liquid tincture form, capsules and gel caps. For best results, consult a qualified wellness practitioner for proper dosage and frequency. Distance consults are available with Angela Welch, Board Certified Holistic Practitioner, through Sandstone Therapeutic Massage.
Suggested Resources for Quality Olive Leaf Extract:
- FullScript.com (account set-up and discount available by contacting Angela Welch, HHP, DiHom-Pract, LMT at email@example.com)
- Better Health Natural Foods – Novi, MI
- Greener Pastures Natural Foods – South Lyon, MI