Can olive leaf extract boost immunity to prevent colds and flu and more?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Can olive leaf live up to some claims for fighting flu, cold and more?
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If you are looking for a natural immune booster, here are some facts about olive leaf extract. You can purchase in capsules and take as a supplement to help keep you free from colds and flu this winter. But will it work?

This year’s flu shot can protect against 4 different strains of the virus. But influenza vaccine is never a guarantee, which make supplements and natural remedies appealing to consumers.

If you do take a flu shot each year, experts are recommending you take it now before influenza season is in full swing.

Olive leaf extract has been used for thousands of years and there is good scientific literature backing its health benefits. Unfortunately there are not enough human studies to say for certain it works, though it has been used as a health remedy since the 1800's.

The primary ingredient in olive leaf extract that could protect us from colds and flu is oleuropein that was found in the 1990s to inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites and without toxic effects in animal and test tube studies

One of the unique properties of olive leaf extract is that it stops viral shedding, which means viruses can’t replicate inside the body.

It’s also important to note there have only been a few studies showing the effect in humans that were preliminary. No controlled randomized trials have proven olive leaf extract works.

Another way to boost immunity rather than relying on a supplement is to incorporate olives and olive oil into your diet.

Oleuropein from olives has also been shown to possibly have cholesterol lowering effects and might keep blood pressure lower, though studies are preliminary and haven’t been well designed.

Don’t forget your probiotics

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You may want to make sure you eat some yogurt with probiotics, aged cheese or other sources of beneficial bacterial if you decide to take olive leaf extract for cold and flu or other disease prevention.

Supplementing might destroy ‘good’ bacteria along with ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. Probiotics also protect respiratory health and can help combat diarrhea.

Warnings

Olive leaf contains pollen and can cause allergy for sensitive individuals. You should also speak with your doctor before taking any supplements. Olive leaf extract might help you combat flu this season and may even have additional health perks, but it's important to understand some claims about the benefits might be overstated. If you have had success using olive leaf for colds or flu, please leave a comment.

References:
NCBI
“Oleuropein in Olive and its Pharmacological Effects”
Syed Haris Omar

PubMed.gov
“Oleuropein, a non-toxic olive iridoid, is an anti-tumor agent and cytoskeleton disruptor”.
Hamdi HK, Castellon R

NYU Langone Medical Center
Olive Leaf Extract

Markin D, Duek L, Berdicevsky I.
In vitro antimicrobial activity of olive leaves. Mycoses2003;46:132-6.

Zarzuelo A, Duarte J, Jimenez J, Gonzalez M, Utrilla MP. Vasodilator effect of olive leaf. Planta Med 1991;57:417-9.

Molecules
“Phenolic Compounds and Antimicrobial Activity of Olive (Olea europaea L. Cv. Cobrançosa) Leaves"

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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