Olive - What is it & How to use

Fatty acids in olive oil seem to decrease cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory effects. Olive leaf and olive oil might lower blood pressure. Olive might also be able to kill microbes, such as bacteria and fungus.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for OLIVE are as follows:

Likely effective for…

  • Constipation. Taking olive oil by mouth is effective for reducing constipation.

Possibly effective for…

  • Breast cancer. People who consume more olive oil in their diet seem to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Heart disease. Replacing saturated fats in the diet with olive oil can reduce risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. Adding olive oil to the diet seems to help prevent a first heart attack and reduces death due to heart disease. Some research shows a high dietary intake of olive oil (54 grams/day; about 4 tablespoons) can reduced the risk of first heart attack by 82% when compared with a low intake of 7 grams of olive oil or less per day. Including 1 liter per week of extra-virgin olive oil in a Mediterranean diet for around 5 years also seems to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in people over age 55 who have diabetes or a combination of heart disease risk factors (smoking, high blood pressure, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, overweight, or with a family history of heart disease). A Mediterranean diet has high intakes of fruit, nuts, vegetables and cereals, moderate intake of fish and poultry, and low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets.

    The FDA now allows labels on olive oil and on food that contains olive oil to state that limited, but not conclusive evidence, suggests that consuming 23 grams/day (about 2 tablespoons) of olive oil instead of saturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Colorectal cancer. Research suggests that people who consume more olive oil in their diet have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • High cholesterol. Using olive oil in the diet instead of saturated fat can reduce total cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. However, some research suggests other dietary oils such as sunflower and rapeseed (canola) might reduce “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and another type of cholesterol called apolipoprotein B better than olive oil.
  • High blood pressure. Adding generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil to the diet and continuing with the usual treatments for high blood pressure can improve blood pressure over 6 months in people with high blood pressure. In some cases, people with mild to moderate high blood pressure can actually lower their dose of blood pressure medication or even stop taking medication altogether. However, do not adjust your medications without your healthcare provider’s supervision. Taking olive leaf extract also seems to lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Earwax. Applying olive oil to the skin does not appear to soften earwax.
  • Ear infections. Applying olive oil to the skin does not appear to reduce pain in children with ear infections.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Red, itchy skin (eczema). Early research suggests that applying a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil along with standard care seems to improve eczema.
  • Cancer. People who eat more olive oil seem to have a lower risk of developing cancer. But dietary intake of olive oil is not linked with a lower risk of cancer-related death.
  • Diabetes. Compared to polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower oil, olive oil in a Mediterranean-type diet might reduce the risk of “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) in people with diabetes. However, more research is needed.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H pylori). Early research shows that taking 30 grams of olive oil before breakfast for 2-4 weeks helps get rid of Helicobacter pylori infections in some people.
  • Metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions such as high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, or high blood sugar that can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. Taking olive leaf extract seems to help control of blood sugar in men with this condition. But it does not seem to reduce body weight, cholesterol levels, or blood pressure.
  • Migraine headache. Taking olive oil daily for 2 months seems to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. However, more research is needed.
  • Osteoarthritis. Developing research shows that taking a freeze-dried water extract of olive fruit or an extract of olive leaf decreases pain and increases mobility in people with osteoarthritis.
  • Osteoporosis. Taking olive leaf extract daily along with calcium might slow down bone loss in postmenopausal women with low bone density.
  • Ovarian cancer. Research suggests that women who consume more olive oil in their diet have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Gum disease. Using ozonated olive oil in the mouth, alone or following mouth treatment such as teeth scaling and root planing, seems to reduce the build-up of plaque and prevent bleeding and inflammation of the gums.
  • Red, flaky skin (psoriasis). Early research suggests that applying a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil to the skin along with standard care can improve psoriasis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Some research suggests that people whose diet includes a high amount of olive oil have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, early research shows that taking a water extract of olive fruit does not significantly improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Stretch marks (striae gravidarum). Early research shows that applying a small amount of olive oil to the stomach twice daily starting early in the second semester does not prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
  • Ringworm (Tinea corporis). Early research suggests that applying a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil to the skin is effective for treating ringworm.
  • Jock itch (Tinea cruris). Early research suggests that applying a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil to the skin is effective for treating jock itch.
  • Yeast infection of the skin (Tinea versicolor). Early research suggests that applying a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil to the skin is effective for treating yeast infection.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of olive for these uses.

Dose

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For constipation: 30 mL of olive oil.
  • For preventing heart disease and heart attacks: 54 grams per day (about 4 tablespoons) has been used. As a part of a Mediterranean diet, consuming up to 1 liter of extra-virgin olive oil per week has also been used.
  • For high cholesterol: 23 grams of olive oil per day (about 2 tablespoons) providing 17.5 grams of mono unsaturated fatty acids in place of saturated fats in the diet.
  • For high blood pressure: 30-40 grams per day of extra-virgin olive oil as part of the diet. 400 mg of olive leaf extract four times daily has also been used for high blood pressure.

Safety Concerns

Olive oil is LIKELY SAFE when taken appropriately by mouth or applied to the skin. Olive oil can be used safely as 14% of total daily calories. This is about 2 tablespoons (28 grams) daily. Up to 1 liter per week of extra-virgin olive oil has been used safely as part of a Mediterranean-style diet for up to 5.8 years. Olive leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken appropriately by mouth.

Olive oil taken by mouth is well-tolerated although it might cause nausea in a very small number of people. When applied to the skin, delayed allergic responses and contact dermatitis have been reported. When used in the mouth following dental treatment, the mouth may feel more sensitive.

There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of olive leaf, although so far olive leaf and fruit pulp have not been associated with significant side effects in clinical studies.

Olive trees produce pollen that can cause seasonal respiratory allergy in some people.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking olive products if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Do not use amounts greater than the amount commonly found in foods.

Diabetes: Olive oil might lower blood sugar. People with diabetes should check their blood sugar when using olive oil.

Surgery: Olive oil might affect blood sugar. Using olive oil might affect blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking olive oil 2 weeks before surgery.

Interaction with medication

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Olive and olive oil might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking olive oil along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Olive seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking olive along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Olive oil might slow blood clotting. Taking olive oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.