Olive Leaf Extract
A New/Old Healing Bonanza for Mankind
by James R. Privitera, M.D.
Science has long stalked the chemical world within plants to
uncover their amazing healing secrets. Lately, these investigations
have yielded discovery after discovery of natural compounds with
promising health and medical potential. Some of these compounds
stimulate the production of anti-cancer enzymes in the body. Others
bind and neutralize certain carcinogenic chemicals. Other have
antioxidant effects,protecting the body from oxidation damage caused
by harmful molecular fragments known as free radicals that
contribute to aging and illness.
These natural compunds are found abundantly in roots, stems,
leaves, fruits and vegetables. They go by a variety of scientific
names like polyphenols, flavonoids, flavonols, pycnogenols,
glucosinolates, isoprenoids, carotenoids, tocotrienols and
proanthocyanadins. To keep things simple and pronounceable, we will
just call them phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phyto stems from
the Greek word for plant.
The volume of current research is intense. Some experts say these
compounds may offer the best protection we know of against the
diseases that plague us today. There's much yet to learn about the
tissue-specific way they work. But with time, these phytonutrients,
in the form of supplements or medical preparations, may play a major
role in anti-aging medicine and how we prevent and treat disease.
Among the many phytochemicals that have interested me, as a
clinician, is oleuropein (pronounced oh-lee-or-oh-pin), a substance
found in the olive leaf. I, as well as other health practitioners,
have found that a natural supplement of olive leaf extract contains
substantial medicinal benefits. Among them, boosting the energy
among patients and aiding in the treatment of herpes and other viral
conditions, flu and colds, fungal infections, chronic fatigue and
allergies. I have also been surprised by unexpected results
generated by this supplement.
The Olive Leaf in History and Medicine
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is something very
special about the olive leaf. For one thing, it is the first
botanical mentioned in the Bible. "And the dove came in to him in
the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leafplucked off. So
Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth." (Genesis
8 : 11)
After the Great Flood we didn't hear too much about the olive
leaf for a long time. Obviously this was a hard act to follow.
In a much later biblical time (Ezekiel 47 : 12), God speaks of a
tree: "The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for
Was it the olive tree?
In Revelations, at the very end of the New Testament, there is an
angelic vision of a "tree of life" whose leaves "were for the
healing of the nations." Today, as modern medicine increasingly
embraces phytochemicals it is interesting to speculate about the
biblical "tree of life."
Again, was it perhaps the olive tree?
The ancient Egyptians may be been the first to put the olive leaf
to practical use. They regarded it as a symbol of heavenly power,
and in keeping with that belief, they extracted its oil and used it
to mummify their kings.
Later cultures found the leaf was better utilized for the living
than the dead. Over the ages, there is documentation that it was a
popular folk remedy for combating fevers.
The first formal medical mention of the olive leaf - an account
describing its ability to cure severe cases of fever and malaria --
ocurred about 150 years ago. In 1854, the Pharmaceutical Journal
carried a report by one Daniel Hanbury and contained the following
simple healing recipe:
Boil a handful of leaves in a quart of water down to half its
original volume. Then administer the liquid in the amount of a
wineglass every 3 or 4 hours until the fever is cured.
The author said he discovered the effective tincture in 1843 and
had used it successfully. This method became well known in England
for treating sick Britons returning from His or Her Majesty's
tropical colonies. The author believed that a bitter substance in
the leaves wasthe key healing ingredient.
He was right.
Decades later, scientists isolated a bitter substance from the
leaf and named it oleuropein. It was found to be one ingredient in a
compound produced by the olive tree that makes it particularly
robust and resistant against insect and bacterial damage. From a
technical angle, oleuropein is an iridoid, a structural class of
chemical compounds found in plants. It is present in olive oil,
throughout the olive tree, and is, in fact, the bitter material that
is eliminated from the olives when they are cured.<
In 1962, an Italian researcher reported that oleuropein lowered
blood pressure in animals. This triggered a flurry of scientific
interest in the olive leaf.
Other European researchers confirmed this interesting finding. In
addition, they found it could also increase blood flow in the
coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmias, and prevent intestinal
Around this time, a Dutch researcher determined the active
ingredient in oleuropein to be a substance he called elenolic acid.
It was found to have a powerful anti-bacterial effect.
By the late 1960's, research by scientists at Upjohn, a major
American pharmaceutical company, showed that elenolic acid also
inhibited the growth of viruses. In fact, it stopped every virus
that it was tested against. Among others, the substance was found to
counteract a variety of viruses associated with the common cold of
Moreover, a number of laboratory experiments at this time with
calcium elenolate, a salt of elenolic acid, demonstrated a strong
effect against not just viruses, but bacteria and parasitic
protozoans as well.
The compound worked effectively at low concentrations without any
harmful influence on host cell mechanisms, the American researchers
concluded. That meant they believed it to be extremely safe and
non-toxic, even at high doses.
Following test tube experiments, the pharmaceutical company
launched animal tests. Experiments showed the compound was indeed
extremely well tolerated. There was a hitch, however. In the body of
an animal, the substance rapidly attached to protein in blood serum.
For all intents and purposes, this meant calcium elenolate was of no
use. The binding action essentially took it "out of action,"
rendering it ineffective. As a result of this obstacle, research
into the compound as a potential virus and bacteria killing
pharmaceutical drug was dropped.
Nevertheless, research and interest in olive leaf extracts has
moved forward, primarily in Europe. Among the most recent findings
In a series of experiments, oleuropein was found to inactivate
bacteria by apparently dissolving the outer lining of microbes.
At the University of Milan Pharacological Sciences, researchers
found that oleuropein inhibited oxidation of low-density
lipoproteins, the so-called "bad cholesterol" involved in heart and
aterial disease. This revelation, if confirmed by further research,
suggests that oleuropein may contain antioxidant properties similar
to other phytochemical compounds. Medical researcher Morton Walker,
D.P.M., writing about olive leaf extract in the July 1996 issue of
the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, comments that the
intake of flavonoids "is correlated with a lower incidence of
cardiovascular disease indicated that the daily intake of olive oil
and/or olive leaf extract containing phenols will likely bring on a
similar result." At the present time, the cardiovascular research
community is excited about such actions. Studies have shown that
some phytochemicals can reduce the harmful oxidation of cholesterol
as well as slow down the accelerated clumping of blood platelets
that can lead to dangerous clots.
At Spain's University of Granada, pharmacologists determined that
olive leaf extract causes relaxation of arterial walls in laboratory
animals. Such results suggest a possible benefit for hypertension,
an effect first mentioned by researchers more than 30 years ago.
In Tunis, researchers found that aqueous extract of olive leaves
reduced hypertension, blood sugar, and the level of uric acid in
rodents. This finding again indicates potential in the treatment of
hypertension, as well as diabetes and heart disease. An elevated
uric acid level is a risk factor for heart disease. Remember the
biochemical snag mentioned earlier -- that elenolic acid binds with
proteins in the body to nullify any therapeutic use? The problem has
been overcome and the door opened for the development of effective
olive leaf extract supplements.
Such products are now available, containing oleuropein and
synergistic olive leaf extracts, including flavonoids.
The medicinal firepower is there.
The safety is there.
The added benefit of other phytochemicals is there. In short, we
now have an exciting new herbal with a promising future.
Olive Leaf Firepower
For the record, the researchers at Upjohn found calcium elenolate
effective in test tube experiments against the following viruses:
herpes, vaccinia, pseudorabies, Newcastle, Coxsacloe A 21,
encepthlomyocarditis, polio 1, 2, and 3, vesicular stomititus,
sindbis, reovirus, Moloney Murine leukemia, Rauscher Murine
leukemia, Moloney sarcoma, and many influenza and parainfluenza
types. They found it effective against these bacteria and parasitic
protozoans: lactobacillus plantarum W50, brevis 50, pediococcus
cerevisiae 39, leuconostoc mesenteroides 42, staphylococcus aureus,
bacillus subtilis, enterobacteraerogenes NRRL B-199, E. cloacae NRRL
B-414, E. coli, salamonella tyhimurium, pseudomonas fluorescens, P.
solanacearum, P. lachrymans, erwinia carotovora, E. tracheiphila,
xanthomonas vesicatoria, corynesbacterium Michiganese, plasmodium
falciparum, virax and malariae.
The researchers credit a number of unique properties possessed by
the olive leaf compound for the broad killing power:
An ability to interfere with critical amino acid production
essential for viruses.
An ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by
inactivating viruses or by preventing virus shedding, budding or
assembly at the cell membrane.
The ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral
In the case of retroviruses, it is able to neutralize the
production of reverse transcriptase and protease. These enzymes are
essential for a retrovirus, such as HIV, to alter the RNA of a
It can stimulate phagocytosis, an immune system response in which
cells ingest harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.
The research suggests that this may be a "true anti-viral"
compound because it appears to selectively block an entire
virus-specific system in the infected host. It thus appears to offer
healing effects not addressed by pharmaceutical antibiotics.
Clinically, the olive leaf extract has been used for a relatively
short time. Health professionals began using it early in 1995 when
it first became available. Although we do not have long-term
perspectives as yet, initial results are very positive. We see a
very promising and unique herbal with multiple applications. It
shows considerable therapeutic action against many common
conditions. In short, it appears to be living up to its unique
background and expectations. From research and clinical experience
to date, we can say that supplemental olive leaf extract may be
beneficial in the treatment for conditions caused by, or associated
with, a virus, retrovirus, bacterium, or protozoan. Among such
conditions are influenza, the common cold, meningitis, Epstein-Barr
Virus (EBV), encephalitis, herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and
7, shingles, HIV/ARC/AIDS, chronic fatigue, hepatitis B, pneumonia,
tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, dengue, bacteremia, severe
diarrhea, blood poisoning, and dental, ear, urinary tract and
In our clinic, we use olive leaf extract for a variety of
infectious and chronic conditions. We also believe that many people
who lead stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to
colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf
extract as a preventive agent.
As I mentioned earlier, I am constantly surprised by unexpected
benefits reported by patients. This indicates that we are perhaps
just scratching the surface in our understanding of phytochemical
benefits. Patients have told me about improved psoriasis,
normalization of arrhythmias (heart beat irregularities), and less
pain from hemorroids, toothaches and chronically achy joints.
I myself cured a chronic toenail fungal infection after starting
on the supplement. It had not responded to the many other nutrients
that I take.
One woman with bad allergies reported significant improvement and
a level of energy she hadn't felt for years.
One elderly male with severe arrhythmia told me his condition had
vastly improved in about eight days just from taking olive leaf
extract alone. A woman with mild arrhythmia said her condition
improved substantially while she took the supplement and then slowly
became irregular again after she ran out.
We know from the oleuropein research done in the 1960s that the
substance improves blood flood to the heart and acts to normalize
arrhythmias. Currently, we are learning much about the
cardiovascular benefits of the phytochemical compounds found in
grape seeds, onions, kale, green beans, broccoli, and other
vegetables. It will be interesting to see what benefits the
particular phytochemicals in olive leaf extract produce for heart
and arterial health.
Phil Selinsky, a naturopathic doctor at the Institute for
Holistic Studies in Santa Barbara, and biochemist Arnold Takemoto,
who has been developing patient nutritional programs on behalf of
physicians in Arizona for 15 years, have found olive leaf extract to
be an effective addition to their array of natural healing tools.
After using the supplement in dozens of cases for over a year,
Selinsky is impressed with the benefits and looks forward to
continued use and greater understanding about its most effective
There is no doubt that olive leaf extract has real healing power.
In a moment I will go into much greater detail on how it has helped
It is important to keep in mind, however, that like any
nutritional supplement it should not be considered a cure-all or
panacea. In holistic practices such as mine, individual supplements
are part of a comprehensive program that includes better diet,
exercise, and stress control methods. That's how we maximize health
and minimize symptoms.
In such a program, a patient may start with supplement X, Y and
Z, get involved in an exercise program, and experience perhaps 50
percent relief for a given condition. That's a lot of relief but
then we keep trying to improve the situation. We now add another
supplement, let's say the olive leaf extract, and we get another
degree of improvement, often quite large. In this manner, we
continually tailor the program of an individual patient for the best
results. And in this scheme of things, olive leaf extract is making
a very positive contribution. It complements all the good things
patients are doing.
There is always the possiblity that one ingredient, one
supplement, can fill a large gap or particular need in the body and
by itself lead to major improvement. We see that happen all the
time. But usually it is all the elements in a nutritional program
that work together -- like a team of horses pulling a wagon -- that
gets the job done most effectively.
Biochemist Arnold Takemoto puts it this way: "Olive leaf extract
is not a single magic-bullet. There are very few such things,
especially in non-pharmaceutical medicine. In many cases it takes a
whole lot more than just one ingredient to get over a particular
condition. Yet I find it a very valuable addition against chronic
fatigue syndrome and many other viral conditions, especially those
that are more tenacious. It fills a hole that we haven't been able
to fill before."
In the Townsend Letter article, Takemoto told Morton Walker that
he has "yet to discover another herbal substance that accomplishes
antimicrobially what this substance achieves."
Takemoto went on to say that Lisa Weinrib, M.D., one of the
physicians he works with, treats many cases of fibromyalgia and
chronic fatigue syndrome.
She has noticed that patients with these problems exhibit much
improvement from use of the extract, according to Takemoto. "It's
the missing link that functions as an antiviral and antiretroviral
agent by slowing down the organism's reproductive cycle. A
slowdown...allows the patient's immune system to go on the attack."
Takemoto says olive leaf extract has helped patients eliminate
stubborn viral infections they have had for years. One patient, who
had suffered from shingles (herpes zoster) for nine years,
experienced complete relief within two days of starting olive leaf
extract and other supplements.
"In my approach," Takemoto says, "I target key antibody responses
for specific viruses, stimulate the immune system, and with olive
leaf extract attempt to inhibit the reproduction of the virus. It
takes everything to get over some of these real chronic conditions."
One of the most frequent comments we hear from patients after
they start taking olive leaf extract is that they feel more
energetic and have a greater sense of well-being. Many want to
continue the supplement even after the treatment program has cleared
up or reduced specific problems. Some patients are energized to the
point that they inquire whether there is an "upper" in the product.
There is not. It simply generates a natural "upper" effect. Healthy
people who take it say they also feel this infusion of energy.
One of my patients is an 18-year-old professional ice-skater who
says that one or two olive leaf extract tablets a day helps her
sustain the high energy level she needs for practice and
In my clinic, as in many others, fatigue is the No. 1 complaint.
I am not refering to serious chronic fatigue situations but just
routine tiredness, likely caused by a combination of consuming a
dead food diet and not exercising. The average person, of course, is
not going to change eating habits and is not going to go on a
regular exercise program. In such cases, the olive leaf extract
looks like a good source of pep for the pepless.
In my experience, olive leaf extract also has helped in many
chronic fatigue cases, even the most serious. One female patient
described to me what she called a "really quite unbelievable"
recovery within one month of taking the supplement. "For the last
few years I have not been feeling like myself. I've had little
energy and enthusiasm for anything. This is not my usual nature. I
attributed it to weight, unemployment and just being down. My head
was always somewhat achy and I couldn't figure out why. The only way
I could describe it would be as a constant low-degree headache which
"I started taking olive leaf extract and noticed an immediate
elevation of my spirits. What I liked about the product was that it
was effective but gentle and didn't make me hyper or unable to
sleep. Quite the contrary, I slept better.
"After a few days I began to notice more energy and a stronger
sense of well-being. The cobwebs in my brain started to diminish. I
also noticed a bad shoulder and a bad knee started to get better.
The pain associated with these joints remarkably improved.
"The only side-effects I had were a couple of headaches in the
beginning which disappeared with some aspirin. I started to feel
much, much better. It was amazing to see the fatigue disappear and
my general health improve. I couldnít believe I felt so well. I
stopped taking the product after 30 days and experienced no
withdrawal or anything. I simply felt better and that has stayed the
same for the last 60 days without the product."
Another female patient with Epstein-Barr Virus reported that the
supplement "has helped me very much in overcoming the tiredness I
feel. It has given me energy."
For some very sick individuals, including people with chronic
fatigue syndrome or particularly heavy loads of virus or bacteria in
their bodies, olive leaf extract may possibly generate
detoxification symptoms -- known as the "die-off effect" -- that may
Such people may actually feel worse for a short time before
feeling better. As an example, many chronic fatigue patients suffer
from an associated depression. Patients of mine who toughed it out
through the"die-off" period emerged highly energized and no longer
The "die-off effect," or Herxheimer Reaction as it is medically
called, refers to symptoms generated by a detoxification process. If
you are sick and use this product, you should be aware of the
possibility. For this reason it may be advisable to consult first
with a holistic health practitioner before using it.
If you have ever used Nystattin to fight yeast infections, you
are probably familiar with this situation. Nystattin kills yeast. As
the body becomes full of dead yeast, you may experience a variety of
detox symptoms. Symptoms may intensify to the point where you need
to stop or reduce the dosage of the medication in order to give your
body a chance to eliminate the toxic waste.
Olive leaf extract is potent stuff. It can generate an internal
cleansing action that may similarly cause significant detox
symptoms. Refer to the next chapter about what to do if you
experience such a reaction.
"Die-off" symptoms can begin almost immediately after starting
the supplement. It can hit different people in different ways.
Reactions include extreme fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, muscle/joint
achiness or flu-like symptoms. Severity differs also from person to
person, depending on the extent of infection. Keep in mind that such
symptoms are positive signs. Nevertheless, they can be unpleasant.
Some people may not want to continue because of the discomfort.
Others handle it better. Others experience no such effect.
Here's what to do in case of substantial detoxification symptoms:
Reduce the number of tablets, or even stop them altogether for a
You may need a day or two, or even a week, to allow your body to
process the "die-off."
When you feel better, you can resume the supplement at a low dose
and increase slowly.
Holistic practitioners can usually provide a supportive
detoxification program for individuals who experience a strong
"die-off" response. In my clinic, this program includes taking
vitamin C to bowel tolerance. Such a regimen is best done under
Other than the "die-off" detoxification effect among some
individuals, olive leaf extract appears to create no side effects.
Past research with calcium elenolate, the derivative or oleuropein,
included safety studies with laboratory animals. They were dosed
orally and also via injection. The only symptom observed was a mild
irritation of the mucous membrane among some animals at the
injection site. Since olive leaf extract is taken orally, this
observation is basically irrelevant. The research indicated that
doses many times higher than recommended are unlikely to produce
toxic or other adverse side effects. During 1993 testing of the
liquid form of the product against the herpes virus, there were no
observed or reported side effects.
Potential Against Serious Infectious Diseases
Deaths from infectious diseases, formerly on the decline, have
recently taken an alarming upward turn in this country. According to
federal researchers, such deaths rose by 58% from 1980 to 1992,
pushing this category of illness up behind heart disease and cancer
in the No. 3 spot of killer diseases.
While the AIDS epidemic accounts for most of the rise, experts
say there has been an unusual increase in mysterious respiratory
infections among the elderly and blood infections among people of
all ages. When you eliminate the AIDS the death rate during the same
period for all other infectious diseases rose by 22 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO), back in 1978, looked to the
future and issued a report which contended that by the year 2000,
sources other than Western, technological medicine would be needed
in order for all people to have adequate health care. The
organization subsequently adopted the report that recommended the
use of traditional forms of healing and medicine, such as the use of
herbs, to meet the demands of an factor, exploding global
As we approach the year 2000, the wisdon -- and the urgency -- of
this advice is obvious in the light of the serious side-effects and
shortcoming of pharmaceutical drugs.
With the emergence, for instance, of antibiotic-resistant
bacterial strains, natural products such as olive leaf extract take
on greater importance. Even if new antibiotics are developed, new
infectious bacteria would emerge that are resistant to new drugs. In
the case of herbal medicinals, their complex chemistry may often
render them potentially more effective against a wide variety of
microorganisms for which pharmaceutical drugs prove to be
It will be interesting to see if olive leaf extract can benefit
AIDS cases. We know that it inhibits the production of reverse
transcriptase and protease, enzymes necessary for certain viruses,
such as HIV, to damage healthy cells. Informal, preliminary reports
Mark Konlee, editor of "Positive Health News," a newletter on
alternative treatments that circulates widely in the AIDS community,
has reported exciting initial results with olive leaf extract,
either in the tablet supplement form or directly as a tea brewed
from leaves, in combination with other ingredients.
Those other ingredients, according to Konlee, have been found to
be highly beneficial over the years. They include:
Naltrexone, an immune-stabilizing drug used in the treatment of
heroin and alcohol addiction. Clinical trials conducted by Bernard
Bihari, MD, a New York City physician specializing in HIV/AIDS,
demonstrated that this preparation stops the progression of the
disease and the decline of the immune system in a majority of
patients who take it regularly. Naltrexone stimulates key hormones
regulating the immune system and the communication between the brain
and immune function. No side effects have been reported.
DNCB (dinitrochlorobenzene), a chemical used in photography labs
that is applied in small doses on the skin. This compound acts as
anti-viral agent by stimulating killer cell activity. An estimated
7,000 patients with AIDS have used this substance for some 10 years.
A blend of olive oil/whole lemon juice. This "grassroots" recipe
appears to be uniquely helpful in reversing neuropathy, swollen
lymph nodes and wasting syndrome associated with the HIV.
For more specifics on this approach, interested individuals may
contact "Keep Hope Alive," P.O. Box 27041, West Allis, WI 53227, or
by phone at 414-548-4344. Konlee reports that the combination, with
added olive leaf extract, "has producted stunning results,"
including viral loads dropping dramatically within a month. Among
the cases he describes are these:
1. A patient had been using Naltrexone since October 1995 along
with weekly topical applications of DNCB. He had not used the olive
oil/lemon juice blend. In August of that year he had had a CD8 count
of 700. CD8 refers to killer T cells, which, along with so-called
Natural Killer cells, are major immune destroyers of virus infected
cells. They reduce viral loads and inhibit damage to the body's
defenses. In January of 1996, his CD8 count had risen to 1380. In
March of 1996 he added olive leaf extract at the standart dose of
one capsule four times daily. He initially experienced a mild
headache, a probably "die-off effect." Within days, he reported a
significant increase in energy along with the disappearance of
swollen lymph nodes. He said he felt 20 years younger. On March 21,
his CD8 count had soared to 1920! His physician said never before in
his career had he seen such improvement in an AIDS patient.
2. One patient reported that after finishing a bottle of olive
leaf extract, one of three Kaposi Sarcoma lesions on his chest
vanished. He experienced headaches and flu-like symptoms for about
two weeks, again a probable "die-off effect." Continuing with a
second bottle, he said the second lesion was completely gone and the
last one was "fading fast." His HIV viral load, as measured by PCR
technology, had dropped from 160,000 to 30,000 in two months. Soon
afterward, he reported that his PCR results for HIV were now down to
3. An HIV patient reported his genital herpes vanished within
four days of starting on the olive leaf extract.
4. Another patient with Kaposi's Sarcoma and retinitis added five
capsules of olive leaf extract daily along with Naltrexone and DNCB.
After doing this, he said that the sarcoma lesions stopped growing.
This prompted him to stop two drugs he had been taking --
Ganciclovir and Biaxin -- because of severe intestinal side effects.
A few days after discontinuing the drugs, his digestion returned to
normal. He soon reported improved vision and that lesions were
becoming lighter in color.
5. One patient took the olive leaf extract by itself for about 3
1/2 months. His HIV viral load dropped nearly in half as a result,
along with significant improvements in his white blood cell counts.
After adding Naltrexone and the lemon/olive oil drink, his
I have recommended olive leaf extract to many patients with
herpes. The results have been encouraging. One man in his early 40s
suffered from repeated lesions plus fatigue. In a week after
starting the supplement, his lesions disappeared and his energy
level increased. He told me that olive leaf extract was the only
preparation that had ever cleared up the herpes. "Even the most
minute blisters are gone," he said.
A female patient had an unusually stubborn herpetic cold sore in
the mouth for four months. She also suffered from cancer, thus there
may have been some significant immune exhaustion involved. After one
week with the olive leaf, the sore disappeared.
These and other similar clinical successes are consistent with a
private 1993 herpes study in humans. In that investigation, a weaker
and ethanol (alcohol-based) form of olive leaf extract was used by
six individuals with herpes.
All reported symptomatic relief.
Three said their lesions disappeared within 48 hours. The
remaining three, who experienced no improvement, then received a
stronger dose. One said that three days later, most of the lesions
were gone. The other two also reported doing better.
All six subjects said the olive leaf extract produced better
results than Acyclovir, a medication they had previously used.
Flu and Colds
Results to date indicate that olive leaf extract may be a good
weapon against the common cold and flu. Consider the following
letter written to me in August of 1995 by a female patient suffering
from persistent flu symptoms: "I became ill with the flu in February
and had several immune boosters, extra vitamins and three
antibiotics. My fever was 102-103 every afternoon and this continued
even after the antibiotics. I developed paralyzing chest and
abdominal pain, being confined to the couch for weeks -- not able to
hardly walk. My weight dropped to 84 pounds. Medical tests revealed
nothing specifically wrong.
I started taking olive leaf extract on July 18. Within a few days
my temperature started dropping and it is slowly and steadily going
down, so that some days I haven't needed to take Tylenol to reduce
it. The pain is subsiding gradually and my appetite and strength is
At the time of her next medical examination, the woman's
temperature had been normal for a week. She hadn't needed
pain-killers for two weeks.
I received a striking testimony from an elementary school teacher
with a history of asthma and vulnerability to colds and flu. She
felt that olive leaf extract fortified her against the constant
exposure to germs circulating throughout her classroom.
"I used to get sick all the time," she told me. "One school year
I got strep throat eight times. If you sneezed at me, the chances
are I would get sick. Not any more. When many kids in my class were
coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses before Christmas, I
caught a slight cold and that's it."
The ability of olive leaf extract to destroy bacteria was
demonstrated dramatically in the case of a 64-year-old physician who
had been bedridden for several years following a serious stroke. He
also had recurrent bladder infections which caused considerable
pain, smelly urine and fever. All efforts to alleviate his condition
had been generally unsuccessful. Even a $1,000 antibiotic specially
made for him had not worked. He had constant discomfort. His urine
was cloudy "and looked like soup." Often it was bloody.
After one month on olive leaf extract, the infections had
vanished. After six months, the condition has not recurred.
The doctor also suffered from frequent allergies and colds and
had to take medication to keep these under control. The incidence
and severity were significantly minimized with the supplement and as
a result he requires considerably less medicine.
Naturopath Phil Selinsky reports success against bacterial
infections in a number of cases. These include sinus and bladder
infections and oral infections associated with tooth or gum disease.
"Some patients have told me that olive leaf extract took down
their dental-related infections within hours," according to Selinsky.
"They were quite impressed by the response."
The general recommendation for olive leaf extract is four tablets
daily. For these kind of infections, Selinsky recommends patients
begin with two tablets followed by another every four hours.
"That usually gets you on top of the situation," he says. For
more serious infections, tablets can be taken at shorter intervals.
One night a patient of mine developed swelling and intense pain
from an abscess and decided to take several tablets at one time. It
reduced the pain. In the morning, when the pain returned, he took a
"handful" of tablets -- about eight or nine, he guesses. An
hour-and-a-half later, the pain and swelling were gone. The pain did
not return but a dental examination determined that the involved
tooth had to go.
Researchers have found that the natural olive leaf compounds can
decrease the level of blood sugar. I have had several cases in my
clinic confirming this finding. One involved a 15-year-old girl with
juvenile diabetes. The teenager had been regularly taking 350 units
of insulin daily for control. After one month on olive leaf extract,
she was able to maintain similar control with just 220 units.
In another case, the blood sugar level of a diabetic elderly
priest dropped from 450 to 160 after three months. In an yet another
instance, the blood sugar of a middle aged man stabilized at 140,
down from 250, after one month. He reported a great increase in
energy during this time.
These results are exciting. I look forward to more opportunities
to gauge the benefits of olive leaf for diabetics. Will it generate
improved blood flow and antioxidant effects to help against the
destructive vascular complications of diabetes that contribute to
stroke, heart disease and peripheral circulatory problems?
Time will tell.
A number of patients have experienced significant easing of joint
pain. We don't know yet precisely how this is happening. A male
patient, who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis five years
before, had this to say: "After taking all the medicines I could
stand with no real results, I was informed about some nutritional
supplements. One of them was an olive leaf extract.' "After taking
it for three weeks I noticied more flexibility in my fingers,
elbows, and neck. There was marked relief of muscle tension
surrounding my joints. Overall I am enjoying olive leaf extract with
my daily routine."
One of our clinical observations is that olive leaf extract
appears to work on many different levels in the body. As a result we
often hear reports from patients that a variety of symptoms begin
improving. One woman with chronic fatigue, frequent colds, asthma,
and vaginal yeast infections said that all her symptoms had
virtually cleared up within five weeks. The woman, a teacher, was
able to take on new projects she wouldn't even begin to think were
A male patient wrote a detailed letter about his experience:
"I became ill in December 1993 and was diagnosed with a stomach
and prostrate infection. I was treated with high doses of
antibiotics, but never fully recovered. I was troubled with multiple
symptoms, some of which were back and neck pain, fatigue, flu-like
symptoms, swollen glands, sinus and digestive problems. I was
subsequently diagnosed with fibromyalgia (chronic fatigue syndrome)
and the physicians recommeded Prozac-type antidepressants and
anti-inflammatory drugs. But I refused them. I began taking olive
leaf extract along with my regular vitamin and mineral supplements
in August of 1995 at the rate of one tablet every six hours. I
increased the dosage after five days and began to feel better."
"I tried different dosages for a number of days until I found the
optimum amount for me. Today I take three tablets four times a day.
My overall health has greatly improved and so has my energy and
disposition. One very interesting thing has occurred. My finger
nails were infected, by whatever infection I had, leaving them
wrinkled looking. Now they are slowly returning to their normal
A female patient, after taking olive leaf extract for a month,
gave me this happy report:
"It has improved my allergy-like psoriasis, and symptoms of a
kidney infection. I have been having back aches for almost a year
and frequent urination. These have improved a lot also.
Fungus and Yeast Infections
Earlier I mentioned my own positive experience with olive leaf
extract. I started taking the supplement and it completely cleared
up a stubborn toenail fungus infection. A number of other patients
have told me similar stories. A woman with an infection of the large
toenail said that within 60 days her condition was about
three-quarters healed. For five years, she had tried many types of
medication and natural agents without help.
More than 10 million Americans are said to have disfiguring
fungal nail infections, a widely ignored medical problem. It is
frequently found among patients with AIDS, cancer and diabetes,
athletes, elderly individuals, people who spend considerable time
standing or who wear the same shoes day after day, or who wear
artificial fingernails. Drugs taken for cancer and AIDS lower
resistance and are believed to make people more susceptible to
For the first time in 35 years, a new drug has been approved for
the condition. It is called Sporanox and is reported to be more
effective than previous anti-fungal preparations. But none of these
preparations come cheap. Patricia Anstett of the Knight-Ridder
Newspapers reports that two 100-milligram pills of Sproranox are
taken daily for about three months at a cost of $900. Older drugs,
taken for 12 months or more, cost double or more that amount over
the longer duration. Even with the new drug, the condition may
return if the medication is stopped.
Olive leaf extract may offer a natural -- and for sure, less
expensive -- method of self-treatment.
One patient said a fungal infection of the tongue he had for 30
years responded virtually overnight to the olive leaf. "I had tried
all kinds of diets, treatments and regimes but to no avail," he told
me. "Within three weeks on olive leaf extract the fungus
More than a dozen patients with candidiasis have reported
significant improvements. They say they have fewer infections,
allergic reactions, less dullness and more energy. One woman said
she was finally able to clean out her dust-ridden garage. Before
olive leaf extract that would have been impossible for her.
One 36-year-old woman, who had suffered repeated vaginal yeast
infections for several years, told me this account of her experience
with olive leaf extract:
"I have seen several doctors using conventional medicine. They
prescribed every medication available to combat yeast, all to no
avail. After less than three weeks of taking the olive leaf
supplement, all symptoms cleared up and have not returned. As a
sufferer of herpes simplex II, I would experience outbreaks several
times a year. Now, I have had no more flare-ups."
A chronic scalp infection that had stubbornly resisted all
treatment for more than 10 year responded directly to olive leaf
extract within 60 days. The patient wrote me this detailed letter:
"The condition would flare up causing very painful eruptions and
lesions in my scalp, which, over time, have killed quite a few hair
follicles. Modern medical doctors and dermatologists have been
unable to eradicate (the condition). I had resolved my self to the
fact that there was no cure.
"I am satisfied that I am getting some significant results from
using the olive leaf extract. My scalp remains a little tender, but
the eruptions have all but ceased. I am continuing to use the
product about twice a day, and the skin color is much healthier than
it has been in recent time.
"No matter what drug therapy my doctors have prescribed in the
past, none has provided me with the level of relief I am currently
experiencing. I would gladly recommend this product to others
suffering chronic skin aliments."
A female patient reported better energy and disappearance of a
rash in 30 days. The rash occurred in winter, or during times of
Olive leaf extract may offer considerable potential in the
treatment of tropical infections such as malaria and dengue. Malaria
is caused by parasitic protozoans injected into the body by infected
mosquitoes. Protozoans, in case you are interested, are one-celled
organisms, the simplest creatures in the animal kingdom.
As far back as 1827, reports have appeared in medical literature
indicating the benefits of olive leaf extract in the treatment of
malaria. In 1906, one report stated that olive leaves were, in fact,
superior to quinine for malarial infections. Quinine was preferred,
however, because it was easier to administer. In studies performed
by the Upjohn company, calcium elenolate, the substance within
oleuropein, was found to be effective against the malaria protozoa.
Now in tablet form, there may be renewed interest in olive leaf
extract as an anti-malarial agent. Preliminary reports from Latin
America are promising.
A full-fledged case of malaria at a clinic in Mexico was totally
cured with a dosage schedule of two olive leaf extract supplements
every six hours. A clinic report said that the 34-year-old female
patient made a steady recovery and after six months, "she was
without any of the malaria symptoms, not even anemia or shivers. Her
breath is good. Her state of mind excellent and she does not show
any signs of chronic or contagious disease."
Malaria has been reported recently in Texas and continues to be a
leading cause of illness and deaths worldwide, particularly because
of the development of drug-resistant strains. "It is a continuing
concern in the United States because of increased international
migration, travel, and commerce, " according to the publication
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
Another serious tropical disease giving concern to public health
officials is dengue fever. This ailment is also mosquito-borne, in
this case caused by a virus, and occurs mainly in tropical Asia and
the Caribbean. It can cause vomiting, high fever, loss of appetite,
and abdominal pain, and is deadly in 50 percent of the cases. Some
50 million people are affected each year and about half a million
require hospitalization, according to the World Health Organization.
Researchers are trying to find a vaccine but no breakthroughs have
In 1995, large outbreaks of dengue were reported by health
authorities in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Olive leaf extract is currently available in the form of 500 mg.
tablets. The routine dosage is one tablet every six hours or four
throughout the day. Take the supplement between meals for best
results. In the case of bad colds or flu, you can use two tablets
every six hours. For acute infections, some individuals have taken
more -- three and even four every six hours -- and reported rapid
If you encounter a "die-off" effect, cut back on the number of
tablets you are taking or temporarily discontinue them. See the
section on "die-off effect."
For healthy folks seeking more energy or the prevention benefits
of olive leaf extract, we suggest one or two tablets a day. The
younger and cleaner the body, the more responsive it is to
supplements such as this. When a person becomes older and more
toxic, more of the supplement is required to do the job.
Dr. James R. Privitera, M.D.
Dr. Privitera, M.D. earned his medical degree at Creighton
University and completed an Internship in Internal Medicine at
Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washintion and his residency at
Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco, CA. Following a Clinical
Fellowship in allergy, immunology and rheumatolgy at Scripps Clinic
in La Jolla, he entered private practice in allergy and nutrition in
Covina, California where he practices today. Affiliated with the
American Preventive Medical Association and the International
College of Applied Nutrition, among others, Dr. Privitera has served
on the boards of several top health organizations including the
National Health Federation. A pioneer in dark field microscopy, Dr.
Privitera has been asked to consult to some of our nations's leading
vitamin manufacturers. He has a book soon to be released entitled
"Silent Clots - the Nation's Biggest Killer".
- Cruess WV, and Alsberg CL, The bitter glucoside of the
olive. J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 1934; 56:2115-7.
- Samuelsson G, The blood pressure lowering factor in leaves
of Olea Europaea. Farmacevtisk Revy, 1951; 15: 229-39
- Veer WLC et al, A compound isolated from olea europaea.
Recueil, 1957; 76:839-40
- Panizzi L et al, The constitution of oleuropein, a bitter
glucoside of the olive with hypotensive action. Gazz. Chim.
Ital; 1960; 90:1449-85.
- Renis HE, In vitro antiviral activity of calcium elenolate.
Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 1970; 167-72.
- Elliott GA et al, Preliminary studies with calcium elenolate,
an antiviral agent. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 1970; 173-76.
- Soret MG, Antiviral activity of calcium elenolate on
parainfluenza infection of hamsters. Antimicrob. Agents
Chemother., 1970; 160-66.
- Petkov V and Manolov P, Pharmacological analysis of the
iridoid oleuropein. Drug Res., 1972; 22(9); 1476-86.
- Juven B et al, Studies on the mechanism of the antimicrobial
action of oleuropein. J. Appl. Bact., 1972; 35:559-67.
- Hirschman SZ, Inactivation of DNA polymerases of Murine
Leukaemia viruses by calcium elenolate. Nature New Biology,
- Heinze JE et al, Specificity of the antiviral agent calcium
elenolate. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 1975: 8(4), 421-25.
- Kubo I et al, A mutichemical defense mechanism of bitter
olive olea europaea (Oleaceae)-- Is oleuropein a phytoalexin
precursor? J. Chem. Ecol 1985; 11(2):251-63.
- Gariboldi P et al, Secoiridoids from olea europaea,
Phytochem., 1986; 25(4)865-69.
- Zarzuelo A et al, Vasodilator effect of olive leaf, Planta
Med., 1991; 57 (5),417-9.
- Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Society of
Pharmaceutical Industries of Tunis, Hypotension, hypoglycemia
and hypouricemia recorded after repeated administration of
aqueous leaf extract of Olea europaea, Belgian Pharmacology
Journal, March-April 1994; 49(2), 101-8.
- Visioli F and Galli C, Oleuropein protects low density
liproprotein from oxidation, Life Sciences, 1994; 55(24),
Copyright © 1996 by James. R. Privitera