Olive oil is widely used in culinary preparations around the world and known for its wonderful health benefits, but the healing properties of the leaf of the olive tree seem to be lesser known. There is a rich history of its use that goes back to ancient times, making it quite possibly one of the most beneficial herbs on earth.
History of Use
Historically, the olive leaf was used as a cure-all for many ailments in ancient Egypt. In the 1800’s it served as a treatment for malaria. Biblically, the olive or olive tree is mentioned numerous times. It was used as both food and medicine. In God’s gracious wisdom He has provided us leaves of various trees to serve as medicine.
…the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
The olive tree was a symbol of hope and life. It was a life source for the Israelites. It provided them with oil to make bread, oil to light lamps, holy anointing oil used in ceremonies, a nourishing fruit, and its wood was used in the building of the temple. The olive tree is also one of the most resilient of all trees, able to survive the harshest of conditions while continuing to bear green leaves. They can live for hundreds of years and some have even been dated to be as old as 2,000-3,000 years old. It has the amazing ability to regenerate itself if the trunk is damaged. The olive tree was used symbolically in the Bible, such as in Romans 11 and in Revelation 11:3-4. We also know that when Jesus was on earth He went to pray on the Mount of Olives, where many olive trees grew.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
These are just a few of the many references to the olive tree. It is such an important symbol in God’s Word and a wonderful gift God has given us to use!
Properties of Olive Leaf
Olive leaf contains a bitter antioxidant substance called oleuropein, which gives it its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. In one in-vitro study, it was shown to shrink growing tumors in mice! It is also anti-inflammatory and has been used to lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, promote heart health, fight arthritis, and protect brain cell’s from damage associated with strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.
There have also been clinical studies done that show promising benefits in treating encephalitis, hepatitis B, candida, meningitis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, various herpes viruses, malaria, UTI, and surgical infections. It may be one of the best natural antibiotics, along with garlic and oregano, as it has the ability to specifically target bacteria in the body’s system without killing the beneficial bacteria as pharmaceuticals do. There is quite a long list of possibilities of what the olive leaf can do when used as herbal medicine!
In my family it has been used to fight off cold sores (herpes virus), halt urinary tract infection, and as a preventive against influenza or other viruses. I have found wonderful results using it as a daily immune system support and avoided illness this past winter.
One thing I like about olive leaf is that it is generally safe for all, including pregnant and nursing women. It can be used regularly as a preventative for good health, as well as used specifically for treating an ailment.
Preparing Olive Leaf
You can take olive leaf in powder form, drink as a tea (although it would be quite bitter to drink alone), in capsules, or as an extract or tincture. I personally find a tincture to be one of the easiest ways to take herbal supplements and it is quite easy to make one in your home or purchase a ready-made one.
A 1:5 ratio is generally used for dried olive leaf, which would mean that if you have 4 oz. of dried olive leaf (by weight), you cover that with 20 oz. of alcohol (80 proof vodka works well). Store in a glass jar in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks, shaking from time to time. If using a metal lid on jar, line with wax paper underneath to prevent corrosion from the alcohol. You can leave it brewing longer for a stronger extraction. When finished, you will strain the liquid from the herb. A cheese cloth works well for this. A small mesh strainer can also work or you can squeeze by hand. Store in dark colored bottles.
As with any herb used as medicine, consult with an herbalist or medical practitioner trained in herbal medicine for best results in regard to dosing when treating an individual. Research the information for yourself to know what is best for you and your family. Every individual’s needs are different and each body may react differently to a given herb. May God bless you and give you wisdom as you seek to use the wonderful herbs He has given us to nourish our bodies as both food and medicine!