Olive Leaf Extract

Olive Leaf Extract Natural Defense against Biowarfare Antibacterial Agent and Inactivating Viral Invaders
Kimberly Pryor

The olive tree has been called The Tree of Life. The low incidence of cardiovascular disease in many Mediterranean populations has been attributed to the benefits of an olive-oil rich diet. In investigating the cardiovascular benefits of olive oil and the olive, many researchers have virtually ignored other components of the olive tree which have been shown to inhibit viruses and pathogenic bacteria including herpes, influenza, malaria and of particular interest recently Anthrax, smallpox, botulism and the plague.

The antibacterial, antiviral component derived from olive leaves is called oleuropein. In the late 1960s, researchers at the Upjohn Company discovered an antimicrobial fraction of oleuropein called calcium elenolate (Fig. 1A, page 15). This substance was lethal to every virus the researchers tested it against (using both in vitro and in vivo studies). Studies demonstrated that the components of olive leaf extract are also toxic to a wide range of bacteria, protozoa, yeasts, parasites and fungi.

Antibacterial Agent
Scientists began taking a closer look at olive leaf extract because the leaves of Olea europaea are known to be resistant to attack by insects and microbes. Researchers have published numerous studies concluding that olive leafs active ingredient, oleuropein (Fig. 1B), is a natural antibiotic agent.

With the threat of bioterrorism looming larger, a report in Dr. Morton Walkers book, Natures Antibiotic: Olive Leaf Extract is of particular interest. Dr. Walker noted that this natural substance is toxic to bacteria-caused diseases like anthrax and botulism. (1) Furthermore, it is well-known that wastewater from olive oil mills kills aerobic spore-forming bacteria. Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) is spore forming and aerobic. (2)

Oleuropein also is toxic to other members of the bacillus bacteria family. A 1991 report in Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry documented that oleuropein, at adequate concentrations, inhibited spore germination and the outgrowth of Bacillus cereus spores. Bacillus cereus causes a potentially lethal form of food poisoning characterized by vomiting, severe flatulence, diarrhea, muscular weakness, nerve damage to the heart, and pain in the upper arms, neck, chest and bones. Oleuropein is thought to achieve the bacterial destruction of Bacillus cereus by either inactivating cellular enzymes crucial for bacterial replication or by attacking the cell membrane, destroying its permeability and causing leakage of intracellular components such as glutamate, potassium and phosphorus. The authors concluded that oleuropeins method of action was similar to that of BHT. (3)

An in vitro study revealed that oleuropein and its derivative hydroxytyrosol act as natural antibiotics against a range of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Most impressively, these two components of olive leaf inhibited Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria responsible for many hospital-acquired infections. (4-5) Staphylococcus aureus is notorious for its ability to mutate against antibiotics, and there are few antibiotics left to wipe out this life-threatening micro-organism.

Components in olive leaf extract also have inhibited the growth of E. Coli and Bacillus subtilis. (6)

As recently as 1998, researchers investigated oleuropeins antibacterial action and concluded that it can enhance nitric oxide production in mouse macrophages. By increasing nitric oxide production, oleuropein appears to arm the macrophages against endotoxins (bacterial poisons generated by gram-negative bacteria). Interestingly, oleuropein only increased nitric oxide production when endotoxins were present. (7)

Inactivating Viral Invaders
Researchers have shown that calcium elenolate, a component of olive leaf extract, is lethal to a number of viruses. Different forms of influenza viruses were particularly vulnerable to this natural substance. In fact, calcium elenolate inactivated all influenza viruses tested by the Upjohn researchers. The researchers hypothesized that the calcium elenolate prevents viruses from entering cells. (8)

In a 1969 report in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the lead researcher for the Upjohn study, Harold E. Renis, reported that calcium elenolate inhibited a number of viruses, including parainfluenza, herpes, pseudorabies, vesicular stomatitis, encephalomyocarditis, Newcastle disease, some forms of polio, and Sindbis. Every virus exposed to calcium elenolate, except for reovirus and poliovirus, were inactivated. (9)

Renis and his team saw great promise in olive leafs active component, calcium elenolate. In his report, Renis wrote, ...calcium elenolate is virucidal for a broad spectrum of viruses. (9) Other researchers at Upjohn administered calcium elenolate into the nasal cavities of a variety of animals. They found it to be safe and well-tolerated. (10) According to Dr. Morton Walker, olive leaf extract also inactivates smallpox, Ebola, plague, Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis. (1)

Other Benefits

Since olive leaf extract has been shown to dispel protozoan-caused diseases, its not surprising its reputation as an anti-malarial dates back to the early 19th century. In the 1800s, physicians brewed olive leaves and administered the bitter tea to malaria patients. The doctors reported their patients improved after drinking this tea. (1)

The Upjohn researchers determined that olive leaf extract inhibited at least 56 disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa, including the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum. The researchers also found it was effective against Vaccinia, a contagious viral disease of cattle, produced in humans by inoculation with cowpox virus to confer immunity against smallpox. (1)

Olive leaf extracts safety and efficacy has been demonstrated in animal experiments and by the hundreds of clinicians around the country who have used olive leaf extract to treat their patients with remarkable results.

Traditional antibiotics such as doxycycline or ciprofloxacin are the first line of defense in case of an Anthrax attack. But natural antibacterial substances like olive leaf extract could serve as a back-up in the event terrorists bioengineer Anthrax organisms to resist antibiotics or in case antibiotic supplies are exhausted during an epidemic. In addition, once Anthrax symptoms arise, antibiotics may prove ineffective. Olive leaf extract is a safe antimicrobial substance suitable and safe for preventive and daily consumption. As an antiviral, it may also protect against terrorist-triggered outbreaks of viral diseases such as smallpox.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the components of olive leaf extract inactivated every cold and flu virus they were tested against, indicating Olive Leaf should occupy an important place in the medicine cabinet.

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1. Walker, Morton MD. Natures Antibiotic: Olive Leaf Extract, Kensington Books, New York, 1997. pps. 65-68, 39, 149.

2. Rodriguez MM, Perez J, Ramos-Cormenzana A, Martinez J. Effect of extracts obtained from olive oil mill waste waters on Bacillus megaterium ATCC 33085. Journal of Applied Bacteriology. 1988; 64:219-26.

3. Tassou CC, Nychas GJE, Board RG. Effect of Phenolic Compounds and Oleuropein on the Germination of Bacillus cereus T Spores. Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry. 1991; 13:231-37.

4. Bisignano G, Tomaino A, Lo Cascio R, Crisafi G, Uccella N, Saija A. On the In-Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1999; 51: 971-74.

5. Nychas GJE, Tassou SC, Board RG. Phenolic extract from olives: inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus. Letters in Applied Microbiology. 1990; 10: 217-220.

6. Heinze JE, Hale AH, Carl PL. Specificity of the Antiviral Agent Calcium Elenolate. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 1975; 8(4):421-25.

7. Visioli F, Bellosta S, Galli C. Oleuropein, The Bitter Principle of Olives, Enhances Nitric Oxide Production By Mouse Macrophages. Life Sciences. 1998; 62(6):541-46.

8. Renis HE. Inactivation of Myxoviruses by Calcium Elenolate. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 1975; 8(2):194-99.

9. Renis HE. In Vitro Antiviral Activity of Calcium Elenolate. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 1969, pps. 167-72.

10. Elliott GA, Buthala DA, DeYoung EN. Preliminary Safety Studies with Calcium Elenolate, an Antiviral Agent. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 1969: pps. 173-76.

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