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Herbal Monograph

Herb: Olive leaf    (Olea Europea)

Other Names: Lucca oil, sweet oil, salad oil, provence oil, virgin oil.    (57)


Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:              

Parts used:    dried leaves, oil, flowers. (2)

Oil.  (All entries from this source refer to the oil, rather than the leaf)    (57)

Identification & Harvesting:    A tree or medium shrub grows up to 10 m high and has pale bark and cane-like, quadrangular to round, possibly thorny branches.  Leaves are opposity, entire, stiff, leathery, narrow elliptical to lanceolate with thorny tips.  Upper surface is dark green and smooth, and the underside shimmers with silver hairs.  White flowers grow in small clusters.  The fruit has 1 or 2 seeds, initially green, blue-black when ripe.  Grows in the southern European countries, entire mediterranean region to Iran and beyond the Caucasus.    (2)

Active Constituents:    Iridoide monoterpenes incl. oleoropine 6-9%, 6-O-oleoropine-saccharose, ligstroside, oleoroside, oleoside-7,11-dimethylether;  triterpenes incl. oleanolic acid, maslinic acid;  flavonoids incl. luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenine-7-O-glucoside.  Chief fatty acids in the fruit are oleic acid 56-83%, palmitic acid 8-20%, linoleic acid 4-20%.    (2)

The olives themselves have higher levels of oleuropein.    (61)

Actions:    Hypotensive, antiarrhythmic, spasmolytic.  Oil contracts gallbladder due to the raising of the cholecystokinin level in plasma.    (2)

Emollient, nutritive, aperient.    (57)

Oleuropein has strong antibacterial and antifungal activity;  it is believed to protect the tree against insects and disease, and the olive oil from spoilage.  Studies show the leaves also have strong antioxidant activity and may benefit the nervous system and promote longevity and protect against cardiovascular disease.    (61)

Conditions and Uses:    Used as a diuretic for hypertension.    (2)

A valuable remedy in bowel diseases generally.  Pleasant to the taste, it is often substituted for castor oil as a children’s laxative, also as a remedy in habitual constipation and lead colic.  Removes intestinal worms and in large doses dispels biliary concretions.  Externally it is included in many embrocations, ointments, liniments, etc., used in bruises, burns, scalds, rheumatic and cutaneous affections.  Invaluable as an inunction in teething children, it keeps bowels regular and acts as a tonic by absorption.    (57)

Traditionally used as an astringent and antiseptic.  The decoction is used to treat fever.  The tea was also used as a mild diuretic and to treat malaria.  Poultice to treat boils, rashes and sprains.    (61)


Precautions:    no known hazards or side effects with designated dosages.  Oil can trigger colic among gallstone sufferers.    (2)

Can irritate the digestive tract if taken on an empty stomach.  Both olives and leaf occasionally cause skin rash.    (61)                                                                                                                                     

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Pour hot water over 2 tsp. dried herb;  allow to draw 30 min.    (2)

Decoction:  boil two handfulls of leaves in a quart of water and simmer down to a pint.  This brew is used to treat fever.    (61)


Dosage:    7-8 g dried herb daily.    (2)

The dose varies from a teaspoon to 2 tablespoons.    (57)

Steep 1 tsp dried leaves in 1 cup hot water for 10-15 min.  Dosage is not well-established.    (61)

General Notes: Recent interest in olive leaf as a dietary supplement.    (61)                                                                                                                                                    



(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 999-1000

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 253

(61) 101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster, pgs. 148-49


PHOTO: Wikipedia