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Its Extracted From an Olive Leaf and May Help Influenza
Olive leaf extract is an antioxidant-rich herbal preparation. Its antioxidant capacity surpasses those of green tea and vitamin C. However, this leaf extract has other medicinal benefits. Studies show that olive leaf extract has an antiviral property and can help boost the immune system. But can these medicinal activities help prevent and treat influenza? Read on to find out how olive leaf extract helps and how to use it to survive this flu season.
Olive leaf is the leaf of Olea europaea or olive tree. Although the oil from the tree is popularly used for its health benefits, olive leaf and, especially, olive leaf extract are also commonly used in traditional medicine.
Various studies confirm that olive leaf extract has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties.
In addition, olive leaf extract can boost the immune system. Furthermore, this herbal extract is a potent antioxidant. Researchers determined that olive leaf extract has twice the antioxidant capacity of green tea and 400% the antioxidant capacity of vitamin C.
The primary antioxidants in olive leaf extract are oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. Other antioxidants include polyphenols and flavonoids such as olecanthal.
Lastly, olive leaf extract has antiviral properties. It is used to treat viral infections such as influenza, swine flu, common cold, herpes and hepatitis B.
Olive leaf extract is sold as dietary supplements in capsule, powder and liquid concentrate forms.
The major bioactive phytochemical in olive leaf extract is oleuropein. Hydroxytyrosol, another antioxidant in olive leaf extract, is a metabolite of oleuropein.
Oleuropein is not only an antioxidant, it is also known to strengthen the immune system and possess antibacterial activities.
Some of the bioactive phytochemicals in olive leaf extract, especially oleuropein, enhance the functioning of the immune system in multiple ways.
The major mechanism by which olive leaf extract improves immune function is by promoting phagocytosis.
Phagocytosis is the process by which certain immune cells (phagocytes) surround, engulf and destroy pathogens. The immune system can stop viruses such as the ones responsible for common cold and influenza by this process.
By stimulating phagocytosis, olive leaf extract increases the clearance of influenza virus. Therefore, its stimulatory effect on the immune system can help prevent and treat the flu.
Studies show that some of the bioactive phytochemicals in olive leaf extract interfere with the replication of viruses including those responsible for common cold and influenza.
One of the major steps involved in infection is the replication of the infective pathogen. When a few influenza viruses enter into human cells, they immediately set about creating more of their kind.
If this replication proceeds far enough to produce a considerable population of such viruses, influenza infection sets in.
By blocking the process by which influenza virus reproduces, olive leaf extract breaks the chain of replication and ensures that the population of flu virus is not significant enough to overwhelm the immune system.
This antiviral property of olive leaf extract has been demonstrated against influenza viruses including the strains (influenza A viruses such as H1N1 and H3N2) responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
In addition, olive leaf extract can also block the replication of cold viruses. This is important because cold is a related viral infection to the flu. In fact, they share some symptoms.
Overall, the antiviral properties of olive leaf extract can provide full cover against the major viruses responsible for upper respiratory tract infections during the flu season. In fact, researchers demonstrated that olive leaf extract was especially effective against viral infections when fever was also present.
Olive leaf extract contains over 20 different antioxidant polyphenols. Each of these is effective against different sets of free radicals. Therefore, the overall antioxidant effect of the plant extract is quite significant.
Olive leaf extract is a powerful antioxidant and one of the most important antioxidant herbs.
Antioxidants are important for removing free radicals especially reactive oxygen species from the body. These free radicals can damage different tissues and disrupt the balance of metabolism, hormones, neurotransmitters and other essential natural compounds in the body.
Free radicals are released from normal biochemical processes. Therefore, there is a constant need to remove them. In addition, they can also be introduced from the environment in the form of pollution, poor diet, cigarette smoke and alcohol.
Free radicals can impair normal immune functions by disrupting the release of immune factors and their activities.
Therefore, free radicals can produce significant oxidative stress on the immune system and increase the risk of many diseases including colds and flu.
By serving as a free radical scavenger, olive leaf extract protects the immune system from oxidative damage. It also lowers the risk of influenza infection in this way.
Rather than buying a supplement containing only oleuropein, choose one that contains olive leaf extract.
Although oleuropein is the major bioactive compound in olive leaf extract, it is not the only one and the others also make significant contributions. For example, one study found that the antioxidant effect of olive leaf extract was better and lasted longer (up to 30%) than the antioxidant effect of oleuropein.
In addition, olive leaf extract is also rich in other important micronutrients such as the minerals, iron, zinc and selenium as well as beta carotene.
Zinc is a proven cold and flu remedy. Studies show that it blocks the entry of cold viruses into the respiratory tract and also blocks their adherence to human cells. In addition, zinc inhibits the replication of cold viruses.
Selenium and beta carotene have antioxidant properties and do contribute to the overall capacity of olive leaf extract.
However, even though there are other bioactive compounds in olive leaf extract besides oleuropein, make sure to get a supplement standardized to its oleuropein content.
Olive leaf extract is safe and well tolerated. Therefore, you can take it daily to help keep your immune system functioning optimally. For maintaining your health, 25 mg per day of the capsule or the powder form of olive leaf extract is recommended.
You can also take 5 ml per day of the tincture for the same purpose.
To use olive leaf extract to prevent the flu, take 75 mg per day from the start of the flu season to its end. This dose should be taken 3 times daily in 25 mg individual doses.
To treat a current episode of the flu, you will need 180 mg per day in 4 or 5 divided doses.
Children should take ¼ or half of these doses. For lack of safety studies, olive leaf extract is not recommended for children under the age of 2 years as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Olive leaf extract is not only effective against the flu but it is also effective for relieving flu symptoms such as sore throat and cough.
Care should be taken not to combine olive leaf extract with blood thinners as well as drugs used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
Because olive leaf extract has an anticoagulant effect, it may increase the risk of bleeding. In addition, olive leaf extract can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Therefore, the doses of these anticoagulants as well as diabetes and hypertension drugs should be adjusted when they are to be taken along with olive leaf extract.
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