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Olive Oil – Oil Profile

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Olive: Olea Europaea

Medicinal Parts: Leaves, bark, fruit.

Description: The olive tree is an evergreen native to the Mediterranean area but widely grown in tropical areas and warm climates.

Properties and Uses:

Leaves: antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge, and tranquilizer.

Oil: cholagogue, demulcent, emollient, laxative. A decoction of the leaves or inner bark of the tree is effective against fever; an infusion of the leaves has a tranquilizing effect helpful for nervous tension. Olive oil taken internally increases the secretion of bile and acts as a laxative by encouraging muscular contraction in the bowels. It is also soothing to mucous membrane and to dissolve cholesterol. Olive oil is useful externally for burns, bruises, insect bites, sprains, and intense itching. With alcohol it makes a good hair tonic, and with oil of rosemary a good treatment for dandruff. One of its most common uses is as a base for liniments and ointments. [1]

It is amazing how many applications there are for olive oil including; skin care, cosmetics, cooking and medicinal. Olive Oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and is used more commonly than butter. The use of Olive Oil has been linked to reduced cholesterol and a protection against several types of cancer.

Extra virgin olive oil is particularly rich in the phenolic antioxidants as well as squalene and oleic acid, and high consumption of the foregoing in the diet provides considerable protection against colon, breast and skin cancer, coronary heart disease and aging by inhibiting oxidative stress. Research has shown that scavenging of the hydroxyl radical was significantly higher among extracts of olive oil. This effect was only minimal in seed oils. In addition to their direct antioxidant capacity, extracts of olive oil are also potent inhibitors of xanthine oxidase activity. A constant high olive oil intake in the diet, especially extra virgin olive oil, provides a constant supply of antioxidants. This may reduce oxidative stress through inhibition of lipid peroxidation, a factor that is currently linked to a host of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. [2]

The same study also concluded that a diet high in olive oil may reduce blood pressure levels due to its polyphenol content. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants that help the arteries to dilate thereby reducing blood pressure.

Introducing Olive Oil to your diet is an important step in your ongoing health. When selecting an olive oil, look for “extra virgin olive oil.” It is made from the first press of the olive and is the least processed. If you’re having difficulty figuring out how to incorporate olive oil in your diet, here are a few suggestions.

* Anything you fry in vegetable oil can be fried in olive oil. Olive oil works particularly well when stir-frying vegetables and adds a slightly nutty flavor to the dish.
* Prepare a traditional Italian salad. Forego the bottled Italian dressings and give this recipe a try.

Ingredients:

* Lettuce Greens (avoid iceberg lettuce, which has little or no nutritional value.)
* Onion
* Tomato
* Green or Red Peppers
* Olive Oil
* Wine Vinegar
* Salt
* Pepper

In a bowl, combine lettuce, onion, tomato and peppers. Salt generously then add ground black pepper. Pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil over the lettuce (a bit more if you are making a large salad), then 4 to 5 shakes of vinegar. Mix well. If you prefer a sharper taste to your salad, add the vinegar before the olive oil. Yes, that actually makes a difference. If the salad seems a bit bland it is probably because you didn’t add enough salt and/or pepper.

Healing with Olive Oil: I wanted to include at least one home remedy for olive oil that has been used in my family for at least 6 generations and probably more, (6 generations is as far back as I can actually document.)

First however, let me add a cautionary note. You should never, ever administer a home remedy without first consulting your health care professional. This is particularly true when dealing with children. Just because you learned of a remedy online or in a book does not mean it will be effective or appropriate for your child.

A common childhood ailment is the ever-annoying earache. In some cases that annoying earache can become a serious medical condition escalating into recurring ear-infections that can require tubes in the ears and even reconstructive surgery.

In our family earaches have always been treated with Olive Oil. Not only is this effective, but relief from the pain is virtually instantaneous. Warm up one teaspoon of olive oil. I’ve always done this by simply filling a metal spoon with olive oil and holding it over an open flame on the stove for a few seconds. (Okay, I guess I qualify as a bit primitive here.)

Big Caution: Check the temperature of the olive oil against the inside of your wrist, as you would milk from a baby bottle. The olive oil should feel warm, NOT HOT! Because the spoon itself will continue to heat the oil, I transfer the warmed oil to a plastic dispenser, an eyedropper works nicely for this.

Have the patient rest their head on a pillow, with the problem ear facing up. Put 3 to 4 drops of the warmed oil into the ear canal and plug the ear with a tissue or bit of cotton. That’s it. The pain should go away immediately. If this remedy is ineffective, or continues for a prolonged period of time, you are likely dealing with an infection that will require antibiotics.

I’m passing along this family remedy not just because it works, but because of all the children it was used on, not one developed chronic ear infections. Now granted, this is a rather small sampling, but I find that significant. Over the years I’ve watched countless neighbors, friends, and in-laws struggle through repeated chronic infections that always seem to escalate first into to tubes in the ears and finally reconstructive surgery. I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a relationship between this home remedy and the lack of infections in my own children, not to mention the lack of infections in brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

I believe the key here is early intervention. This home remedy allows you to act as soon as the symptoms are present rather than waiting for them to escalate. And after all, isn’t that why we use herbs in the first place?

[1] The Herb Book, by John Lust, Benedict Lust Publications, 1974

[2] Lee, A.; Thurman D.I.; Chopra, C. Consumption of Tomato Products with Olive Oil but not Sunflower Oil increases the antioxidant Activity of Plasma. Free Radical Biology & Medicine, 20:1051-1055; 2000 [Nov. 15th, 2000 issue]

MK Welty hosts an informational site for herb enthusiasts where you will find great tips on growing herbs, how to use herbs, herbal remedies and more. For everyone who’s been enjoying our series of articles on herbs, we encourage you to sign up for our free newsletter today at: http://UsingHerbs.Com

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