Olive Leaf Extract
Olive Leaf Extract
Natural Defense against Biowarfare
and Inactivating Viral Invaders
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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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