This typical Mediterranean tree has been cultivated since ancient times. Its role in the economy and its symbolic values, kindness, purity, peace and happiness, have always been important in the civilizations around the Mediterranean sea.
The olive tree, Olea europaea, is a domesticated variety of the oleaster, a plant endemic to the Mediterranean area. It is, moreover, an unfixed species of which certain crop varieties can return to the wild state or even become invasive plants.
There are other "species" of olive tree in the world.
The most important is Olea europaea subspecies cuspidata, black olive or brown olive.
It is present in dry areas in Africa (north to south) and Asia mainly in India and Pakistan, but it has been introduced in many other countries.
It produces oleaginous olives (smaller than the true Mediterranean olive) and is also medicinal.
The olive tree has been cultivated since antiquity in the countries around the Mediterranean sea where the climate is favorable: Greece, Turkey, Middle East, Italy, Spain, North Africa, southern France.
Many other countries have been cultivating European olive trees since the beginning of the 20th century: California, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa.
The European olive tree, Olea europea, tolerates drought but hates prolonged humidity, it resists cold (down to -10 to -15 ° C for a short period).
The olive tree can reach several hundred years, its growth is slow, the trunk is twisted with cracked bark; stump shoots are very often observed which gives it a bushy appearance when it is not trimmed.
These shoots are a mode of regeneration after burning or death of the tree due to frost.
The leaves are persistent, a little gray on their upper part and whitish on their underside.
The olive, the fruit of Olea europaea, is a hard-stone drupe which gradually changes from green to blackish purple and whose fleshy mesocarp is oily.
The olive tree is medicinal by its leaves, its young shoots, its buds, and also by its oil.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
In the Middle Ages many properties are attributed to the olive tree: bitter, astringent, toning, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, anti-rheumatism, anti-gout, anti-hemorrhoidal decoction.
Its modern use is aimed more at vascular and metabolic pathology: hypotensive and hypoglycemic properties.
OLIVE TREE LEAVES
Pharmacologically active compounds are:- a bitter secoiridoid typical of the olive tree: oleuropein, and its osidic form, oleuropeoside or oleuroside; this major constituent is abundant, 60 to 90 mg per gram of dry leaf,
The pharmacological properties of olive leaf- Slightly anti-hypertensive and vascular spasmolytic: The oleuropeoside experimentally is spasmolytic on the smooth muscles, it increases the coronary flow, it is moreover HYPOTENSIVE in hypertensive animals and a little anti-arrythmic.
Olive oil is extracted from the "juice" of the fruit of the olive tree, it is not a seed or almond oil.
The best oil is obtained by "cold" pressing (disc, screw, belt press) crushed olives and kneaded at 25-30 degrees C.
The oil can also be extracted by centrifugation from the paste mixture of crushed olives and lukewarm water. In these two cases, the first pressure oil is obtained.
The fatty acid content is dietetically interesting:
- 70 to 85% monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic),
- 5 to 15% linoleic acid (omega 6),
- and 3 to 20% linolenic acid (omega 3 ).
The percentage composition of fatty acids varies according to the geographical origin and the crop variety: olive oil Italy - Spain would be more oleic, oil Greece - Tunisia more linoleic.
The unsaponifiable contains more than 93% of beta sistosterol.
Olive oil has a sweet taste but sometimes is a little bitter, cholagogue and slightly laxative, softening and emollient in external use.
Refined olive oil is a solvent for injections.
In some countries such as Pakistan or South Africa, the olive tree of the CUSPIDATA variety, quite similar to the wild oleaster, grows spontaneously in the wild.
Recent studies show that the oil that is extracted from these small olives has a composition very similar to that of the cultivated European olive tree, but that the leaves of this variety contain little or no oleuropeoside and a larger amount of triterpene derivatives.
However, clinical studies show that the extracts of the leaves of this cuspidata olive tree are HYPOGLYCEMIC AND SLIGHTLY HYPOTENSIVE (drop in blood glucose and blood pressure) which may call into question the pharmacological importance of oleuropeoside.
Currently extracts from European olive leaves are mainly recommended:
- to LOWER MODERATE ARTERIAL BLOOD PRESSURE when it is not accompanied by significant clinical manifestations (renal disorders, neurological disorders),
- to help BALANCE A WELL TOLERATED TYPE 2 DIABETES and in combination with a low calorie diet,
- to try to improve blood dyslipidemia (too much cholesterol, bad ratio between LDL and HDL lipoproteins) in association with a balanced diet.
A good indication is moderate arterial hypertension with atherosclerosis due to dyslipemia, with or without mild diabetes due to food or weight overload.
Iridoids (oleuropeoside, oleuropein) are unstable compounds which favor the use of glyceroalcoholic macerations of young shoots and fresh leaves rather than infusion or decoction (quite bitter) which can nevertheless be useful for their ease of use ( especially when these leaves can be obtained in the wild).
Example: glycerine macerate of buds or young shoots of olive tree 1 D, 60 drops 3 times a day.
Example: 15 minutes infusion of 50 to 100 g of fresh leaves in 1/2 liter of very hot water, to drink during the day
The olive leaf is found, often in combination with other plants, in many herbal medicines that aim to treat moderate arterial hypertension.
There are also modern preparations: powder of freeze-crushed olive leaves, concentrated extracts dosed in oleuropeoside (follow the laboratory instructions depending on the concentration of active product)
OLIVE OIL, apart from its culinary and dietary use, can be used in dermatology because it is softening and emollient (eczema, psoriasis, after a therapeutic test to test the sensitivity of the skin), and as massage oil .
The essential oils mix perfectly with olive oil and we can thus prepare personalized dilutions for massage, skin absorption of essential oils or digestive absorption of essential oil.
Olive oil promotes biliary excretion from the gallbladder and is LAXATIVE:
- 30 to 60 g in the morning on an empty stomach in the ABSENCE of gallstones.
It can also be used exceptionally rectally as a laxative: 150 ml of lukewarm oil
TO HELP TREAT ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION
The olive tree is a tree blessed by the gods, many peoples around the Mediterranean think so.
Its very hard wood is prized, its oleaginous fruits and the oil extracted from it are dietetic and for medicinal use.
its leaves contain compounds that limit the increase of blood pressure,
promote renal elimination of water and improve some diabetes type 2.
Copyright 2020 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel