Olive leaves come from the olive tree (Olea europae), which is native to the Mediterranean. Oleuropein is a non-toxic secoiridoid found in the leaves and fruits of olive. One of these bioactive compounds is the secoiridoid oleuropein, which can constitute up to 6-9% of dry matter in the leaves.
Olive Leaf Hypertension and Heart Health Effects
Olive leaf extracts and their oleuropein constituents are best known for their blood pressure-lowering properties. Hypertension thought to be responsible for 50% of all heart attacks and strokes. Oleuropein, favorably modulates arterial resistance or stiffness, high blood pressure’s core mechanism. Research found that olive leaf extract causes relaxation of the arterial walls and reduces high blood pressure. It is oleuropein that is largely responsible for the useful effect on high blood pressure. The oleuropeoside, which was isolated from olive leaf during the twenties, caused important hypotension in rats, due to prolonged peripheral vasodilatation of isolated aorta. Olive leaf water extract proposed property as an inhibitor of the ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) has been showed in vitro.
Scientists designed a study to compare its effects to Captopril, a blood pressure medication known as an ACE-inhibitor. A study reported in the Feb 2011 edition of Phytomedicine sought to compare the effects of OLE (olive leaf extract) against captopril. For 8 weeks, subjects either took the medication or 500 mg of olive leaf extracts twice a day. All subjects experienced important drops in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Although they utilize different mechanisms of action, both olive leaf extracts (oleuropein) and captopril function inside the vasculature to lessen the tension in the walls of blood vessels and promote widening of the vessels, eventually lowering blood pressure. This study demonstrate olive leaf extract may be as effective as captopril for treating Stage 1 high blood pressure.
Taking 1000mg of a specific olive leaf extract (EFLA®943) can lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. To test this in humans, scientists from Germany and Switzerland carried a pilot study with 20 identical (monozygotic) twin pairs who had an increased blood pressure. Identical twins were used to help keep the data consistent, because genetic differences can make people respond differently to the same therapies. Participants were either given placebo capsules or capsules containing doses of 500mg or 1000mg of leaf extract EFLA®943. At the study’s conclusion, those who took the highest daily dosage of EFLA®943 (1000 mg) received the highest benefits. At the end of the 8-week study, the group that took 1000 mg per day had dropped their systolic blood pressure by an average of 11 points.
Preliminary research findings demonstrate that compounds in olive leaf may help by assisting normal platelet aggregation, which may in turn play a role in helping to prevent the formation of clots. Olive leaf extracts appears to lower levels of deleterious blood fats, called triglycerides, known to raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In a study, participants who took the olive leaf pill for 8 weeks saw a significant reduction in blood pressure readings and triglyceride levels. Oleuropein shows anti-atherogenic activity. In 2003, researchers reported that oleuropein reduces monocytoid cell adhesion to stimulated endothelium as well as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) mRNA and protein. Compounds found in olive leaves have been shown to help directly avoid the formation of arterial plaques in 2 ways. 1) They reduces the production and activity of a series of adhesion molecules. 2) they reduce platelet aggregation by multiple mechanisms, which reduces the risk that tiny clots will form at sites of plaque to produce a stroke or heart attack.