It's amazing how nature provides for your health. The difficulty can be in in knowing how and when to use her best provisions.

While grandmothers tips and recipes may well be based on useful anecdotal experience, these days you can also apply more modern science to prove the effectiveness of natural products.

In part to measure natural products up against industrially produced pharmaceuticals, and in part due to man's natural desire to understand just how things work, scientists have been applying their skills to a growing number of 'natural medicines'.

Manuka honey for example (at least UMF® certified manuka honey) now has proper, credible scientific research supporting it, and does have clinical trials showing beneficial use in several wound situations.

Olive Leaf Extract is another of nature's gifts to your health that has been subject to study and testing.

Popular for centuries in the Mediterranean countries where the plant originally comes from. It has been reported as being used for health purposes in ancient texts, and even referenced in the bible.

A growing amount of scientific research is now showing that a key reason for the Mediterranean diet's proven health benefits are its richness in antioxidant compounds – phenols and polyphenols. They contribute to that regions lower levels of heart disease, hypertension and other health issues.

Olive trees are famous for being very hardy, and surviving hundreds of years in dry, poor soil, free from disease. They have developed an array of antioxidant defences to protect themselves from the stresses of their environment.

Now there is some 'modern science' to support those ancient recommendations.

Specific compounds in olive leaf extract fight invading viral and bacterial pathogens. Additionally they also stimulate the body's own immune system to fight the microbes more effectively.

Olive Leaf Extract and Hypertension

The University of Granada conducted experiments showed oleuropeoside (one of the components in olive leaf extract) may help reduce high blood pressure. By aiding restricted arteries to relax in their muscle layer to be more flexible – the 'vasodilator effect' on the smooth muscle layer of arteries - , it can allow more blood flow.

Laboratory trials on animals in Bulgaria found artery blood flow increased by more than 50 percent when oleuropein was given.

Oleuropein as potent antioxidant

Oleuropein, a phenolic and main component, is recognised as having powerful antioxidant effects.

University researches in Australia studying one particular extract (made from fresh leaves) found its antioxidant levels were 400% higher than vitamin C.

From the University of Milan, researchers found oleuropein to be a potent scavenger of superoxide radicals, along with hydroxytyrosol, another phenolic component. (Visoli, et al).

Research for other conditions

Other areas where researchers have found promising use of olive leaf extract is against the herpes virus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. As far back as 1969 Dr Renis found success in killing the herpes virus using a compound of oleuropein from olive leaf. This has been followed by other research at France's Laboratoire de Pharmacognosie finding it killed or reduced the activity of the herpes virus.

From the University of Southern California, studies have found some viruses linked to a high proportion of chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers. The virus fighting abilities of olive leaf extract and anecdotal evidence show these could be fought by taking this extract.

A couple of other research references are:
Aziz NH, Farag SE, Mousa LA, Abo-Zaid MA. “Comparative antibacterial and antifungal effects of some phenolic compounds.” Microbios 1998;93(384):43-54.
Visioli F and Galli C, Oleuropein protects low density liproprotein from oxidation, Life Sciences, 1994;55(24),1965-71.

Like many natural products, it must be remembered that they naturally occur in different levels of potency. You should be careful to choose a product or brand that is of sufficient quality, and is actually the same potency as what is used in the research.

Author's Bio: 

Robert has an interest in using natural products for health that actually have credible research behind them. Believing that 'snake oil salesman' who mis-promote some remedies have made people suspicious of natural products as a whole. When actually some of them can be very beneficial. He likes to promote those genuinely useful natural products, where some proper science has been done to prove their health value.