Nutraceuticals and supplements now have a greater role in meeting nutritional requirements, due to lifestyle changes and a clear nutrition gap. Globally, the search for additional nutrition has intensified with various natural products and recipes sought out by individuals concerned about meeting the gap in nutrition. This has increasingly veered towards food products that were earlier part of diets in specific locations. One such product or ingredient that is growing in popularity is olive leaf extract. Identified as an ingredient that finds pride of place in Mediterranean diets, olive leaf offers benefits that have been substantiated through empirical information about health of individuals in the area.  The following subsections will dwell on another important aspect; olive leaf extract side effects. It is necessary for users to be aware of possible undesirable outcomes to effectively manage the same.


Overall documented benefits of olive leaf and extracts


One of the reasons for the popularity of olive leaf and extract as a part of traditional diets has been certain benefits that are clearly linked to the leaf/extract. In addition to its use as a common ingredient in various preparations in the Mediterranean, it is also used in traditional medicine or alternative medicine in the treatment or management of certain conditions. Studies have been conducted in the past on animals to substantiate or assess the benefits of the leaf extract. As the studies conclusively linked certain benefits to the leaf extract, the scope of the studies are now extending to human trials.


Benefits that have been proven in the past and are a subject of study include the positive impact on cholesterol/cardiovascular events. Populations in the Mediterranean who consume olive in various forms and extracts as part of routine diets are known to have relatively better cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol levels. This in turn results in lower incidence of cardiovascular events and complications that are linked to cholesterol. In addition to the above, oleacein and oleuropein, two plant based compounds found in olive leaf extract are also known to have positive effects on certain cancer types and heart conditions.


Benefit #1 – Impact on weight management


Weight management is one of the main considerations of fitness aware individuals looking for nutrition products. Olive leaf extract has a significant impact on weight management. It is possible to either maintain weight or reduce weight with the right diet, comprising olive leaf extract. Weight gain/obesity is linked to cholesterol rich diets. By controlling dietary intake in manner so as to reduce cholesterol, it is possible to achieve wight loss or to maintain weight. The extracts of olive leaf help keep LDL levels low, and the consequence of this is reasonable weight loss.  Another standout benefit of olive leaf extract is the proven effect on metabolism, and a reduction in fat tissue. This makes olive leaf extract a great choice.


Benefit #2 – Impact on blood pressure levels


The benefits from olive and olive leaf extract are mainly through studies conducted on laboratory animals. The scope of studies have not been expanded to include human trials, and documented results of such studies show a clear link between olive leaf and blood pressure levels. One such study involved two groups – a control group without olive extract in diets, and another group with olive in diets. Members of both groups had high blood pressure levels, and the study concluded that members of the group with olive in diets benefitted with a clear and reasonable reduction in blood pressure; when compared with that of the control group.


Benefit #3 – Impact on blood glucose levels


One of the biggest health problems facing populations globally is diabetes. Medical science and diets continue to explore different options to manage and treat the condition. Olive in diets typically consumed in the Mediterranean area, has been proven to have a positive impact in preventing and reducing the risk of exposure to diabetes and heart ailments. Studies conducted on groups of volunteers have established a link. Studies involved two groups of diabetics and recorded data of showed lower blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity of members of one group with olive supplements. Members of the control group had relatively higher levels and this established that olive and extract of olive helps elicit a healthy response from the pancreas.


Overview of olive leaf extract side effects  


Unwanted effects of olive leaf extract are a possibility due to the manner in which it works in the body.  Natural food products that are preserved or processed to be marketed as supplements run the risk of degradation due to supply chain inefficiencies. For instance, if the storage or the handling is not handled properly, there is every likelihood that the product quality may degrade. Similarly, the quality is also linked to extraction process. Products extracted and processed right are a good choice, and will remain stable without the risk of degradation; thereby having longer shelf lives. As the extract is sensitive to light it is also necessary to pick products that are packaged in the right containers. Olive leaf extract available in non-food grade containers are a poor choice.


Link between excessive consumption and undesirable effects


Excessive consumption of olive will certainly result in unpleasant effects, and this applies to all food products. However, with the possibility of exceptions, it is highly unlikely for individuals to resort to excessive consumption of olive in diets, when consumed naturally. In other words, when olive is an ingredient in preparations, the possibility of excessive consumption is less. However, when olive leaf extract or any other form of olive supplements are consumed there is the possibility of excessive consumption. It is possible for individuals to consume more of the supplements in an effort to achieve faster results.  As supplements are known to be processed in a manner which gives them increased concentration levels, excessive consumption can result in possible unpleasant effects.


Ideal consumption levels


The ideal consumption levels is yet to be determined as studies are ongoing about the possible benefits and the unpleasant or undesirable outcomes. But there are clear indications that can be used to arrive at a safe conclusion as to how much is safe and how much is excessive. Studies that have been conducted on humans involved specific levels and concentrations. This can be effectively used as a benchmark for safe levels, because the quantities used in studies have not triggered any undesirable effects in volunteers. Supplements were provided to volunteers in either 500 mg/1000 mg strengths for daily consumption.  Therefore it is safe to assume that 1000 mg is a safe quantity. The above strengths were actually divided into smaller quantities and taken at different times of the day. This makes it important for users to also follow the same idea of splitting the quantity (ideally 250 mg, taken thrice or four times daily) so as to eliminate the possibility of side effects.


Common olive leaf extract side effects  


Here is a small compilation of possible unwanted effects of olive leaf extract. All products and formulations come with the possibility of undesirable effects though the duration and the intensity may differ.  All users of supplements are unlikely to experience effects, with only a small segment of users exposed to the possibility of unwanted effects.


Side effects that are known to be relatively common in occurrence include headache, stomach pain and muscular pain. These effects last for a short duration and do not always require any kind of medication to treat the effects. The need for any intervention arises only when the pain is either intense or extends for a longer duration. In the event of the pain being severe in nature or lasting longer, it may be necessary to discontinue the supplement either temporarily or permanently. If the pain is experienced every time the extract is consumed, it is necessary to stop the supplement and choose an alternative.


Allergic reactions


In addition to the above effects, individuals with allergies to a certain specie of plants or trees, may experience allergic reactions on consuming olive extract. Apart from natural allergies to the tree plant, individuals may also experience allergies due to poor manufacturing processes and use of substandard ingredients. Persons with a history of allergies to jasmine, ash trees, lilacs,  forsythia and rivets, are to stop taking supplements of olive leaf extract.


Drug interaction  


While olive leaf extract is considered as safe for consumption, there is the possibility of interactions with other drugs and OTC products. Any conflict in the mechanism of action of two products may result in aggravating or impacting the efficiency of one or both the products. For instance, olive leaf extract has been proven to have a positive impact on hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol. Medications administered to individuals for any of the above conditions will therefore interact with the extract and end up with undesirable effects.  For instance, the actual outcome may be more than the originally desired outcome – low blood pressure levels or low blood sugar levels. It is therefore necessary to drop the supplements when other medications are consumed for the above conditions. Other possible drug interactions include effects on certain chemotherapy drugs. Specialist advice is mandatory before consuming the extract when on chemotherapy.




Supplements derived from Olive leaf are relatively safe and will not typically cause any undesirable effects, unless as specified above. Individuals are advised to cross check the various conditions and drug interactions as mentioned above and take the extract in moderation to achieve desired results. Its proven use in helping manage conditions and its reputation as an effective diet that helps ward off certain diseases makes it a must in routine dietary intake.


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