The inclination to look beyond regular dietary intake has gripped significant sections of global population. With more and more individuals being afflicted by diseases, the need to stay healthy and fit has helped make out a case for the use of enhanced nutrition. Lifestyle changes and the distinct lack of time has made it necessary for choosing supplements and nutraceuticals that require little or no preparation. The study of diets and their impact on health of individuals has also popularized diets that were earlier linked to particular geographies. Olive leaf has proven benefits in helping delay the manifestation of conditions and Mediterranean diets are famous for recipes that include the leaf. Let us look beyond the benefits and learn more about olive leaf extract side effects that is a possibility among certain categories of users.


Why is the Olive leaf a traditional ingredient in Mediterranean diets?


The olive leaf has for long been a part of diets in the Mediterranean area due to the proven health benefits associated with the leaf. The benefits have also made it an ingredient in traditional medicine practiced in specific regions. As the interest in the leaf and the extract grew, there has been a whole body of research to corroborate the claims of benefits. Studies are now focused on humans, a welcome change from the earlier research conducted exclusively  on animals.


One of the reasons for the widespread interest in the leaf is the lower incidence levels of ailments related to cholesterol and cardiovascular events among populations in the Mediterranean. The polyphenols present in the leaf are responsible for impressive health benefits. This includes impact on heart conditions and certain types of cancer attributed to the plant-based compounds oleacein and oleuropein.


Available as capsules, as tablets and as tea formulations, olive leaf extract can be consumed or included in diets in a form that is convenient to use.


Does olive leaf extract actually help reduce or maintain weight?


It is true that olive leaf extract helps reduce or maintain weight. Science backed facts make this quite evident. One of the reasons for weight gain or obesity are diets that are rich in cholesterol. Olive leaf and extracts are known to have an impact on LDL levels and this in turn helps keep cholesterol levels low. The result of studies have proved that there are significant and measurable benefits in terms of weight management. Apart from a reduction in weight, the extract is also known to help metabolism and reduce the amount of fat tissue, making it a good dietary choice. Lower LDL levels translate into multiple benefits; including a reduction in chances of heart ailments.


Does olive leaf extract help hypertensive individuals? 


Before we take a detailed look at olive leaf extract side effects it is necessary to note that the benefits as assessed through studies are primarily the result of research on laboratory animals. However, as mentioned earlier, studies on humans are also being conducted and of particular interest is the impact of olive leaf on hypertensive individuals. Two groups of volunteers with hypertension were put on two different diets; one that included olive leaf in the diet, while the other group had a diet without olive leaf or supplements. The group that had olive leaf as part of the diet showed a reduction in blood pressure levels on a relative level vis-à-vis the control group.


Does olive leaf help patients with diabetes?


Diabetes considered as the scourge of newer generations, continues to trigger interest in the search for diets and methods to control or prevent the condition. Mediterranean diets, as mentioned above comprised olives and populations from the region were known to have lesser possibility of turning diabetic or developing heart conditions. Studies into these claims have substantiated the same, making olive leaf a good choice for diabetics. Research into the outcomes were mainly the result of monitoring blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity of two groups of participants in a study. One group was on olive leaf supplements, while the other was a control group without the supplements. The results proved that the group on the supplements received a better response from the pancreas, and had lower blood sugar levels.


How can olive leaf extract side effects be prevented?


There is  a possibility of undesirable outcomes from the extracts, primarily the result of the mechanism of action or the ingredients. Additionally, supplements or products that are derived from natural processes are exposed to the possibility of degradation as a result of improper storage or handling. Extraction of supplements are carried out through different processes, and it is necessary to choose a product that has been extracted in a manner that will help to keep it stable for a longer period. The containers used for storage after purchase are also an important consideration, as there is a possibility of non-food grade containers affecting the stability, especially if exposed to light.


Can unwanted effects be experienced due to more than moderate consumption?


One of the common doubts in the minds of users about more than moderate consumption is the claimed safety of the extract. As olives are part of routine diets, is it not right to assume that it is safe, even when there is more than moderate consumption? While it is true that olives are part of routine diets, there is limited possibility of individuals consuming olives excessively when taken naturally. However, supplements and extracts are often concentrated forms of the natural product, the possibility of excessive consumption is higher. This makes it necessary to keep a watch on consumption.


Additionally, olive extracts or supplements are not regulated by the FDA which effectively means that there is a possibility of substandard or inferior products being made available in the market. In the absence of standardization, products may be made available in various concentrations and formulations making it difficult to maintain consistent intake. It is therefore necessary to prevent over consumption, as this could result in a toxic overdose.


What is the safe upper limit of the supplements?


The safe upper limit has not been established as yet, due to the relatively nascent stage of research on humans. However, it is possible to make some assumptions on what can be regarded as safe levels. All trials and studies conducted on humans always involved consumption of supplements between 500 mg to 1000 mg per day.  Studies where participants were given these dosages never resulted in adverse or unwanted effects. This effectively makes 1000 mg a safe upper limit. I tis also important to add that studies involved dividing the total dosage into smaller doses and it would therefore be a good idea to break up the intake into at least three or four doses. The labels on most olive leaf supplements also suggest a similar intake of around 250 mg per intake, with a maximum of three or four doses.


What kind of olive leaf extract side effects are considered as frequently occurring?


Unwanted outcomes are common to all products, and the actual intensity or duration may differ from individual to individual. This is only a compilation of possible effects and does not imply that all users of the supplements will experience undesirable effects. Most users may not experience any kind of effects whatsoever.


One of the most frequently reported side effects of the leaf extract is throbbing headache muscular pain. This typically does not last long and may not require any kind of treatment or remedy. In very rare circumstances, individuals who experience pain for a longer duration or of a greater intensity, may require some kind of medical attention to alleviate the pain or discomfort. Stomach pain is another undesirable effect that has been reported by users. Depending on the intensity and the persistent nature of the pain, it may be necessary to discontinue the extract till the pain  ceases.


Other possible outcomes include allergies among individuals who may be sensitized to the tree family. The manner in which the product is processed also has a role in possible allergic reactions, as there is a possibility of inclusion of ingredients that trigger allergies. As the tree belongs to the family of Oleaceae, individuals who are allergic to jasmine, lilacs, rivets, ash trees and forsythia, may experience some kind of allergic reaction. It is therefore necessary to be aware of allergies and, if necessary, avoid the supplements.


Is there a possibility of interaction with other products or medications?


Interactions with other products cannot be ruled out completely, despite the relatively safe profile of the product. This is primarily due to the mechanism of action of the supplement or medications or formulations that are taken together. The extract of olive leaf helps to control blood pressure, blood glucose and LDL levels. Individuals on medications for treating the above conditions may therefore end up experiencing stronger results, which may not be welcome in all circumstances. For instance, blood pressure that dips beyond a level is considered as unsafe, and similarly, extremely low blood glucose levels are not healthy. It is therefore necessary to control intake accordingly to prevent undesirable outcomes. Olive leaf supplements are known to have an impact on the manner in which certain chemotherapy drugs work. It is hence, essential to consult specialists before combining the two.


Olive leaf extract : rated as overall safe


Olive leaf supplements in any form are regarded as relatively safe, due to two considerations. One, it is a part of diets and has not been attributed to ill health, when consumed in normal proportions. Two, it is an ingredient in traditional medicine and this makes it an effective choice in treating or managing various conditions.

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