The Honor and Pleasure of Meeting an Olive Tree (and Making My Olive Leaf Extract)

Olive branches against blue sky

Personally, the delight from making my own olive leaf extract only starts with its cool health benefits, because there’s so much more to it. The thing is, since I make it each year while on vacation, the olive leaf brew also captures the fun of my family retreat along with the radiant, power-infusing sunshine. And merging the pleasure of staying at an old friend’s cottage and picking fresh olive leaves right from a nearby tree is one blissful affair of the year.

The leaf picking activity involves my tiny daughter too! Zoe is always excited to join me in any pursuit of exploratory nature. I discovered that once I showed her the tree and told her about its “helpfulness”, it became much easier to offer it to her when needed. The olive leaf extract is not a “mystery potion” from a store; it’s a spirit of a beautiful tree that we’ve met in person! Olive trees have branches that are easily reached and we picked them effortlessly and collected them in a small bucket.

Where there’s olive tree there’s frog

While picking the leaves, a tiny frog came to greet us. We played with it for a while and (sadly) let it go.

Tiny frog near olive tree

The leaves are picked, what’s next? (hint: a really easy procedure)

For olive leaves, the freshness counts to get the very best benefits.

Freshly picked olive leaves

Immediately after returning home, we sorted the leaves together, and removed those that had spots. I rinsed them under cold water and patted them dry. I selected the amount I decided to use immediately (an amount that would fill two thirds of a glass jar) and carefully spread the rest to dry.

The olive leaves should be chopped as finely as possible. Normally, I would use a food processor at home or a blender (and add a bit of vodka to help the process), but since I was away from home and without a blender, I chopped them with a sharp knife. You can use scissors too, and this is what Zoe was using to help. A child that can confidently use scissors, can always be involved for a playful and learning experience! Why not enjoy this activity together and care about the mess later?

I put the chopped leaves into a canning jar and poured vodka over the leaves so they were completely covered (one part leaves with three parts vodka). I covered the jar with a lid.

Shake that Jar! (the extraction process)

The leaves need to soak for four weeks. During the process, alcohol in vodka will extract the beneficial substances from them. This mixture should be shaken every day.

The extract should be strained after four weeks (using cheesecloth) into another glass container. This liquid can be transferred into smaller bottles with droppers or simply left it in the large glass container in your kitchen.

It is well known that fresh picked olive leaves have the best properties. But as the saying goes, if you have lemons make a lemonade. That is, if you have dried olive leaves, use them to make an extract. Once I run out of my fresh olive extract I follow the same procedure to make an new batch, this time with dried leaves. The only difference is when using dried leaves is that more vodka needs to be added.

Benefits and uses of olive leaf extract

I do suffer from colds and taking the olive leaf extract shortens the duration of colds being the main reason I take it. But, I as learn, there are many diverse benefits of this peaceful plant.

Where do the benefits come from?

Apparently, it’s the polyphenols, a group of chemicals that have antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of viruses, parasitic protozoans, yeasts, bacteria and fungi. Scientists have found 30 distinct polyphenols in freshly picked olive leafs. Why is that good? Because these polyphenols work together to achieve a synergistic effect greater than any compound alone. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!

The compounds in olive leaves: the polyphenols, hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, caffeic acid and verbascoside are helpful against a variety of infections. In particular, in vitro studies have found that olive leaf extract works against over fifty ailment-causing bugs, such as herpes, polio 1, 2 and 3, influenza A, Candida Krusei, Salmonella typhimurium, and Cox-sackie A 21.

Other identified benefits include: powerful antioxidant, support for a healthy cardiovascular system, support for healthy cholesterol levels and support for normal blood pressure. All of these claims are backed by science.

How to take olive leaf extract?

It is recommended to take one tablespoon (15 ml) as a maintenance dose for general use, taken two-three times a day before meals. Therapeutic dose should be two teaspoons (10 ml) every six hours for the cold, flu and respiratory tract infections. However, there is no consensus on these things. It is best to experiment and see shat what works and what not, adjusting the dose accordingly. According to research there is no need to worry as olive leaf extract appears to be very safe.

Is there anything slightly unlikable about this peaceful leaf?

There is one little thing. A tiny hiccup. Olive leaf extract is really bitter. There are maybe two-three other things I’ve tried that had a more bitter taste. But, as I say to Zoe, many things that are good for you don’t taste like candy. 

One tablespoon of olive leaf extract

One tablespoon of olive leaf extract in a transparent dish

 Note: For advice on medical issues you should always consult your local medical practitioner.

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