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Opinions of Thursday, 4 August 2016

Columnist: Kobina Ansah

The power of olive leaves – Part 1

Yesterday, I heard the sad news of a friend who died from cardiac arrest. The week before, it was another friend’s mum. She died from stroke. Last month, it was a business partner. Same heart attack! Most surprising, to me, is the increasing number of friends, some as young as myself, diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Back in the day, our grandparents lived quite longer. They usually died ‘natural’ deaths... not a sudden pain in the chest or some stroke. Diet-related diseases were very rare then. Heart-related diseases were almost unknown. I must admit the trend of lifestyle has changed over the years but one thing that has changed most is our lack of knowledge in the potency of some naturally occurring medicines.

Today, we resort to chemical drugs at the least opportunity. Most people have become self-ordained pharmacists who run to the pharmacy to order whatever they want without any test or professional evaluation. We have thrown herbal medicine into the bin as a preserve of the illiterate. Like really?

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are one of the top causes of death in Africa and, of course, the number one cause of death globally. CVDs include diseases such as coronary cerebrovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, stroke and all the heart diseases. In a 2009 research by CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) in collaboration with Ghana Health Service and Ghana AIDS Commission, it was revealed that stroke was the fourth of the top causes of death in Ghana while ischemic heart diseases followed closely at six. In other words, it is likely for more people to die from CVDs than any other disease.

It is in this light that many have resorted to chemically-made drugs to treat such complications. The low and/or middle income-earning Ghanaian is often the victim because he/she can’t afford regular checkups and intensive primary healthcare to detect or avoid such cardiovascular diseases. The diets of such earners often expose them to heart diseases.

Most of these drugs of CVDs are chemically made. However, there are plant-based sources which serve as a remedy to such diseases. There’s a magic leaf nature has given mankind. This leaf is called olive leaf! I stumbled upon olive leaves and I am surprised of its potency and efficacy on supporting good health. I asked myself, “how come the benefits of olive oil are commonly known while the much more powerful leaves are hardly mentioned in most popular searches as a remedy for most conditions?”

Most educated/professionals would frown at the mention of natural/herbal medicine. I can understand the concern of many when it comes to herbal/natural remedies; production, environment, scientific research and all.

Now, let’s look at the history of the use of olive leaves.

The olive leaf has been in use medicinally as far back as the 1800s in ancient Egypt. It has a plethora of health benefits. It was made into tea as treatment for malaria, hypertension, cholesterol-related diseases and diabetes in ancient Egypt. It was also used as a medicine to resist viral and bacterial infections. It has antiseptic properties. Later in 1962, it was found to dilate blood vessels so blood could flow more easily. Now the science:

Around the world, research papers showing the potential health benefits of olive leaf extract are being widely published in respected journals and publications.

Based on several published research papers on Olive Leaf Extract, here is a list of summarized benefits:

• Cardiovascular Support - May help to support cardiovascular health – this is supported by research in published in in the European Journal of Nutrition (1).

• Blood Sugar Support - May help maintain of normal blood glucose balance in healthy individuals – published in the peer-reviewed journal PLosOne conducted by The Liggins Research at the University of Auckland.

• High Antioxidants Support – Olive leaf has demonstrated high antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Olive Leaf Extract is also traditionally used in Western herbal medicine for the symptom relief of the common cold, sore throats, coughs, immune support and used as a high-strength antioxidant.

It was especially found to increase blood flow in coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmia and prevent intestinal muscle spasms. This ability, particularly, helps to make it an anti-CVD remedy.

Particularly as a naturally powerful antioxidant, olive leaf extract protects blood vessels from damage and has been shown to be effective in protecting the heart from coronary occlusion. An antioxidant, as the name implies, simply is against oxidation. It prevents oxidation, thus, from occurring in the cells. Oxidation occurs in the cells when we breathe in. If an apple, for instance, is sliced and left for a while, it begins to discolor. That’s oxidation; exactly what happens in our cells. These oxidative processes are responsible for most human pathologies.

When olive is taken over an extended period of time consistently, it is observed to reverse arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a disease of the arteries where cholesterol deposits a solid mass (called plaque) into the inner surface of the arteries, thus, obstructing blood flow. This leads to many other heart-related diseases.

Clinical studies have shown significantly improved health in CVDs patients after taking olive leaf extracts. Patients have testified relief from hypertension, diabetes, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitation, numbness and burning sensation in feet, hands and joints, constipation, heartburn, menstrual pain, menstrual disorders, frequent headache and more. With little or no side effects, olive leaf extract stands out among the rest because it is a naturally occurring powerful antioxidant compared to others which have been chemically synthesized.

If nature has given us natural olive leaves as a remedy to CVDs and a host of other diseases, why opt for something else? If you want to give a magical boost to your health, olive leaves are your best option.

I wish my friend knew about olive leaves earlier. He would have been alive to read this. My quest for potent, effective natural remedies has just begun. Look out for more…