The Many Wonders of Olives and Olive Oil
By Julie Butler
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Perth
What do a heart disease treatment, an anti-viral agent, croissants, a fuel additive, sausage and soap all have in common?
As you’ll soon see, they all capitalize on the versatile and powerful properties of the natural compounds found in olives and olive oil.
The compounds have long been key ingredients in natural remedies and are now harnessed in modern health treatments. But Olive Oil Times wanted to find out some of the newest ideas for applying the benefits of olives and olive oil.
Our search of patent applications revealed a range of inventions, underscoring yet again that this is far from your typical fruit.
Which of these applications would you be most likely to try?
From Spain comes the invention of a new family of compounds – derived from the olive oil antioxidant hydroxytyrosol – said to be effective for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other eating disorders.
According to the application, these hydroxytyrosol ethers can modulate the activity of the receptor CB1 – key in appetite control – “inducing satiety, controlling intake and reducing body fat.”
They can also prevent and treat the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein – linked with hardening of the arteries – it says.
The olive extract hydroxytyrosol also features in new compositions for the treatment and prevention of inflammatory disorders, one of the biggest health problem in the world, according to the patent application.
While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories(NSAIDs) are among the most used drugs used to treat such disorders, their long-term use can have big side-effects. And the biological impact of alternative, ‘natural’ compounds is often inadequate, it says.
“Surprisingly, it has been found, however, that a combination of hydroxytyrosol and chondroitin synergistically enhances anti-inflammatory activity, collagen formation and cartilage build-up and repair.”
It may be especially useful in treating and preventing inflammatory disorders, such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, skin inflammation, and skin aging, the application claims.
A Japanese invention also uses hydroxytyrosol, this time as the active ingredient in what is described as a new antiviral agent.
According to the application, it’s an anti-influenza virus agent that also has an effect on bird flu, yet is highly safe for humans and animals to take.
Hydroxytyrosol is found in various parts of the olive tree, including the olive fruit, leaves, stems and roots.
And a new nasal spray uses the olive extract hydroxytyrosol – this time combined with the hop extract xanthohumol – for the prevention and treatment of colds , the application states.
The intake of probiotics stimulates the growth of beneficial microorganisms, reduces the amount of pathogens and strengthens the body’s natural defences. But many probiotic products are dairy-based, which is a problem for those with lactose intolerance.
From Italy, however, comes an invention for probiotic-enriched table olives said to be “an effective means to treat or prevent intestinal disorders or restore the intestinal flora after antibiotic therapy“ and that can also be consumed by the lactose-intolerant.
Among the advantages claimed are the possibility of incorporating helpful bifidobacteria microorganisms which struggle to thrive in fermented milk products.
Olive oil is also crucial in a new treatment for herpes-related illnesses.
The commonly used antiviral drug aciclovir is not very water soluble and has poor oral bioavailability but Spanish inventors say their pharmaceutical composition combining the drug with olive oil and a solubilizing agent makes possible topical treatments such as gels and creams that provide better drug delivery and more effective treatment.
Another application uses olive extracts comprising hydroxytyrosol to protect muscles during exercise, promote recovery from injuries, and relieve muscle soreness.
The olive extracts can decrease post-exercise lactic acid build-up and increase levels of glutathione. This means that they activate the body’s own anti-oxidant mechanisms, as well as acting as an anti-oxidant on their own, it says.
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This article was last updated October 23, 2012 - 9:15 PM (GMT-5)