` An International Society for Oleocanthal

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An International Society for Oleocanthal

Jun. 11, 2015
By Athan Gadanidis

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On May 30 – 31 on the island of Zakyn­thos in Greece a group of inter­na­tional olive oil experts from the world of sci­ence, acad­e­mia, gas­tron­omy and media gath­ered for a con­fer­ence to estab­lish the non-profit Oleo­can­thal Inter­na­tional Soci­ety (OIS).

OIS is the brain­child of retired physi­cian Jose Anto­nio Amerigo from Spain who has ded­i­cated his time to pro­mot­ing pre­ven­ta­tive med­i­cine through nutri­tion as the best way to cure” dis­ease.

My ini­tial moti­va­tion was to pro­mote the health ben­e­fits derived from Picual and Cor­ni­cabra, the two main vari­etals of olive trees found in the Jaén and La Man­cha areas. They are both very rich in health-pro­mot­ing phe­no­lic com­pounds such as oleo­can­thal,” Amerigo said.

Last year I cre­ated the Oleo­can­thal Soci­ety of Andalu­sia for this pur­pose and invited Gary Beauchamp to our inau­gural event where we met for the first time,” Amerigo con­tin­ued. OIS, how­ever, is a dis­tinct and sep­a­rate inter­na­tional mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary soci­ety with mem­bers with diverse inter­ests in the field of research, gas­tron­omy, and media. Our goal is to expand inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion and infor­ma­tion exchange in the field of olive research. It is vital that we encour­age the proper use of high phe­no­lic olive prod­ucts in our daily diet. OIS mis­sion is to encour­age sci­en­tific research and dis­sem­i­nate the results to the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity while mak­ing the health pro­mot­ing aspects acces­si­ble to the gen­eral pub­lic, via a web­site, press releases, spe­cial events, videos and pod­casts.”

Found­ing mem­bers of OIS are from Spain, Greece, and the United States. Experts from Italy, Aus­tralia, France, Tunisia, Croa­tia, and Por­tu­gal have expressed inter­est in join­ing, and it is expected the OIS will expand rapidly to include rep­re­sen­ta­tives from those coun­tries and oth­ers.

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Proko­pios Magiatis and Eleni Mel­liou were invited to become mem­bers due to their exten­sive back­ground in olive oil research and their dis­cov­ery of the Nuclear Mag­netic Res­o­nance (NMR), method of accu­rately mea­sur­ing indi­vid­ual phe­no­lic com­pounds. I asked Magiatis why Zakyn­thos was cho­sen for this event: We decided to con­duct our first meet­ing to estab­lish OIS in Zakyn­thos Island sit­u­ated in the Ion­ian Sea in Greece as an acknowl­edge­ment of the vibrant his­tory of the olive tree and its cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance to the ancient Hel­lenic cul­ture and Mediter­ranean civ­i­liza­tions. We also dis­cov­ered some very high phe­no­lic olive oils here in the Ion­ian islands of Zakyn­thos and Corfu. We are very happy to col­lab­o­rate with such a diverse group of sci­en­tists and experts to fur­ther our research and enhance our abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate our find­ings to the pub­lic.”

Paul Bres­lin recently made head­lines with his suc­cess in using oleo­can­thal to kill can­cer cells in a Petri dish. He flew in from Boston to par­tic­i­pate because he sees OIS as a very pos­i­tive devel­op­ment. I hope the OIS will suc­ceed in access­ing more funds that are needed to help us con­tinue to study the spe­cific health ben­e­fits of oleo­can­thal and other com­pounds found in EVOO. All indi­ca­tions are very pos­i­tive for the over­all health ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing olive oil. The spe­cific con­tri­bu­tion of each phe­no­lic com­pound found in EVOO in pre­vent­ing or even heal­ing dis­ease requires a great deal more research. At present, we have dis­cov­ered that oleo­can­thal has anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties, inter­feres with amy­loid form­ing Alzheimer’s plaques and can kill cer­tain can­cer­ous cells in a petri dish with­out harm­ing healthy cells. Beyond the head­lines and the enthu­si­asm this research has gen­er­ated we need to con­duct ani­mal stud­ies and even­tu­ally human tri­als. This requires research funds that we do not have right now. This is why I have decided to be a part of OIS.” Bres­lin is a pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Nutri­tional Sci­ences, Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity and a mem­ber of the Mon­ell Chem­i­cal Senses Cen­ter.

Gary Beauchamp, the man who dis­cov­ered the anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties of oleo­can­thal, is another enthu­si­as­tic mem­ber of OIS and he gave an overview of why OIS is a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment: Ever since our dis­cov­ery of the anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties of oleo­can­thal ten years ago, research has been slow to exam­ine its spe­cific health ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­larly using in vivo meth­ods with ani­mal mod­els and human clin­i­cal tri­als. We also have not been able to con­duct proper uti­liza­tion and tox­i­col­ogy stud­ies using pure com­pounds. Bot­tle­necks have been a lack of suf­fi­cient mate­r­ial to con­duct these stud­ies, val­i­dated meth­ods to mea­sure oleo­can­thal and related com­pounds in oils and other olive con­stituents, and suf­fi­cient funds to make this needed research pos­si­ble. With this new soci­ety, we will now be able to build on recent excit­ing progress in these areas. My hope is that inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion, now dri­ven strongly by OIS, will pro­mote pro­grams that will doc­u­ment the pos­i­tive phys­i­o­log­i­cal effects of oleo­can­thal and related com­pounds thereby enhanc­ing human health.” Beauchamp, is a Dis­tin­guished Mem­ber and Emer­i­tus direc­tor and pres­i­dent of the Mon­ell Chem­i­cal Senses Cen­ter in Philadel­phia

For Li Li Ji, the direc­tor of Kine­si­ol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota and a pro­fes­sor and direc­tor for the Lab­o­ra­tory of Phys­i­o­log­i­cal Hygiene and Exer­cise Sci­ence, the inter­est in becom­ing a mem­ber of OIS stems from his exten­sive research on how proper diet and exer­cise can pre­vent many dis­eases. We are also look­ing at cer­tain food’s poten­tial to alle­vi­ate symp­toms or even cure dis­ease. Oleo­can­thal is one of many such com­pounds found in high-qual­ity olive oil.” He added.

The aspect of gas­tron­omy is also another key ele­ment in the OIS plat­form and another way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the ben­e­fits of phe­no­lic com­pounds found in EVOO. Chef Danny Gar­cia Peinado, from Benalmá­dena, Málaga is excited to be on the cut­ting edge olive research and looks for­ward to trans­lat­ing the sci­ence into spe­cially designed recipes: I have a pas­sion for mak­ing recipes using extra vir­gin olive oil with com­plex fla­vor char­ac­ter­is­tics. I exper­i­ment con­stantly with fla­vor com­bi­na­tions. I am eager to learn more about the spe­cific health pro­mot­ing com­pounds like oleo­can­thal found in extra vir­gin olive oil and cre­ate spe­cific recipes for these unique high phe­no­lic olive oils.”

This reporter was asked to attend this event in Zakyn­thos and I accepted think­ing it would be a mini hol­i­day. I had not vis­ited the island in 40 years and after attend­ing the con­fer­ence I was expect­ing to have free time to enjoy the famous beaches of Zakyn­thos. To my sur­prise I was invited to become a mem­ber of OIS which meant I spent most of my time in meet­ings over pol­icy and plan­ning. All mem­bers of OIS par­tic­i­pate on a vol­un­teer basis. How­ever mem­ber­ship does offer me more access to lead­ing fig­ures in olive research and I hope to gain more knowl­edge and under­stand­ing on the com­plex rela­tion­ship between olive oil and health and be in a bet­ter posi­tion to write about it. I will be report­ing this unfold­ing story from the inside.

My hol­i­day plans did not mate­ri­al­ize as I expected but we did have a won­der­ful lunch spon­sored by ECO Zakyn­thos pre­pared by owner Dim­itri Eleft­he­rios and his fam­ily and a very mem­o­rable late din­ner among the olive trees at the Eleon Grand Resort and Spa.

Terens Quick, the deputy Min­is­ter of State, was able to attend part of the din­ner hav­ing missed the con­fer­ence ear­lier in the day due to press­ing gov­ern­ment busi­ness. He expressed his sup­port for OIS and was pleased to see so many world-renowned sci­en­tists and experts present and will­ing to donate their valu­able time to expand­ing research and aware­ness on the health ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing EVOO. The OIS con­fer­ence choice of loca­tion in Zakyn­thos was espe­cially appre­ci­ated dur­ing this cru­cial time for the Greek econ­omy.

OIS wished to thank the spon­sors who sup­ported the con­fer­ence: The Region of Ion­ian Islands; the regional gov­er­nor Theodoros Gali­at­satos and the vice gov­er­nor, Eleuthe­rios Niotopou­los; Local politi­cian Gior­gis Sigouros; the pres­i­dent of the Agri­cul­tural Coop­er­a­tives Union of Zakyn­thos, Anto­nis Antio­hos; ECO Zakyn­thos; Dim­itris The­ri­anos owner of The­ri­anos organic EVOO; Spy­ros Daf­nis, owner of The Gov­er­nor; Hotel Zante Maris and Eleon Grand Resort and Spa.

The next meet­ing of the Oleo­can­thal Inter­na­tional Soci­ety is sched­uled to be held in Octo­ber in Spain.


The 13 found­ing mem­bers of the Oleo­can­thal Inter­na­tional Soci­ety

Jose Anto­nio Amerigo (Spain)
Paul Bres­lin (USA)
Gary Beauchamp (USA)
Proko­pios Magiatis (Greece)
Eleni Mel­liou (Greece)
Manuel Brenes Bal­buena (Spain)
Li Li Ji (USA)
Feli­ciano Priego Capote (Spain)
Maria Dolores Luque de Cas­tro (Spain)
Danny Gar­cia Peinado (Spain)
Mau­reen Ann O’Leary (USA)
Clara Isabel Vil­lanueva Gar­cia (Spain)
Athan Gadani­dis (Greece)

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