Health

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Olive Oil

Feb. 19, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) con­tains more than 36 phe­no­lic com­pounds. Although all of the phe­no­lic com­pounds in EVOO have known ben­e­fi­cial effects, one spe­cific com­pound in par­tic­u­lar, known as oleo­can­thal, has been dis­cov­ered to have pow­er­ful nat­ural anti-inflam­ma­tory ben­e­fits.

In fact, oleo­can­thal exhibits the same anti-inflam­ma­tory response in the body as NSAID ibupro­fen, acting down the exact same path­ways as a non-steroidal anti-inflam­ma­tory. Oleocanthal has been shown to stop the inflam­ma­tory cas­cade by inhibit­ing both cyclooxygenase‑1 (COX‑1) and cyclooxygenase‑2 (COX‑2) inflam­ma­tory enzymes in a dose-depen­dent manner.

See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits

Compared to NSAID ibupro­fen, its potency is less, at approx­i­mately 10 per­cent. However, unlike NSAIDs, which have many known side effects, olive oil is a nat­ural anti-inflam­ma­tory agent that can be safely con­sumed by anyone.

According to a study in the International Journal of Molecular Science, “The con­cen­tra­tion of oleo­can­thal con­tained in virgin olive oil ranges from 284 to 711 mg/kg.” And oleo­can­thal is unique only to olive oil. It is not found in any other veg­etable oils.

It has been well estab­lished in research that the patho­phys­i­ol­ogy of many dif­fer­ent dis­ease states such as cancer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, arthri­tis, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease, and others, are asso­ci­ated with low-grade chronic inflam­ma­tion in the body.

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Both in vivo and in-vitro research has reported that EVOO reduces the inflam­ma­tory response in the body, and there­fore, may reduce the patho­gen­e­sis and devel­op­ment of many of these chronic dis­eases. Again, oleo­can­thal has been attrib­uted to such results in many instances.

Some of the pow­er­ful nat­ural anti-inflam­ma­tory ben­e­fits of EVOO and oleo­can­thal reported in rela­tion to the con­di­tions men­tioned above, include:

  • Cancer — Oleocanthal has anti-pro­lific effects on breast and prostate cancer cell lines and pro­motes cancer cell death (apop­to­sis). It’s been shown to down reg­u­late COX‑2 expres­sion in colon cancer cells. EVOO has been shown to reduce tumor necro­sis factor alpha (TNF‑a) and COX‑2 in glioblas­toma cells, one of the most aggres­sive types of brain can­cers that fre­quently results in early death. And, stud­ies have also shown EVOO con­sump­tion reduces the risk of prostate, lung, larynx, ovary, breast, and colon can­cers.
  • Cardiovascular dis­ease — Among other ben­e­fits, EVOO has been shown to down reg­u­late inflam­ma­tory genes impli­cated in ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis. Change the status of oxida­tive stress, inflam­ma­tion, lipid per­ox­i­da­tion, and lipid pro­file in coro­nary artery dis­ease. And pre­vent a com­pound called trimethy­lamine N‑oxide (TMAO) that has been linked to higher risk for ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, heart attacks, heart fail­ure, and strokes.
  • Arthritis — Oleocanthal atten­u­ates inflam­ma­tory medi­a­tors that result in degen­er­a­tive joint dis­ease, acting on both local inflam­ma­tion in car­ti­lage and on the inflam­ma­tory cas­cade in syn­ovial cells, slow­ing down the inflam­ma­tory and degen­er­a­tion process. It’s also been shown to reduce arthritic pain by reduc­ing prostaglandin pro­duc­tion. And, the anti-inflam­ma­tory actions exert pow­er­ful effects on key immune cells known as macrophages, there­fore it is thought to be ben­e­fi­cial for osteoarthri­tis and rheuma­toid arthri­tis also.
  • Neurodegenerative dis­eases — Oleocanthal has been shown to pre­vent the devel­op­ment of lesions asso­ci­ated with Alzheimer’s dis­ease and has also been shown to reduce the for­ma­tion of beta-amy­loid senile plaques in the brain, which are thought to be involved in the ini­ti­a­tion of Alzheimer’s. The anti-inflam­ma­tory com­po­nents of EVOO have also been shown to scav­enge pes­ti­cide induced free rad­i­cals that con­tribute to neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In rela­tion to the nat­ural anti-inflam­ma­tory capac­ity of EVOO, the ben­e­fits reported here are just a small pro­por­tion of the what’s avail­able in the sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture. There are many more stud­ies show­ing pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tion for other health con­di­tions that have not been men­tioned.

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Although oleo­can­thal is the most strongly reported anti-inflam­ma­tory phe­no­lic com­pound, others have also been recorded. Oleuropein agly­cone inhibits the proin­flam­ma­tory mol­e­cule TNF‑a. Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to reduce TNF‑a and interleukin‑1 beta with promis­ing effects on other key proin­flam­ma­tory mol­e­cules. Tyrosol has been shown to inhibit COX‑2.

Interestingly, many of the stud­ies con­ducted show these anti-inflam­ma­tory effects to be in a dose-depen­dent manner, which presents a strong case that more EVOO con­sump­tion is ben­e­fi­cial for reduc­ing the inflam­ma­tory effects of many chronic and deadly dis­eases. Best of all, it’s a nat­ural, afford­able and safe alter­na­tive that can be included in an individual’s every­day dietary rou­tine.

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