Monday, 12 November 2012

Olive leaf extract


I discovered a new health hazard yesterday while walking the dog - olive tree-bashing poles. Sundays are a popular day for heading out to ancestral olive groves and whole families pile into cars and trucks, sticking their 4 meter long poles out of the windows. The drivers then bomb along the village tracks forgetting they have a lethal weapon projecting sideways. After narrowly avoiding being swatted, we took to walking in the fields.  
I've already processed one jar of windfall olives and we're eating them now, another bucketful of green olives is brewing in the kitchen, the rest will hopefully stay on the trees another month until they turn black. Olives trees only fruit every second season and we don't have many producing trees this year so I've turned my attention to the leaves. In the early 20th century, a bitter compound called oleuropein was discovered in olive leaves and in the past 20 years this substance has undergone considerable research. Initial results show positive results in boosting the immune system against both viral and bacterial attack, promoting increased energy levels, strengthening the cardiovascular system and helping ease aching muscles. As the winter cold and flu season is approaching I've decided to try a bit of self medication and produce my own olive leaf extract. The easiest method is to collect a handful of leaves from trees that haven't been sprayed, chop and infuse in almost boiled water for 5 minutes, strain and drink. The leaves can also be dried and made into tea. I admit it's not a very pleasant taste, but it improved with a teaspoon of honey. The second way is to steep the leaves in alcohol or glycerine. I popped a few handuls of leaves into a blender then pushed them into a clean glass bottle and filled it up with vodka. I'm turning it every day and keeping it in a dark place and after 6 weeks I should have my tincture. Half a teaspoon morning and night seems to be the recommended dose, although tests at over 100 times this amount showed no harmful effects - (maybe not from the olve leaf - but the hangover from the vodka wouldn't be too pleasant). If I can avoid being knocked out by a passing olive pole, I'm hoping to have a healthy winter. 



29 comments:

  1. Hello:
    We had no idea that walking among the olive groves could prove to be such a very dangerous and hazardous occupation. Your infusion of olive leaves sounds most interesting although clearly, as you say, rather bitter to the taste.

    We await reports on that steeped in vodka!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should take before and after photos to see if olive leaf tincture will rejuvenate me.

      Delete
  2. Interesting idea! I've had some of my Midwest friends also make tinctures with echinacea and vodka for the cold season. Sounds like a similar process. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to take echinacea in the UK. I love the flowers so would like to try growing some and making this tincture too.

      Delete
  3. Excellent idea. I'm off to pick some leaves now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Make sure they haven't had any chemicals sprayed on them.

      Delete
  4. Wow! This is fascinating. Next time I'm in that area, I'm going to grab some. And some day I'd love to go on a walk with you and the dog! It always sounds exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be very welcome - bring a crash helmet.

      Delete
  5. I love olives and olive oil, so benefitting from the leaves too sounds like an excellent idea. I shall look forward to sampling reports with keen interest. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly, the oleuropein isn't found in the olives.

      Delete
  6. There seem to be so many olives on the trees around here that we didn't realise they only fruit every second season. I'd love to try the thing with the leaves but have no idea which of the trees have been sprayed... And everything round here gets sprayed by the mosquito truck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With clever grafting - you can get one half of a tree to fruit one year and the other half the next year.

      Delete
  7. Most interesting, Annie. I'd been discussing with a friend the benefits of olive leaves and how you can make tea with them...I like the idea of a tincture too. We shall give it a go!
    I always smile when you or Ayak talk about the habits of the locals, as it sounds so similar to this part of the world too. The bashing hasn't started yet but there are an ominous and increasing number of tractors around. It's a sign!
    Axxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't see so many tractors, but lots of minibuses and cars parked in the middle of fields.

      Delete
  8. How's John's tree doing? Did it fruit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just one olive this year - but the tree is growing so hoping for a good harvest next year. I'll bottle them for you.

      Delete
    2. Just one little olive? How sweet! We'll take some off your hands next year.

      Delete
  9. Oh this sounds like a great healthy justification for the evening martini that we so like. We're waiting with bated breath for the report!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The vodka turns a deep sludge green so start inventing names for the cocktail.

      Delete
  10. I didn't know that going to pick olives was a dangerous walk to get to them :-) The remedy does sound interesting, if I remember my in/laws were doing something I think similar....sounds interesting.
    When I was growing up our Italian neighbour had an olive tree in the back, he would bend the tree in the fall and cover it up with boards from the snow....so next spring it stood up straight as an arrow. If I knew then I would have climbed over the fence pulled some leaves off and made a remedy for flu season. Rather then taking a flu shot (which had a recall this year again here).
    Thank you for sharing your post....I learned something new about olives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We get cold temps in the winter but rarely snow so the olive trees don't need covering.

      Delete
  11. Very interesting post, BtoB! I too didn't know that the trees only produced fruit every two years. Well well. And your special tincture is definitely reporting (to us!) on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are lots of reports on the web. It makes interesting reading for those of us with plenty of olive leaves in the garden.

      Delete
  12. I love the idea of booting your own from windfalls. We used to make chutney from windfall mangoes up In North Queensland. It tastes so good when it is your own!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mangoes ! Ah , I wish we could grow them here.

      Delete
  13. Many years ago--in 1958--a friend wrote to say, "Isn't it wonderful that now that we've graduated from a Catholic college we know all we ever need to know?" At the time, I thought, "How true."

    Of course, it only took me five minutes to see that I didn't know much of anything. I looked at the paper and realized that I was so ignorant of the world.

    And now you teach me something new about olives and olive leaves. Ah, the wonder of continuing to learn as we age. What a gift! Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life time learning - I wish I could remember all those facts I stored away 30 years ago.

      Delete
  14. Well you've told us something there. Thanks. We're always on the lookout for remedies for the winter months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a nice easy to prepare remedy and cheap if you make the tea rather than the tincture.

      Delete