The olive leaf supplement is a relatively new arrival on the health scene, although its use as a herbal remedy has been known in countries like Greece for centuries. It can be taken as a capsule, as a tincture or in a tea. The best olive leaf supplement contains a significant amount of oleuropein, which is an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic.
Capsules contain powdered olive leaves, tinctures are extracted from the leaves, and teas are made using fresh leaves. Each form has its advantages and disadvantages. Capsules can contain either powdered olive leaves, powdered olive leaf extract or a mixture of the two. The former are a milder olive leaf supplement suitable for children, those suffering from mild health problems, or those wishing to follow a health maintenance program. They are also recommended for sufferers of chronic illnesses who need a gentle introduction to the supplement.
The best capsules contain no fillers and are often based on organic leaves. There are leaves that are better quality depending on the producer, but these capsules are usually more expensive. The better leaves are richer in the active ingredients, and the strength of the capsules depend on the weight of the leaves used. Capsules containing only olive leaf extract may contain the exact levels of oleuropein needed but may not contain the other important active ingredients in the olive leaf that support or enhance oleuropein.
The best olive leaf supplement in the form of the capsule is usually the mixture of dried leaf and the extract, as it contains both the desired level of oleuropein as well as the benefits of the whole leaf. It is also gentler on the stomach and, as the capsule is easier to fill, less filler is used. As capsules are swallowed, they are more active in the digestive tract, whereas tinctures are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream without losing the more volatile components.
Tinctures are the best olive leaf supplement to use in cases of viral and bacterial infections, as they are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream via the mucous membranes. Some volatile substances are lost during the drying process necessary in the preparation of capsules, but these are preserved in the cold extraction process used in the making of a tincture. There are no fillers or preservatives used, and a good quality tincture should last about five years. The bitter taste and higher cost may be off-putting for some, however.
Tea is probably the best olive leaf supplement, as its action is mild but all of the health benefits are there. The use of organic leaves is probably the better option, as no chemicals are used in their production. The leaves should be dried below 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius). All supplements should be checked for production, manufacturing processes, and active ingredients, especially oleuropein.