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Olive leaf has been promoted by homeopathic remedy practitioner to treat a wide range of ailments because it is believed to act strongly against illness-causing bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and retroviruses. Olive leaf side effects may include flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, and diarrhea. Most practitioners believe that these side effects are simply the body’s way of detoxifying itself, however, and that olive leaf is safe, if used properly.
Users often complain that one of the main side effects of olive leaf is the die-off effect, also called a Herxheimer reaction. A Herxheimer reaction occurs when a large number of toxins are suddenly released into the body, typically because the bacteria have been killed or “die-off” due to the use of a substance, such as olive leaf, or a drug, such as antibiotics. Generally, when the bacteria die and release their toxins, the body cannot work fast enough to remove them. As a result, people may feel flu-like symptoms or other ailments, such as fever, headaches, muscle pains, and chills.
Most practitioners claim that the symptoms of a Herxheimer reaction should not be considered side effects, but a detoxification process. The severity and duration of the symptoms vary from individual to individual. Some people experience severe effects, others may not experience any symptoms of the detoxification process at all. Typically, the more severe the infection is inside the body, the longer the detoxification process will take. If the process takes a few days, the individual will feel the symptoms for several days as well.
In most cases, homeopathic medicine practitioners may be able to help an individual reduce the severity of the olive leaf side effects. For example, she may recommend that the individual stop using the remedy for a short time or she may reduce the dosage. As a result, the practitioner may hope that the body will process the toxins and then lessen the symptoms. After the individual feels better, she may be encouraged to resume or increase the dosage. Occasionally, a practitioner may recommend vitamin C tablets for people who have an exceptionally strong die-off reaction.
A few studies have been done on olive leaf, but there were no reported side effects. As with any herbal remedy, an experienced practitioner or medical provider should be consulted before using this remedy. In addition, it is best to follow dosage instructions, even if higher doses do not lead adverse reactions.