A recent study suggests that olive leaf extract may help lower blood pressure as effectively as the drug captopril (Capoten®).
Olive leaves come from the olive tree (Olea europae), which is native to the Mediterranean. While olives and olive oil are used as foods, olive leaf is primarily used medicinally or as a tea. In the Middle East, olive leaf tea has been used for centuries to treat high blood pressure, sore throat, coughs, fevers, cystitis and gout. Olive leaf poultices have also been applied to the skin to treat skin conditions, such as boils, rashes and warts.
In the recent trial, 232 patients with stage 1 high blood pressure were randomly divided into two groups of 116 subjects. Both groups were given dietary advice and instructed to follow a diet that was low in saturated, total fat, cholesterol and sodium (less than 2.4 grams per day) for four weeks. This single blind, placebo-only run-in period was conducted to screen out the patients who responded well to diet alone. Ninety patients in the olive group and 89 patients in the captopril group continued to the double blind, active-controlled portion of the study.
The first group received 500 milligrams of olive leaf extract (EFLA®943) twice daily for eight weeks. The second group started treatment with 12.5 milligrams of captopril twice daily for two weeks. Depending on how the participants responded to treatment, the dose either remained the same or was gradually increased up to 25 milligrams twice daily for the remaining six weeks.
Blood pressure was measured in the subjects before treatment and again every week until treatment ended. The researchers also recorded lipid levels every four weeks.
After eight weeks of treatment, blood pressure levels were significantly reduced in both groups. The improvements were similar between the olive leaf and captopril groups.
Additionally, the olive leaf group experienced significant reductions in triglyceride levels by the end of the study. No such improvements were noted in the captopril group.
The trial was funded by the manufacturers of EFLA®943 (Frutarom) and captopril (Dexa Medica).
More research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine a potential mechanism of action.
Susalit E, Agus N, Effendi I, Tjandrawinata RR, Nofiarny D, Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Verbruggen M., "Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: Comparison with Captopril." Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.