If you've lifted weights intensively for years and years, you sometimes have to pay the price in the form of creaking, stiff and sometimes even painful joints. The cartilage in your joints becomes worn. A Chinese animal study suggests that supplements with Olive Leaf Extract can help damaged cartilage to heal more quickly.
Olive Leaf Extract contains phenols such as hydroxytyrosol [formula 1 in the figure below], oleuropein [formula 2] and oleocanthal [formula 3]. Thanks to those compounds, Olive Leaf Extract inhibits osteoarthritis.
The theory is that the phenols in Olive Leaf Extract – especially hydroxytyrosol – curb inflammations and inhibit the catabolism of tissue in joints. Researchers at Dalian Medical University in China and the Japanese Eisai Food & Chemical thus wondered if Olive Leaf Extract supplements could help to repair cartilage damaged mechanically rather than by an illness.
The researchers did an experiment with rabbits. They anaesthetised the animals and drilled holes in the cartilage of the elbow joints. After they had let the rabbits recuperate for three weeks, the researchers checked to see how well the cartilage had healed.
Half of the rabbits were given 500 mg of Olive Leaf Extract per kg of body weight daily; 22% of this extract consisted of hydroxytyrosol. [The human equivalent of that dose is 12 grams, which is absurdly high. If you take 12 grams of olive extract, you'll definitely become ill.]
The other half of the rabbits didn't get anything.
The researchers expressed the process of healing in percentages. Sixty percent of the cartilage in the control group was restored as compared with 80 percent in the Olive Leaf Extract group.
"From the results of the present experiment, we can conclude that Olive Leaf Extract facilitates healing of mechanical injuries of cartilage", the researchers wrote. "We speculate that Olive Leaf Extract may be useful for the prevention or restoration of injured articular cartilage."
If less extreme doses of Olive Leaf Extract also work, this could be the case.
J Med Food. 2011 Mar;14(3):268-75.