Most of you are familiar with olive oil from using it in your cooking or adding it to your horse’s diet; but did you know that the leaf of an olive tree has a long history of use as a medicinal herb?
The Olive tree is an evergreen that prefers warm, semi-tropical climates and often grows in rocky, dry soil. The trunk has a gnarled twisted appearance with an abundance of small, oblong, dark-green leaves, their undersides a silvery hue. The leaves can live up to three years before yellowing, reinforcing its reputation for longevity, with some trees living as long as 3000 years (although this type of longevity is extremely rare). The leaf, seed, fruit, and flower are all used as a food or medicine. The wood is highly prized, as it is strong and was at one time used for carving statues.
The ancient Greeks considered the olive tree sacred as well as a symbol of peace and prosperity. It was so revered that in the Olympic games the highest reward given was a crown or wreath made from an olive branch, known as kotinos. The olive is still known as a symbol of universal peace, and the olive’s leaves and branch even grace the UN flag.
Olive leaf, Olea Europaea, has a bitter taste and a cold and dry temperature. The leaves are considered a good source of antioxidants as well as being antibacterial, antiviral, febrifuge, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, and vasodilator.
Topically it has been studied for its benefit in MRSA infections, as it has antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Olive leaf is strongly antimicrobial topically and could be a beneficial addition to other herbs for MRSA infections or other infected wounds.
Internally, olive leaf is often included in herbal formulas for hypertension and atherosclerosis due to its vasodilating properties and mild calcium channel blocking. Traditionally, the leaves were boiled and the water taken to reduce fevers. For horses, the leaf is helpful for impaired circulation and mild metabolic issues, and has been known to improve insulin sensitivity when combined with other hypoglycemic herbs. The horse dosage for the ground leaf is ½ to 2 teaspoons, up to twice daily.
The oil of the olive seed is warming and is considered a mild laxative and demulcent. The oil has not only been used topically for stings, but also as a base oil for topical application of essential oils. The horse dosage for the oil can be up to 2 tablespoons, taken internally, for a laxative effect.
As a flower essence, olive is used for emotional and physical exhaustion, offering balance and strengthening of the deep inner well of support within. Consider using this essence after extended stressful situations, long illness, or for the rider who may be dealing with similar issues.
The sacred olive is a fascinating tree with a long history of supporting peace, longevity, prosperity, and healing.