I have just spend a blissful few days out in the Alpuharras of Andalucía (Southern Spain) although we are in winter now I found myself swimming in lakes, rivers, the sea and pools daily, basking like a lizard on rocks and exploring hidden gems in the beautiful mountains there.
The most prolific plant by far is the wondrous Olive Tree (Olea europaea) the hills n valleys are crisscrossed with literally millions of them. These trees are the oldest of all fruit trees and certainly are one of the most important fruit trees in history. Olive tree culture has been closely connected to the rise and fall of Mediterranean empires and other advanced civilizations throughout the ages.
In Greek mythology Athena, the Goddess of wisdom and peace, struck her magic spear into the Earth, and it turned into an olive tree, thus, the location where the olive tree appeared and grew was named Athens, Greece, in honor of the Goddess. The ancient Egyptians regarded the olive tree as a symbol of heavenly power, and in keeping with that belief, they extracted its oil and used it to mummify their kings. The first formal medical mention of the olive leaf - an account describing its ability to cure severe cases of fever and malaria, occurred In 1854, the Pharmaceutical Journal.
The leaves of olive trees are gray-green and are replaced at 2-3 year intervals during the spring after new growth appears. Pruning yearly and severely is very important to insure continued production. A wild, seedling olive tree normally begins to flower and produce fruit at the age of 8 years. Some olive trees are believed to be over a thousand years old, and most will live to the ripe old age of 500.
Olive trees can survive droughts and strong winds, and they grow well on well Olive trees are more resistant to diseases and insects than any other fruit tree and, therefore, are sprayed less than any other crop.
Scientists isolated a bitter substance from the leaf and named it oleuropein. It was found to be one ingredient in a compound produced by the olive tree that makes it particularly robust and resistant against insect and bacterial damage. Oleuropein is an irridoid, a structural class of chemical compounds found in plants often exhibiting a bitter flavour. It is present in olive oil, throughout the olive tree, and is, in fact, the bitter material that is eliminated from the olives when they are cured.
In 1962, an Italian researcher reported that oleuropein lowered blood pressure in animals. This triggered a flurry of scientific interest in the olive leaf.
Other European researchers confirmed this interesting finding. In addition, they found it could also increase blood flow in the coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmias, and prevent intestinal muscle spasms.
Olive leaf has many benefits as well as lowering fevers and supporting the cardio vascular system the medicine also works well as an anti- microbial. So ace at supporting the immune system in shaking off viruses and bacterial infections.
I learnt that one harvests the leaves from the young suckers that grow around the base of the tree. So I set off and collect a few to make my own Olive Leaf Tincture.
Olive leaf tincture recipe
1) Take the leaves chop finely, then place in a glass jar.
2) Cover with vodka.
3) Seal the glass, and let it sit in a dark place for a lunar cycle
4) Strain it out for use.