Olive is an evergreen tree that grows to lofty heights of approximately 30 feet or 10 meters. The tree has intensely rigged and gray colored trunk, while the leaves are small and leathery or swarthy in appearance. The olive bears flowers that are greenish white in color and blossom in bunch. On the other hand, the olive fruits are green when raw and turn black when ripe.
Going by the record, olive was perhaps first grown in Crete in approximately 3500 B.C. Significantly enough, the olive trees and several of their parts have symbolic connotations. While the branch of the olive tree stands for peace, winners of the ancient Olympic Games wore crowns made with olive leaves – that signify victory and honor. In addition, since time immemorial, herbalists have been using the olive leaves to clean as well as heal open wounds. The oil extracted from the olive tree is also used as a talisman in some religious ceremonies.
The olive leaves have multiple uses and are employed to treat several disorders. While the olive leaves are known to reduce blood pressure and also aid in enhancing the activity of the blood circulatory system. The leaves also possess moderate diuretic properties and hence are useful in increasing the urine outflow. Besides, they may also be used to cure conditions like cystitis or inflammation of the bladder. Herbalists also recommend the olive leaves for diabetes as they are known to possess properties to lower the intensity of blood sugar in the system. The oil extracted from the olive tree is rich in nutrients and also helps to develop the equilibrium of fats in the body. Conventionally, many physicians have been using a dose of one teaspoon of
olive oil mixed with fresh lemon juice to heal gallstones or stones and debris in the gall bladder. The oil is also known to have defensive properties and safeguards the digestive system. It is also beneficial for arid skin. When applied externally, the sticky olive oil is good as carrier oil for essential oils.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean region and grow in abundance in the wild there. In addition, olive trees are cultivated in a number of countries in the Mediterranean region as well as in region having parallel climatic conditions in both the Americas. Since the olive is a perennial tree, its leaves may be collected throughout the year, while the fruits are harvested at the end of September through the middle of November. The leaves collected from the olive trees growing in the wild are said to enclose higher intensity of the active elements of the plant.
The growth of the olive trees is very tardy, but they survive for longer periods too. Over the years, the trunks of the trees attain sizeable width and the trees up to a height of 10 to 15 meters. However, it is rare to find an olive tree 15 meters tall, as they are subjected to frequent trimmings with a view to restrict their measurements to specific limits. The wood of the olive trees that are firm as well as closely grained are also of great value to the carpenters. The normal yellow or pale greenish-brown wood of the olive trees are layered with a darker color to make it appear glossier.
The olive trees may be grown in different ways. However, the most common and preferred manner is through cuttings or layers which are planted in the soil. The olive tree gives out root effortlessly in approving loam and gives up sticky chumps from the spot where the base is chopped. It has been seen that the yields from the trees propagated from suckers or seeds are usually reduced and for them to perform better, they need to be sprouted or attached on top of other varieties. The best way to propagate olive trees is to cut branches of different width and chop them into approximately one meter in length and plant them deeply in soil mixed with manure. These small sticks will give out roots and shoots soon. Alternately, smaller pieces of the branches are placed horizontally in low furrows and then covered with some soil. These pieces of branches also quickly throw up shoots just like suckers. In Greece, people normally graft the cultivated tree growing on the wild form. On the other hand, in Italy people cautiously remove and plant the embryonic buds that form small swellings underneath the surface. These buds grow voluntarily and their buds soon give rise to enthusiastic shoots.
Sometimes, new or young olive trees are obtained by cutting larger branches of the mature tree. Moreover, the olive trees are also sometimes raised from the seeds. In this case, the oily pericarp or the part of the fruit that surrounds the seed is first made softer by rotting it a little or by soaking it in hot water. Alkaline solutions may also be used in place of hot water to smoothen the germination progress.
In places like Languedoc and Provence, where the olive trees are vigilantly cultivated, they are subjected to regular pruning as this process helps in safeguarding the flower-bearing shoots of the previous year. At the same time, the pruning helps to keep the tree low enough to enable collection of the fruits without much effort. On the other hand, the space or distance between two trees is fertilized at frequent intervals for higher yields. Normally, old trees yield vast harvest, but it has seldom been found to be the same in two successive years. It may be noted here that large harvests of olive fruits can normally be calculated once in every six or seven years.
Irrespective of the fact that it is arid or poor, any soil containing traits of calcium carbonate appears to be most suitable for the healthy growth of olive trees. It has been found that the olive trees will grow almost on most types of soil, including light soil or clay, if there is a proper drainage system. On the other hand, olive trees growing on such soils are more susceptible to diseases and the oil produced by these trees is inferior in quality when compared to that produced by trees growing on not as good or rocky earth.
Normally it has been seen that weather conditions where the temperature is less than 14°F (-10°C) many cause damage to the mature olive trees. However, barring the young trees, a temperature of approximately 16°F (-9°C) is considered to be conducive for the healthy growth of olive trees.
According to clinical experiments carried from time to time on olive leaves, it has been established that the substance helps in reducing blood pressure.
Egg yolk and olive oil face mask
This is another excellent face mask for dry skin type and the ingredients required to prepare this recipe include:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of olive oil
Whip both the ingredients collectively and apply the mixture evenly over your face avoiding the eyes and lips.
Sage cleanser lotion
Sage cleanser lotion is also effective for all types of skin. The ingredients required to prepare this herbal recipe include:
- 2 teaspoonfuls (30 ml) of sage infusion
- 1 teaspoonful (15 ml) of honey
- 1 teaspoonful (15 ml) of olive oil
- 2 drops of cider vinegar
To prepare this herbal cleansing lotion, blend the honey and oil and warm them. Next, add tepid sage infusion and cider vinegar and continue stirring the mixture well. Allow it to cool and apply it to your face to remove all dirt and make-up.
Olive oil cleanser
This herbal preparation is ideal for all skin types and its ingredients include:
- 1 teaspoonful (15 ml) of honey
- 2 teaspoonfuls (30 ml) of olive oil
Blend these two ingredients thoroughly and apply it to your face and allow it to remain for a while. Subsequently, wash off the cleanser using warm infusion prepared with either elderflower or chamomile.
Aloe vera cold cream
Use of aloe vera gives an appealing texture to this herbal cold cream, which has traditionally been used in the form of a cleansing as well as moisturizing agent. Although this 18th century herbal skin care recipe requires costly ingredients like the oil of rose, but you may well substitute it with rose water and olive oil, which are reasonably priced.
It may be noted that you may purchase water-less or anhydrous lanolin from specialty drugstores. In addition, you may purchase beeswax from shops selling sewing machines. Go for a preferred essential oil for aroma. While lavender or oil of rose will help to intensify the floral aroma of the cream, adding the oil of peppermint or eucalyptus will provide it with a revitalizing as well as healthful fragrance.
The ingredients required for preparing aloe vera cold cream include:
- 1 tablespoonful (15 ml) of aloe vera gel
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of white beeswax
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of rose water
- 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of anhydrous lanolin
- 2 to 3 drops of either lavender, rose, peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil
Make use of a whipping wire or a blender to mix up the aloe gel carefully into the essential oil. Keep the mixture away and thaw the beeswax along with the lanolin on the top of a double boiler (any utensil having two pots). Then, whisk the oil mixture slowly and take the saucepan away from the heat. Next, blend the essential oil and rose water. Continue to whip while the mixture cools down and becomes thick. Immediately prior to the mixture starting to solidify pour the blend into a jar and seal the lid firmly.