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Olive Tree: Symbol of Peace and Healing

Olive Tree: Symbol of Peace and Healing
Olives
The olive's fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance as the source of olive oil. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, Forsythia and the true ash trees (Fraxinus).

In Ancient Egypt, the odor of the olive was utilized in rituals for its ability to bring together many different peoples, beliefs and values.

Later, Prophet Nuh (Noah) made it famous as a symbol of peace and unity (Gurudas p.183).

“Allah is the Light of the heavens, and the earth; a lamp, the lamp is in a glass, (and) the glass is as it were a brightly shining star, lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern or western, the oil whereof almost gives light though fire touch it not – light upon light…” (Surat An-Nur 24:35).

Although the olive tree has many different meanings, it does have a common origin. Syrian and Palestinian olives spread to the Mediterranean Basin approximately 5,000 years ago (Oliveoilnews, p.1). Also called “the oldest cultivated tree”, the olive tree has served as food, fuel and medicine.

Soap produced in Nablus and Jaffa, was made from unadulterated olive oil up until the early 20th century. This provided the most important manufactured product for Palestinian export (Passia, p.1).

In 2001, when the Zionist entity uprooted half-a-million trees, mainly olive trees (Jad p.35), the tree become the most important fruit crop for the Zionist entity – with 200,000 dunums growing on the hills of Galilee (Glazier, p.1).

However, the value of the olive tree extends beyond that of a food crop. Since the time of Adam, the olive has been said to represent those seeking God through science in vibrational herbal medicine. The energy of olive oil, in fact, is said to be accentuated when applied through massage. Even the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) recommended massage and acupressure using olive oil (Gurudas, p. 183).

However, olive oils therapeutic and medicinal benefits are not only external. Olive oil is also a popular laxative for children as it removes stony deposits from the bile as well as intestinal worms. Rheumatic and skin conditions have also been reduced by the use of olive oil. When rubbed gently on the gums of teething children, by absorption, olive oil keeps the bowels functional (Kadans, p.159).

Research by doctors at Oxford University in England found that olive oil also reacts with stomach acids, helping to prevent the onset of bowel and rectal cancers. Dr. Michael Goldacre and his team studied bowel cancer rates in 28 countries. They found that those who ate a lot of meat and fish as opposed to vegetables and cereals were more at risk.

Where diets were rich in olive oil the risk was reduced despite the diet. High meat consumption increases bile and deoxycyclic acid, which reduces the activity of the enzyme diamine oxidase, DAO. This enzyme regulates cell turnover in the bowel lining. The oil reduces the amount of bile acid and increased DAO levels, decreasing abnormal cell growth. Every year, 800,000 Britons die from bowel and rectal cancers (BBC, p.1-4).

Spanish physicians also use olive oil as an internal medicine. They once prescribed olive leaves as a febrifuge. Consequently, during the Spanish war of 1808 – 1813, French officers used them to treat cases of intermittent fever.

In 1854 the Pharmaceutical Journal of Provincial Transactions reported olive oil to be more effective than quinine (Jackson, p.1-2).

It was in 1960 that Panizzi isolated the bitter glucoside oleuropein from the olive leaf, the source of the olives powerful disease resistant properties. As an anti-bacterial, oleuropein eliminates lactic acid, staphylococcus aureus (food – poisoning) and others. Elenolic acid, a by-product of oleuropein hydrolysis, also inhibits some viruses.

In 1969, in search of new antiviral compounds, H. Renis isolated from oleuropein, the salt calcium elenolate. In experiments, calcium elenolate destroyed all the viruses tested: herpes vaccina, pseudorabies, influenza A, Newcastle disease, parainfluenza 3, encephalomyocardis, polio 1,2,3, vesicular stomatitis; and it prevented the spread of viral infections of the lungs (Jackson, p.2).

The Upjohn Company of Michigan carried-out most of the work on the properties of calcium elenolate in the 1960s and 1970s – but discovered a problem.

Calcium elenolate has a strong affinity for plasma proteins, probably because it is isolated from the balancing source. In bonding with plasma proteins, calcium elenolate makes the proteins inactive within minutes.

A breakthrough in 1994 made certain changes to the active molecule a closely guarded and patented secret. Researchers found that they could significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the binding of calcium elenolate.

Brand-named “Eden Extract”, it is an olive leaf extract obtained through a hydro-ethanol process. Sold legally, it remains unproven and is therefore reliant on marketing. It is known to kill large quantities of infecting organisms within a short time span. However, extracting a substance from the olive oil and marketing it is not without side effects.

The effect of the elenolate extract causes a large release of toxic substances into the bodily tissues and blood stream from the dying organisms and cellular debris, hence the immune system reacts. There is an allergic reaction that transpires as flu-like symptoms, headaches, fever, fatigue, muscle-joint aches and diarrhea (Jackson, p.3).

Olive oil, however, as well as being a healer, is also considered a highly nutritional food. Olives also contain Vitamin K, essential in the synthesis of anticoagulant proteins C and S. Vitamin K deficiency, though rare, is related to the placental transfer of drugs like carbamzepine, phenytoin, rifarpin and warfarin which inhibit vitamin K activity (Buck, p.1-3).

Real olive oil also contains many other known vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants (Radstrom, p.1). The content includes 55.5% oleic acid, 0.9% linoleic acid, a polyunsaturate that lowers cholesterol and reduces platelet aggregation and linoleic acid at 0-1.5% (oliveoilsource, p.1-3).

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 and linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid. These essential fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the brain and are essential to normal nerve impulse transmission and brain function. They prevent oxidation, promote energy production, transfer of oxygen from the air to the bloodstream, cell growth and division and the manufacture of hemoglobin (Bodydoctor p.8).

Antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals that produce lipid peroxides, which kill cells. They reduce oxidation of cholesterol, prevent heart disease and lengthen shelf life (Radstrom, p.1). This is why olive oil is used as a natural preservative in things like tinned sardines.

The rich antioxidant content and healing power of olive oil, however, varies according to the maturation, variety and the growing condition of the tree. The higher the acidity, the lower the viability of the oil.

In the markets of developed countries one can find extra virgin olive oil – the genuine oil from the first cold press without refinement. It is extracted by pressure, without changing the properties. It is the richest and fruitiest – with an acidity of 1%.

The milder virgin olive oil is from the first pressing, but has an acidity of 1-2%.Olive oil is blended refined oil with 1-15% extra virgin olive oil. It is a product of refined industrially produced lower-grade oils. Pure olive oil has an acidity of 1.5% and is a blend of olive and Pomace oil.

Refined olive oil is extracted through cold press but doesn’t conform to International Oleic Council’s standards. Refined to change the taste and to lower the acidity to 0.3% it contains 10% extra virgin olive oil. It has low nutritional value and has no antioxidants. Pomace oil, is a mixture of refined olive oil cake and virgin olive oil with an acidity of 1.5%.

“Light” and “Extra Light” olive oil has the same calories as regular olive oil. This “lightness” has to do with the color, fragrance and flavor, achieved by filtration and a refining process. A cocktail of refined olive oils, canola and hazelnut, it is of the lowest quality obtained through a chemical process (Eliki, p. 1-2).

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.

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About Madiha Sadaf

Madiha Sadaf in an undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa, enrolled in BSc. with Major in Biology and Psychology with Minor in Health Social Sciences.

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