Oleocanthal is one of the most important compounds in the extra virgin olive oil. It is recognized today as a preventive and therapeutic agent for many diseases including Arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Mother Nature’s gift of olive oil is both medicine and food.
We’ve known for some years now that regular intake of olive oil is good for us, scientists have shown us that this natural olive oil has numerous health benefits. One reason for this is that extra virgin olive oil (EVVO) contains oleocanthal (OC) found naturally only in EVVO. Discovered and isolated in the nineties, oleocanthal is what causes that throaty peppery sting you get at the back of the throat when you swallow good quality EVVO. If your olive oil stings a little, it contains only a little OC, but if it stings a lot, this is a good indication of high OC content.
Oleocanthal reduces arthritis inflammation
People who have rheumatoid arthritis take ibuprofen an anti-inflammatory drug; doctors recommend the pain reliever when joints become inflamed. But long-term drug taking has its effects as we know. Study results show that oleocanthal is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties very similar to ibuprofen the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
Oleocanthal prevents the production of the pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes (just as the NSAID ibuprofen). Ibuprofen also irritates the esophagus region: the difference is that OC is a natural component which comes from the purest of olive oil. If you are concerned about arthritis, then regular intake of robust olive oil will help reduce inflammation.
Oleocanthal and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, the progressive brain cell disease that destroys the memories and our thinking pattern. The dreaded disease starts off slowly and becomes worse with time as the neurons (nerve cells responsible for transmitting messages in our central nervous system) stop communicating with each other and eventually die.
Two things happen with Alzheimer’s:
The first abnormality takes place outside the brain where protein fragments called beta-amyloid develop into plaques forming clumps between the nerve cells thus blocking the signaling between the neurons.
Changes also occur in the neurons. Abnormal accumulation of twisted fibers that scientists call neurofibrillary tangles clogs the brain, working from the inside out.
The good news is that extra virgin olive oil can protect the nerve cells against Alzheimer’s. Dr. Amal Kaddoumi from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and her team carried out experiments on cells on laboratory mice (such research on humans is understandably limited) showing that oleocanthal reduces the accumulation of beta-amyloid. The researchers also said that “oleocanthal boosted the production of key proteins and enzymes critical in the removal of the plaques.”
The experiments were conducted on mice, but as Dr. Kaddoumi says “What we see in animals we can see in humans.”