Only several years ago, olive oil was only really thought of as a specialty cooking oil you would buy in the “foreign food” section of the grocery store, mostly when you wanted to whip up a Mediterranean-type recipe that called for it. Even I was unaware of all the health benefits of olive oil, as well as its multiple other uses, until just a short time ago. Now, I routinely recommend it to all my patients, 1-2 tablespoons daily, for all the wonderful health benefits it confers. And that’s not all. My patients are frequently sharing with me new uses of olive oil that they’ve discovered and I’d like to share some of those with you.
The Incredible Olive and Its Oil
I’m sure you’ve heard of the health benefits of olive oil as they’ve been all over the news in the last few years. But just to recap, research has shown that olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFA’s, that help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. It’s one of the basic ingredients in the Mediterranean diet that has helped people in those regions have much lower than average levels of heart disease and cancer.
In addition, olive oil is also a potent antioxidant that helps scavenge and wipe out health-destroying free radicals that can lead to cancer. In fact, olive oil has been shown to protect the cells of the colon, prostate and uterine endometrium from cancerous changes.
If that weren’t enough, recent research has shown that it also may help normalize blood sugar levels which benefits diabetics. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oils are the best types to use as they contain the most nutrients. Cheaper “pure” oils do not have the same amount of nutrients.
Now, allow me to share with you some even more interesting uses for olive oil.
Face/Body Skin: You may have seen olive oil soap in your pharmacy or grocery store. It’s true that olive oil, with its antioxidant (chlorophyll, carotenoids, Vitamin E) properties is very good for skin. It can neutralize skin damaging free radicals and help prevent skin cancer. It cleanses without stripping the skin’s natural oils.
Olive oil contains linoleic acid which actually prevents water from evaporating, thereby keeping a barrier layer of moisture on the skin. In fact, women in Europe, Middle East and Asia have routinely used olive oil as skin beauty oil for centuries. Putting a few caps in a warm bath, helps lubricate body skin and using a few drops of it as a facial moisturizer helps keep faces wrinkle free and soft. It’s not just for women though – several of my male patients tell me that they apply olive oil to their face before they razor shave to get a close, smooth shave that leaves their face soft.
Hair: Some of my female patients have shared with me that they also use olive oil as a hair conditioner. Rub a few drops into the ends of your hair before you shampoo it, leave it for about 20 minutes, and then wash it. Hair is left tangle-free and shining.
Weight control: As I mentioned above, olive oil has been shown to be able to normalize blood sugar levels by lowering insulin levels. Taking 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon before eating a lower carbohydrate meal slows down the rise of blood sugar after a meal.
Stomach Upsets: Long used in Mediterranean countries for stomach upsets, take 1 tablespoon of olive oil on an empty stomach to stimulate digestion.
Stay Regular: Another favorite use of olive oil is remedying constipation. In hot water, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and drink.
Earaches: Warm olive oil has been a folk remedy for earaches for eons, mainly because it works, especially when the cause of the ache is from water getting in the ear or built up ear wax. First, be sure that you do not have a punctured ear drum! Do not put anything in your ear if you have severe pain and/or see blood coming from it. Instead, visit an Urgent Care or your doctor immediately. If you have gotten water in your ear, or feel you may have a buildup of wax, with an eye dropper, drop 1-2 drops oil down into the ear canal. Lie for a few minutes on your opposite side and then turn over and allow the oil to run out of your ear. This works to dry up any water that’s there and liquefy ear wax so that it is easier to remove. Remember; never put Q-tips or any other instruments down into your ear canal.
Fingernails: Keep your nails and the skin around them looking great by soaking your fingertips in an olive oil, lemon juice mixture, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice,
Pets: Believe it or not, one of my patients even uses olive oil to prevent hairballs and promote shiny coats in their cats. They add 1 tsp olive oil to their food.
Remove Paint/Car Grease: Ever get paint or car grease on your hands or in your hair and couldn’t get it out? Olive oil can remove dried paint and car grease from your hair and your skin by simply rubbing some into the affected areas. The olive oil loosens the hold of the grease or paint from the skin and hair, which renders it easy to remove.
The more advanced our technologies and the more complicated our world becomes, it’s comforting to know that there are age-old natural substances that we can rely on to keep us healthy and aid us in our simple activities of daily living. We don’t always have to turn to chemically based, often toxic, cleaning agents or drugs when we can turn to a simple, wonder from Mother Nature like olive oil. I’m sure you’ll find even more uses for this incredibly valuable oil!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Olive Oil: What Are The Health Benefits? http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01037
30 Unusual Uses for Olive Oil, http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/health_food/fruits/30_unusual_uses_for_olive_oil.html
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