OLIVE, Olea europaea

The olive branch is a symbol of peace. Olive oil is a symbol of goodness and purity. Well it should be, there is nothing as peaceful, healing and soothing as the oil from the olive tree.

A three-year-old boy swallowed some lye water, thinking it was milk. It burned his throat so badly that he could not swallow. It looked as though he would starve to death, because there was no way they could feed him. This was in the days before intravenous feeding.

A friend of the family offered to give the boy some olive oil massages over his entire body. Everyone was skeptical of this treatment, but there was no other way. Every day, the boy had olive oil massages and was soaked in water. There was no food eaten and he could not drink water. No other nourishment was taken into the body. The boy grew and was healthy and strong. He had never known sickness, and all he had to “eat” for fifteen years were olive oil massages. He was a perfect specimen of health.

In the early 1940s, the American Medical Journal reported that in his eighteenth year, modern science made him a plastic throat so he could eat food through his mouth. I thought they should have praised the great healing properties of olive oil that kept him alive for fifteen years.

The olive tree grows very slowly and sometimes lives to be a hundred years old. It will get approximately twenty feet high. It has many thin branches with opposite branchlets. The leaves are leathery and grow opposite and are oblong or lanceolate and get about 2 or 3 inches long. They are pale green on top and silvery on the bottom. The blossoms come out in April or May and are white and fragrant and grow in axillary panicles that are shorter than the leaves. The olive fruit is oblong and nearly round and turns shiny purple almost black when it is ripe. The fleshy point on the bottom is filled with oil.

The olive is mentioned more than sixty times in the Bible. Moses exempted man from military service who would work in the olive orchards. They burned olive oil in the sacred lamps of the temple. They crowned the victors of the Olympic games with garlands and wreaths of olive leaves.

Most commercial olive trees are grown mainly around the Mediterranean Sea. Italy is one of the biggest producers of olive oil, with a yearly production of well more than thirty million gallons. Cold-pressed olive oil is the finest and the best. Olive oil is perhaps the most healing and soothing of all oils. It is very nourishing, and when used externally as an emollient, it protects and lubricates the skin, muscles and joints. Olive oil, when taken internally, increases the secretion of bile and acts as a laxative by encouraging muscular contractions (the peristaltic action) in the bowels. It is also demulcent, and therefore, it soothes the mucous membranes and it is said to help to dissolve cholesterol.

A lady had twin daughters who each weighed just a little more than two pounds. They were so small they could not nurse, and they refused to take formula. The grandmother took them home and massaged them from head to foot several times each day with olive oil. Although they had nothing to eat, they seemed to develop and they gained weight. They would have died if it were not for olive oil.

The leaves of the olive tree are also useful. Clinical trials have shown that they lower blood pressure and help to improve the function of the circulatory system. Possessing some ability to lower blood sugar, the leaves have been taken for diabetes.

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