The olive tree is an evergreen tree, native to the Mediterranean basin. It lives over 100 years. The leathery leaves are dark green on the top side and silvery on the bottom. The small white scentless flowers blossom April to May. The olive fruit is harvested in the green to deep purple stage late autumn beginning of winter.
The first word for Olea appeared in Linear B on clay tablets found in Greece and is derived from the Greek word elaa or, according to Theophrastus, elaia directly correlated to the Greek word eleon meaning oil.
Mythology and traditions
According to myth there was a competition between the goddess Athena and Poseidon in regards to the naming of the city of Athens. The two competitors met with the rest of the Olympian Gods on the Acropolis rock. Poseidon stood on the centre of the rock and with his trident struck the ground and water sprung up that was salty, therefore not potable. Athena planted an olive-fruit bearing-tree that offered wood, oil and food. The Gods and the Athenians chose Athena’s gift as the most useful and therefore the name «Αθήνα» in honor of the goddess was given to the city. The sacred olive tree remained there for many years to come.
During the ancient Olympic Games, the winner of each event was crowned with an olive wreath also known as kotinos, made of wild-olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia. The winners were respected and graced by the gods.
In Greek tradition it is the symbol of peace. The offering of an olive tree branch marked the end of the war. Truce messengers always arrived with an olive tree branch.
Uses according to Hippocrates
Hippocrates describes in his writings more than 60 pharmaceutical uses of olive oil, the most prominent being the use for skin conditions. There is a clear reference of olive oil combined with wheat and wine as the basis of Hippocratic diet. Other uses according to Hippocrates are against fever, wound healing, irritated gums and whitening of teeth.
Uses according to tradition
Olive oil was used since the 40th century BC until today as lighting fuel due to the fact that on liter can burn in a lamp for 200 hours. The wood and the olive pit burn slow producing significant heat. The olive oil, the leaves, the flowers and the ashes of the tree were used as medicine by ancient therapists. Olives and olive oil remain till today the most characteristic and valuable ingredient of the Mediterranean diet. The olive tree has very hard wood that is processed with difficulty but rather easy to smoothen. Many mythological and legendary objects, such as Heracles’ club, the wedding bed of Odysseus and Athena’s image in the Parthenon, are made of olive tree wood.
Properties and uses in the 21st century
Modern pharmacological studies have shown the cholesterol regulating, vasodilatory, hypotensive, and antimicrobial properties of olive oil and olive leaf extract. Recent research has proven the therapeutic effect of olive oil in gastrointestinal conditions. The vitamin E content of olive oil is very effective in skin conditions and protects against the harmful effects of solar radiation.
Studies showed that the digestion rate of olive oil by the human body can reach as high as 98%. Therefore, the absorbance of fat-soluble vitamins contained in olive oil is highly facilitated. Furthermore, it has been determined that olive oil helps the digestion of other fatty acids, because it enhances the secretions of the peptic system.
The high nutritional value of olive oil is due to the following characteristics:
- • good correlation between Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids [oleic (ω-9), linoleic (ω-6) and a-linolenic (ω-3) acid]
- • high concentration of natural antioxidants.
- • 10% concentration of linoleic acid, which covers the recommended daily intake in basic fatty acids, even if olive oil is the sole source.
- • high concentration of squalene (carbohydrate), which plays a significant role in metabolism.
Uses... by APIVITA
APIVITA uses olive in a wide range of products for its great antioxidant, moisturizing and nourishing properties.
PROPOLINE Moisturizing Color Protecting Leave In Conditioner for All Hair Types with honey & olive moisturizes hair, making it easier to comb and protects against the damaging effects of the environment and styling products.
Cleansing Creamy Face & Eye Foam Cleanser with lavender & olive removes dirt and make-up from the face and eyes, while olive moisturizes and nourishes skin.
Cleansing Exfoliating Face Cream Deep Cleansing with lavender & olive and Express Beauty Intensive Exfoliating Cream with olive contain olive seeds to help remove dead skin cells and deeply cleanse pores.
Wine Elixir Anti-Wrinkle and Restoring Face Oil with grape & olive contains organic olive oil to moisturize and provide antioxidant protection.
The Body Calm line contains olive oil to hydrate, nourish and help preserve healthy skin.
Natural Soap with Olive gently cleanses skin and helps maintain its natural hydration leaving it smooth and soft.
Olive oil contained in hand care products, moisturizes the skin, maintaining its natural softness and elasticity.
Footcare Cracked Heel Cream with olive & fruit acids contains olive oil to intensively moisturize and nourish skin aiding in cell regeneration.
Personal range of products contains olive to gently care for the skin while moisturizing and nourishing.
Disclaimer: Information on this particular article is intended for information purposes only. It is not the intention of the editor to advise on health care. Please see a medical professional about any health concerns you have.