I have trouble with inflammation. No doubt because of my lousy diet. (Seriously, this isn’t even a question. I know it’s because of my lousy diet. I should try just eating properly instead of throwing every supplement under the sun at it. But that’s probably not going to happen, so…)
A reader named Teresa sent me a link to a product called BonOlive. [NOTE: I can't find anywhere to actually buy BonOlive, just their website and a page where they collect all your information. But it doesn't seem to be available in stores.] The copy on the website is pretty breathless about all the wondrous things BonOlive is going to do for your bones. So naturally I was skeptical. The claim: olives contain a phytonutrient called oleuropein that reduces inflammation and curbs osteoclastic activity, thereby improving bone density (because the osteoblasts can finally keep up / surpass the osteoclasts.)
I Googled “oleuropein and bone” and found numerous studies (and articles reporting on studies) on oleuropein and its effect on ovariectomized rats and then in a petrie dish setting on human bone marrow. And… yeah… BonOlive’s claims appear to be legit. Who knew? Hurray.
My next thought was: well, instead of buying a supplement, why don’t I just eat a bunch of black olives (black olives have more oleuropein than green olives) and/or eat more olive oil? Here’s the problem with that. The rats were fed 50g of olive oil or 0.15mg of oleuropein per kg of body weight. 50g = 4 tablespoons. In order to get the human equivalent of what the rats were eating, I’d have to consume 40 tablespoons of olive oil a day. Strong bones, but clogged arteries. (40 Tablespoons? Wouldn’t that be like drinking a bottle of olive oil a day?)
Supplement it is.
As I said, I don’t know how much BonOlive costs. But when I see a fancy-schmancy website like that with breathless promises, I start to see dollar signs.
If I were to guess, I’d say it’s going to be more than $50.00 a bottle. (I’m guessing. BonOlive people, if I’m wrong, let me know and I’ll correct the figure.) I can’t afford that much for one supplement. Karan sent me this link to a Swanson supplement which contains BonOlive™ It is only $11.99. Cheaper than my LEF Curcumin. (More on that later.)
A trip to vitacost revealed only one supplement if I searched for the term oleuropein, and it was in the $40.00 range. But search for olive leaf and you get tons of supplements, some for as little as $4.69. Here’s the tricky thing: read the label. It will often say something like “Olive leaf extract, 250 mg” and then parenthetically underneath that “20% oleuropein.” The $4.69 bottle doesn’t say what percentage of oleuropein it contains, and at only 1.41 grams of olive leaf, it’s not going to do a darn thing for you.
In other words, you’d only be getting 50 mg of oleuropein. Is that enough to be effective?
Betsy!? Our resident math expert? If a rat is eating .15 mg of oleuropein per kilogram of body weight, the equivalent necessary for a 100 pound human being would be…? A kilogram is roughly half a pound (1 lb = 0.453592 kilograms). So body weight is 45.3592 kilograms. 45.3592 x 0.15 mg = 6.75 mg. So 50 mg of oleuropein would be more than enough, wouldn’t it?
Did I do that right? (ARGH! My brain’s inability to process numbers is truly embarrassing.)
Then there are human studies (on bone marrow) where they talk about doses of 10(-6)M to 10(-4)M being effective. What’s a 10(-6)M?
The Google says “M” is a metric unit denoting a factor of million (106 or 1000000). I don’t know what that means in terms of human dosage. I’m not certain how much it matters.
To recap: it appears that the compounds found in olive oil do in fact reduce inflammation, thereby reducing osteoclastic activity and improving bone density. It appears a supplemental dosage of 250 mg of olive leaf (which contains between 20 and 30 percent oleuropein, 40% in the case of the Swanson vitamin listed above) would be sufficient to effectuate these changes. I was taking curcumin (a/k/a turmeric) for inflammation, but the drawback of that is that if you don’t wash your hands super-well, you end up leaving orange stains all over the place. So I may trade curcumin for the olive leaf. Plus the Swanson with BonOlive is half the price of my Curcumin. Done.
Thank you, Teresa!