Olive Leaf

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is olive leaf?

Olive leaf extract is a supplement made from the Olea europaea tree. It is used primarily as an antiviral and general antimicrobial to treat various types of infections. In cats, it has been used as an adjunctive therapy to treat feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Other uses include the treatment of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and to treat inflammation.

"In cats, it has been used as an adjunctive therapy to treat feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)."

Dietary supplements are substances that can be used to supplement the diet, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, and probiotics. While many supplements are sold over the counter, they still contain ingredients that have biological effects that should be managed by your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

There are differences in how countries regulate supplements. In the United States, these substances are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications, which means they can be sold without the manufacturer proving their effectiveness, safety, and without a guarantee of consistent or accurately reported ingredients. In Canada, products that have been evaluated for quality, safety, and effectiveness by Health Canada and authorized for sale will have a license number on the label.

How effective is olive leaf?

Limited studies in animals have been performed, but there is anecdotal evidence and several clinical studies that suggest that olive leaf works to treat high blood pressure, inflammation, infections, and high blood sugar.

How is olive leaf given?

Olive leaf is given by mouth in the form of a capsule or liquid extract. It may be given with or without food; however, if vomiting occurs when dosed on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. Measure liquid forms carefully.

What if I miss giving my pet the supplement?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. Side effects are uncommon but may include muscle discomfort, stomach upset, and headache. Allergic reactions such as respiratory signs or skin reactions are also possible.

Are there any risk factors for this supplement?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited. Do not use this supplement in pets that are allergic to it. Olive leaf should be used with caution in pregnant or nursing animals as safety has not been established.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with olive leaf: blood pressure medications or insulin.

Vitamins, herbal therapies, and supplements have the potential to interact with each other, as well as with prescription and over the counter medications. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this supplement?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store olive leaf?

In general, store this supplement in a cool place, protected from light and moisture. There are many formulations and manufacturers of olive leaf, so always follow the specific storage instructions on the product label.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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