Olive Oil Health Benefits—Arthritis

Stepping OliveArthritis affects more than 2 million people in the U.S. alone and is 2-3 times more common in women than men. Most people suffer pain and swelling from the inflammation of joints associated with arthritis and tend to consume over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen for pain relief.

Recent research has demonstrated that the anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil can act much like a daily dose of ibuprofen to reduce and lessen the severity of arthritis. It points to olive oil as a natural solution to the problem.

Modern medicine has known for a while that dietary fat intake is directly related to degenerative diseases such as asthma and arthritis. However, much of it depends on the type of fat consumed. There are two diets for comparison: A Mediterranean diet, including healthy amounts of olive oil and fats rich in omegas 3 & 6, and the typical American diet full of animal fats, hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils like corn oil.

It is the mono-unsaturated healthy fats (the Mediterranean diet) found in olive oil that is used by the body to produce substances that are relatively anti-inflammatory. By reducing inflammation, these fats may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of diseases like arthritis and asthma because un-inflamed cell membranes are more fluid and better able to move healthy nutrients into the cells and move waste products out.

Oleocanthal, one of the primary substances found in olive oil, has been identified as isolating one of the compounds responsible for the anti-inflammatory benefits of olive oil. Oleocanthal is a natural organic compound isolated from extra virgin olive oil. Recent studies have shown that oleocanthal not only possesses anti-inflammatory properties but additional antioxidant properties as well. Oleocanthol from extra virgin olive oil appears to be a promising new compound in the future management of arthritis.
  1. Could Olive Oil Become The New Anti-Inflammatory Standard?

    Many experts think that someday soon, your doctor may recommend adding extra-virgin olive oil to your daily diet to prevent aches and pains, and reduce your risk of cancer.

Before a 50g dose (about 4 tablespoons) of extra-virgin olive oil supplies enough oleocanthal to produce an effect equivalent to that of about 10% of the ibuprofen dose recommended for adult pain relief. While this amount won't cure a headache (and most people would not have room in their diet for the calories and fat contained in 4 tablespoons of olive oil), it proves daily consumption of olive oil may prevent inflammation and reap some of the benefits of long-term ibuprofen and similar drug use, without the increased risk of intestinal bleeding and kidney damage that long-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers.
  1. Fatty Acids Benefits: How Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation

    Understanding how your body benefits from omega-3 fatty acids is an important part of understanding why you should include them in your diet. Researchers have long known omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation. But, until recently, no one really knew what made omega-3s so beneficial.

A recent study revealed that omega-3s actually convert into compounds that are 10,000 times more potent than the original fatty acids themselves. What this means is that the omega-3’s actually convert into a compound that contains resolvins. Resolvins help bring the inflammatory response in the body to an end.

In a healthy immune system, the body normally processes any inflammatory damage while protecting the body from infections. But in arthritis and inflammatory diseases, an overactive immune response leads to tissue degradation. Research showed that the same pathway that signals the start of inflammation also includes an off switch. Omega-3s convert into these more powerful compounds, putting the brakes on this active process and causing it to screech to a halt.

While we don’t quite know how much omega-3s are needed to optimize the body’s conversion from omega-3s into resolvins, we do know all olive oils contain the essential omega-3 acids.