[quote]“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. (Psalms 52:8)”[/quote]
Botanical Name: Olea europaea
The olive (Olea europaea) is universally known as a symbol of peace. The image of a white dove with an olive branch in her mouth is a common symbol of peace used in religious imagery. We extend an olive branch as a sign of peace to someone we want to reconcile with. Ancient Grecians wore olive leaf garlands in their hair when they prayed for peace. The blue and white flag of the United Nations depicts a map of the world encircled by two olive branches. The symbolism of the olive is mighty, and so too is the oil derived from the olive.
The olive tree is an evergreen tree believed to be native to the Mediterranean region in the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Palestine. The olive tree can grow to heights between 25 to 40 feet, has gray colored bark, leathery gray-green leaves, and clusters of white flowers that develop into the fruit, i.e. olive. Olive trees are very slow to mature, taking more than ten years to bear their first fruit. Not only are olive trees slow to mature, they also live for a very long time, many hundreds of years.
Historically, the use of the olive as a food item dates back to the Bronze Age, or 5000 to 6000 years ago. During the rule of the Roman Empire, the first century A.D., olive oil was used for many purposes. The main use of olive oil was for lamp fuel. It was used for many religious ceremonies and to anoint the heads of rulers, warriors, the general public, and the dead. Fragrant olive oils, or herb/flower infused olive oils, were used as offerings to the Gods, in pharmaceutical ointments, and for hair and skin care.2 Notice that the use of olive oil for cooking is not included? At this time in history olive oil was not yet used for consumption.
Olive oil is expressed, cold pressed, from the fruit. The oil actually comes from the meat of the olive and not the pit. No heat, solvents, or chemicals are used to extract the oil. To obtain the best quality olive oil the olives must be harvested without breaking the skin, and processing must occur 12 to 24 hours after harvesting.2 In the past the olives were crushed into a paste-like substance and allowed to sit in large vats in order to allow the water and oil to separate. Once the oil rose to the top it was skimmed off, but this process took a long time and increased the likelihood of fermentation or rancidity. Now the oil is separated from the paste and water through centrifuging.1 For additional purification/processing the oil is also filtered to remove any small particles of pulp.
There are three grades of olive oil from three different pressings. The first pressing of the olives is called Extra Virgin olive oil, the second pressing is called Virgin or “Classico” olive oil, and the third pressing is called pure olive oil. Extra Virgin olive oil is of the best quality, and for the purposes of aromatherapy Extra Virgin olive oil should be used.
Olive oil contains many healthy nutrients. Vitamins A, E, and K are found in olive oil. There are other nutrients like: anti-oxidants; phenols, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant; and oleocanthal, which is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and pain relieving.4 One reason so many people are now cooking with olive oil is because it contains no cholesterol or trans-fat. Olive oil does contain the two good fats; mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. Additionally, olive oil tastes good!
The healthful properties mentioned above can be helpful in aromatherapy blends. Battaglia stated that olive oil can be, “applied externally to sprains, bruises and insect bites and can be used as a treatment for dandruff, especially if it is blended with rosemary oil.”1 Olive oil is also known to be antipruritic [relieves itching], cholagogue [increases the flow of bile], demulcent [soothes mucous tissues], emollient [softens and soothes skin], vulnerary [heals wounds], relaxant, and laxative.3 So with these therapeutic properties in mind olive oil can be used in many aromatherapy formulations. Since olive oil can feel a bit tacky or sticky when used for massage I use it at 20-50% with other carrier oils and essential oils.
For my personal hair care I do use 100% olive oil for a carrier. I have found that by using olive oil for my hair it is healthier, shinier, and no longer dry. After washing my hair, and while it is still quite damp, I apply a quarter-size amount of the following blend:
Olive oil & Rosemary essential oil Hair Oil
In a 1 oz. flip-top bottle add:
6 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil
1 oz. Olive oil (Olea europaea)
The next time you formulate a blend for skin conditions, stomach complaints, sprains, painful joints, or just for relaxation I hope you will consider using olive oil as part of the blend. I also hope you think of peace as you blend and apply your olive oil preparation.
✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿
Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!
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 Battaglia, Salvatore; Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, The; Second Edition; The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; Brisbane, Australia; 2003.
 Vossen, Paul; Olive Oil: History, Production, and Characteristics of the World’s Classic Oils; Horticultural Science; August 2007, Volume 42, No. 5; http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/42/5/1093.full.pdf+html Retrieved 4/17/14.
 Schiller, Carol & Schiller, David; Aromatherapy Encyclopedia, The; Basic Health Publications, Inc.; Laguna Beach, CA; 2008.
4 Nutrients in Olive Oil; Amazing Olive Oil; http://www.amazingoliveoil.com/nutrients-in-olive-oil.html; Retrieved 4/17/14.