Olive Leaf Extract Side Effects For Liver, Diarrhea & Stomach Irritation


Olives have been part of our history for thousands of years. They were first utilized to treat heart ailments in the ancient regions of the Mediterranean and Egypt. After that, olive leaf extract benefits were touted in a myriad of scientific studies and research.

Today, it is included in our nutrition diet due to its immunity-boosting, anti-fungal and anti-aging properties. Despite these benefits, some people may experience some side-effects from consuming it.

Up until two years ago, the side effects of olive leaf extracts were unknown. When most people think of olives, they simply think of olive leaf extracts benefits and regard it as an “elixir of life.” They forget about the potential side-effects of olive leaf extracts.

Moreover, side effects and drug interactions also remain largely undocumented.  Only a few studies mention any olive leaf extract side effects. Therefore, always check with a doctor before taking a supplement like olive leaf extract. Olive leaf extracts side-effects are, mainly, the symptoms of a detoxification process.

So, what are the reported red-flags of olive leaf extract usage?

There are several side-effects of olive leaf extract and they may or may not happen to you.  The side-effects often take the form of a fleeting aggravation of existing symptoms or are signs of detoxification.

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Olive Leaf Extract Side Effects For Liver, Diarrhea & Stomach Irritation

1 – Jarisch-Herxheimer or Herxheimers Reaction

The most common side-effect of the extract is a temporary degeneration of symptoms, referred to as Herxheimers reaction.  This reaction, not just limited to olive leaf extracts, is named after the two men who first described it in 1895, Adolf Jarisch & Karl Herxheimer – dermatologists who worked on finding the treatment for Syphilis. Putting it simply, it is an immune reaction to the release of toxins from pathogens that have been damaged, in this particular case by olive leaf extracts.

The negative reaction proceeds as follows:

  • Olive leaf compounds assail and destroy the cells of a huge number of pathogens (disease causing microbes).
  • Next, the dead pathogens secrete toxins, degrade and are absorbed by the surrounding tissues, which were already displaying red-alert signs caused by the infection of pathogens in the first place.
  • This rise in the concentration of toxins deteriorates the initial symptoms and incites a further immune response from the body causing swelling, pain and histamine release.
  • The body now ramps up its cleansing and detoxification processes that may further result in other uncomfortable symptoms.
  • As the surplus of dead organisms is alleviated and removed from the body, healing and a feeling of good heath follows.

The surfaces of tissues where most discomfort may be experienced are stomach, intestines, ears, membrane surrounding the brain, urinary and sexual organs, esophagus, synovial linings of the joints and mucous membranes of the mouth.  The following side-effects may be felt:

  • Body pain (dull headaches, joint and muscle pains)
  • Sore nasal passages & throat
  • Sweating & feverishness
  • Vaginal discomfort, especially in case of fungal/yeast infections

The side-effects are generally mild and last only for a few days. However, if infections being treated by oil leaf extracts are severe, then the symptoms can be worse and last longer. You will need to reduce the dosage to minimize discomfort. Treatment can be temporarily suspended to help the body more easily deal with the surplus and then resumed at a reduced amount to keep the die-off effect at a manageable level.

Herxheimers reaction is believed to be a positive sign, meaning the treatment is working and fighting the offending pathogens.

Remedy – Drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily helps the body eradicate toxins more rapidly.

2 – Stomach irritation This side-effect can be caused in some people by ingesting highly strong tinctures or capsules.

Remedy – Take the capsule along with food in order to minimize irritation. Dilute tinctures in water until the alcohol concentration is around 20% for best gastric absorption.

3 – Dizziness Another side-effect is dizziness in people who suffer from low blood-pressure by reducing it further. Some people may have to stop using olive leaf extracts because of this reason and caution should be exercised initially by people who already suffer from low blood pressure.

Remedy – This is often prevented by consuming small doses until your body becomes used to it.

4 – Heartburn/ Acid reflux This symptom is experienced by only a few people after consuming olive leaf tinctures. It appears to occur mostly in acid reflux suffers after consuming peppermint-flavored glycerin tinctures, albeit it has occasionally been reported by others as well.

As peppermint soothes smooth muscles, it can relax the lower cardiac sphincter or esophagus, which is already loose in acid reflux sufferers, and hence cause heartburn and reflux.

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Remedy – It can be resolved by diluting the tincture in water/tea or by consuming the unflavored tincture. If this does not cure the side-effect, you may need to resort to taking olive leaf capsules.

5 – Diarrhea This olive leaf extract side-effect can be caused by stomach irritation or Candida overgrowth in the stomach of some people.  Candida albicans forms filaments that embed themselves in the stomach lining in place of the useful probiotic bacteria. When the extract destroys the filaments, a Herxheimer reaction may happen, causing loose stool.

Remedy – Take the capsule along with food in order to minimize irritation. Dilute tinctures in water until the alcohol concentration is around 20% for best gastric absorption. Also, drink 6-8 glasses of water daily as it helps the body wash out toxins more rapidly.

Drug Interactions with Olive Leaf Extracts

Definitive drug interactions with olive leaf extracts are not clearly documented.  Since herbs have an intricate interaction with the body, it may not be safe to consume them when on prescription medication.

Where the medicine has no overlap with the olive leaf extract side-effects, it may be safe to use both of them, but this may be hard to establish.

Common sense must be the trailblazer on the known anecdotal, conventional and potential researched effects of olive leaf extract.

  • The extract may enhance the effect of blood thinners like Warfarin as it tends to keep blood platelets from sticking together.  If on Warfarin or another blood thinner, consult with your doctor before using olive extracts.
  • Lowers high blood pressure: Avoid the usage of olive leaf extracts while on blood pressure medication without the recommendation of your physician. If (s)he consents, start with small doses. A reduction in other prescription dosages may become necessary.  This also applies if you want to take leaf extracts for cold or flu for example.

Is Olive leaf Extract Safe During Pregnancy or People With Liver Ailments?

Olive leaf extracts have not undergone comprehensive safety tests yet.

Nevertheless, based on the limited evidence available, they do not seem to cause much more than occasional digestive distress in most people.

Safety in pregnant or nursing women, young children or people with severe kidney or liver ailments has not been documented.  So, consult your doctor before starting it because it is better to be safe than sorry.

Olive leaf extract dosage

To avoid olive leaf extract side-effects, the recommended olive leaf extract dosage is as follows:

  • 1-2 cups of olive leaf tea can be consumed per day
  • The recommended dose of olive leaf extract is 1-2 capsules per day
  • The recommended dose of olive leaf extract tincture is 1-2 drops per day

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