This page about olives for gout and olive leaf extract for gout was last reviewed or updated on 5 November 2014.
Test tube studies show olive leaf extract inhibits the enzyme needed to produce uric acid.
Olives for gout, and olive leaf extract for gout, are seldom mentioned, but scientific research published in 2011 suggest they might be remedies.(1)
In this study, certain flavonoids (flavonoids are a class of polyphenols) in olive leaf extract (OLE) showed that they might lower the body’s uric acid production because they disable for a period the enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO). XO is always required to turn purines into uric acid. When it’s not working it doesn’t happen.
Surprisingly the leaves have more gout
fighting substances than the olives. So which flavonoids did this? The leaves
of the olive tree contain apigenin, oleuropein, caffeic acid and two forms of luteolin,
all of which individually inhibited xanthine oxidase (XO) in this test tube
study. The most effective were first apigenin and then luteolin.
Luteolin is also found in olives themselves. Unlike the leaves, it’s the only flavonoid in olives according to the USDA’s (United States Dept. of Agriculture) Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.
So what is luteolin? Related to the better known flavonoid quercetin, luteolin is a member of a sub-class of flavonoids called flavones. So too is apigenin. Quercetin is a member of the sub-class, flavonols. Another sub-class, anthocyanidins, found for example in berries and cherries,appear to have similar anti-uric acid properties.
Luteolin and apigenin are perhaps not as inhibitory of XO as quercetin, but more it seems than other fellow flavonoids.
In another study, the flavonoids kaempferol, isohamnetin, chrysin and myricetin, all also inhibited XO, as did quercetin, luteolin and others (2). Best performers in this study? Quercertin, kaempferol, isohamnetin and luteolin. (Apigenin was not tested).
In a third study published at the end of 2013 (3) luteolin in celery and green peppers demonstrated again that luteolin inhibits XO. Celery has 1.05 mg/100 grams of luteolin and 2.85 mg/100 grams of apigenin.
Effect on uric acid However, any ultimate effect on uric acid by the flavonoids’ inhibition of XO was not stated, but XO activity was measured from the amount of produced uric acid. All these studies were in test tubes, not real life trials. However, the effect of some of the leaves’ flavonoids was strong and that may indicate better odds for success in real life. But it cannot be said for sure. In the olive leaf extract study, apigenin even appeared more powerful than the anti-uric acid medicine allopurinol in inhibiting XO. So was luteolin, but it was less powerful than apigenin.
Back to olives for gout How much luteolin is in olives? Kalamata olives have the most, (4.93 mg/100 grams), and black (2.80 mg/100 grams) have more than green (0.56 mg/100 grams). (5) Indeed,Kalamata and black olives have more luteolin than celery.
Olives for gout – more reasons to eat olives
Olives, as well as containing luteolin, are of course the source of that excellent food, olive oil. Olive oil does not lower uric acid but it is a good food for gout sufferers. Olives are low purine, and so they won’t raise uric acid. Olive oil is not believed to contain purines.(4) Just possibly their luteolin will inhibit XO and thus help to reduce your production of uric acid.But it seems the leaves are better than eating olives for gout because they contain more anti-XO flavonoids. Munch on green or black olives – same thing really, just different stages of ripeness (black are riper) – that you get in a cocktail. That’s O.K. for gouty people.
A Mediterranean folk remedy - olive leaves for gout
In Mediterranean folk medicine, olive leaves are a remedy for gout, and have been for centuries. However, until the olive leaf extract study (1) olive leaf extract for gout had never before been subject to a scientific study. The study supported folk medicine’s beliefs about olives and gout.
How to consume olive leaves You can make an olive leaf tea. However, if you can’t get enough leaves into your diet, or other preparations, (tea, powders, and infusions to mix with other drinks), the best way is to take a dietary supplement of olive leaf extract (OLE) standardised (standardized) to give you 150mg oleuropein per 750 grams capsule, that’s 20% standardisation. Oleuropein has a reputation for fighting bacteria and viruses’ fighting, and it has inhibited xanthine oxidase too. At least one study has found it can reduce high blood pressure, a typical condition of gout sufferers (6). And if it improves insulin sensitivity, that can help a lot of gout sufferers too.
Olive leaf extract, or olives, may have a useful effect or their effect may be very small and make no difference to your uric acid production. You can but try. Do concurrent blood uric acid measurements.
Dosage For olive leaf extract follow the dosage on the supplement label, probably a 500 mg capsule.
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(1) Abstract. Oleaeuropaea leaf (Ph.Eur.) extract as well as several of its isolated phenolics inhibit the gout-related enzyme xanthine oxidase. Flemmig J, Kuchta K, Arnhold J, Rauwald H.W., Phytomedicine 2011 May 15;18(7):561-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.10.021. Epub 2010 Dec 8.
(2) Inhibition of xanthine oxidase by flavonoids.Nagao A, Seki M, Kobayashi H. BiosciBiotechnolBiochem. 1999 Oct;63(10):1787-90.
(3) Abstract Effect of luteolin on xanthine oxidase: inhibition kinetics and interaction mechanism merging with docking simulation.Yan J, Zhang G, Hu Y, Ma Y. Food Chem .2013 Dec 15;141(4):3766-73. doi: 10.1016/ j.foodchem. 2013.06.092.Epub2013 Jun 28.
(4) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods Michael T.Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, Lara Pizzorno. Pocket books division of Simon & Schuster, New York Paperback. December 2006. Page 444.
(5) USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods Release 3.1 May 2014.