Olives have been collected for over 10,000 years and it is possible that they were cultivated on the island of Crete 5000 years ago. Their uses then and now remain the same. Through the generations people have used olive oil as a healthy and tasty cooking ingredient but it is also arguably the oldest homemade health and beauty remedy.
There is something special about remedies passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes they have no basis and hopefully do no harm. Often, they do work to a greater or lesser extent although perhaps our ancestors did not have the knowledge to understand the science to explain why.
Olive oil as a beauty product is one such case. The ancient Greek, Hippocrites mentions 60 different ailments that could be cured using olives, such as skin conditions, wounds and burns, gynaecological ailments, ear infections and many others.
The Egyptians used it with beeswax as a cleanser, moisturizer and antibacterial. Queen Cleopatra is even said to have used it to care for her skin.
The Egyptians and Ancient Greeks are unlikely to have known why olive oil, which was a prized commodity worked but they knew that it did and therefore not only was the use of olive oil as a beauty and healthcare product widely used, it was passed down.
Today we know through laboratory testing exactly why olive oil is so special. It is a very good source of antioxidants which are a good anti-aging product for the skin. They also have particularly high levels of hydroxysterol which is a rare and very strong polyphenol compound; a highly effective anti-inflammatory.
We can now find olive oil in a great range of products including: soaps, shampoos, hand creams, anti-wrinkle creams to name just a few. The issue is that often when manufacturing these products is done on a large scale, the olive oil is over processed, is of a lower quality and the level of antioxidants left is pitifully poor.
It is really important that when buying a product for these qualities that you are aware of what you are really buying. There are still a number of companies such as Olea Essence, based in the Galilee, that produce their products in smaller batches, making sure that they preserve as much of the goodness of the olive as possible.They combine a love of the traditional with the knowledge of science to create the most beneficial olive products possible.
Using an olive based beauty product is a connection with our ancestors and their expertise. At the same time we can be satisfied that our generation has been able to prove why their remedies actually work.