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We’re all familiar with the numerous health benefits of olive oil, thanks in large part to the Mediterranean diet. But a lesser-known ingredient—derived from the leaves of the plant rather than the fruit—actually boasts an even higher concentration of that good stuff. “Olive leaf has been used for centuries, especially in parts of Europe and North Africa like Greece, Tunisia, and Morocco,” explains Shauna Reiter, founder of Alaya Naturals which includes olive leaf extract in its lineup of supplements.

“We’re just beginning to westernize it and make it more commonly known, but we need only to look to what our ancestors have done to understand how to utilize it.”

Reiter began using olive leaf extract as an alternative to antibiotics, as she developed an autoimmune condition that made her subject to chronic infection. “At some point, my body was just screaming at me to stop,” admits Reiter. At the recommendation of a friend, she had gone to see a Chinese acupuncturist who looked took one look at her tongue and told her to stop taking antibiotics right away. She began doing acupuncture consistently and exploring nutrition more deeply—especially supplements to help boost her immune system.

“That’s where I began in my personal collection,” she recalls.

When she became a mother, Reiter found the nutritional supplements on the market weren’t great for situation—either they didn’t perform, were too expensive, or yielded unwanted side effects. She decided to launch her own brand, making purer and more potent versions of the natural remedies she’d kept in her medicine cabinet, including olive leaf extract. “I already had spent most of my life studying nutrition, learning from friends and health practitioners who have assisted me along the way,” explains Reiter.

Here, she speaks to the benefits of olive leaf extract and how to incorporate it into  wellness routine.

It’s a preventive measure

“It’s really simple— just take a capsule a day,” says Reiter. ”  just take it along with any other supplement as prevention or  can have it on hand in case  feel something coming on—a virus, a cold, a bacterial infection, or any kind of irritation inside or out.” She says that “the purpose of supplementing and staying strong is so that  can do the things that  meant to do on this planet most effectively—not be side-tracked by feeling lousy.”

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