The Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates, was the first to mention the health and therapeutic benefits of olive oil, calling it “the great therapeutic”. Even in biblical times, olive oil was used for medicinal purposes both externally and internally by the people bordering the Mediterranean sea. Olive oil was used to maintain skin and muscle suppleness, heal wounds and abrasions, soothe the burning and drying effects of sun and water, and for soap. Greek wrestlers (for self defense) spread olive oil on their bodies to slip out of their opponents’ grasp. The most common use of olive oil among the ancients was for lamp oil, making olive oil five times the value of wine.
A research team of the University of Athens, under the guidance of the Greek Professor Prokopis Magiatis proved that beyond the therapeutic benefits mentioned in ancient Greece, olive oil has antioxidants, neuro-protective and cardio-protective properties.
The new discovery concerns the ingredients ‘oleocanthal’ and ‘oleacein’ of olive oil and their beneficial health effects. According to the research team, ‘oleocanthal’ has anti-inflammatory properties, while ‘oleacein’ is the most powerful antioxidant ingredient of olive oil.
Even the ancient Greek philosophers, such as Dioskouridis, Anaxagoras, and Ebedoklis, emphasized the pharmaceutical attributes of olive oil, and its nutritional value and importance regarding health. In particular, Dioskouridis emphasized the beneficial health effects of green olive oil, produced by the first unripe olives harvested by hand without threshing.
It is assumed that since antiquity, it was known that not all kinds of olive oil had the same health effects.