Written by Ian Breakspear and Matthew Leach
The diabetes epidemic
Diabetes mellitus affects an estimated 451 million adults worldwide, costing health systems US$850 billion annually.1 This chronic condition is characterised by poor blood glucose control, which left unchecked, can contribute to serious complications. These complications can include heart disease, eye damage, gum disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, poor circulation, and sexual dysfunction.2 While maintaining good blood glucose control is critical to reducing the risk of these complications, achieving optimal control is not always straightforward. In fact, less than one-half of people with diabetes reach their target ranges for blood glucose control.3
Medications typically prescribed for diabetes aim to improve blood glucose control. Although these medicines are effective in doing so4, they are not always well tolerated due to frequent adverse effects.5 These side effects can result in many people stopping their medication5, thereby increasing their risk of diabetes complications. In order to reduce the burden of diabetes on these individuals, it is important that safer and equally effective treatments are identified and tested.
Olive leaf extract – a promising treatment
The leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea) have a long history of use as an antidiabetic agent.6 More recently, studies have begun to shed light on how olive leaf extract (OLE) may provide benefit to people living with diabetes. In studies to date, OLE has been shown to increase pancreatic beta-cell activity, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1, insulin sensitivity, and glucagon-like peptide-1 concentration, and to decrease intestinal glucose uptake, cortisol levels and psychological stress.7,8 These myriad actions play a key role in regulating blood glucose levels. While these effects are promising, further work is needed to establish the effectiveness of OLE in humans with diabetes.
The ESOLED study
The efficacy and safety of olive leaf extract for glycaemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (ESOLED) study is a ground-breaking, pilot randomised placebo-controlled trial being conducted by Southern Cross University, in collaboration with Torrens University. This six-month study will explore whether OLE is safe and effective at improving blood glucose control, diabetes-related distress and quality of life, in adults living with type 2 diabetes.
The ESOLED team are now seeking adults living in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, who have lived with diabetes for more than 12 months, and are not receiving insulin therapy. Participants will be required to take OLE or placebo capsules once a day for 24 weeks, and to attend Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus, on three separate occasions. For more information about the ESOLED study or to check if you are eligible to participate, please email Associate Professor Matthew Leach at email@example.com
This research study is funded by the Olive Wellness Institute, Vital.ly and Oborne Health Supplies, and has been approved by the Southern Cross University Human Research Ethics Committee (#2022/034).
View article references
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- Khunti K, Ceriello A, Cos X, De Block C. Achievement of guideline targets for blood pressure, lipid, and glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diab Res Clin Pract 2018; 137: 137-148.
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- Hashmi MA, Khan A, Hanif M, Farooq U, Perveen S. Traditional uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of Olea europaea (olive). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015; 2015: 541591.
- Acar-Tek N, Ağagündüz D. Olive Leaf (Olea europaea L. folium): potential effects on glycemia and lipidemia. Ann Nutr Metab 2020; 76: 10–15.
- Temiz MA, Temur A. The effect of olive leaf extract on digestive enzyme inhibition and insulin production in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Ankara Üniv Vet Fak Derg 2019; 66: 163-169.