by James R. Privitera, M.D.


INTRODUCTION

Science has long stalked the chemical world within plants to uncover their amazing healing secrets. Lately, these investigations have yielded discovery after discovery of natural compounds with promising health and medical potential.

Some of these compounds stimulate the production of anti-cancer enzymes in the body. Others bind and neutralize certain carcinogenic chemicals. Other have antioxidant effects, protecting the body from oxidation damage caused by harmful molecular fragments known as free radicals that contribute to aging and illness.

These natural compounds are found abundantly in roots, stems, leaves, fruits and vegetables. They go by a variety of scientific names like polyphenols, flavonoids, flavonols, pycnogenols, glucosinolates, isoprenoids, carotenoids, tocotrienols and proanthocyanadins. To keep things simple and pronounceable, we will just call them phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phyto stems from the Greek word for plant.

The volume of current research is intense. Some experts say these compounds may offer the best protection we know of against the diseases that plague us today. There's much yet to learn about the tissue-specific way they work. But with time, these phytonutrients, in the form of supplements or medical preparations, may play a major role in anti-aging medicine and how we prevent and treat disease.

Among the many phytochemicals that have interested me, as a clinician, is oleuropein (pronounced oh-lee-or-oh-pin), a substance found in the olive leaf. I, as well as other health practitioners, have found that a natural supplement of olive leaf extract contains substantial medicinal benefits. Among them, boosting the energy among patients and aiding in the treatment of herpes and other viral conditions, flu and colds, fungal infections, chronic fatigue and allergies. I have also been surprised by unexpected results generated by this supplement.