While tasting extra-virgin olive oils in Sicily, Gary Beauchamp, PhD, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, noticed a ticklish, peppery sensation in the back of his throat. It was nearly identical to the “sting” he’d felt when swallowing a liquid form of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, during previous sensory studies. Beauchamp detected a connection between the olive oil and inflammation.
Further studies revealed that a compound in the oil, called oleocanthal, prevents the production of pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes – the same way ibuprofen works.
“By inhibiting these enzymes, inflammation and the increase in pain sensitivity associated with them is dampened,” says Paul Breslin, PhD, co-author of the 2011 study. Researchers found the intensity of the “throaty bite” in oil is directly related to the amount of oleocanthal it contains. “Virgin olive oils from Tuscany, or other regions that have the same variety of olives, have the highest oleocanthal levels,” says Breslin.
Continue reading Olive Oil Reduces Arthritis Inflammation