Inflammation has been linked to a wide range of human diseases, including heart disease, cancer and many others. It is hard to find somebody who has not taken an anti-inflammatory drug to relive pain associated with inflammation.
One of the most common drugs used for the above treatment purpose are the Non- steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs or the NSAIDs. Ibuprofen, which belongs to the above category, is most commonly prescribed for pain relief
It has now been found that high quality olive oil contains a natural chemical that acts like the popular anti-inflammatory pain killer ibuprofen. Infact, a 50-gram helping of extra-virgin olive oil was equivalent to about 10% of the ibuprofen dose recommended for adult pain relief according to researchers.
The active ingredient in olive oil is oleocanthal, which affects the same biochemical pathway as ibuprofen and other medicines. They all inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase, or COX enzymes.
It is believed that the finding can explain the well-known health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet, of which olive oil is a central component, has long been associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, and some dementias.
Similar benefits are associated with certain NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Now that we know of oleocanthal's anti-inflammatory properties, it seems plausible that oleocanthal plays a causal role in the health benefits associated with diets where olive oil is the principal source of fat.
Although it will not cure a headache, regular olive oil consumption may provide some of the long-term benefits of ibuprofen.