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Olive Oil in Folk Medicine


Olive oil has always been an inseparable element of folk medicine. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended several uses for olive oil.

In nearly all Jewish communities we can find interesting medicinal uses for olive oil. Here are just a few examples:

Iraqi Jews recommend that people suffering from headaches, loss of appetite, insomnia and digestive problems should drink a spoonful of olive oil each day.

Syrian Jews maintain that drinking olive oil helps barren women to become pregnant.

Yemenite Jews use olive oil as a basis for various ointments and claim it is effective for colds and pains and cures dandruff. Ground olive leaves are used to heal wounds and cure jaundice. Eating olives improves the appetite. The juice of pickled olives is used as a mouthwash to strengthen teeth and gums. Incense made from olive pits is used against lung disorders.

Moroccan Jews had many uses for olive oil and found it effective against rheumatism and all kinds of body aches. Infants suffering from severe cough. and respiratory problems were given olive oil mixed with honey. Olive oil compresses were used to cure chest pains.

The Jews of Tunisia and Algeria had folk doctors who set fractures and cured back pains by massaging them with oil.

Treating with Olive Oil

Here are ways of treating health problems with the help of olive oil, taken from healing methods used for many years in Jewish communities and in countries of the Mediterranean Basin.

To strengthen nails: Heat a little oil and pour into a small dish. Dip fingernails into the dish for five minutes, and then gently massage the base of the nails.

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To prevent constipation: A tablespoonful of oil in the morning on an empty stomach is helpful. It is also possible to add the juice of half a lemon.

To relieve dandruff: Massage the scalp with olive oil for five minutes, then leave the oil on the scalp for fifteen minutes and shampoo as normal. The treatment should be repeated two or three times a week until the dandruff disappears.

For healthy, shiny hair: Mix olive oil with an egg yolk and spread on the hair. Wrap the hair in a towel and leave for about an hour. Rinse with lemon juice then shampoo as normal.

For dry skin problems: Apply olive oil to the skin after a shower, like body lotion.

To control acne: Mix about 2.5 fl.oz. olive oil with three drops of lavender oil. Apply to clean skin.

Note: These treatments are recommendations only, and are not intended as a substitute for a visit to a physician or medical treatment as required.

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