Having originated in Asia, the olive tree is simplistic in structure, resistant to disease, and long-lived. It requires little maintenance without the need for specialized care. Although the tree is self-propagating, the branches are often trimmed seasonally to encourage healthy growth. The olive tree produces olives, which can be eaten or used to make oil.
Olive oil is made by grinding pitted olives until they form a thick mixture of pulp. Next, the pulp is pressed until all of its juice has been extracted. The juice is placed into a centrifuge which separates the oil from any water in the liquid mixture. Olive oil can be yellow or green in color, and oil with a greenish hue is thought to be richer in quality. When stored properly, olive oil can last as long as two years. Extra virgin olive oil is made from freshly harvested olives, so it offers the best flavor. In addition, it does not contain harsh chemicals.
Olive oil is readily consumed in many countries, particularly in Spain, Italy, and Greece. It contains monounsaturated fats, which are easily digested by humans and help to keep the digestive tract in good working order while also protecting it from harm. This type of fat also creates a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels.
The olive tree is associated with a great deal of symbolic power and has been referred to by a variety of names in different cultures. In the story of Noah’s Ark as told in the Old Testament, a dove brings an olive branch to the Ark, signaling an end to the flood. The olive branch restored hope to the people and the Olive tree is seen as the tree of hope. Many ancient cultures believed that the gods gifted the Olive tree to mortals as a tree of wisdom. In ancient Greek mythology, Irene (Eirene), the goddess of peace held an olive branch at all times. Thus, the olive tree was called the tree of peace. Ancient Greek wisdom also held that the olive tree is the tree of fertility since its fruit offers the antidote to sterility. Olive oil was viewed as an aphrodisiac.
In some cultures, olive oil was used to light lamps and so it was called the tree of light. The olive tree has been called the tree of health due to the benefits it provides for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Families with a long tradition cultivating olive trees for their products, it is considered to be the tree of wealth. The Celts thought of the olive tree as the tree of balance, associating it with the twenty-third day of September, which had an equal number of hours during the day and night.
Olive oil has become a popular ingredient in skincare and beauty formulas. As a natural ingredient, it is pure, mild, and similar to lipids found naturally in the skin. Therefore, it is not harsh or irritating. Olive oil has been used in many formulations to induce moisturizing benefits for more than four thousand years. Its use began during the time of the Minoan culture and continued throughout the eras of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans.
The skin readily absorbs olive oil, which works to balance both oily and dry areas of the skin. A gentle substance, olive oil is suitable for all skin types, including those plagued with psoriasis, eczema, irritation, and dryness. It has been used with some positive results to help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Although olive oil has been used to help relieve the discomfort of diaper rash and cradle cap, you should consult with a pediatrician first for approval.
Olive oil contains squalene and vitamin E in high quantities, two ingredients known to benefit the wound-healing process. Additionally, vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant that is commonly used in anti-aging formulas. Squalene, a substance found naturally in the skin’s production of sebum, delivers exceptional hydrating capabilities and regulates sebum production.
Olive oil is readily absorbed by the human skin, penetrating deep into the layers of skin tissues. It helps to protect against the damage free radicals create, while also keeping the skin supple and smooth as it fights off early signs of the aging process. While it cannot take the place of sun-protection formulas, Olive oil does safeguard the skin somewhat from the harshness of the sun’s UVA/UVB rays.