Phytochemistry: Ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil

Aug 31, 2005 | Research | 0 comments

Published: 31st August, 2005
Authors: Gary K Beauchamp, Russell S J Keast, Diane Morel, Jianming Lin,
Jana Pika, Qiang Han, Chi-Ho Lee, Amos B Smith, Paul A S Breslin


“Newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal–a compound whose pungency induces a strong stinging sensation in the throat, not unlike that caused by solutions of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.

We show here that this similar perception seems to be an indicator of a shared pharmacological activity, with oleocanthal acting as a natural anti-inflammatory compound that has a potency and profile strikingly similar to that of ibuprofen.

Although structurally dissimilar, both these molecules inhibit the same cyclooxygenase enzymes in the prostaglandin-biosynthesis pathway.”

Notes from Study:

“We found that, like ibuprofen, both enantiomers of oleocanthal caused dose-dependent inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 activities but had no effect on lipoxygenase in vitro.

Our findings raise the possibility that long term consumption of oleocanthal may help to protect against some diseases by virtue of its ibuprofen-like COX-inhibiting activity.

If 50 g of extra-virgin olive oil containing up to 200g per ml oleocanthal is ingested per day, of which 60–90% is absorbed8,9, then this corresponds to an intake of up to 9 mg per day.

This dose is relatively low, corresponding to about 10% of the ibuprofen dosage recommended for adult pain relief, but it is known that regular low doses of aspirin, for example, another COX inhibitor, confer cardiovascular health benefits.

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