Olive Oil: The Ancient Fountain of Youth
“I’ve never had but one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it,” Jeanne Louise Calment famously quipped. Jeanne Louise Calment was a French supercentenarian who had the longest confirmed human life span in history, living to the age of 122 years and 164 days.
Jeanne Louise rubbed Olive Oil into her skin on a daily basis and credited Olive Oil with her youthful appearance and longevity.
Olive trees are famous for their longevity and are amongst the oldest living things in the world. A grove of sixteen olive trees in Lebanon known as “The Sisters” or “The Sisters Olive Trees of Noah” are estimated to be between 5,000 to 6,000 years old and still produce fruit and Olive Oil to this day.
Ancient civilizations revered the Olive for it’s longevity, life sustaining powers and skin regenerating properties. They believed that the qualities inherent in Olive trees, that allowed them to live for thousands of years, were contained in the fruit and oil of the tree. And that these qualities could be passed on to the peoples of the Earth who consumed Olives and it’s precious oil.
When the people of Athens asked the famous Greek philosopher Democritus, legendary for having lived more than one century himself, how to preserve one’s health and live a long life, he responded, “Let us bathe our insides in honey, and our exteriors in olive oil.”
The skin rejuvenating powers of Olive Oil were well known to the great physicians of antiquity. Hippocrates, Diocles and Galen all praised Olive Oil and utilized it their medical practices:
- Hippocrates, known as “The Father of Medicine”, used Olive Oil based ointments as a topical treatment for skin traumas, diseases, and wounds. The Hippocratic Corpus (a collection of medical works associated with Hippocrates) records over 60 medicinal uses for Olive Oil, with the most common references pertaining to the healing of a wide variety of dermatological conditions.
- Diocles recommends Olive Oil be used for hygienic purposes in his epic work, Archidamos. The Greeks and Romans embraced the idea and used Olive Oil, along with the strigil, to clean, exfoliate and care for their skin.
- Galen, the Roman physician of Greek origin, is credited with the invention of cold cream. He used Olive Oil, Beeswax and Rosewater in the 2nd century AD as a moisturizer.
Today, modern research and evidence based medicine have not only confirmed Democritus, Hippocrates, Diocles and Galen’s recommendations and prescriptions for longevity and youthful radiant skin, they have explained the properties of Olive Oil that contribute to its’ tremendous ability to enhance and repair our skin.
Olive Oil is rich in vital antioxidants, essential amino acids, squalene, flavonoids, polyphenols (including a substance known as oleocanthal which has anti-inflammatory properties). Skin aging, as well as general body aging, seems to be closely tied to the inflammatory process. Olive Oil also contains Omega components such as Omega 9, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, traces of Vitamin C and Vitamin E which is, in and of itself, another antioxidant.
These are all powerful anti-aging agents that when used regularly, can slow down the aging process and help to maintain a healthy vibrant glowing skin.
How to Maintain Healthy Radiant Skin With Olive Oil:
1) In Hygiene
The easiest way to benefit from Olive Oil is to bathe in it daily. It should come as no surprise that the world’s first and most famous soaps were made with Olive Oil.
Aleppo Soap, the first bar soap ever made (circa: the 5th century BC) is formulated with Olive and Laurel oils. Aleppo Soap is renowned worldwide for being “The True Natural Soap“. It’s skin care properties are legendary.
Genuine Castile Soap, as it was made 900 years ago in Castile (Spain) is made with 100% Olive Oil and is the first bar soap widely used in Europe. It is highly prized for it’s anti-aging properties. Castile Soap is so famous that the name “Castile Soap” has been hijacked by modern commercial soap manufacturers who wish to cash in on it’s reputation and use the name to sell soaps made with ordinary vegetable oils.
Marseille Soap, a “Castile Soap” made in Marseille France, was at one time regulated by Louis XIV’s Edict of Colbert to be made only from Olive Oil. These regulations have since been relaxed and Marseille Soap can now legally contain any inferior vegetable oil.
Nabulsi Soap, another “Castile Soap” made with 100% Olive Oil is produced only in Nablus in the West Bank of Palestine.
Of the four aforementioned soaps only Aleppo and Nabulsi soaps have remained true to their roots and have not deviated from the inclusion of Olive Oil in their formulas. Care should be taken when purchasing Castile or Marseille soaps to be sure that Olive Oil is the only ingredient used to make these soaps.
2) As a Moisturizer
- You can, just like Jeanne Louise Calment did for more than a century, rub Olive Oil into your skin on a daily basis.
- Use Olive Oil in therapeutic massage.
- Make your own Galen’s Cold Cream at home.
- 3 Tablespoons (~40 gm) Olive Oil
- 2 Teaspoons (~10 gm) Grated Beeswax
- 3 Tablespoons (~40 gm) Rosewater
- Optional – 10 drops of Rose Essential Oil
- Gently melt the beeswax in a small bowl in a baking tray of hot water (or a double boiler)
- Gently heat the Rosewater in a second small bowl along side the melting beeswax (or a double boiler)
- Add the Olive Oil to the melted beeswax stirring or beating constantly until thoroughly mixed.
- Add the Rosewater drop by drop to the Olive Oil/beeswax mixture stirring or beating constantly until thoroughly mixed.
- Remove from heat stirring or beating constantly until cool
- Then (optionally) add the Rose Essential Oil drop by drop stirring or beating constantly until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour into a glass jar and a put lid on the jar once the cream is quite cool.
Substitutions: If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, melanoma or other skin conditions, you can substitute Argan Oil (a deep moisturizing oil unknown to Galen) for the Olive Oil.
3) In Your Diet
Of course one of the best ways (which is surprisingly overlooked by many) to maintain a youthful, radiant complexion is to eat a healthy diet. The Mediterranean Diet, with it’s emphasis on Olive Oil, has numerous benefits for good skin care and general health.