5 Proven Benefits Of Olive Oil In Osteoarthritis [UPDATED]

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which mainly occurs due to aging or any injury to the bone.

In osteoarthritis, there is major destruction of cartilage tissue which further result in disrupting the smooth gliding motion of the joint surface leading to pain and inflammation.

And therefore this type of arthritis is usually described as “wear and tear” arthritis.

Researchers have demonstrated, the importance of dietary interventions along with self-management in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis such as pain, tender swollen joints, joint disability and progression of disease.

Dietary management in osteoarthritis patients is as important as other treatment measures for keeping body under weight control, reducing inflammation and building strong cartilage tissues.

Therefore diet rich in vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids containing less calories and olive oil in place of other fats is highly recommended for better improvement and faster recovery.

What is olive oil?

Olive oil is acquired from the crushing of olives ( Oleaeuropaea).

Olives were first considered to be found in Mediterranean region but now with disclosed benefits it has been able to extend its region of availability.

The olives are cleaned, washed and then pressed between the two big stones. The paste obtained from crushing them is stirred to release the oil.

It is followed by the centrifugation for the purpose of separating out water and oil. The resulted product is then processed and further refined.

There are several varieties of oil available based on the refined status. Few are virgin olive oil, extra virgin oil, pure olive oil and lampante oil.

Out of these only virgin oil and extra virgin oil are suitable for consumption and cooking.

Despite being the best for the body, the cost factor associated with extra virgin oil makes virgin oil variant to be a popular one among common people.

Lampante oil is commonly used as fuel. Pure olive oil contains high acidic content which makes it unsuitable for consumption.

5 Proven Benefits of Olive oil in Osteoarthritis

Olive oil is the one of the richest source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids ( MUFA) which account to 75%.

It also contains non-glycerol unsaponifiable molecules containing sterols and polyphenols.

Few phenolic components are oleuropein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. They are responsible for anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties of olive oil.

1.It reduces inflammation of joints

As we all know that arthritis is nothing but an inflammation of joints. This inflammation produces pain and restricts movements of the affected region.

It can be further elaborated by production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (inflammatory mediators) by synovial (a connective tissue lining the inner surface of capsules of synovial joints) and chondrocytes (a cell secreting the matrix of cartilage).

A recently discovered phenolic compound – olecanthal is found in olive oil which acts as natural anti-inflammatory substance. Scientists have revealed that olecanthal has various modes of action in reducing inflammation.

It has also been found that it follows the same mechanism as ibuprofen which is usually recommended in arthritis treatment.

It is found that ibuprofen inhibit the activity of enzymes in prostaglandins biosynthesis pathway.

Prostaglandins is the main culprit for causing inflammation and hence suppressing its biosynthesis help in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Secondly, Inflammation can also be explained by expression of inflammation-related genes- cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-2, and several matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs).

An experimental study was performed to study the effect of olecanthal in olive oil on production of nitric oxide in osteoarthritis patients. This study revealed a positive result.

It showed that olecanthal without affecting the cell viability declines the NO synthase (an enzyme that can produce nitric oxide and supports inflammation) in chondrocytes.

Another study demonstrated that extract of olive leaf has anti-oxidant and anti- inflammatory properties.

In a vitro study, the olive leaf extract reduced the level of TNF-α (cell signaling molecule involved in cytokine production which induced inflammation) production.

Hence olive plant has an anti-arthritic property.

What does this mean? Olive oil is rich in bioactive ingredients like olecanthal that aid in reduction of inflammation in arthritis.

2. It reduces pain

An experimental trial compared the effect of topical olive oil and piroxicam gel (topical anti-inflammatory and pain relief agent) on osteoarthritis of the knee.

The study yielded results that suggest olive oil is more effective than gel in relieving pain as outcome measure.

Difference between the two groups was visible from second week and became more profound by 4th week.

This relieve in pain is explained by the various kinds of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory elements present in olive oil.

Another study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine (AJP), comparing the effect of virgin olive and piroxicam on anterior knee pain discloses that significant improvement in olive oil group was observed after 6 sessions.

What does this mean? This means that the olecanthal component of olive oil reduces the inflammation and pain by inhibiting the inflammatory factors and hence act as anti-inflammatory.

3. It provides strength to bones

Skeletal degeneration is a problem that encompasses after certain age. This leads to weaker bone density and weaker bone biomechanical strength.

It occurs because the body losses its ability to absorb calcium and other essential nutrients.

Few studies have revealed that certain dietary items can be preventive against osteoporosis. Animal and human trials confirm that consumption of olives either as fruit or oil or polyphenol component of olives have been found to improve skeletal health.

The beneficial effect can be attributed to their capability to decrease the oxidative stress and inflammation.

It was also noted that polyphenols present in oil boosted the proliferation of pre-osteoblasts (cell that differentiate to form bone cell- osteoblast that form new bone tissue).

Polyphenols also increased the process of differentiation of osteoblasts and reduced the formation of osteoclast-like cells (a kind of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue).

Few researcher don’t agree with this pathway and according to them the exact pathway for beneficial effect of olive oil on bone health is still a question to be answered.

What does this mean? This means that the polyphenolic component of olive oil has the potential to prevent the decline in bone density and improve bone health. This in tum reduces the risk of osteoporosis among elderly people.

4. It reduces the risk of obesity

Obesity is considered to be an important risk factor for osteoarthritis. A systematic review suggests that it actually increases the risk of the disease by 3 times.

Longitudinal studies reveal that higher serum leptin levels have been associated with greater knee joint damage after 10 years after adjusting for the confounding factors like Body mass index and others.

These studies reflects that obesity is a major factor in causing osteoarthritis. Hence, treating obesity becomes very important.

After several years of epidemiological and clinical trials, researchers have stated that Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus.

They explain their findings as the olive oil contains Mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and phenolic components which change lipid profile and improve endothelial function (ability of blood vessels to pump blood more smoothly).

They also act as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants which also contributes to the list of benefits.

What does this means? This means that obesity plays an important role in development of osteoarthritis. Olive oil with MUFA and phenolic components can reduce the risk of obesity hence eliminate a risk factor for osteoarthritis.

5. It reduces the cholesterol level

Researchers believe that apart from obesity, metabolic factors like cholesterol also counts in the list of causal factors of osteoarthritis.

In an animal study, high cholesterol-fed mice showed increase degradation of osteoarthritis. Free cholesterol influence mitochondrial dysfunction, overproduction of ROS (Reactive oxygen Species).

It also enhanced the expression of degenerative and swelling markers present in bone cells and ultimately promotes the collapse of the cartilage (soft bone-like tissue that supports join function).

Olive oil induces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein. It was found that oleic acid found in olive oil decreased the susceptibility of low density lipids (LDL) in vitro oxidation.

The study showed that the there was no change in plasma cholesterol level but significant reduction in low density lipids (LDL) cholosteryl ester.

What does this mean? Olive oil decreases the Low density lipids by oxidation, hence protecting the incidence cases of osteoarthritis.

Dosage of Olive Oil For Osteoarthritis

Olive oil consumption vary depending upon the need.

It can be taken from 1 tbsp to 4tbsp per day. But the most recommended dose is 2 tbsp approximately 30ml.


Olive oil should be store in cool and dry place.

It should be made sure that the oil is kept away from the heat. It bottled or should be stored in a dark or stainless steel container.

Individual allergic to olive oil or any nut oil should avoid its use.

Avoid prolong heating of oil as it may lose beneficial property.

Consult a health practitioner before starting use of olive oil in arthritis, if you are using it for the first time.


Olive oil has found its use in day to day activities. From ruling the kitchens to cosmetic world, olive oil has found a place. Similarly it has found use in treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis.

Regular consumption of olive oil decreases the risk factors of osteoarthritis-like obesity and cholesterol. It also provides strength to bone by increasing the bone mineral density.

Olive oil also reduces inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis suffering people by altering the inflammatory factors.

Apart from all these benefits, ease of availability and cost provides olive oil place in pharmaceutical companies.

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