The Anti-Inflammatory and Pharmacological Actions of Oleocanthal, a Phenolic Contained in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is consumed as part of the health promoting Mediterranean diet and
contains several phenolic compounds that are responsible for the unique and distinctive flavour of EVOO.
The phenolic fraction of EVOO also imparts many beneficial effects on human health. Oleocanthal is an
EVOO phenolic that shares a unique perceptual quality with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
(NSAID) ibuprofen and also mimics the anti-inflammatory actions of this drug. Oleocanthal has therefore
been deemed a naturally occurring NSAID because of its demonstrated attenuation of cyclooxygenase (COX)
activity in a dose dependent manner. New and emerging research has reported that oleocanthal also acts on
inflammatory markers associated with neurodegenerative disease, joint degenerative disease, and cancer. This
review will give an up-to-date summary of the history of oleocanthal and the current evidence establishing
oleocanthal as a potent natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Keywords: Extra virgin olive oil, Mediterranean diet, Oleocanthal, Phenolic compound, Inflammation, Chronic
disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Nitric oxide, Osteoarthritis.
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