A study on the attenuating effect of olive oil consumption on COVID symptoms

A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals from the Gerencia de Atención Integrada de Talavera de la Reina, part of the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service, has carried out a clinical trial on the attenuating effect on the duration of COVID symptoms in patients who consumed small amounts of polyphenol-rich olive oil, which has been published in the prestigious international journal 'Immunity, inflammation and disease'.

The research coordinator and head of the Research Support Unit and the pediatric immunologist of the Gerencia de Atención Integrada de Talavera de la Reina, Dr. Joaquín Álvarez Gregori and Dr. Francisco Rodríguez Argente, respectively, explain that this work has studied the attenuating effect on the duration of symptoms in 84 participants who took small amounts of polyphenol-rich olive oil oropharyngeally.

The results of this trial, developed thanks to the collaboration agreement with Eurocaja Rural and the Oleo Toledo group, show a decrease in the duration of symptoms (3 days on average) in people who took the polyphenol-rich oil compared to those who did not take it (7 days).

Dr. Álvarez Gregori indicates that this work has been carried out over three years by a team made up of Emergency, Pediatrics, Pneumology, Allergy, Primary Care and epidemiological surveillance nurses.

For the research coordinator, the immunological basis of this work is one of its strong points, since it identifies the use of olive tree polyphenols on the oropharyngeal mucosa as an immunological strategy with high potential to attenuate and reduce the duration of COVID symptoms. In addition, another important point is that the study was conducted in the midst of the pandemic, which provided a unique epidemiological window.

The authors propose that immunomodulation of the oropharyngeal mucosa with olive oil polyphenols allows the immune system to be alerted before the virus infects the rest of the body, since the virus is particularly adept at evading the human body's defenses.

The immunological properties of olive oil polyphenols are thus used to counteract the inhibitory action of the coronavirus on the early warning system that the organism has established in the pharynx and that allows most of the times respiratory infections to go no further than a cold.

In this sense, when these early defenses fail in the course of a respiratory infection such as COVID, severe complications, pneumonia, generalized infections, respiratory distress syndromes, whose virulence led to a high number of infected persons suffering these serious consequences, occur.

Doctors Álvarez Gregori and Rodríguez Argente, coordinators of the trial, agree in underlining "the relevance and originality of this study, since the researchers have been able to identify a valid route towards an immunotherapy strategy that promises to be solid and effective against COVID and complementary to vaccines, by means of immunomodulation of the oropharyngeal mucosa with olive oil rich in polyphenols".