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EVOO – A Proven Maintenance Therapy?

Graham the Olive Oil Guy


It’s been a long time since I posted a story on this great site and an update is well overdue. I am Graham, the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) convert, guinea pig and advocate. Diagnosed over 20 years ago I have trodden the familiar route of medication, realised that’s not the whole solution, smoked, not smoking, researched diet/food/deficiencies, over and over to the point of, well just adding unnecessary stress. 

Since realising early on that smoking slammed the brakes on my UC it has been my go to and helped me keep my colon as well as work and lead a pretty normal life. The goal was to work in drugs, diet or anything to keep off cigarettes for as long as possible. Unfortunately the NHS never used to support this strategy (despite asking repeatedly), so I would only receive a maintenance therapy during a self inflicted flare. I now have a great doctor who understands and works with me. 

In the early days I would quit smoking and always start bleeding within 3 weeks. With nicotine patches, a probiotic drink and lactose free milk I got to 6 weeks. Still hardly worth bothering to quit and I’d almost given in until I saw what turned out to be a life changing article about olive oil. In a large UK food study they noticed that there were almost no instances of UC in the group that regularly consumed olive oil. Knowing what I do now I would suggest this group were also consuming a Mediterranean diet or one quite similar and that the oil prevented UC/UC flares rather than reversing them as I once thought it would. It has for some but never for me. 

Here is the link to my 1st post in 2012 which also has the study information. 

Following the advice of 2-3 tablespoons a day I went from 6 weeks without bleeding to about 15 months! Obviously realizing this could be hugely significant it was my duty to share this information widely and learn as much about it as possible. I need to state clearly at this point that due to a “healthy” smokers colon, I had no symptoms when I began. EVOO will generally only slow a flares progression yet significantly help to prevent them when a colon is healthy. 

I have had great success stories from fellow UC’ers, though it has not provided a mass breakthrough as it did for me. I believe this was due to me wrongly expecting it to reverse UC and us not using it for it’s greatest asset that turned out to be, prevention. The clue was in the original conclusions of the study but at least we now know this with more certainty. As we know with any research it takes a frustrating amount of time and I have done my best. There were some surprising dead ends but this all leads to greater certainty and understanding. 

There are often two different targets for UC drugs, to reverse a flare and to prevent them. Which is the most important to you, now there’s a question?! EVOO is for preventing them as well as a great benefit to your general health. To maximise the benefit of EVOO I read the 100’s of studies relating to it, stayed at an Olive Oil resort in Tuscany and met/corresponded with some pioneers and experts of that world. The EVOO’ers I’ve met take it daily off the spoon. They also give off an air of immortality which reminds me of young males at the stage of pre frontal lobe maturity. In my opinion it is the world’s greatest superfood, a genuine nutraceutical and you would not believe how extensively it is being researched. Pubmed states there are currently 493 EVOO studies, here is just one recent study about UC.

I can’t list all the studies about EVOO and UC though many older ones are on my previous posts. I will try and make a few pointers that I feel are important. 

Oil must be extra virgin, quality varies hugely but fortunately us UC’ers should not waste money on the best. Oddly, too strong an oil reduced remission periods every single time I tried it. EVOO reduces inflammation in the gut but this study later confirmed that very high polyphenol oil actually increased the immune response. Seeking out the finest oils was a mistake but an important one to make. These would be early harvest oil’s and generally award winning ones that we would have to go out of our way for.

To be effective it must provide some throat irritation and a slight cough after swallowing a neat 15ml dose. The oil will be too strong and of little benefit for UC if you cough excessively. The cough is due to Oleocanthal which is the anti inflammatory component of the oil. Despite olive oil being around for 1000’s of years and part of our ancestral diet, Oleocanthal was only discovered in 1999. A sensory expert traveled to Italy and tasted an actual EVOO, he noticed the same throat irritation that he had previously experienced with liquid ibuprofen. 

Dosage, 1 x 15ml before breakfast, another before lunch then the last dose before bed. Plastic shot glasses are handy when away from home. Here is a recent and interesting study revealing the timings of our inflammatory response in relation to food and even the anticipation of food.

If you are on a low carb/sugar diet we need to get more of our energy from fat. EVOO can replace any of the alternatives safely. Omega 6 fats are abundant in the modern diet and understood to be bad for UC and general health. EVOO delivers a better balance of omega 3/6 in the body when consumed as your primary fat. 

I can almost guarantee this oil will not increase your cholesterol or make you gain weight. My cholesterol and blood pressure has been perfect since EVOO, though I am only 47. There are studies attributing weight loss to EVOO and whenever I dropped to 2 spoons I actually gained a little weight. It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol. Fat just isn’t the devil we were told it was, in some cases it’s the opposite. 

I have quit smoking around 20 times during my UC time, is that a world record ☺️? EVOO was the big breakthrough, though remission periods are shorter these days. 

I am currently on Imuran and EVOO but it’s too early to assess my progress. I’ve had neurological damage previously from a UC drug so I am wary of medications but also realise most of us can’t manage without them. For me they should be kept to a minimum though a personal assessment of drugs and their alternatives takes years, UC is never easy but we fight on!


16 thoughts on “EVOO – A Proven Maintenance Therapy?”

  1. Graham, just want to say thanks for that post and sharing what you’ve learned. I started with Humira 3 years ago, after Imuran failed for me, and so far the Humira has kept me in remission, but it’s not a perfect remission. I am going to try adding EVOO to see if I get any additional benefit. I do also make my own yogurt, but it’s hard to tell what effect it’s had. Not a big deal because I now love the taste of homemade yogurt versus the sugary stuff you get at the supermarket. Your dosing makes good sense to me, like I said will give it a try.

  2. Hi Graham, I’m in the US and have been living with UC for eight years. I started using more olive oil back when you first talked about it. Can’t really say I’m up for taking it off a spoon though. I dip bread or drizzle over veggies etc. I’m on asacol as well. Was doing pretty well so wasn’t using as much evoo. Well now I’m in a flare so I’ll be going back on it when I get out of this one. Do you still use Marks and Spencer? Can’t get that one here. I have California Olive Ranch first cold press evoo, It’s an everyday light evoo. Do you have any other brand recommendations? Hope eventually you’ll be able to quit smoking, so bad for you, yet so many say it keeps them in remission. Thank you for the update on all of the research you’ve done on evoo. Mary

  3. Hello Graham.
    I am residing in the USA for over 54 years. I have UC since 1983. Lately I Am having flair ups often. The last one lasted 16 months. Finally I went on high doses of prednisone. Finally I start feeling better, minuses the side affects of the prednisone. Diet is very important for me. Interesting to notice, when I travel back to HUNGARY my symptoms goes away, has to be the food not processes, no pesticides, .Coming back to the States in no time flairs starts up. I will try the olive oil. Thank you for the update. Etelka

  4. Hi Paul,

    More of us should notice a benefit now we know how to use it, partly my fault for jumping the gun way back then. The yoghurt sounds great, I could never get going with it despite Adams inspiring videos.

  5. Hello Mary,
    I’ve been off cigarettes since Christmas, the doc said the medication takes 2 months to work and I started it in October. I’ve always used the oil regardless of symptoms or smoking because of the wider benefits. I still use the M&S, it’s a great oil for the money, it can be an expensive hobby when you get through it like I do ☺️. Unfortunately I can’t suggest an oil for UC unless I’ve tried it but my tasting recommendations make a suitable oil easy to identify. Realistically it may take purchasing 2-3 bottles to find the right one. Something with a bigger brand should ensure continued availability when you do find one. A good oil of the spoon will be much more pleasant than a bad one or any old oil if you venture in to the pantry. I must admit it felt totally bizarre when I first tried it, entirely normal now. Cheap health insurance from a spoon

  6. It seems that we are all experiencing Covid-19 at the moment and it is indeed a worrying time. I was told to stay in for 12 weeks, I am not fearful or frightened yet but can sympathise with those who are. I don’t know if it’s due to an overactive immune system or working with the public for so long but I hardly ever get colds, flu or norovirus etc. If I do it is always very mild, I wonder about everyone else with IBD? I am on immune suppressants now so thats a different story maybe but can you remember how you faired with these things previously?

    Personally I think this virus has been around for much longer than reported. In November and December I thought it was odd that a noticeably high number of clients who weren’t obviously susceptible were experiencing a horrible drawn out mystery flu type illness that took a long time to shake off. I have commented about EVOO being antiviral before but something occurred to me, it’s only based on my experience so is not proof but maybe something.

    I returned from Cyprus late February and was under the weather (whilst out there I was using old oil as I didn’t take fresh bottle with me). There have been occasional symptoms but last week I was convinced, it’s back, not too bad but feeling very run down by the afternoons. A few days ago my bottle ran out and I did wonder if a fresh bottle could make any noticeable difference. Well it has, could be a coincidence that twice I’ve been going the wrong way with less effective oil and then turned around with a fresh/fresher bottle. While I’ve reported that too strong an oil will not be so good for UC, some of the other EVOO properties will no doubt be more beneficial when fresh or of higher quality.

    Hydroxytyrosol (HT) a small-molecule phenolic compound, is the component related to fighting viruses. I have posted a link of some studies (which can lead to further reading) which reports HT to have inactivated influenza A viruses including H1N1, H3N2, H5N1, H9N2 subtypes. HT along with another EVOO component showed strong antiviral activity towards human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These viruses would clearly not be what we are dealing with now but potent and deadly nonetheless.

    Might be worth adding EVOO to the natural armoury, I’ve been on two spoons a day since taking azathioprine but may increase it to 3. This wasn’t medical advice and have been told not to but I also halved the Azathioprine as soon as I had symptoms in February.

    I hope you all stay well and good luck!

  7. Hi Graham,

    Thanks so much for the great info and consistent updates! Are you able to specify a range of Biophenols that is recommended? Also, do you take the EVOO immediately before each meal, or a certain amount of time in advance? Thank you.

  8. Apologies for the delay, so far the phenolic compound oleocanthal (best known for its anti-inflammatory properties) and Oleacein (a known antioxidant) have gained the most attention. I dont know much about the others as it is still very early days.

    I believe through personal trial and error that before food helps much better than with or afterwards but also spacing of dosage helps. I have a small amount of medication currently and 3 spoons a day restricted gaining weight so I am taking one first thing before breakfast and then another before bed. These doses have always been good for me. So many theories point us in all directions but likely inflammation rises after food so before is a good preemptive measure and the body repairs at night so maybe EVOO helps in this period. I try not to get obsessive on timing, we can all benefit being a little more chilled that’s for sure.

  9. Thanks Paul and others for the postings. I am running out of options for treatment after 7 years of many treatments so would like to give EVOO more of a try. Are there any North American brands that anyone can recommend for high polyphenol, oleocanthol content? I now realize my current brand is too easy to swallow. Thank you all.

  10. Below is a link with a list of the olive oils that are enrolled in the North American Olive Oil Association. They do list quite a few Filippo Berio‘s which does make me wonder having sampled a few over the years. Having said that they could have upped their game and the good people behind the site are serious and passionate about EVOO. Hope this helps some of you though again avoid anything expensive as it won’t benefit those with UC if it’s too good.

  11. I wanted to share something that recently gave me immense pride. I’m not necessarily directly responsible but I can’t say I’ve come across anyone else who passionately banged the drum for EVOO and UC.

    A family member has a friend who was recently diagnosed, along with medication and other advice the consultant recommended a big spoon of Olive Oil every day. I haven’t spoken to the lady yet but to hear of an IBD doctor having a dietary opinion is one thing but to mention EVOO/Olive Oil made all the effort worth it. The message and the proof is getting out there and it will hopefully mean more research for more natural healthy treatments down the line.

    All I’ve tried to do is provide proof and reassurance that it works (even if only in a small way for some) and that people should carefully introduce it. Hopefully reducing disease severity, medication, bowel cancer and the need for surgery.

  12. Just thought I’d share this EVOO human cancer study. Consuming a good standard EVOO before meals (works better than with a meal) significantly reduced white blood cells and lymphocytes. There were also other benefits stated in relation to glucose and diabetes should you decide to read it.

    My GI recently told me 50mg azathioprine won’t work because I’m not taking enough (100mg) and there wasn’t enough circulating. I reduced it partly with a desire to minimise any possible side effects but also during the pandemic. I did say I’m taking the EVOO but at least now I can explain it is also reducing white blood cells!

  13. 40ml of good quality EVOO reduces the number of white blood cells in this cancer study (below). Interestingly they used the similar daily dosage to what I found works best as well as before meals and not with, this is important.

    Recently my GI doc told me my 50mg azathioprine is too low and blood tests showed an insufficient amount circulating. I explained that I reduced it from 100mg during the pandemic and explained my EVOO does quite a job on it’s own. Now I can categorically state EVOO reduces white blood cells just as the azathioprine does.

  14. Here is a great link summarising many of the findings about EVOO and Colitis over the years. I still can’t believe how long this takes but consultants are now recommending it to patients along with their other treatments. Further human trials are required to get the best from it and I believe that very high polyphenol EVOO is not a good idea (as is often subtly revealed in these experiments).

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