NEWS

Olive tree myth cut down

Health authorities said yesterday that there is no evidence supporting claims that olive trees contain healing properties for cancer victims and stressed that taking a drink containing its leaves could even be dangerous to a patient’s health. Television coverage of the purported healing properties of olive tree leaves have sparked a frenzy in Greece and caused one violent death. Extensive media reports over the past week about the leaves’ alleged ability to cure illnesses have triggered an angry response from doctors and pharmacists. The Health Ministry stepped in yesterday in a bid to stop patients from being misguided on the issue. «There have been no tests completed on the toxic levels of the product (olive tree extract), it is possible that its use gives rise to immediate dangers for the patient,» said the Health Ministry, citing the Central Health Council. «It is very dangerous to take advantage of the hopes of those suffering from neoplasms. This could be lead to patients using the particular product, abandoning the prescribed medication from doctors,» the ministry added. Last week several chat shows, including on state television, said a thick, green drink made of raw olive leaves and water, mixed in a blender, was doing wonders for cancer patients. Several elderly guests said they were cured by the drink and self-described therapists mixed the juice on live television. The news spread like wildfire and the television shows fielded a flood of inquiries about the drink’s recipe. According to local press reports, retailers in some parts of the country were selling packaged olive tree leaves for between 45 to 60 euros per kilo. On Sunday, an argument erupted between two brothers in Messini, southern Greece, over whether they should give the leaf juice to their third brother, who suffers from cancer, ended with one stabbing the other to death.