Olive Oil has been a staple of diets along the Mediterranean coast since the dawn of recorded civilization, and while it’s tasty, it’s also been used for a number of home remedies over the years. In the event that you want to use olive oil for something a bit more medicinal than roasting garlic and chicken, please do read on.
It has been used as a skin cleaning agent and moisturizer since the days of the Persians, and possibly even longer than that. It is rich in fatty acids that can open up the pores and lift out dead skin cells, and it’s very good at moisturizing the skin. You should heat it up to about ‘sipping temperature’ and rub it into your skin. You can mix it with vinegar or sugar (both work) to make it an exfoliant and skin softener.
It is a traditional remedy for softening and treating calluses and ingrown toenails. When used on the nails it keeps them grow stronger, and can clear up minor amounts of nail fungus on toenails. It can also soften the cuticles. Similarly to being used for nail care and skin care, olive oil is a traditional treatment for hair, where it acts as a conditioner and shines the hair up nicely. In all of these cases, heating the oil to ‘just barely uncomfortable’ before applying it is the recommended technique.
It can also work nicely as a bath oil for giving yourself a nice treat after a hard day. Topically applied, olive oil is also good for soothing chapped skin (it’s a moisturizer, as mentioned above) and sunburn (where it soothes the sting nicely). This is also a traditional remedy for diaper rash.
A lot of people also recommend swishing a mouthful of it and spitting it out as a dental agent, to reduce swelling from gingivitis or to remove acid from acidic foods before they damage your tooth enamel.
One of the sovereign remedies for an upset stomach is to drink two tablespoons of olive oil. The Romans and Greeks were also fond of drinking a cup of it before eating a spicy meal, to prevent heartburn. (Apparently, it coats the lining of the stomach and the intestines). This was also supposed to help prevent hangovers as well.
Heated compresses of olive oil have been used to treat cramping (both menstrual and exertion related), and olive oil has also been used as ear drops to deal with ear infections. it has been used as a cough remedy, an expectorant, to treat constipation, soothe frostbite, and as an enema solution.
On a not quite medicinal front, it’s also been used as a makeup remover, where dabbing a bit of olive oil on a swab makes a great way to pull up makeup and clear the pore of the skin. As an added benefit, it also removes waterproof mascara like a champ.
Other home uses for olive oil include being used as a leather softener and shoe polish. Rubbing olive oil into the heels of new leather boots and letting it soak in will make the leather more supple, and help the breaking-in process. It’s also been recommended for treating scratches and animal bites.
With all these great home uses, don’t forget that you can also cook with it!