Affiliation: School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125 Australia.
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.