A Compound in Virgin Olive Oil Shows Promise for Wound Healing

Virgin Olive Oil

A study published by researchers at the University of Jaén in Spain, September 30, 2018 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, shows that an anti-inflammatory compound found in virgin olive oil called squalene can play a significant role in wound healing, especially in the last stages of wound closure healing and the formation of scar tissue. The study was led by José Juan Gaforio, professor of Immunology at the University of Jaén and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Navarra.

Squalene boosts and activates the immune response of macrophages. The researchers believe that the results of this study might lead to treatments for inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.


Squalene is the most important of the minor compounds found in virgin olive oil. It protects the surface of the skin by reacting against chemical, physical, bacterial and external stress signals. Thus, squalene can prevent skin damage and its anti-inflammatory characteristics may also be able to prevent cancer and atherosclerosis.


Two types of macrophages are involved in the formation of scar tissue in the last stages of wound healing: Macrophage 1 (M1) and Macrophage 2 (M2). The M2 macrophages have anti-inflammatory properties and are crucial for the final stage of wound healing. The role of squalenes is to mediate tissue remodeling and repair by initiating a switch from M1 into M2 macrophages, which imports immune cells and produces anti-inflammatory signals.

Further Research is Needed

Further research is needed to see what influence squalene would have on the healing process if it was administered in larger doses. In other words, would increasing the amount of squalenes in treatment be safe and have even better results in wound healing, or would increasing squalenes lead to side-effects and bad reactions?

Squalenes in Treatment for Tumors

Squalenes have been used recently in several ways for treating cancerous tumors, including chemopreventive treatment of tumors. In the past the University of Jaén carried out another study that suggested squalenes might be able to help prevent breast cancer by reducing oxidative damage on epithelial cells.


Other studies have associated another component of extra virgin olive oil called oleocanthol, which was able to destroy cancer cells in the laboratory. Oleocanthol also has pain-relieving qualities like ibuprofen, but without dangerous side effects. Ibuprofen is dangerous for the heart, liver, kidneys and other organs and can also lead to bleeding. However, virgin olive oil actually protects the heart.

Complex Wound Care

Complex wound care is treatment needed for serious wounds that are often chronic wounds. Many types of these wounds are best treated in a short-term acute rehabilitation facility like the Park Crescent Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey. See our blog post from February 1, 2019 about the state-of-the-art complex wound care offered at Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Park Crescent has very expert treatments using advanced equipment like hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT).


While further research is needed, there is a very real possibility that virgin olive oil may be found to be beneficial in complex wound healing.


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