An Active Agent Straight from the Lab

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Hydroxytyrosol protects human cells against the harmful effects of free oxygen radicals – it is thus ideal for nutritional supplements and cosmetics. This substance previously had to be extracted from olives in a complex process.

WACKER can now produce a nature-identical version of this active agent via a new, patented synthesis route.



The active agent hydroxytyrosol can also be obtained from olives via extraction. However, these extraction methods have very low yields of fluctuating quality.


Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dressed, preserved or fried in olive oil, seasoned with fresh herbs, served with fish and small quantities of meat – the healthiness of the so-called Mediterranean diet has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Nutrition experts have a particularly high regard for the plant secondary metabolites in bell peppers, olives and the like, owing to their health benefits. Examples of what these “natural wonders” can do include preventing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, strengthening immune system response, and inhibiting inflammatory processes.


Slows down skin aging: as a free-radical scavenger, hydroxytyrosol can counteract skin aging.


Plant secondary metabolites include hydroxytyrosol – a member of the polyphenol family. Hydroxytyrosol is among the most powerful antioxidants, protecting human cells from harmful oxygen radicals. Olives and olive leaves are the most common naturally occurring sources of this substance. “There are already a few suppliers who obtain this active agent via extraction, and sell it to manufacturers of nutritional supplements and cosmetics, who use it in their product formulations,” explains Dr. Sebastian Schuck, senior manager for business development at WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS. However, these extraction methods are expensive because they have very low yields. Furthermore, the olive extract contains a blend of a wide range of polyphenols rather than pure hydroxytyrosol. Olive harvests are also subject to seasonal fluctuations, which affects more than just the composition of the product ingredients – it further impacts the price of these valuable extracts.

Nevertheless, demand for this health superstar is on the rise, which inspired WACKER experts to develop a synthesis route for making this valuable active. “We follow trends on the nutritional-supplement market very closely and were looking for a method that could supply the market with hydroxytyrosol in large enough amounts and at high levels of purity,” Schuck recalls.


“Our hydroxytyrosol meets a precise set of specifications, and the quality is consistent and exceptionally high.”

Dr. Sebastian Schuck
Business development manager, WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS