Olea europaea L. (Oleaceae), native of Mediterranean, Africa, south western Asia, Himalayas and naturalized in many other places, is an evergreen tree, being its main product, olive oil, one of the most typical component of the Mediterranean diet which has been associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, Olea europaea extracts are used in traditional medicine worldwide to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. For example, hot water extract of the fresh leaves is taken orally to treat hypertension. The number of people dying from cardiovascular diseases has been increasing and currently there is a huge trend to use natural products in the cardiovascular health. Thus, the ethnopharmacological relevance of Olea europaea is presented and critically discussed in this chapter, having in mind the scientific evidences that corroborate the true value of this species (mainly based on published in vivo studies and clinical trials) as an agent against cardiovascular diseases, and exposing the associated facts and myths. A survey of the currently available Olea europaea medicinal products will be highlighted, along with their potential adverse effects. In this way, it will be clearly shown that Olea europaea extracts used in traditional medicine are coming to the modern medicine, with their therapeutic effects scientifically validated.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases, Clinical trials, Olive leaves extract, Oleuropein, Olea europaea.