There are about 3000 cultivated species of Vitis vinifera (common grape vine) worldwide, producing the fruit with the most medicinal properties known. All ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean knew of Vitis vinifera and used it comprehensively.
The fruits—grapes—and the leaves and sap of this noble plant possess many medicinal properties and are an excellent natural food/medicine which lacks any toxicity. We cannot say the same about wine, a product of grape juice, which in this process of decomposition loses its unique medicinal properties and becomes a liquid drug with the ability to intoxicate, to provoke behavior alterations and addictions.
Grape juice is rich in substances with high biological value: sugar with high nutritional value, protein, vitamins, and minerals. On the other hand, wine loses most of its sugar, which becomes alcohol during fermentation, as well as its vitamins and protein. Grape juice is a food and medicine. Wine, the product of its fermentation, lacks any nutrients. Due to its alcoholic content, it is irritant for digestive organs, and especially for the liver, even in small amounts.
Bear in mind that the ethyl alcohol that wine contains (60-120 g per liter) is a potent poison for our body. When the blood contains one gram of alcohol per liter, it produces symptoms of ethyl intoxication (euphoria, loss of mental control, and decreasing reflexes). A level of 4-5 g per liter can cause death due to coma and respiratory failure. Maximum alcohol levels (the concentration of alcohol in the blood) allowed in Western countries for drivers vary from 0.5 to 0.8 g per liter.
Despite praise from gourmets and poets, the only property of wine tested and proven is its antiseptic effect when externally applied on wounds. This effect is due to the degree of alcohol it contains.
In ancient times, wine was used as an antiseptic, and Dioscorides recommended it. This is the use Jesus referred to in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Ancient myths saying that wine makes “good blood” or “good for the heart” have been proven wrong by scientific research, just as research has with other plants employed in ancient treatments. Consumption causes megaloblastic anemia and myocardiopathy (degeneration of the heart muscle).
Medicinal properties lie in the grapes and the grapevine leaves, in their natural condition, not in wine. We advise against the consumption of wine even when employed as a dissolving agent or vehicle for certain medicinal herbs since some patients may suffer from side effects that result in more severe consequences than the diseases they suffered from before. Therefore, authentic wine is pure grape juice.
Vitis Vinifera Scientific Facts
- French: Vigne.
- Spanish: Vid.
- Environment: Vitis vinifera is native to Asia Minor and widely spread throughout the Mediterranean countries, where wild plants can still be found (variety Lambrusco). At present, it is cultivated worldwide.
- Description: Vitis vinifera is a climbing shrub of the Vitaceae family, with small flowers growing in composed clusters. The fruit, grapes, are black or greenish berries containing one to four woody seeds.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The leaves, the sap, the berries (grapes), and the seeds.
Healing Properties and Uses
The LEAVES of Vitis vinifera, especially those of the red variety, contain tannin with astringent properties and abundant flavonoids and anthocyanin coloring substances, which give the plant capillary protective and hemostatic properties. It is used in the following cases:
- Venous circulatory afflictions. Hemorrhoids, chilblains, varicose veins, swollen or tired legs due to disorders of the capillary permeability. It is one of the most active herbal remedies against these afflictions. In these cases, and to enhance its effects, it is recommended to combine internal and external applications; that is, in addition to drinking a decoction of leaves, baths with the same decoction are recommended.
- Gastroenteritis, chronic diarrhea, and especially dysentery with rectal bleeding due to the astringent and antihemorrhagic properties of the Vitis vinifera.
- Hemorrhage. It is beneficial for menstrual disorders to avoid frequent bleeding and hypermenorrhea (too abundant menstruation) to normalize menstrual cycles of dysmenorrhea (irregular or painful menstruation). It stops nose bleeds when directly applied, sniffing dried ground leaf powder, besides drinking an infusion.
The SAP of Vitis vinifera is obtained when vine shoots are cut during the spring before leaves grow. This sap vine shoots exudate has been successfully used for ages to heal skin irritation (eczema and various rashes), mainly to wash eyes when affected by eyelid inflammation, sties, conjunctivitis, and inflammation of the cornea. It can also be used as an eyedropper for preventative eye hygiene. It contains sugars, tartaric acid, tartaric salts, and other organic acids and has anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
The GRAPES contain 16% of sugar (glucose, levulose, and saccharose), up to 1% of proteins (10 g per kg), 0.5% of fats, vitamin A, B group vitamins, and vitamins C and P, mineral salts, especially potassium and iron salts, organic acids, and anthocyanin coloring substances in their rind. They have stimulating, laxative, depurative, and antianemic properties and reduce congestion. The best method to take advantage of all these virtues is undergoing a grape treatment.
Consume from one to three kilograms of grapes as the only food during three days, or even one week. More prolonged treatments must always be performed under medical control. If grapes are correctly digested, their skins and seeds can also be eaten after being well chewed. Grape juice, reconstructed from a boiled concentrate, can also be consumed, but it is better to drink fresh juice. Be sure that commercialized grape juices do not contain any chemical-preserving substances.
This treatment achieves a very notable depurative effect, which in standard terms is called “cleansing the blood,” which is nothing more than the elimination of toxins and metabolic waste that hinder the normal function of organs and tissues. A grape treatment will reduce all digestive organs’ congestion, especially the liver. Grapes contain easily assimilated sugars, and their proteins and fats have high biological value. It is thus recommended for all people wanting to enhance their health condition, and especially in the following cases:
- Fatty diet (rich in animal fats).
- Arthritis and gout.
- High blood pressure.
- Excess of cholesterol in the blood.
- Kidney diseases, kidney stones, nephritis, nephrosis, and kidney insufficiency.
- Obesity. Despite the sugar they contain, the calories of grapes are below 80 per 100 grams.
- Chronic liver afflictions, hepatitis, cirrhosis, portal hypertension.
- Anemia, physical exhaustion.
- Lack of performance, asthenia stress.
The SEEDS of grapes contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, helpful in treating excess cholesterol. These are employed in the form of oil (grapeseed oil).
How to use Vitis Vinifera
- Decoction of the leaves, with 40-50 grams per liter of water. Drink three or four cups daily before meals.
- Grape treatment, with depurative aims (see above).
- Oil of grape seeds consumed as any other edible oil, from two to five spoonfuls a day.
- Sitz baths against hemorrhoids (see below).
- Foot baths against chilblains, and to improve blood circulation, with the same decoction used for sitz baths (see below).
- Powder. To stop nose bleeds, inhalation of dried leaf powder.
- Young Vitis vinifera (grapevine) shoot sap. Gather in a clean container, and apply directly to the skin or eyes. It cannot be preserved; therefore, it is only used in the spring.
Sitz Bath to Treat Hemorrhoids
With one or two liters of the same decoction recommended for internal use, prepare a sitz bath. Pour the decoction liquid into a suitable bath and add enough water to cover the lower stomach. Water temperature must be cold, as it comes from the tap.
It is recommended that you take up to three baths a day, around five minutes each. This will reduce the inflammation of hemorrhoids and prevent an increase in their volume because of the venotonic properties of Vitis vinifera leaves. By increasing the tone of venous walls, hemorrhoids, which are typically abnormally dilated veins, contract, and the blood circulation is improved.
In the case of a hemorrhoid crisis (acute inflammation), the best results are achieved by combining the healing action of Vitis vinifera in all its forms over two or three days, which include:
- Herbal teas with the decoction of leaves.
- Sitz baths with the same decoction but slightly more concentrated.
- Grape treatment (see above).
Footbath with Vitis Vinifera Leaves Decoction
A more beneficial effect will be achieved for venous blood circulation in feet and legs when preparing two bowls:
- One of them with a hot decoction of the Vitis vinifera leaves.
- The other one, with cold water.
Put your feet for five minutes into the container with the hot decoction, then for ten minutes in the one containing cold water. Alternate three or four times, always hot decoction first and cold water last. After this, you can have an ascending foot massage.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 544, 545, 546, 547. Print.[Vitis vinifera]