- Namily Vitaceae
- Vitis vinifera
- None listed.
- None listed.
Native to southern Europe and western Asia, the grape vines are cultivated today mainly in all temperate regions of the world. It is a deciduous climber with erect, rambling stems, tendrils, palm-shaped leaves, clusters of small pale green flowers, and bunches and fruit that vary in colour from green to purple and black. The leaves are collected in summer, and the fruit in autumn.
Grapes have been used since the beginning of time for alcholic beverages, but its use as a medicinal is equally as long.
The Chinese name for the fruits, pu tao, indicates that it was not a native plant, but rather one that came from afar. Although no one knows when the grape reached China, it has been there for at least 2,000 years. The Chinese use the fruit, root, stem, leaf, and other by-products of the plant to strengthen the body, especially in the debilitated.
In 1652, Nicholas Culpeper recommended grapes as a mouthwash, stating that “the ashes of burnt branches will make teeth that are as black as cole to be white as snow; if you do but every morning rub them with it. It is the most gallant tree of the sun very sumpathetical to the body of man, and that’s the reason the spirit of wine is the greatest cordial amongst all vegetables.”
Gerard, the 17th century herbalist stated that “raisins chewed with pepper draw flegme and water out of the head” and indicated that they were also good for mouth and throat inflammations.
Early European colonists brought their grapevines with them, but Native Americans were already familiar with their own varieties. The Creeks used a concoction of boiled grape shoots and tendrils to speed the recovery of snakebite victims. This suggests that the plant was used to assist the all-important function of the liver. The Seminoles had a variety (V. palmatto), which they called “palko lakko” as a treatment for diabetes. Dosages consisted of four a day made from the entire plant.
One unusual use of the plant came from the Seminoles, who would take a grape tendril, wrap in in a lock of the spouce’s hair, and bury it at the door stoop to prevent any unfaithfulness. The Seminoles also used the plant to keep the hair from falling out, while the Delawares said that grape would make the hair grow as long as the vines themselves. They tapped the vines in early spring, collected the sap, and used it as a shampoo to make their hair shiny and lush. Scalp conditions of all sorts were treated with this sap and with a tea made from the bark. On the other hand, Gerard said that grape sap removed hair, so it would be wise to do a patch test before going all out.
- improves vascular activity
- protects the liver
- tartaric acid
- malic acid
- flavone glycosides
- anthocyanins (in red leaves and red grapes only)
- vitamins and minerals (especially A, B1, B2, C)
Leaves, fruit, sap
The anthocyanins reduce capillary permeability.
Proanthocyanidin has been proven to promote the proliferation of hair follicle cells and possesses a remarkable hair-cycle converting activity from the telogen phase to the anagen phase.
In one study, the antioxidant effects of proanthocyanidin was more potent than that of vitamin C and E succinate.
Proanthocyanidin has also been proven to protect the liver, especially from acetaminophen-induced hepatic DNA damage and to stimulate rejuvenation of liver cells.
The extraordinarily high levels of caffeic acid found in grapes appear to have strong powers to prevent cancers, at least in animal studies.
Grape juice is also known to kill bacteria; and, in more animal studies, it dramatically reduced the tooth decay process.
Grapes have also been found to be potent against the poliovirus and herpes simplex virus. Tests using radioactive tannins traced these components through the digestive system and into the bloodstream of mice indicates that the grape tannins can survive digestion and circulate throughout the bloodstream to attack viruses.
Infusions of the leaves (especially the red leaves) are taken to treat diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine hemorrhage. As a wash, the infusions make a good mouthwash for canker sores or as a douche for vaginal discharge.
The red leaves and fruit are also helpful in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and capillary fragility.
The sap from the branches is used as an eyewash.
The fruit is mildly laxative, as well as nourishing, especially for the gastrointestinal tract and liver.
Because the nutrient content of grapes is so close to that of blood plasma, grape fasts are recommended for detoxification.
The dried fruit, in the form of raisins or sultanas, are mildly expectorant and emollient and used to ease coughs.
To make a healthy tonic syrup: Place four pounds of grapes (red or white), three tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, two cups of dried sorrel blossoms, and four cups of water into a pot and simmer on low until the grapes have fallen apart. Cool. Take a new nylon stocking or panyhose and put the mixture inside the leg. Hang and allow to drain into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of this syrup to a glass water or juice when needed.
Wine vinegar is astringent, cooling, and soothing for skin problems.