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Common Name: European Grape | Scientific Name: Vitis Vinifera

Family Name: Vitaceae


Grapes vines are a really cool group of vining plants that have one very special talent; they absorb the rays of the sun and convert the sun’s energy into sugar, which they store in delightfully flavorful fruits. The European grape (Vitis vinifera) were noticed by the ancient people living in and around the Mediterranean and have been a staple in that part of the world ever since. produce a fruit that is both tasty in rich in very healthy substances. The anti-oxidant activity of the red grape, and the wine produced from it, have gotten a lot of press in recent days. But, that is only the beginning. From the earliest age, whereever grapes grew, native people knew the grape would improve health and make a delicious addition to any meal.


Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Help Save Your Life”

Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Help Save Your Life”
Have you ever seen a grape vine growing? I have over twenty in my yard, of all sorts, shapes, and sizes. The plant is nothing short of incredible, especially when it’s seen growing. One thing I learned a long time ago, plants do disclose their powers, if you learn to look for it. And when you take a look at a massive grape vine, forty feet long, covered with two hundred pounds of ripe grapes swinging with sugar perfection, you just know there is something about this plant.

The plant itself is a survivor, it modified itself to survive a long time ago. The plant is a vine, using trees as support. Usually much to the displeasure of its neighboring trees. It starts by wrapping itself around a trees base, and before it’s through, it’s covered the whole thing up, lock stock and barrel.

The grape is an old plant, the first plant mentioned in the Bible as being cultivated, i.e., grown with intention rather than being collected from the wild. The plant dates back to the days of Noah, 2347 b.c., just a few years back. It is thought to be one of the oldest plants in continuous cultivation. It is found in the earliest of civilized societies, and was carried from one civilization to another. The Egyptians were quite familiar with the grape and wine making, extensive descriptions of its cultivation and its processing can be found in the ancient tombs. The grape was the symbol of the Jewish people from old, a symbol later taken on by the early Christian church.

An ancient article of food for the Israelites, dibs, has fallen from use. In its day, dibs was used in every home, rather like grape jelly of today. The freshly squeezed juice was boiled down to reduce the water content, leaving the sugary essence of the grape. The product was so high in sugar, it did not spoil, and it was used not unlike our grape jelly. Unlike today, the product was seen as powerfully health giving.

Wine is perhaps one of the most famous uses of grapes today and, of course, the French are considered the masters of the art. The grape was said to have made its way into France in the year 540 b.c., the Romans hauled them from Rome to their colonies. They caught on right away, and have been popular ever since.

There is a notion that when we consume a plant, we consume its very nature, and the notion held of old is that when we consume the grape, we consume its raw power. The power it once possessed we now possess, is the notion. From days of old, when we are weak, the recommendation is that we should eat strong plants, and the grape is one strong plant.

“Grapes next to apples have been crowned the queen of fruits. Grapes are good for all dyspeptic conditions, febrile conditions, liver and kidney troubles, tuberculosis of the lungs and bones, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, osteomyelitis, gangrene, cancer, a great many other malignant diseases.” Dr. A. M. Liebstein, 1927.

It seems the good doctor was a big fan of the grape. Just for fun, let’s follow up on his claims for the grape as being a really healthful substance and see if we can’t find some cultural confirmations of his idea.

Raisins do yield good nourishment to the body, they have in them no ill juice at all, but do engender somewhat a thick juice, which notwithstanding doth nourish the more.
There cometh of sweet and fat raisins most plenty of nourishment: of which they are the best that have a thin skin.

The stones and things remaining after the pressing are good against the bloody flix, the laske of long continuance, and for those that are much subject to vomiting.
The substance foteh stones, although it be drier, and of a binding quality, doth descent through all the bowels, and is nothing changed: as also the skins, which are nothing at all altered in the body, or very little.

Such grapes as have little juice do nourish more, and those less than have more juice: but these do sooner descend; for the body receiveth more nourishment by the pulp than by the juice; by the juice the belly is made more soluble.

Grapes have the preeminence among the Autumne fruits, and nourish more than they all, but yet not so much as figs: and they have in them little ill juice, especially when they be thorough ripe.

In Popular Beliefs and Superstitions From Utah, Collected by Anthon S. Cannon we find the following:
- Put a raisin in the ear to drive away an earache
- Raisins are very good relievers of kidney trouble
- Eat raisins to cure a sore throat

In China , pu tao, as it is called, bears a name that indicates that it is not a native plant, but one that came from a far. Though no one knows when the grape hit China, the thought is that it did come from elsewhere. One thought holds that the General Chang Chien introduced the grape from Western Asia in the year 125 b.c. Though it may not be native, it has been around for some time. Some accounts hold that it came to China in an earlier period, but who really cares, two thousand years of use is a long time in my book. The Chinese find the fruit, root, stem, leaf, and all by products strengthening to the body. Whenever in a posture of threatened health, the grape is called in to shore things up a little. The fermented product, commonly called wine, is said to prevent hunger, stimulate the instinct, and quiet the mind. I could have told you that.

In addition, the Greeks used the boiled tender shoots to treat infection, namely tonsillitis.

The fruit also possesses extraordinarily high levels of caffeic acid, a polyphenol compound with strong powers to prevent cancer in animals. In a recent study, raisins (dried grapes) were linked to lower rates of cancer deaths in a group of elderly Americans.

Gerard: “They be moreover a remedy for the inflammation of the mouth, and almonds of the throat, if they be gargled, or the mouth washed therewith.”

In Plants of Medicinal Value Found in Pakistan , they describe the fruits as demulcent laxative, sweet, cooling and useful in thirst, heat of body, cough and hoarseness.

Eating of raisins cures kidney ailments, so says A Treasury of Georgia Folklore.

An informant from Utah tells us that if you need iron, due to deficient blood, the best treatment in the world is to take wild grape roots and pour boiling water over the crushed roots, and drink the tea hot. This is said to put the iron back into the blood. I would say that this motherly advice coming out of Mormon Way , backs up what the good doctor had to say.
Though the colonials arrived with grapes in hand, the Native Americans were quite familiar with the product well before their arrival. The Seminoles used the native grape, called palko lakko, or vitis palmatto, for a variety of uses. The white man was quick to call this grape, oddly enough, wild grape, red grape, or the Missouri grape. Medicinally the whole plant was used to make a tea taken four times a day, to treat diabetes.

As we move onto the Creek Indians, we see that old snake bite issue coming up. As we have already discussed, a snake bite loads the body up with toxins, toxins the liver will then have to in turn get out of the body. The Creeks used the grape to make recovery from snake bite a little more rapid. The tender shoots and tendrils were boiled in a tea and the nasty liquid in turn given to the patient to speed recovery. The Creek use of the grape for snake bite and the Seminoles for diabetes, leads one to believe that grape may indeed assist the liver in its work, and we all need a functioning liver.
Moreover, raisins are good for the liver, as Galen writeth in his seventh book of medicines, according to the places affected: for they be of force to concoct raw humors, and to restrain their malignity, and they themselves do hardly put rise: beside, they are properly and of their own substance similar to the entrals and cure any distemperature, and nourish much; wherein they are chiefly to be commended, for raisins nourish, strengthen, resist putrefaction, and if there be any distemperature by reason of moisture or coldness, they help without any hurt, as the said Galen affirmeth.

“tuberculosis of the lungs and bones”

There is in the sweet ones a temperate and smoothing quality, with a power to cleanse moderately. They are good for the chest, lungs, windpipe, kidneys, bladder, and for the stomach; for they make smooth the roughness of the wind pipe, and are good against hoarseness, shortness of breath, or difficulty of breathing: they serve to concoct the spittle, and to cause it to rise more easily in any disease whatsoever of the chest, sides, and lungs, and do mitigate the pain of the kidneys and bladder, which hath joined with it heat and sharpness of urine: they dull and allay the malice of sharpe and biting humors that hurt the mouth of the stomach.

The Eastern Indian Preparations: Take of raisins, emblic myrobalans, dates, long pepper and black pepper, equal parts, rub them together with honey and clarified butter so as to be administered as a demulcent and expectorant.

Grape juice is also known to kill bacteria, and in animal studies dramatically thwarted the tooth decay process.
Of raisins is made a pultesle good for the gout, rottings and joints, gangrens, and mortified ulcers: being stamped with the herb all-heale it quickly takes away the nails that are loose in the fingers or toes, being laid thereon.

The following year, Johanna Brandt, a South African resident, wrote a book, “The Grape Cure,” in which she claimed grapes cured her abdominal cancer. The “grape cure” was instantly popular on several continents and still is in parts of Europe.

Alas, although grapes look promising as antiviral, antitumor agents because of their high concentration of certain polyphenols, tannins, they have found slight place in the scientific sun. Canadian investigators Dr. Jack Konowalchuk and Joan Speirs did declare grapes very powerful killers of disease-causing viruses in test tubes. The two researchers bought grapes, grape juice, and raisins (dried grapes) from local grocery stores, and red, rose, and white wines. They then added viruses to the grape extract made from pulp and skins, to the grape juice and infusions of raisins, and to the wines. All inactivated the viruses. Grapes were potent against poliovirus and herpes simplex virus, causes of polio and herpes infections respectively.

Tests in animals and humans have not been done. However, grapes contain a certain tannin thought to be a virus enemy that can be absorbed in the intestinal tact, and radioactive tannins from eaten grapes have been tracked through the digestive system and right into the bloodstreams of mice. This indicates that the grape tannins can survive digestion and circulate through the blood, perhaps attacking viruses.

Other information to be used or discarded:
A spouse stepping out can threaten health, not necessarily yours, but somebody’s. The Seminoles believed that taking a grape tendril and wrapping a lock of hair around it, and burying it at the door stoop, will keep the old husband or wife out of harm’s way.

The Seminole use of the plant on the scalp to keep hair from falling out speaks of a Native American use that the white man hasn’t picked up. The Delawares say that using the grape on the hair will make the hair grow as long as the vine itself. The natives tapped the vines in the early spring, collecting the sap, and used it as a shampoo to make the hair shiny and lush. Scalp conditions of all sorts were treated with this sap and a tea made of the bark, perhaps this is will be the new secret ingredient in shampoos and conditioners.

From our friend, Gerard, we hear, “Dioscorides reporteth, that raisins chewed with pepper draw flegme and water out of the head.” And, “It stayeth the lusting or longing of women with child, though they be but outwardly applied, and also taken inwardly any manner of ways.”

That the liquor which falleth from the body and branches being cut, being often anointed or laid on it taketh away superfluous hairs.

He also gives us a recipe:
“Grapes may be kept the whole year, being ordered after that manner as Ioachimus Camerarius reporteth. You shall take (saith he) the meal of mustard seed, and strew in the bottom of any earthen pot well leaded; whereupon you shall lay the fairest bunch of the ripest grapes, the which you shall cover with more of the foresaid meal, and lay upon that another sort of grapes, so doing until the pot be full. Then shall you fill up the pot to the brim with a kind of sweet wine called must. The pot being very close covered shall be set into some cellar or other cold place. The grapes you may take forth at your pleasure, washing them with fair water from the powder.”

Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.