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Medicinal Wine

The medicinal powers of wine have long been known to ancient physicians and modern folk healers. Many old healing recipes involve the making of wine to preserve the healing power of summer fruits and herbs like elderberry, dandelion and blackberries throughout the winter. Other remedies call for herbs to be steeped in grape wine to extract the active constituents. In both ancient and modern times, wine has a reputation for extending and enhancing the quality of life.

Specific wines have their own particular healing properties based on the herbs or fruits involved in their manufacture. But, generally speaking, all wine induces relaxation, reduces anxiety, aids digestion and possesses antibacterial properties. Furthermore, it imparts a sense of satisfaction that makes it a mood booster. Taking a half glass of wine before retiring is highly beneficial to quality sleep.

Traditionally, wine is as much a healing medium as teas, tinctures, decoctions and salves. In countries that have not suffered the effects of Prohibition as the U.S. has, wine is regarded as a food and a source of nutrition. Only in recent decades has the remarkable amount of research reflecting the health benefits of moderate wine consumption forced the medical profession in the U.S. to revise their stance against wine consumption.

The Framingham Heart Study, which was first begun in 1948 and encompasses three generations of participants, demonstrates that there are 50 per cent fewer deaths from coronary disease among drinkers than non-drinkers.

According to studies, one of the natural substances in red and white grape wine associated with longevity, improved cardiovascular health, immune system enhancement and anti-cancer properties is resveratrol. This constituent has been the subject of numerous studies and is most often associated with the health benefits of wine in the collective mind of the public.

A 2010 study on resveratrol in red wine, conducted by John Hopkins University, indicates that it may shield the brain from stroke (“How Red Wine …”). A study conducted at Kyoto University, shows how resveratrol may have an effect on dopamine production that could be beneficial to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease (Okawara). It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, lowers blood sugar and protects the body from the effects of radiation.

Both red and white wine made from grapes have similar health-enhancing constituents. These benefits seem to be greater for older people. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society indicates that moderate wine consumption may lower the chances of developing macular degeneration (Obisesan 46:1-7).

The fermentation process involved in the conversion of juice into wine enhances its antioxidant properties many times over. Wine also contains the powerful antioxidants quercetin and epicatechin. Antioxidants help heart health by inhibiting the formation of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries.

But, the health benefits of wine may lie in other properties, as well, depending upon what was used in the wine’s manufacture. For instance, the yeasts involved in the production of wine contain their own nutrients: “Magnesium sulfate, thiamine, folic acid, niacin, biotin and calcium pantothenate.”

Wines made from dark berries have the natural qualities of those fruits, which is why folk healers make wines. It is done in order to preserve and enhance the natural healing powers of the fruit or herb and make it available during the winter months.

For example, elderberry is well known for its ability to inhibit cold and flu and it is valued by healers as a remedy for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is also a powerful antioxidant, made more powerful by the fermentation process.

Blackberry, besides being a powerful antioxidant, has historic uses as a strengthener of the gums and a fortifier. Blackberry is also used for diarrhea, skin rashes and minor sore throats. It is a powerful agent against cancer-causing free radicals. And, along with other purple-colored berries, it helps improve vision, especially at night.

Wine is not like other alcoholic beverages. Drinking wine should not be thought of as a guilty pleasure, but when done it moderation, as an aid to health and longevity. Modern science bears out the truth of knowledge handed down through antiquity. Enjoy wine in moderation and have a healthier, more satisfying and longer life. Make it, drink it and savor it.

References: “How Red Wine May Shield Brain from Stroke Damage: Researchers Discover Pathway in Mice for Resveratrol’s Apparent Protective Effect, Science Daily, April 21, 2010. Retrieved on May 15, 2010., Mitsugi, Hiroship Katsuki, Emi Kurimoto, Haruki Shibata, Toshiaki Kume, Akinori Akaike, “Resveratrol protects dopaminergic neurons in midbrain slice culture from multiple insults,” Department of Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyoto University. Retrieved on May 15, 2010. Tom, Hirsch R, Kosoko O, et al. Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds in developing age-related macular degeneration in NHANES-1. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 1998; 46:1-7. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.

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