Deciduous climber with erect stems, tendrils, palm-shaped leaves, clusters of small, pale green flowers, and bunches of fruit (grapes) that vary in color from green to black.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to southern Europe and western Asia, grapes are cultivated in warm temperate regions throughout the world for their fruit and to produce wine. The leaves are collected in summer, the fruit in autumn.
Leaves, fruit, seeds, sap.
Grapes contain flavonoids, tannins, tartrates, inositol, carotenes, choline, and sugars. The fruit contains tartaric and malic acids, sugars, pectin, tannin, flavone glycosides, anthocyanins (in red leaves and red grapes), vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, and minerals. The anthocyanins reduce capillary permeability.
History & Folklore
Nicholas Culpepper in 1652 extolled the virtues of the grape vine, describing it as “a most gallant tree of the sun very sympathetical to the body of man, and that’s the reason spirit of wine is the greatest cordial amongst all vegetables.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Grape leaves, especially the red leaves, are astringent and anti-inflammatory. They are taken as an infusion to treat diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, and uterine hemorrhage, as a wash for mouth ulcers, and as a douche for vaginal discharge. Red leaves and grapes are helpful in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and capillary fragility.
The sap from the branches is used as an eyewash. Grapes are nourishing and mildly laxative and they support the body through illness, especially of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Because the nutrient content of grapes is close to that of blood plasma, grape fasts are recommended for detoxification. The dried fruit (raisins or currants) is mildly expectorant and emollient, with a slight effect in easing coughs. Wine vinegar is astringent, cooling, and soothing to the skin.
Grape-seed extract has potent antioxidant and circulatory-protective activity. It appears to normalize blood pressure and heart rate, working best as a preventative, anti-aging remedy that supports healthy circulation. One study found grape-seed extract reduced leg swelling in healthy women required to sit for long periods of time at work. Recent studies also indicate that grape-seed extract can be useful in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.