The vine or the grape is one of the most well known plants in the world. The grape grows as a shrub from one large vine, which is characterized by twisted stems that bear rather small, round and green branches with a lot of large and alternating placed palm shaped leaves. The vine also bears many tiny flowers that are grouped in a light green panicle on the stem. Grapes bear clusters of berries, which are the fruits; typically each berry is characterized by a variable color, which can go from being light green to deep blue, depending on the variety of grape. Each single berry in a grape berry cluster will contain about five and ten seeds, though seedless varieties have been bred and are much more common. The grape grows from a single vine, and original vines from very good stock can live for up to six hundred years at a time.
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Historically, the grape is one of the oldest continuously cultivated plants in human civilization. Egyptians cultivated grapes to make wine and raisins, and extant dried grape seeds have been discovered in mummy cases found in ancient Egyptian tombs older than 3,000 years old - Egyptian paintings on tombs also depict viticulture and cultivation of grapes. The Sumerians probably cultivated grape, the Bible speaks of grape cultivation during Noah's time and the ancient writer Homer speaks of the Greeks drinking wines made from grapes.
The European type of grape vine was first cultivated in the North American continent by the Mission Fathers of California. The name Mission grape was given to this old variety and it remained the choice of grape variety till about 1860, when introduction of other choice and prized European grape varieties were eventually introduced into North America. As of the present, at least 6,000 to 8,000 varieties of grapes have been described and can be distinctly named. Commercially, only about 40 to 50 varieties of grapes are used extensively. Grapes are used dried, as fresh fruit, to make preserved foods like jam and to make wine. Grapes such as the table grapes meant for eating must have an attractive appearance and must also be ideally sweet and firm in texture. The qualities which are desired in table grapes are a large sized berry, a brilliant color, and beautifully formed berries in attractive bunches. Grapes can be divided into four classes based on their utilization, these are - the table grape varieties, the wine grapes, the raisin grapes, and the sweet juice grapes meant for use without fermentation.
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Across the world, grapes have found use for different curative purposes in most cultures familiar with the plant. During the grape season in France, using the fresh grapes as the only diet for many days is not an uncommon occurrence. The high percentage of grapes in the diet is believed to be the cause for the low incidence of cancer in these areas. Grapes also have a very high therapeutic value because of their high magnesium content. Bowel movements are aided by the presence of the mineral magnesium in the grapes. Eating a lot of grapes is a natural and healthy way to supplement magnesium in the diet.
The Concord grape is one variety which is said to have the most nutritious juice among all juice grapes. During treatments, it is possible to use the juice of other varieties of grapes if the Concord grape is not available. Grapes juices which are too sweet or those that cause stomach upsets can be rectified by adding a little lemon juice. Grape juices can also be fortified with other fruit juices, for example, mixing some pineapple juice or the juice of any other citrus fruit is one common method devised by traditional herbalists. The grape juice can also be combined with some whey, with soy milk, or with the yolk of an egg - grape juices make wonderful tonic for the blood and are used for the herbal treatment of many patients all over the world.
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Roughage is provided by the grape skins and seeds of table grape varieties, these can however, add to the irritation in cases of colitis and ulcers affecting the patients, for this reason, people affected by such disorders must not consume these table grapes. A good laxative action is also seen if the bitter grape skins are chewed well when eaten. The seeds of grapes also induce a good laxative action on the body.
The bowel action is also affected in a positive way by grapes; the fruit are also good for inducing a cleansing action in the liver, and as an aid to the functioning of the kidneys. Grapes also add to the moisture content of the body since they have an alkalinizing action on the blood, and have a relatively high water content, the add fluids to the body which are deemed necessary for the complete elimination of hardened deposits along the digestive tract. Grapes also have a very soothing action on the nervous system of people and are considered to be very wonderful for the functioning of the kidneys and the bladder. A quick energy boost is also provided to the body due to the high sugar content in grapes. The blood building capacity of the dark variety of grapes has also been noticed, these grapes have this property because they are said to be high in iron - an essential trace mineral.
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Grapes are best consumed along due to the fact that grapes are not capable of mixing well with other known foods. As green acids are not good for blood, one must ensure that only ripe grapes are consumed. Topical treatments using grapes is also another excellent way to use the plant, in this situations, crushed grapes can be placed on a growth or tumor on the skin. The application of a grape pack or compress can quickly heal any infected area in the skin. Typically, such packs and compresses need to be applied to the affected area of the body for a period lasting 3 - 4 days at a stretch.
Flowers, leaves, raw berries, seeds.
An anti-inflammatory as well as astringent action is also evident in the leaves of the grapes, this is particularly true of red grape leaves - this property of the red leaves of grapes is made use of in a variety of herbal applications. Such grape seed leaves are turned into a herbal infusion for use in the treatment of diarrhea, as well as in the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding in women, and in treating uterine hemorrhage, the red grape leaf infusion is also used as a herbal wash for treating canker sores, as well as a douche for treating excess vaginal discharge in women. Grapes and the red leaves of the plant are also used in treating problems such as varicose veins, in the treatment of hemorrhoids, and in the treatment of capillary fragility.
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At the same time, sap from the branches is used as herbal eyewash for treating eye conditions of many types. Problems of the gastrointestinal tract as well as the liver are treated using grapes, as the fruit is both nourishing and mildly laxative in action, and is known for its effective support of the body through illness and disease. For purposes of detoxification, grape based fasting is recommended as the nutrient content of grapes is almost similar to that of blood plasma - this is the normal herbal supplement recommended by herbalist for detoxifying the liver. A mildly expectorant and emollient action is also seen in the dried fruits of the grape - such as raisins or sultanas, these have a slight action and can help ease coughs in affected patients. The skin is also soothed by wine vinegar, which is also astringent and cooling to the body at the same time.
The grape vine is a native plant of southern Europe and western Asia; grape was cultivated and used very early in human history. Wine is the main product made from grapes, though it is also relished as a table fruit, the vines are cultivated in all warm temperate regions in most of the vine growing regions of the world. Grape fruits are plucked in the autumn for herbal purposes, the grape leaves are collected during the summer months.
Grape sap is used for herbal external applications, sap from the branches of the grape can be placed directly on to suppurating wounds or it can be diluted using boiling water of similar volume and the solution can be used in the treatment of all kinds of eye infections affecting patients.
The grape can be used to make an herbal decoction. This is prepared by boiling fresh or dried grape leaves - measured as a leaf per 250 ml water in a cup. The leaves of the grape is diuretic, and is considered to be excellent and effective against disorders such as cellulite deposits as well as problems like diarrhea, the main effectiveness of the grape leaves lies in their tonic effects on the capillaries in the legs or the uterus of the affected person. The grape leaves are also effective against disorders such as circulatory blockages - including hemorrhoids and varicose veins, especially when used in sit baths as well as a wash for legs and hands. The grape can be made into an herbal poultice, to being soothing relief from headaches.
Healthy and easy to digest, the grape is a very wholesome fruit. Fasting people can tolerate hunger pangs much better if they are put on a diet made of grapes. It is vital that only organic fruit be considered for this purpose especially for those who have sensitive stomachs, it is also necessary to spit out the pulp and pits when consuming a lot of grapes, as these can are both laxative and cannot be digested by the body.
As supplements, the consumption of sulphur-less dried sultana raisins or dried currants which have been subjected to soaking for several hours make for a good pectoral. These can be taken thrice a day before meals for maximum benefit. Unpasteurized and whole grape fruit juice, promotes good health and is known to have as many beneficial flavonoids and antioxidant polyphenols that the fermented grape juice possesses. While wine is famous and drunk all over the world, moderation is the key because, while it makes life worthwhile, an over dependence on it has brought much personal misfortune and alcoholism to people. Wine when drunk in moderate amounts is excellent for health and a daily glass of good quality wine is beneficial and recommended by many doctors. A lot of immune-stimulating compounds are also found in the crushed pips of the grape, the fat from the cold-pressed oil of the grape seed is among the fats which is highly recommended over other types of fats.
The skin of red wine grape berries yields red wine catechins in chemical extraction. Among these catechins, the compound called resveratrol is the most active and is used by the grape plant itself to deter gray mold growth on the berries. While the red wine catechins can be extracted from purple grape juice and red wine as well, the compound resveratrol is the most abundant in the immature or raw grapes as these have the greatest susceptibility to mold - the content of resveratrol is also high in grapes that are grown in damp climates, such as those in the Long Island, New York based vineyards.
The action of the resveratrol is valued essentially in the form of an anti-cancer supplement. Additionally, the compound is also known to be effective in slowing down the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the valves of the heart and thus has a protective effect on the heart. The inflammation which causes eczema is also lessened by this compound.
The following benefits are endowed by the consumption of red wine catechins for some of the specific health conditions listed below:
In the treatment of severe diseases such as bladder cancer and breast cancer, as well as leukemia and prostate cancer-red wine catechin based medications have shown some promise. The ability of resveratrol to stop not one but three major stages of cancer development in the body has been reported in the eminent journal science by a group of scientist at the University of Illinois, Chicago. The compound acts by retarding the initiation of cancer, this is the stage during which the antioxidant actions of the body have been beaten by the presence of too many cancer inducing chemicals. The compounds also acts by preventing the proliferation of cancer cells, this proliferation occurs when any tumor secretes inflammatory chemicals and seeks its own nutrient supplies - helping it spread through the agency of the bloodstream. Resveratrol also retards leukemia, by promoting differentiation in the cells, this stops the unrestrained multiplication of cancer cells, and by this action all the white blood cells in the blood resume their normal life cycle and stop proliferating uncontrollably.
At least another one hundred scientific studies have directly attributed many other cancer beating effects on the compound resveratrol found in grapes. For example, at the Chungang University in Seoul, Korea, scientist discovered that the compound is capable of deactivating some forms of the enzyme p450 found in the liver. Many pre-carcinogenic chemicals utilize this enzyme to transform themselves into a carcinogenic form during the initiation of cancer growth in the liver. The liver is stopped from processing chemicals such as the toxic dioxin into a carcinogenic form by the presence of resveratrol. The main role of the resveratrol lies in the activation of a functional gene called p53, scientist at the university of Minnesota have found that resveratrol acts like a molecular patrolman and quickly destroys cells having damaged DNA, stopping the formation of various kinds of cancers. The ability of the resveratrol to stop the production of a chemical known as NFkB was subsequently discovered by scientists at the national Taiwan University, this chemical is responsible for inflammation in the tissues immediately surrounding a tumor and its presence is required for the leukemia viruses to bring about full fledged leukemia in the blood. During laboratory tests at the University of Maryland, scientist found that the compound resveratrol acts in a similar manner to the medication tarnoxifen-Nolvadex - the compound prevents the female hormone estrogen from stimulating the cancer cells associated with breast cancer. The resveratrol is also used in the treatment of the condition called coronary artery disease or CAD. The deposition of atherosclerotic plaques in the body is also known to be slowed down by the compound resveratrol - the compound retards the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, these results in a drastic reduction in the risk of coronary artery disease affecting a person. The oxidation of LDL - or low density lipoproteins - bad cholesterol - in the body has also been recently demonstrated to be retarded in the presence of resveratrol. The compound inhibits the oxidation of human low-density lipoproteins, the so called "bad cholesterol" in tests and this is cited as being of great significance. The ability of the resveratrol along with some flavonoids to inhibit the aggregation of platelets is another recent thrust of research, by inhibiting the aggregation of platelets; the compound aids the body in forestalling the formation of accidental clots in the bloodstream - a potentially lethal development.
The tablet form of resveratrol is the usual for of supplementation. Similar benefits can be gained by drinking 12 to 14 fluid ounces - about 450 to 500 milliliters, of purple grape juice or a single glass of red wine everyday - provided dietary restrictions on sugar consumption are non-existent.
The quicker absorption in the intestines of flavonoids found compared to those in red grape juice has been suggested by the results of a new study. At the same time, clinical research conducted by others has discovered that there is no significant difference in the absolute levels of the compounds called catechins between the alcoholic and the nonalcoholic red wines. Some results are indeed contradictory, for example, a study found that the concentrations of catechins in total blood plasma actually dropped more quickly on the consumption of alcohol.
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