Grape, Grape Leaf
CTFA name: Grape, Grape Leaf
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Photo © Steven Foster
Vitis vinifera is a deciduous woody climber with coiled climbing tendrils and large leaves.1,2 It has small, pale, green flowers in the summer followed by bunches of berry fruits that are green to purple-black in color.1,2 Grape vines can grow up to 100 feet and need support.1,3
Native to South and Central Europe and Northwest Asia, there are hundreds of cultivars on all continents and islands with suitable climates.1,4 There are 6000 or more varieties of grape of which no more than 50 are commercially important.3,4 Most wine grapes and hybrids belong to V. vinifera.3 There are other Vitis species that are native to Asia, America, and South Africa.3 The leaves, stems, and fruits (including the seeds) are used.1
History and Cultural Significance
Vitis is classical Latin for plant, vine, or branch while vinifera means wine-bearing.4 Vine comes from viere meaning to twist.5 Grape comes from the Germanic word krapfo, meaning to hook, and raisin (the dried grape) is derived from the Latin racemus, meaning bunch of grapes or berries.4
Fossilized grape leaves dating back to prehistory have been found in Europe, England, Iceland, and North America.6,7 Grapes are prominent in ancient literature and art.4 Egyptian tomb paintings from 2440 BCE show grape cultivation and the Bible mentions vineyards in the time of Noah.3 Grapes were often associated with frivolity because those who worshipped gods of wine and grape were thought to be addicted to wine, hedonism, and wild dances.4 Ancient cultures gave grape clusters to newlyweds for fertility.4 The grape vine is central to Jewish and Christian rituals.1 Wine became associated with the Christian church in the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.4 It grew to be symbolic of the blood of Christ, became a part of communion, and monasteries started their own vineyards.4
The Phoenicians brought the vine to Greece from Asia after 1000 BCE, and it was introduced to present-day wine regions by the Romans.1,3 Grape cultivation, or viticulture, originated somewhere around the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Afghanistan area.3,4 Viticulture was a major source of revenue for the Romans by the first century BCE and raisins were precious trade items in the Near East, ancient Rome, and during the Crusades.4
Grapes are the largest fruit industry on the globe.4 They are grown for dessert grapes, raisins, and red and white wines.1 Flower clusters can be used as a vegetable.8 Grapes are an integral part of most European cultures and cuisines, especially the Mediterranean.1 Young, tender grape leaves are used in Greek and Middle-Eastern food, such as in dolmas (stuffed grape leaves).4,8 The French wrap cheese in grape leaves.4 Cream of tartar, baking powders, laxatives, and soldering fluxes are made from residue or “marc” of pressed grapes and sediment of wine barrels.1 Seeds garnish cheeses or are pressed for oil.8 Grapeseed oil is used for cooking and is safe and potentially useful as a dietary source of essential fatty acids and tocopherols (Vitamin E).4,6,8 Grape skin extracts are colorants in food supplements and the drink industry.1 Wine has been recorded as a universal drink throughout the world from early times.5
Grapes are nourishing fruits rich in antioxidants, especially the skin and seeds.1,2,9 The antioxidants may have anticancer properties and beneficial cardiac properties.1,8 Grapes, seeds, and leaves have been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) and traditional medicine as a diuretic, to soothe the digestive tract, improve circulation, control swelling and bleeding, relieve constipation and diarrhea, and cool and detoxify the body.1,2,4,5,10 Grapes are known as the “queen of fruits” because of cleansing properties.4 A “grape cure” or grape fast involves eating three to six pounds of grapes to detoxify and improve liver function.1,5 Vine leaf-based medicines are traditionally used to treat fragile blood vessels, water retention, and hemorrhoids.9 They can be used topically for eye discomfort due to irritants.5,9 Ashes of burned branches were used as a primitive form of toothpaste.11
Grape seed extract has been used for vision and eye problems, varicose veins, circulation problems, easy bruising, and sports injuries.7 High in iron, it is said to help build blood or improve anemia.4 It has been experimentally used for heart health, diabetes, and degenerative diseases.7 In Asia, grape seed extract has been employed to treat a variety of skin conditions for centuries.12 Grape seed extract has been an ingredient in anti-aging creams for several years.12,13
The majority of human trials with grape seed focus on antioxidant activity and usefulness in treatment of blood vessel disorders.6 Three human clinical trials showed that a grapeseed extract improved poor circulation in legs and feet.14,15,16 Another study suggests grapeseed extract can reduce post-operative swelling faster than placebo in face-lift operations.17
Data on antioxidant chemicals in grape juice show that it has cancer-protective effects18 and may protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of free radical damage and chronic diseases.19 Grape skin antioxidant properties may be used to slow the progression of pathology in Alzheimer’s disease.20 Vitis vinifera, with other active ingredients, may be a possible new treatment option for improving signs and symptoms in adults with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis.21
In the late 1990s, the market supply was expanding for grape seed extracts.22 Demand for wine23 and grapes24 fluctuates but is increasing overall.
Grapes can be grown organically but geographic location, diseases, insects and pests, and growing costs (which are higher for organic vs. conventional grapes) must all be taken into consideration.25
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5 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol. 2. New York: Dover Books; 1971.
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7 McCaleb R, Leigh E, Morien K, eds. The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing; 2000.
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10 Kapoor L, ed. Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.
11 Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Human Health. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2003.
12 Thornfeldt C. Cosmeceuticals containing herbs: fact, fiction, and future. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):873-80; discussion 880.
13 Yamakoshi J, Saito M, Kataoka S, Kikuchi M. Safety evaluation of proanthocyanidin-rich extract from grape seeds. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2000;40: 599–607.
14 Henriet JP. Endotelon® dans les manifestations fonctionnelles de l’insuffisance veineuse peripherique: Etue EIVE. Actualite Medicales Internationales – Angiologie 1988;5(74):n.p. in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.
15 Delacroix P. Double-blind trial of Endotelon in chronic venous insufficiency. Revue de Medecine 1981;27/28:1793-1802 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.
16 Paitel D. Rheographic and thermographic study of the effects on peripheral hemodynamics of an endotheoliotrophic, double blind versus placebo study. Vie Medicale 1981;11:776-783 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.
17 Baruch J. The effects of Endotelon on postoperative edema: Results of a double-blind study vs. placebo in thirty-two patients. Annales de Chirurgie Plastique et Esthetique. 1984;29(4):393-295 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.
18 Park YK, Park E, Kim JS, Kang MH. Daily grape juice consumption reduces oxidative DNA damage and plasma free radical levels in healthy Koreans. Mutat Res 2003;529:77–86.
19 O’Byrne DJ, Devaraj S, Grundy SM, Jialal I. Comparison of the antioxidant effects of Concord grape juice flavonoids and α-tocopherol on markers of oxidative stress in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:1367–1374.
20 Russo A, Palumbo M, Aliano C, Lempereur L, Scoto G, Renis M. Red wine micronutrients as protective agents in Alzheimer-like induced insult. Life Sciences 2003;72:2369–2379.
21 Belloni G, Pinelli S, Veraldi S. A randomised, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MAS063D (Atopiclair) in the treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. Eur J Dermatol. 2005 Jan-Feb;15(1):31-36.
22 Devi L. Market Supply Expands for Pine Bark and Grape Seed Extracts. Herb Clip. January 2, 1998 (No 120173-125). Austin, TX: American Botanical Council. Review of Pine Bark and Grape Seed Extracts Benefit from Supportive Science by Lerner M. Chemical Market Reporter, February 3, 1997;7 & 14.
23 Brunke H and Chang M. Wine Industry Profile: Overview. Available at: http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/commodity/fruits/wine/wineindustryprofile.htm. Accessed August 30, 2005.
24 Brunke H and Chang M. Grape Profile: Overview. Available at: http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/commodity/fruits/grapes/grapesprofile.htm. Accessed August 30, 2005.
25 Ames G. Organic Grape Production: Horticulture Production Guide. Available at: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/grape.html. Accessed August 30, 2005.