Wild Grape

Vitis vinifera and related species

V. rupestris, V. labrusca, V. aestivalis, V. vulpine


A symbol of health and fertility down through the ages, wild grape is a supreme food and medicine. Found growing throughout temperate areas around the world, this long-lived vine is frequently referred to in the Bible and has a history of use that goes back at least as far as 8,000 years, when grape vines were cultivated in what is now the Middle East. Grape wine has been enjoyed since ancient times.

A strengthening and restorative tonic for the blood and body, all parts of wild grape leaves, fruit and tendrils offer abundant iron, calcium and potassium. Wild grape's ability to alleviate fatigue is astonishing. Grandmothers used all parts of the grapevine to treat lymphatic ailments and some cancers. Say old wives: “When all else fails, live on the vine.” The "grape cure" or therapy, known as ampelotherapy (from the Greek ampelos meaning vine), consists of consuming three to six pounds of organic grapes, two to four cups of leaf and tendril infusion, and as much fresh spring water as desired each day.

Wild grape excels as a fertility-enhancing herb. I know of many who had trouble conceiving until they worked wild grape into their daily diet. I like an infusion made with equal parts of wild grape, red clover and raspberry leaves with a sprinkle of rose. Sometimes I add nettles as well and call this tea blend Strength and Vitality.

The Delaware combine the fruits of V. rupestris with herbs such as pearly everlasting, peppermint and sarsaparilla to enhance fertility and strengthen generative organs. After giving birth Cherokee women drink an infusion of the leaves as a nourishing tonic, and apply the wilted leaves of V. labrusca to their breasts. Mohican apply wild grape leaves to painful rheumatic joints. Creek use the boiled tips and tendrils of V. aestivalis to heal snakebite and combine it with ginseng to allay tonsillitis. Iroquois nourish the blood and remedy anemia with infusion of V. vulpine.

The seeds and leaves of wild grape are astringent. European herbalists use them to stop bleeding from wounds and to stop hemorrhage. The vine sap is used as a lotion for the eyes. Menominee apply ripe grape juice to the eyes. Ojibwa use wild grapevine sap to relieve bowel and stomach ailments.

All of my Southern Italia neighbors are exceptionally fond of growing vite. They use the sap that flows while pruning the vines as a healing wash for the eyes, and to treat conjunctivitis. They also rub the sap into their scalp to strengthen the hair. The must, called stufa, is used as a poultice to ease arthritic pain. The energy-boosting, tonic and stimulating effects of vite helps women in labor, and in times past large doses of strong wine were given as needed. Wine vinegar is a strong astringent and is often employed to heal contusions; a piece of bread is soaked in vinegar and placed over the painful area. Heated wine is used to help treat colds and mitigate fevers. Wine fumes are decongestant, so help soothe and clear the nasal passages and act as an emollient for the throat if the upper respiratory tract is infected. For a special treat, grape leaves are put around cacciocavallo cheese and roasted. Veterinarians use grape vine to assist in the expulsion of the placenta. The vines are burned and the ash, diluted in water, is given to cattle to drink.

Grapes, grape juice and wine are a warming tonic to the digestive system, offer benefits to the kidneys, promoting a free flow of urine. Both leaves and tendrils are anti-diuretic. European healers employ grapes to ease fever, nerve pains and insomnia.

Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon. The resveratrol found in red wine, and famous for its ability to enhance heart health, is a type of polyphenol found in the skins of red grapes.

The flavonoids myricetin and quercetin are natural anti-inflammatory agents and appear to reduce the risk of
atherosclerosis as well as help the body to counter harmful free radical formation.

Wild grape leaves contain sugars including glucose, tartaric acid, quercetin, quercitrin, tannin, malic acid, gum and a non-crystallizable fermentable sugar. Ripe grape juice contains sugar, gum, malic acid, potassium bitartrate and inorganic salts. Grape seeds contain tannin and a fixed oil. Grape sugars differ chemically from other sugars. They are absorbed into the blood much more rapidly and go to work quickly, bringing strength and tone to the entire body.

A grape leaf bud gemmotherapy elixir is indicated for all chronic inflammations, intestinal issues, hemorrhoids, as well as dermatitis. Immune-modulating, it improves the flow of lymph and is tumor-inhibiting. It helps ease joint pains and inflammation, and slows the process of joint deformities. Anti-fibrous action makes it helpful when uterine fibroids or prostate adenoma are an issue as the grape bud remedy is believed to soften these growths.

Flower Essence The grape flower essence helps us to recognize the true source of love, helps us to love unconditionally.

Magical Lore Grapes are associated with fertility, prosperity and garden magic. Place a bunch of grapes or a piece of the stem with leaves and tendrils attached on your altar to draw wealth, prosperity and abundance.

Paint grapes or grape leaves around your kitchen to attract abundance, or on a wall near your garden to ensure healthy fertile crops. Grapes were significant to the Greeks and the Romans and their god of agriculture, Dionysus, was usually portrayed with a wreath of grape leaves on his head. The Catholic Church uses wine in the celebration of the Eucharist because it is part of the tradition passed down through the ages starting at the Last Supper. We believe the consecrated bread and wine literally becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a dogma known as transubstantiation.

Culture Reputed to live as long as six hundred years, some grape vine stems reach 15 inches across. They twist around supports with the help of tendrils. The leaves are dark green, usually shiny, toothed and heart shaped. Most varieties have light-colored fuzz on the underside with clusters of greenish flowers that bloom in early summer. Fruits - actually a berry - are light or dark green, purple, red or black and are usually harvested in the fall. Grape stems yield a thirst-quenching sap during summer; as much as a pint can be gotten from a six-foot long piece. We gather wild grape leaves during the summer months and dry them on screens. I tincture some fresh leaves and tendrils in alcohol and preserve others in vinegar or oil for eating later.                                               

Grape Juice Harvest a quart or more of plump, ripe wild grapes; cover with water in a stainless steel pot. Bring water to a slow boil, cover and simmer gently for two or more hours. When grapes are completely soft and pulpy, remove from fire and cool. Strain out the liquid, wringing the fruit well in a muslin cloth to obtain all the nourishing juice.

 “The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” Galileo Galilei

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