Grapes (see Also Vine)
Grapes, the luscious and refreshing fruit of the Vine, possess certain
medicinal properties and virtues which give them a proper place
among Herbal Simples. The name Vine comes from viere, to
twist, being applied with reference to the twining habits of the
parent stock; as likewise to with, and withy.
The fruit consists of pulp, stones, and skin. Within the pulp is
contained the grape sugar, which differs
in some respects
chemically from cane sugar, and which is taken up straightway into
our circulation when eaten, without having to be changed slowly by
the saliva, as is the case with cane sugar. Therefore it happens that
the grape sugar warms and fattens speedily, with a quick repair of
waste, when the strength and the structures are consumed by fever,
Grapes then being most grateful to the sufferer. But they do not suit
inflammatory subjects at other times, or gouty persons at any time,
as well as cane sugar, which has to undergo slower chemical
conversion before it furnishes heat and  sustenance. And in this
respect, grape sugar closely resembles the glucose, or sweet
principle of honey.
The fruit also contains a certain quantity of fruit sugar, which is
chemically identical with cane sugar; and, because of the special
syrupy juice of its pulp, the Grape adapts itself to quick alcoholic
The important ingredients of Grapes are sugar (grape and fruit), gum,
tannin, bitartrate of potash, sulphate of potash, tartrate of lime,
magnesia, alum, iron, chlorides of potassium and sodium, tartaric,
citric, racemic, and malic acids, some albumen, and azotized
matters, with water.
But the wine grower is glad to see his must deposit the greater
part of these chemical ingredients in the tartar, a product much
disliked, and therefore named Sal Tartari, or Hell Salt; and
Cremor Tartari, Hell Scum (Cream of Tartar).
In Italy, the vine furnishes oil as well as wine, this being extracted
from the grape stones, and reckoned superior to any other sort,
whether for the table or for purposes of lighting. It has no odour,
and burns without smoke. The stones also yield volatile essences,
which are developed by crushing, and which give bouquet to the
several wines, whilst the skin affords colouring matter and tannin,
of more or less astringency.
Grapes supply but little actual nutritious matter for building up the
solid structures of the body; they act as gentle laxatives; though
their stones, and the leaves of the vine, are astringent. These latter
were formerly employed to stop bleedings, and when dried and
powdered, for arresting dysentery in cattle.
In Egypt the leaves are used, when young and tender, for enveloping
balls of hashed meat, at good tables. The  sap of the vine,
named lacryma, a tear, is an excellent application to weak eyes,
and for specs of the cornea. The juice of the unripe fruit, which is
verjuice (as well as that of the wild crabapple), was much esteemed
by the ancients, and is still in good repute for applying to bruises
When taken in any quantity, Grapes act freely on the kidneys, and
promote a flow of urine. The vegetable acids of the fruit become
used up as such, and are neutralised in the system by combining
with the earthy salts found therein, and they pass off in the urine as
alkaline carbonates. With full-blooded, excitable persons, grapes in
any quantity are apt to produce palpitation, and to quicken the
circulation for a time. Also with persons of slow and feeble
energies, having a languid digestion (and especially if predisposed
to acid fermentation in the stomach), Grapes are apt to disagree.
They send their glucose straightway into the circulation combined
with acids found in the stomach, and create considerable distress of
heartburn and dyspepsia. Thus, says Dr. King Chambers, is
generated acidity of the stomach, parent of gout, and of all its
hideous crew. Likewise wine, especially if sweet, new, or
full-bodied, when taken by such persons at a meal, is absorbed but
slowly by the stomach, and much of the sugar, with some alcohol,
becomes converted by fermentation into acetic acid, which further
causes the oily ingredients in the food which has been swallowed to
turn rancid. Things sweet to taste prove to digestion sour. But
otherwise, with a person in good health, and not given to gout or
rheumatism, Grapes are an excellent food for supplying warmth as
combustion material, by their ready-made sugar; whilst the essential
flavours of the fruit are cordial, and  whilst a surplus of the
glucose serves to form fat for storage.
What is known as the Grape-cure, is pursued in the Tyrol, in
Bavaria, on the banks of the Rhine, and elsewhere--the sick person
being ordered to eat from three to six pounds of grapes a day. But
the relative proportions of the sugar and acids in the various kinds
of grapes have important practical bearings on the results obtained,
determining whether wholesome purgation shall follow, or whether
tonic and fattening effects shall be produced. In the former case,
sufferers from sluggish liver and torpid biliary functions, with
passive local congestions, will benefit most by taking the grapes not
fully ripe, and not completely sweet; whilst in the latter instance,
those invalids will gain special help from ripe and sweet grapes,
who require quick supplies of animal heat and support to resist rapid
waste of tissue, as in chronic catarrh of the lungs, or mucous catarrh
of the bowels.
The most important constituent to be determined is the quantity of
grape sugar, which varies according to the greater or less warmth of
the climate. Tokay Grapes are the sweetest; next are those of
southern France; then of Moselle, Bohemia, and Heidelberg; whilst
the fruit of the Vine in Spain, Italy, and Madeira, is not commended
for curative purposes. The Grapes are eaten three, four, or five times
a day, during the promenade; those which are not sweet produce a
diuretic and laxative effect; seeing, moreover, that their reaction is
alkaline, the cure thereby is particularly suitable for persons
troubled with gravel and acid gout.
After losses of blood, and in allied states of exhaustion, the
restorative powers of the grape-cure are often  strikingly
exhibited. Formerly, the German doctors kept their patients, when
under this mode of treatment, almost entirely without other food.
But it is now found that light, wholesome nourishment, properly
chosen, and taken at regular times, even with some moderate
allowance of Bordeaux wine, may be permitted in useful conjunction
with the grapes. Children do not, as a rule, bear the grape-cure
well. One sort of grape, the Bourdelas, or Verjus, being
intensely sour when green, is never allowed to ripen, but its large
berries are made to yield their acid liquor for use instead of vinegar
or lemon juice, in sauces, drinks, and medicinal preparations.
A vinegar poultice, applied cold, is an effectual remedy for sprains
and bruises, and will arrest the progress of scrofulous enlargements
of bones. It may be made with vinegar and oatmeal, or with the
addition of bread crumb.--Pharmacopoeia Chirurgica, 1794.
Other fruits may please the palate equally well, but it is the
proud prerogative of the kingly grape to minister also to the mind.
This served to provide one of the earliest offerings to the Deity,
seeing that Bread and wine were brought forth to Abraham by
Melchisedec, the Priest of the Most High God.
The Vine (Vitis vinifera) was almost always to the front in the
designs drawn by the ancients. Thus, miniatures and dainty little
pictures were originally encircled with representations of its foliage,
and we still name such small exquisite illustrations, vignettes,
from the French word, vigne.
The large family of Muscat grapes get their distinctive title not
because of any flavour of musk attached to them, but because the
sweet berries are particularly attractive to flies (muscre), a reason
which  induced the Romans to name this variety, Vitis apiaria.
On attrape plus de mouches avec le miel qu' avec le vinaigre--
say the French.
In Portugal, grape juice is boiled down with quinces into a sort of
jam--the progenitor of all marmalades. The original grape vine is
supposed to have been indigenous to the shores of the Caspian Sea.
If eaten to excess, especially by young persons, grapes will make
the tongue and the lining membrane of the mouth sore, just as honey
often acts. For this reason, both grapes and honey do good to the
affection known as thrush, with sore raw mouth, and tongue in
ulcerative white patches, coming on as a derangement of the health.