1.1 What is a grape?
The grape (botanical name: Vitis vinifera, also known as common grape vine; Chinese Pinyin: Pu Tao, Simplified Chinese: 葡萄), is a species of perennial, flowering, fruit-bearing liana (woody vine) in genus Vitis in the grape family, Vitaceae. The term grape can refer to the plant as well as the fruit of the plant. The flowers are yellow, tiny in size and on an inflorescence or flower cluster. The edible fruit is a berry (a fleshy fruit without a stone produced from a single flower containing one ovary), nearly spherical or elongated, varied in size depending on the varieties and plantation conditions (wild grapes tend to be much smaller than the cultivated varieties. Native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, and extensively cultivated across the world, habitats of grape include fields, orchards, hill lands and mountainous regions (usually found from between 0 to 1,000 meters in elevation). Characteristics of grape include favorable micronutrient contents, long lifespan, adaptation to barren land and great versatility (it can be eaten fresh as fruit or can be used for producing wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, grape seed oil as well as medicine).
Other simplified Chinese names for grape include: 蒲桃, 草龙珠, 蒲陶, 赐紫樱桃, 菩提子, 山葫芦.
1.2 How does grape taste?
Different varieties may taste slightly differently. In general, most rape grapes have crisp, juicy, taut texture with a flavor that is sweet like candy, tart. Note that taste of wild grapes tends to be much sour than cultivated varieties; in addition, wine grapes tend to be much sweeter, softer and juicier than table grapes that we can normally find in the groceries.
1.3 How do I tell if my grapes are ready to harvest?
Grapes start to ripen as early as May. Most ripe grapes are found from June through October, depending on the locations and weather conditions. The best way to check grape’s ripeness is by taste and smell, the sourness is much reduced when the grape is ripe. But still the precise time for harvesting grapes is dependent on the location, length of growing season, variety of grape, crop load as well as the intended use of the grape (for wine production or for table).
1.4 How is grape used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The stem, fruits and seeds of grape are considered to be sweet, neutral, astringent and nontoxic in nature and to be associated with the lung, spleen and kidney meridians. It is used as Qi (vital energy) tonic, secretory, antitussive and diuretic in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as high blood pressure.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Grapes & Medical Formulas
2.1 Kidney Stone
Citric acid is an organic agent occurring naturally in the citric acid fruits like oranges, grape fruit and lemons, it is abundantly found in citron fruits. Citric acid, being able to chelate with calcium is good to kidney stone sufferers. Most kidney stones arise from accumulation of excess calcium in the kidneys and citric acid’s capability to bind itself to calcium and expel it from the body is a great deterrent to the agony and unbearable suffering undertaken by several people due to kidney stones.
Grape skin contains a high level of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that has been scientifically proven to promote heart health, longevity with anti-aging effects. A study published in Science, demonstrates that resveratrol stimulates production of SIRT1, a serum that blocks age-related diseases by speeding up the cell’s energy production centers known as mitrochondria (cbsnews.com 2013). In addition, grape seed extract has aesthetic benefits by boosting collagen, it can make us look young as well.
2.3 Eliminate Cancer Cells
Grapes are a good source of antioxidants that help prevent and repair damage caused by free oxygen radicals in the cell level. One key effective group of the compounds are proanthocyanidins (PAs), which are also known as condensed tannins. Studies indicate that antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins is 20 times higher than that of vitamin C and 50 times higher than vitamin E. A team of scientists from the US and China also found out that grape-seed extract can eliminate laboratory leukemia cells by forcing the cancer cells but not the normal cells commit suicide, suggesting that there is great potential value of natural compounds in the treatment of cancer (medicalnewstoday.com 2009).
2.4 Regulate Blood Pressure
According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people across the world are living with high blood pressure. Hypertension is responsible for at least 45% of deaths due to heart disease and 51% of deaths due to stroke. Grapes contain potassium which are important in regulating hypertension as the chemical lessens the effects of sodium. High sodium intake is known to be associated with high blood pressure. Furthermore, potassium helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps lower blood pressure.
[CTM Formula] Juice extracted from grapes, root of lotus and rehmannia glutinosa root is taken to treat stranguria (a syndrome characterized by frequent, difficult and painful discharge of urine accompanied by abdominal pain or lumbago).
2.6 Pregnancy Health
[CTM Formula] A decoction of grape fruits is taken orally to reduce bloating and discomfort during pregnancy.
[CTM Formula] Tender grape leaves and mole crickets are dried and powdered for oral taking to treat edema (swelling caused by fluid retention.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net;. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
cbsnews.com 2013 Resveratrol does provide anti-aging benefits, study shows [online] Retrieved 21 August 2017. Link: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/resveratrol-does-provide-anti-aging-benefits-study-shows/
medicalnewstoday.com 2009 Grape Seed Extract Kills Cancer Cells In Lab [online] Retrieved 21 August 2017. Link: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/134311.php
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 2009 Oligomeric proanthocyanidins from grape seeds effectively inhibit ultraviolet-induced melanogenesis of human melanocytes in vitro. [online] link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19148543