A toast to health

A toast to health!There were times when wine was considered to have great, almost magical healing powers. "Wine doctors" prescribed regular "wine cures". Consequently, wine was also dispensed in pharmacies on prescription.

By Ursula Armstrong Published: 28.10.2011, 05:00

A toast to health

Hardly imaginable today: Healing cures with wine.

© Brian Jackson / fotolia.com

Wine was already pressed 8000 years ago, apparently for the first time in the South Caucasus. Wine was also used medicinally a long time ago. One of the oldest such documents dates back to the Sumerians, around 2200 B.C.: On a clay tablet, a doctor wrote down a prescription containing wine in cuneiform script.

Wine against various diseases

The ancient Egyptians also treated the sick with wine, for example for rheumatism or wounds. Above all, they used wine as a solvent. They added medicinal herbs to the wine – as is still frequently done today.

Hippocrates (about 460 to 370 B.C.) also used wine therapeutically: as a sleeping pill and sedative, as a painkiller, for treating wounds, eye diseases and intestinal disorders. The Roman physician Galenus (about 129 to 199 A.D.) valued wine especially as an antiseptic for skin inflammations, wounds or burns.

Wine as a remedy since the Middle Ages

The great era of wine therapy began in the Middle Ages. In the hospitals, the sick were given wine by the liter. And this practice continued to the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the twentieth century. Sometimes this got out of hand: For example, a medieval decree is known from the town of Beaune in Burgundy, according to which every sick person was entitled to seven liters of wine a day.

A medicinal wine to stimulate digestion in cases of bloating, stomach pain, colds, exhaustion, sleep disorders and nervous cardiovascular complaints is, for example, elderflower wine.

Recipe: Take 2 cups of freshly rubbed elderflowers or 1 cup of dried flowers and 1 liter of wine. Blossoms and wine are put in a preparation vessel. Put the vessel well closed in a warm place. Frequently swirl or stir. After 2 days the liquid is filtered into dark bottles.

Application1 shot glass three to four times a day between meals. (ug)

In the 18. and 19. In the nineteenth century, wine as a medicine was held in extremely high esteem by German physicians, reports journalist and wine expert Elmar M. Lorey. Wine therapy – or scientifically "oinotherapy" – was a commonplace.

1753: Compendium "Wine Doctor"

Wine, especially Rhine wine, was considered an indispensable remedy for many diseases and for general prophylaxis. In 1753, the compendium "Wine Doctor" appeared, more than 100 pages thick. In it there were wine recipes for all imaginable diseases and disorders, from constipation and fever to memory problems.

In his "Handbuch der praktischen Arzneimittellehre fur Aerzte und Wundarzte" (Manual of Practical Medicine for Doctors and Wound Physicians) In 1803, Professor Ernst Horn (1774 to 1848) from Halle even wrote that wine was "the most effective medicine of all".

A real wine doctor was Ferdinand von Heuss (1848 to 1924). He was not only a practicing physician, but also a winemaker and, according to Lorey, ran "a flourishing winery" in Bodenheim near Mainz. With wine he cured, for example, a winegrower's wife who was suffering so badly from a "septic uteritis The wine was so strong that the doctor's colleagues had already given up on them.

Wine cure was a success

For six weeks, the patient was given a total of 120 bottles of Heuss' Bodenheimer wines from the 1868, 1875, 1895 and 1897 vintages, as the vintner-doctor accurately recorded. The wine cure was a success. The patient cured.

Heuss also treated himself in this way: He drank 80 bottles of the 1868 vintage from his wine cellar to treat his severe typhoid fever – and from then on lived for another 40 years.

A toast to health

Other wine therapists used not only the vintages, but even the vineyards quite specifically: The physician and winemaker Stephan Oellers (1832 to 1908) from Assmannshausen, for example, prescribed the "Assmannshauser Hollenberg" for stomach ailments, the "Schlobberg" for colds and the "Kiedricher Grafenberg" in the case of depressions.

Wine from the Rhine was considered curative

Wine from the Rhine was considered to be particularly beneficial throughout Germany. Professor Friedrich Hoffmann (1660 to 1742) from Halle, personal physician to two Prussian kings and inventor of the famous "Hoffmanns-Tropfen", made Rheingau wine popular at the Prussian court.

The wine cure he propagated lasted five weeks and began with the initial dose of 1.6 liters per day, mixed only slightly with water.

Medicinal wines were available on a doctor's prescription, which could be redeemed in any pharmacy. As late as 1892, according to Lorey, the Heidelberg local health insurance fund turned to the Schwetzingen court pharmacist Fr. Durand: He should please create a depot for the "release of white"-. Rothwein to our sick health insurance members".

In the middle of the 19. At the beginning of the twentieth century wine and healing magic was over

It was not until the second half of the 19th century that. At the end of the twentieth century the wine therapy and its excesses were over. Louis Pasteur (1822 to 1895) took the healing magic out of wine when he was the first to reveal the secrets of alcoholic fermentation.

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