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History of wine articles:

Wine & health articles:Chronology of wine as medicineSummary of the medicinal uses of wine by the ancientsSummary of medicinal benefits of wine in moderationWine & health summary of OenotherapyAn update on OenotherapyAllergy, side effects and HangoversWhy white wine is just as good for you as red wineDementiaWhite wine & improved lung functionDr Phil Norrie's Thesis 'Wine and health through the ages'

When there is no wine, love perishes, and everything else that is pleasant to man.

– Euripedes

Wine & health

Chronology of wine as a medicine

ANCIENT CHINA (ca. 7500 B.C.-220 A.D.)

  • Introduction of wine in JIAHU ca 7500 B.C.
  • Ancient grey clay pottery wine cups ca. 3800 B.C.
  • Wines were incorporated in the materia medica and appeared as menstruums in the ancient Chinese writings.
  • Wine was used in libational ritual in the Chang Dynasty ca. 1766-1122 B.C.
  • Wine was used in sacrificial rituals in the Chou Dynasty ca. 1122-222 B.C.


  • Introduction of wine ca. 7000 B.C. in Georgia.
  • Invention of writing as pictograms ca. 3300 B.C.
  • First representation of wine drinking in Standard of Ur ca. 3000 B.C.
  • Use of wine as medicine as illustrated by a Sumerian Pharmacopoea inscribed on a clay tablet at Nippur in cuneiform script ca. 2100 B.C.


  • Ancient Egyptian medical papyri forebearers to the current known medical papyri ca. 3000 B.C.
  • Earliest depiction of winemaking in the pictographs of the tomb of Ptah-hotep at Thebes ca. 2400 B.C.
    Ancient Egyptian medical papyri
  • Medical Papyri:
    - Kahun ca. 1900 B.C.
    - Edwin Smith ca. 1650 B.C.
    - Ebers ca. 1500 B.C.
    - Hearst ca. 1500 B.C.
    - London ca. 1350 B.C.
    - Berlin ca. 1350 B.C.
    - Brugsch ca. 1350 B.C.

BIBLICAL TIMES (ca. 1220 B.C.-70 A.D.)

  • Use of wines as sedatives, antiseptics, and vehicles for other medicines is illustrated in the Sacred Writings: Talmud, written after 536 B.C.
  • Old Testament written before 400 B.C.
  • New Testament, first reorder ca. 1st Cent. A.D.

ANCIENT INDIA (ca. 2000 B.C.-1000 A.D.)

  • Vedic Period: ca. 2000-200 B.C.
  • Soma, the supreme deity of healing was conceived as a being in liquid form. In the Vedas the healing potential of wine was made equal to the power of Soma.
  • Brahmanic period: ca. 200 B.C.
  • Use of wine in medicine as illustrated in the Charaka Samhita 1000 A.D.


  • Homeric times: ca. 900-500 B.C.
  • In the Iliad and the Odyssey wine was described as antiseptic and sedative, and as a staple food ca. 850 B.C.
  • Hesiod described wine as nutrient and tonic 8th Century B.C.
  • HippocratesHippocratic times: ca. 450-300 B.C.
  • Hippocrates used wine as an antiseptic, diuretic, sedative and menstruum as described in his medical text "Regiment" ca. 460-370 B.C.
  • Diocles of Carystus wrote on the use of sweet wines in medicine 375 B.C.
  • Theophrastus of Eresus described plant embellished wines 372-287 B.C.
  • Mnesitheus wrote of wine in "Diet and Drink" 320-290 B.C.
  • The Alexandrians: (when the centre of medicine moved to Alexandria) ca. 300-50 B.C.
  • The judicious use of wines in therapeusis was stressed in the teachings of the medical school founded by Erasistratus 300-260 B.C.
  • Nicander used wine as a menstruum for his theriacs and Alexipharmics 190-130 B.C.
  • Mithradates, King of Pontus, used wine as the menstruum for his antidote Mithradatium 132-63 B.C.
  • Hikesios wrote a treatise and commentary on wine "De Conditura Vini" ca. 1st Cent. B.C.
  • Apollonius of Citium wrote on the medicinal value of European wines in a letter to Ptolemies ca. 81-85 B.C.

GREEK MEDICINE IN ROME (ca. 100 B.C.-100 A.D.)

  • With the establishment of the Greek physicians in Rome, the therapeutic use of wine became a vital question. Physicians who adopted the medical use of wine were known as Physikos oinodotes:
  • Cato the elder described wine as a medicine 234-149 B.C.
  • Asclepiades, leader of the wine-prescribing physicians 124-40 B.C.
  • Zopyrus used wine as the menstruum for a mithradatium called "Ambrosia" ca. 80 B.C.
  • Menecrates of Tralles used wine clinically ca. 1st Cent. B.C.
  • Celsus wrote on wine as a medicine in "De re Medicina" 25 B.C.-37 A.D.
  • Pliny the Elder described therapeutic uses of wine in "Naturalis Historia" 23-79 A.D.
  • Columella emphasised wine as a medicine 4 B.C.-65 A.D.
  • Sexitus Niger advocated the use of natural wine in medicine ca. 40 A.D.
  • Dioscorides recommended wine as Materia Medica for many disease in "De Universa Medicina" ca. 77 A.D.

Galen used wine based mixtures called Galenicals and wrote about wine as a medicine in "De Sanitate Tuenda" (Galen's Hygiene)	ca. 131-201THE ERA OF GALEN (ca. 100-400 A.D.)

  • After the death of Asclepiades, independent medical schools were established.
  • The School of Ecleciticism: Athenaeus of Attalia taught that wine in small doses rouses the "pneuma" and restores vitality ca. 41-54 A.D.
  • Galen used wine based mixtures called Galenicals and wrote about wine as a medicine in "De Sanitate Tuenda" (Galen's Hygiene) ca. 131-201
  • Aretaeus of Cappadocia recommended Italian wines 2nd-3rd Cent.
    Gladiators statute
  • Athenaeus of Naucratis, the encyclopedist, recorded valuable information on the medicinal use of wine in "TheDeipnosophists" 3rd Cent.
  • Oribasius recommended wine as a medicine 325-403
  • Roman generals such as Julius Caesar recommended wine for their soldiers to increase their strength, preserve good health and prevent dysentery.

BYZANTINE ERA (ca. 400-700)

  • Following the transfer of the Roman capital to Byzantium the centre of learning became displaced but the teachings of Galen prevailed 330
  • Aetius of Amida detailed the medical uses of wine in the "Tetrabiblion" 502-575
  • Alexander of Tralles followed the tradition of the wine-prescribing physicians 525-605
  • Paul of Aegina recognized as the link between Greek and Arabic medicine 625-690

ARABIC PERIOD (ca. 600-1300)

  • Rhazes wrote on the washing of wounds with wine	860-932Arabic culture influenced western thought for many centuries after the death of Mohammed in 632
  • And the conquest of Alexandria in 641
  • The first apothecary shop established in Bagdad 745
  • The Precepts of Galen prevailed and the use of wine in medicine continued:
  • Rhazes wrote on the washing of wounds with wine 860-932
  • Haly ben Abbas discussed wine as a medicine in "Almaleki" ca. 10th Cent.
  • Avicenna promulgated rules for the proper use of wine in the Canon of Medicine 980-1032
  • Mansur the Great discussed wine as pharmacologic menstruum ca. 10th Cent.
  • Avenzoar adhered to the emphasised hippocratic teaching ca.1162
  • Maimonides elaborated on the medicinal value of wine in "De Regimine Sanitatis" 1135-1204
  • Averroes applied Aristotelian teaching to medicine ca. 1198
  • Albucasis recommended wine as an antiseptic in his treatise on surgery 936-1013

THE SCHOOL OF SALERNO (ca. 1050-1300)

  • The first lay medical school in Europe established at Salerno 10th Cent.
  • Arabic medical manuscripts brought to Salerno by Constantine the African 1027-1087
  • The "regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum" illustrated the therapeutic uses of wine ca. 11th Cent.
  • Ugo Borgognoni used wine as an antiseptic died ca. 1258
  • Teodorico Borgogoni advocated the use of wine as an antiseptic 1205-1296
  • Salicet used strong wine as an antiseptic in surgery ca. 1210-1277
  • Bruno da Longoburgo achieved wound antisepsis with wine ca. 1300
  • Lanfranc lapsed back into the practice of suppuration (Laudable Pus) ca. 1306

LATE MIDDLE AGES (ca. 1300-1543)

  • Paracelsus, the father of modern pharmacologyThe physicians of the period began to realise the importance of the treatment of disease based on clinical experience.
  • Arnald of Villanova established the therapeutic use of wine in "Liber de Vinis" and popularised Aqua vitae ca. 1235-1311
  • Henri de Mondeville advocated the use of wine as a "wound drink" 1260-1320
  • Guy de Chauliac used wine in the treatment of wounds and as a mouth wash 1300-1368
  • John of Arderne employed wine as a menstruum 1307-1377
  • Hieronymus Brunschwig ascribed miraculous healing powers to "Aqua vitae composita" ca. 1450-1533
  • The "Antidotarium Nicolai" printed 1471During the Middle Ages the practice of medicine and running hospitals was the domain of monks and nuns. Within their monasteries, they grew herbs to mix with wine to make medicines. These formulations continue today as liquers.
  • Paracelsus known as the father of modern pharmacology stressed the tonic value of wine and invented the word alcohol 1493-1541

(Left: During the Middle Ages the practice of medicine and running hospitals was the domain of monks and nuns. Within their monasteries, they grew herbs to mix with wine to make medicines. These formulations continue today as liquers.)


  • The publication of "De corporis humani fabrica" by Andreas Vesalius marked the beginning of an important era in medicine, an era which witnessed many departures from tradition and in which the foundations for the scientific age were laid 1543
  • Ambroise Pare used wine as a tonic and to dress wounds 1510-1590
  • Richard Wiseman wrote on the medicinal uses of wine in his textbook of surgery 1622-1676
  • Sir John Haryngton published the first English translation of the "Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum" 1607
  • Era of dispensatories and pharmacopoeias established by Valerius Cordus 1546
  • Wine as official therapeutic agents depicted in:
    - The Pharmacopoeia of London 1618
    - The Pharmacopoeia of Amsterdam 1636
    - The Pharmacopoeia of Paris 1639
    - The Pharmacopoeia of Spain 1651
    - The Pharmacopoeia of Brussels 1671
    - The Complete English Dispensatory 1741
    -The Pharmacopoeia of Russia 1778
    - Codex Medicamentarius of France 1819
    - The Pharmacopoeia of the United States 1820
  • The inclusion of many of the theriacs in the dispensatories and pharmacopoeias led to a polemic which resulted in the final demise of the theriacs.
  • DeDiemerbroeck published his defense of the theriac 1646
  • Dr. Hodges recommended sherry-sack as a preventative of the plague 1665
  • Wine remains as an important therapeutic agent:
  • An anonymous author (a fellow of the Colleges) published an essay on the preference of wine to water 1724
  • Heberden gave the final blow to the theriacs in "Antitheriaka" 1745
  • Loebenstein-Lobel published a treatise on the uses and effects of wine 1817
  • Henderson published "A History of Ancient and Modern Wines" 1824
  • Charcot discussed the clinical uses of wine in "Traite de Medecine" 1825
  • The Pharmacopoeia Universalis of Heidelberg listed 175 wines 1835
  • The London Pharmacopoeia included a description of wines and their medicinal uses 1835
  • The Pharmacopoeia Universelle of Paris listed 164 wines 1840
  • The new edition of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia added port and sherry 1850
  • The British Pharmacopoeia, revised edition, included sherry and other medicated wines 1851
  • McMullen published a "Handbook of Wines" 1852
  • Mulder published a chemical analyses of the constituents of wine 1857


  • Dr Lawrence Bohune – Dutch physician who was first known in USA in Virginia using native grapes 1610
  • Dr Robert Child – English physician tried to grow French vines in Massachusets – experiment abandoned 1641
  • Dr Andrew Turnbull – A Scottish physician, tried to grow vineyard in Florida – failed due to disease 1766
  • Dr Philip Mazzei – An Italian physician planted a vineyard of Italian vines next to Thomas Jefferson in Virginia 1773
  • Dr D.N. Norton – Developed a hybrid vine called Norton from native American vines and European Vitis vinifera vines (in Virginia) to protect the European vines from America's numerous vine diseases and to improve the poor quality American native vines 1830
  • Dr Robert Valk – Of Flushing, Long Island first to deliberately cross an American native vine and European vine (prior to this, hybrids were accidental crosses) 1845
  • Dr George Engelmann – A German doctor, of St. Louise Missouri was the first to conduct a thorough and scientific study of native American vines
  • Dr Stephen Mosher, Louis Rehfus and John Aston Warder – Helped develop the Cincinnatti region as the capital of American winemaking – After 1830s
  • California planted with V. vinifera by Spanish Franciscan missionaries (who annexed to USA from Mexico in 1850)
  • Dr John Marsh – Developed a vineyard on slopes of Mt Diablo near San Francisco
  • Dr Edward Bale – Developed a vineyard at St Helena
  • Dr Vicor Faure – A French doctor, developed a vineyard in Sonoma Valley
  • Dr Leonce Hoover – A Swiss doctor, developed a vineyard near Los Angeles 1849
  • Dr George Crane – A USA doctor, developed a vineyard at St Helena (he was the man "who proved how good Napa wine could be") 1861
  • After Prohibition (1920-1933) the USA wine industry had to be reinvented and doctors helped promote wine. Andre Simon's Wine and Food Society established 1934
  • The Medical Friends of Wine founded in San Francisco 1938
  • Dr Salvatore Lucia, head of the Department of Preventative Medicine at the University of
  • California School of Medicine, writes many books on wine, health and history 1960's
  • After 1960's, doctors developed many vineyards in California, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas


  • Surgeon White uses wine as main medicine for convicts in First Fleet to Australia 1787
  • Dr. Redfern letter to Governor Macquarie about use of wine as medicine for convicts 1814
  • Wine used in convict ships and later migrant ships bound for Australia 1815
  • Convict shipRedfern – first Australian medical vigneron or wine doctor with planting Campbellfields vineyard 1818
  • Dr. Lindeman – founded Lindeman Wines 1841
  • Dr. Penfold – founded Penfold Wines 1842
  • Dr. Kelly – founded Hardy's Wines 1843
  • Dr. Angove – founded Angoves 1889
  • Lunatic asylum vineyards in Australia began 1870
  • Dr. Lindeman letter to N.S.W. Medial Journal "Wine as a Therapeutic Agent and why it should become out national beverage" 1871
  • Dr. William Cleland speech "Some remarks upon wine as a food and its production" 1880
  • Dr. Thomas Fiaschi lecture "The various Wines used in Sickeness and Convalescence" 1906

THE MODERN EPOCH (ca. 1850- )

  • The experimental method in physiology introduced by Claude Bernard 1813-1878
  • Scientists became absorbed in the study of alcohol and alcoholic beverages, including detailed studies of wine:
  • Claude Bernard studied the effect of pure alcohol on digestion 1857
  • Pasteur described fermentation ca. 1857
  • Trousseau discussed the medical uses of wine in "Clinque Medicale" 1861
  • Dr. Anstie published his comprehensive work on the therapeutic uses of wine 1870
  • Parkes and Wollowicz published the first study on the physiological effects of wine 1870-1871
  • Carles investigated the iron content of wines 1880
  • Buchner published the first comparative study detailing the effects of wine, beer, and alcohol on the stomach 1882
  • Alois Pick published his findings on the bactericidal effects of wines 1892
  • Krautwig and Vogel published a study on physiological effects of various alcoholic beverages on respiration 1893-1897
  • Chittenden and co-workers investigated the effect of wines and spirits on the alimentary tract 1898
  • Wendelstadt published his findings on the effect of wines on respiration 1899
  • Benedict and Torok investigated the role of wine in diabetic diets 1906
  • Neubauer published findings on the use of wine in diabetes 1906
  • Kast reported on gastric digestion and the effect of wine and alcohol on the diet 1906
  • Sabrazes and Marcandier published their results on the bactericidal properties of wine 1907
  • Pavlov demonstrated the appetite-stimulation effect of wine 1910
  • Carles reported on the diuretic action of wines 1911
  • Carlson published his findings relative to the effects of wine on hunger 1916
  • Sir Edward Mellanby published findings on the physiological and dietetic effects of alcohol and alcoholic beverages 1919
  • Koutetaladze isolated an amine, a coronary stimulant, from wine 1919
  • Haneborg investigated the effect of alcoholic beverages on digestion 1921
  • Pearl first to prove in Alcohol and Longevity - that moderate drinkers live longer 1926
  • Lucille Randoin published findings on vitamin content of wines 1928
  • Loeper and co-workers reported on the effects of wine on the liver 1929
  • Winsor and Strongin reported on the effects of wine in salivary digestion 1933
  • Soula and Baisset investigated the effect of wine on the blood sugar level 1934
  • Fessler and Mrak reported on the effects of wine on urinary acidity 1936
  • U.S. Dispensatory deleted all wines 1937
  • Remlinger and Bailly reported on bactericidal effects of wines 1938
  • Flavier demonstrated nutritionally important amounts of vitamin B in wines 1939
  • Morgan reported on vitamins in wine 1939
  • Newman published findings on the absorption of wine 1942
  • Ogden studied the influence of wine on gastric acidity 1946
  • Goetzl and co-workers reported on wine as an appetite stimulant 1950-53
  • Flanzy published a study of the comparative physiological effects of wine and alcohol 1953
  • Lolli and co-workers reported on the relation between wine in the diet and the carbohydrate intake 1952
  • Castor reported on B vitamins in wines 1952
  • Gardner presented findings on bactericidal property of wines 1953
  • Hall and co-workers reported on the effect of wine on cholesterol metabolism 1957
  • Engleman published findings on the relationship between wine and gout 1957
  • Macquelier and Jensen reported on the bactericidal activity of red wines 1960
  • Pratt and co-workers published findings on the grape anthocyanins 1960
  • Althausen and co-workers reported on the effect of wine on vitamin A absorption 1960
  • French Codex listed 7 wines 1960
  • Balboni discussed the role of wine in obesity 1961
  • Carborne reported on the relation of wine to cirrhosis of the liver 1961
  • Masquelier published findings on the polyphenols of red wine as a cholesterol-reducing agent 1961
  • Henneckens and Stamfer - showed moderate alcohol consumption reduces coronary disease and stroke in women 1988
  • Rimm - showed inverse relationship between alcohol consumption and coronary disease 1991
  • Renaud published the French Paradox 1992
  • Doll published British doctor heart study 1994
  • Groenbaek published Copenhagen Study - first to compare health effects of beer, wine and spirits 1995
  • Orgogozo - showed moderate wine consumption reduced dementia 1997
  • Doll - one for the heart study showed society better off with alcohol in moderation than not due to lower total death rates i.e. beneficial effects outweigh harmful effects in moderation 1998
  • R.E.W logoBertelli showed resveratrol stimulates mapkinase thus preventing neurodegenerative disease 1999
  • Pezzuto and Renaud show wine reduces cancer 1999
  • Dr Norrie makes first Resveratrol Enhanced wine 2006

Dr Philip NORRIE

MBBS,MA,MSc,MSocSc[Hons],PhD,MD, currently doing M.Phil

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