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Is wine good for your heart? A critical review
  1. N Gall
  1. Department of Cardiology, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK
  1. Dr Gall nick.gall{at}ckl.ac.uk

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Vita vinum est —Wine is life

Petronius, Satyricon

History

For millennia, physicians used wine for its medicinal qualities.1 2 Receipts for wine based medicines dating back 4000 years have been discovered in Egypt and Sumeria. The Greeks used wine extensively. Hippocrates, one of their most respected physicians, in the fifth century BC, used wine for many ailments, diarrhoea, difficult childbirth, and lethargy included. He also used it as a disinfectant, an aid to digestion, a diuretic, and as a carrier for other drugs. He advised white wine for dropsy and red wine for hunger and nourishment. The Romans also recognised wine's qualities. Galen, living around 150 AD, was one of Rome's most famous physicians and the Emperor's wine taster. He used wine as a gladiatorial disinfectant and advised:

dark and sweet wines produce much blood, while white and light ones produce but little blood, so that the first ones are proper to feed the body and the other ones to get rid of liquid through the urine”.

The ancient Jewish book, the Talmud, containing civil and ceremonial law and legend contains this assertion:

wine is the foremost of all medicines—wherever wine is lacking medicines become necessary”.

In the bible wine is also recommended:

“Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” (I Timothy 5.23)

Throughout much of the last two thousand years wine remained an important part of the physician's armamentarium. It was felt to be an important part of a balanced diet, formally documented in the 11th century as the “Salerno regimen”. The two disciplines of medicine and oenology became firmly linked with the publication of the first book on wine. It was written in the 14th century by Arnaldus of Villanova, a physician from the University of Montpellier.

During the …

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