Grapevine leaves

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Leaves and grapes of the Sangiovese grape variety

As vine leaves or vine leaves are leaves of the vine in (cultural or noble vine) Vitis vinifera var. Vinifera designated.

Wine consumption is well known, but less so is the use of vine leaves. They are used in food preparation and extracts from red vine leaves are now often used as phytopharmaceuticals for chronic venous insufficiency.

History of the use of grape leaves

So-called Dionysus bowl : Dionysus drives across the sea on a ship surrounded by dolphins and the vine grows out of the ship's mast; Attic - black figure - coral-red eye bowl of Exekias , around 530 BC Chr., State Collections of Antiquities, Munich .


From Egyptian grave finds, in addition to wine cores, garlands of vine leaves have also been preserved. The depiction of vines and grapes on tomb paintings demonstrates the importance of wine in ancient Egypt and is to be seen as an indication of its cultic use.

Greek antiquity

The appreciation of vine leaves among the Greeks can also be recognized by the fact that vine leaves are often depicted on ancient Greek coins. The spread of the cult for the wine god Dionysus Dionysus is inseparably linked to the spread of vine culture in the eastern Mediterranean region .

It experienced its heyday when between 2200 and 1400 BC. Viticulture reached Greece and the Balkans. The Dionysia celebrations are an exuberant cult of the annual renewal of nature. The leafy vine in the arch is a symbolic representation of this renewal. The legend of Dionysus from Homeric Hymn 7 is depicted in an old Greek crater, whereupon a ship woven with vines around the ship's mast is depicted, around which pirates, transformed into dolphins, cavort.


Pedanios Dioscurides from Anazarbos reports in the fifth book of his work, dated between 60 and 78 AD. As a poultice, the crushed leaves and tendrils are supposed to relieve headaches, and if taken with pearl barley, they can also relieve inflammation and burns of the stomach. Applied on their own, they have a cooling and astringent effect. The juice squeezed from them also helps internally with dysentery, blood expectoration, stomach pain and poor appetite in pregnant women.

Pliny the Elder mentions vine leaves in the twenty-third book of his "Natural History". The leaves are effective against headaches, against inflammation, with burning pain in the stomach, against joint diseases, against blood flow from wounds and promotes healing in inflamed wounds.

After that, the story became quiet about the vine leaves. In the Middle Ages there are only a few quotations and these, like the herbal books of the early modern era, mostly come from the ancient authors. Only folk medicine in some wine-growing regions knew the use of leaves.

Medical use

The healing power of wine has been around since the time of the Sumerians around 2200 BC. Known and the knowledge of this healing power goes through the Bible and wine as a sleeping and sedative in Hippocrates of Kos (around 400 BC), the external use by Galen (129-199 AD), the wine - Herbal approaches by Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) until the 18th century, when Friedrich Hoffman (1660–1742), the personal physician of the Prussian King Friedrich I, invented the popular “Wein-Cur”.

Main article : Medical history

In addition to this medicinal use of wine, which is still recommended today, the leaves are also used therapeutically. Preparations made from red vine leaves contain red vine leaves, usually in the form of dry extracts.


In view of the use of vine leaves for applications that have to do with bleeding, wounds, inflammation, hemorrhoids and the vascular system, which has been documented since antiquity and has been handed down through the herbal books, one could also refer to the signature theory (red leaves> red blood) think.

Although the medicinal use of vine leaves has a long history, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that phytotherapy with red vine leaves became popular due to the rediscovery of the traditional use common in southern France.

application areas

Today, in therapy with herbal medicinal products, a general distinction is made between the “evidence-based”, that is, the application by the doctor secured by clinical studies and the traditional application by the layperson, which does not require a medical prescription.

The basis for this is the information in the community herbal monographs of the European Medicines Agency , which has also been published for red vine leaves.

A dry extract from red grapevine leaves (4–6: 1), an extracting agent: water, adjusted to a flavonoid content of 3 to 7%, is then used in rational phytotherapy when taken orally with the evidence-based indication for the treatment of chronic Venous insufficiency (CVI) is used, which is characterized by thick legs ( edema ), disease of the leg veins ( varicose veins ), a feeling of heaviness, pain and fatigue in the legs, itching, tension and cramps in the calves.

This EU monograph is based on the evaluation of the pharmacological and clinical data by the ESCOP . The mechanism of action of the extract from red vine leaves and the ingredients it contains is to prevent the opening of the endothelial barrier of the veins . This prevents the formation of edema and prevents inflammation, which has been shown by pharmacological studies.

The latest clinical studies show an increase in the microcirculation of the skin and the oxygen supply and, associated with this, a reduction in the volume of the lower leg after oral administration of red vine leaf extract.

On the other hand, there is the traditional use of red vine leaves, also assessed in the EMA monograph, which relates to a number of products from different EU countries. Then the cut and powdered leaves and an aqueous dry extract with DEV 3: 1 are used for oral use. In addition, an aqueous dry extract 4-6: 1 in an ointment base and an aqueous thick extract 4-6: 1 are listed. Cut leaves as tea, powder in capsules, dry extract 3: 1 in tablets and thick extract diluted in drops are approved for the traditional indication to relieve symptoms of discomfort and heaviness in the legs caused by slight venous circulatory problems, as well as for the symptomatic treatment of superficial capillary fragility . An ointment preparation with dry extract is traditionally used for the symptoms of itching and burning in connection with hemorrhoids and the thick extract diluted 1: 100 serves as eye drops for the temporary relief of symptoms due to dryness in the eye, caused by wind and sun. These products are to be labeled as traditional herbal medicinal products and the indications are based solely on long, traditional use.


Red vine leaves contain flavonoids , mainly quercetin glycosides and kaempferol -3-glucoside, as active ingredients . The red color is due to anthocyanins . In addition, there are oligomeric proanthocyanidins and other phenolic compounds known as polyphenols .

Structural formula of the flavonoid kaempferol-3-O-glucoside (also called astragaline)

For red vine leaves, however, only the group of polyphenols is important, which essentially includes the following groups of substances:

  • Phenol carboxylic acids (caffeic acid, ferulic acid and protocatechuic acid)
  • Flavones (quercetin, kaempferol)
  • Anthocyanins
  • Tannins (catechins, procyanidins), as well
  • Resveratrol (3,4 ', 5'-Trihydroxystilbene) and its dimers.

The flavonoids kaempferol-3-O-glucoside (also called astragaline ), isoquercitrin = quercetin-3-O-glucoside and quercetin-3-O-glucuronide are decisive for the effectiveness in venous diseases . Compared to red wine, the myricetin glycosides in the leaves take a back seat.

Pharmaceutical grade

Red grapevine leaves, dried

The French Pharmacopoeia (Pharm Franc X) describes red vine leaves and an extract from red vine leaves. These are leaves of dye grapes . All the leaves of these grape varieties turn completely red when the grapes are ripe. Colored vines are characterized by a high content of anthocyanins. This is why this red vine leaf, used as a pharmaceutical raw material, is dark red when fresh from the grape harvest, and when dried it is also light red in color.

The extract from red vine leaves according to Pharm Franc X is produced by hot water extraction and adjusted to a content of 10 to 15% total polyphenols in the dry extract. In purely mathematical terms, this results in a drug-extract ratio of 2.5-3.75: 1.

This Pharm Franc X extract is therefore suitable for the traditional indication of the EMA monograph. The EMA definition for the “evidence-based” indication refers to a special extract with DEV 4–6: 1, for which clinical efficacy has been proven in tablet form.

The vines are not grown separately for pharmaceutical purposes, but are used in addition to the grape harvest. The red grape leaves are harvested by hand two to eight weeks after the grape harvest. The leaf harvest only a few weeks after the grape harvest is intended to give the vine the opportunity to concentrate the carbohydrates and proteins that are important as nutrients in the trunk and thus to avoid damage.

Culinary uses of vine leaves as food

Grape leaves are used in food preparation, for which in France the term “application in the culinary art” (application à l'art culinaire) is used. The consumption of the leaves is common mainly in the Middle East countries. The Turkish-Greek specialty dolmades or dolma, roulades wrapped in vine leaves filled with minced mutton, partridges or spiced rice, fresh or in oil, is also known. Reference is made to this type of use in Egypt as early as 1740.

Finished dolma

The wrapping of cheese in grape leaves is customary mainly in France at Époisses de Bourgogne and is known as a quality mark. In the past, this was also done with the Banon cheese .

The list of goods for collective customs procedures calls “grape leaves, for human consumption”, describing them as vegetables in a commodity.

In Franconia, the bratwurst was created in the vine leaves.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Botanical Museum Berlin. Prestel museum guide. Prestel, Munich 1999
  2. ^ K. Ossendorf: 6000 years of viticulture in Egypt. Writings on Wine History No. 55 . Society for the History of Wine, Wiesbaden 1980
  3. ^ H. Baumann: Plant images on Greek coins . Hirmer, Munich 2000
  4. Gerd Hagenow: From the vineyards of antiquity, wine in poetry, customs and everyday life. Cultural history of the ancient world; 12 . von Zabern, Mainz 1982
  5. K. Christoffel: The ancient god of wine and the mystery of wine. Writings on wine history No. 6 . Society for the History of Wine, Wiesbaden 1961
  6. J. Berendes: Dioscurides Materia Medica . Stuttgart 1902
  7. ^ R. König: Pliny Natural History (Latin and German) . Vol. 24. Wiss. Buchges., Darmstadt 1993
  8. H. Kliewe: The importance of wine for health. Writings on Wine History No. 17 . Society for the History of Wine, Wiesbaden 1967
  9. H. Kreiskott: The wine - a medicine from antiquity to the present. Writings on Wine History No. 66 . Society for the History of Wine, Wiesbaden 1983
  10. M. Köhnlechner: The healing powers of wine . Herbig, Munich 2001
  11. ^ WD Müller-Jahncke: Order through »signature«. Analogy thinking in the medicinal treasure of the 16th and 17th centuries . DtschApoth Ztg 1984; 124: pp. 2184-2189
  12. E. Schneider: Rotes Weinlaub - history of use . Journal of Phytotherapy 2007; 28: pp. 250-258
  13. ^ EMA 2009. European Medicines Agency. Evaluation of Medicines for Human Use. Doc. Ref .: EMA / HMPC / 16635/2009, London, November 12, 2009. COMMITTEE ON HERBAL MEDICINAL PRODUCTS (HMPC). DRAFT, COMMUNITY HERBAL MONOGRAPH ON VITIS VINIFERA L. VAR. TINCTORIA, FOLIUM
  14. C. de Mey: The edema-protective effectiveness of Antistax in chronic venous insufficiency. A comment from the perspective of evidence-based medicine. Advances in Medicine 2000 . 118 (Original No. III): pp. 125-133
  15. ESCOP Monographs. The scientific foundation for herbal medicinal products. '' VITIS VINIFERAE FOLIUM, Red Vine Leaf ''. Second Edition Supplement. Stuttgart: Thieme 2009
  16. ^ S. Nees, D. Weiss, Thallmair, P. Lamm, G. Juchem: New aspects on the pathogenesis and therapy of chronic peripheral venous disorders. Progress and Further Education in Medicine 2000; 24: pp. 3-20
  17. ^ S. Nees, DR Weiss, E. Reichenbach-Klinke, F. Rampp, B. Heilmeier, J. Kanbach, A. Esperester: Protective effects of flavonoids contained in the red vine leaf on venular endothelium against the attack of activated blood components in vitro . Medicinal Research 2003; 53: 330-341
  18. ^ S. Nees: Pathological regulation of endothelial barrier functions in the venous wall . Vasomed. 2007; 1: 31
  19. H. Kiesewetter, J. Koscielny, U. Kalus et al .: Efficacy of orally administered extract of red vine leaf AS 195 in chronic venous insuffiency (stages I-II) . Medic Research 2000; 50: pp. 109-117
  20. U. Kalus, J. Koscielny, A. Grigorov, E. Schaefer, H. Peil, H. Kiesewetter: Improvement of Cutaneous Microcirculation and Oxygen Supply in Patients with Chronic Venous Insufficiency by Orally Administered Extract of Red Vine Leaves AS 195: A Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study . Drugs in R&D 2004; 5: pp. 63-71
  21. ^ E. Schneider: Rotes Weinlaub - a vein-effective medicinal drug . Dtsch Apoth Ztg 2007; 147 (30): pp. 3380-3386
  22. E. Schneider, H. von der Heydt, A. Esperester: Evaluation of polyphenol composition in red leaves from different varieties of Vitis vinifera L. ssp. vinifera . In: Planta Med 2008; 74: pp. 565-572
  23. ^ Pharmacopée francaise (Pharm Franc X), 10ème édition, Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des produits de santé. Monograph »VIGNE ROUGE» »and» EXTRAIT DE VIGNE ROUGE (SEC) », Jan 1996
  24. A. Boucheny, M. Brum-Bousquet: Contribution a l'etude de la feuille de vigne rouge (Vitis vinifera L.) . Plantes Medicinales et Phytotherapy 1990; 24: pp. 179-192
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  26. C. de Mey: The edema-protective effectiveness of Antistax in chronic venous insufficiency . A comment from the perspective of evidence-based medicine. Advances in Medicine 2000; 118 (Original No. III): pp. 125-133
  27. E. Schneider, H. von der Heydt, A. Esperester: Evaluation of polyphenol composition in red leaves from different varieties of Vitis vinifera L. ssp. vinifera . Planta Med 2008; 74: pp. 565-572
  28. ^ H. Leclerc: Précis de Phytotherapy . Masson, Paris 1942
  29. KG Bergner, E. Lemperle: Wine Compendium, Botany - Varieties - Cultivation - Preparation. Stuttgart: Hirzel; 1993
  30. ^ B. Maillet: Description de l 'Egypte - composée sur les mémoires de Monsieur de Maillet par Le Mascrier. Vol. 1 , LaHaye: Beauregard; P. 1740
  31. G. Liebster: Product knowledge fruit and vegetables. Vol. 2 vegetables . Morion, Düsseldorf 1990
  32. dpa. Franconians create the bratwurst in the vine leaves. Süddeutsche Zeitung, SZ from August 13, 2005