Draksha: An Ayurvedic Perspective on Grapes

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Grapes and raisins have been a key component of Ayurvedic diet and home remedies for centuries. Learn more about the qualities and uses of grapes and raisins.

Botanical NameVitis vinifera L.

Family: Vitaceae

English names: Grape, raisin.

Hindi: angūr

Sanskrit: Draksha, svādhupalā, madhurasā, mridvīkā, hārahūrā, gōstanī.

Ecological Status: An important cultivar under threat from climate change.

Plant Part Used: Fruit, leaves

 In Greek mythology, grapes have their own God, Dionysius, who is the original vintner and the disseminator of the art of viniculture. He wandered around, conducting this mission, accompanied by wild and intoxicated Maenads.

Indeed, Dionysius wandered quite far afield, even to India, where viticulture may have been introduced by Persian traders sometime as early as the 4th millennium BC. These early plantings appear to have been used mostly for table grapes or grape juice—both important in Ayurvedic texts-- rather than in making wine. During the Vedic period of the 2nd and 1st millennia, the Aryans were noted for their indulgence in intoxicating drinks, which probably included wine. The first known mention of grape-based wines occurs in the writings of Chanyaka, chief minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, in  in the late 4th century BC. It appears that the emperor and courtiers liked to indulge in madhu, a grape wine.

Properties

Grapes that are more sour in taste, whether by variety or because they are unripe, will be light in property and tend to increase pitta, kapha and bleeding disorders. Sweet and astringent grapes (like concord grapes) are preferred and their properties, when well-ripened, are as follows:

Taste: Sweet (Madhura), astringent (kshaya)

Energy: Cooling (shita)

Post-digestive effect: Sweet (madhura)

Property: Heavy (guru)

Balances all three doshas

Dhatus: Rasa, rakta, shukra

Srotansi: Ambu, rasa, rakta, shukra, mutra

Contains: Varies by variety but typically includes phenolic acids, flavonols, flavon-3-ols, myricetin, peonidin, flavonoids, resveratrolquercetin, tannins, anthocyanins, kaempferol cyanidin, ellagic acidproanthocyanidins.

Actions

  • Laxative
  • Beneficial for eyes (chakshushya)
  • Nourishing (brimhana)
  • Promotes urine flow
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Promotes taste
  • Iron-rich

Used in:

  • Thirst
  • Fever
  • Asthma and breathlessness
  • Vāta conditions
  • Arthritis with skin leisions
  • Jaundice
  • Urinary problems
  • Haemorrhage
  • Drowsiness
  • Burning sensations
  • Emaciation
  • Hangover

Remedies

1.     Excess thirst: Drink 1 cup diluted Concord grape juice with a little sandalwood powder, vetiver and honey.

2.     Excess thirst: Instill drops of diluted concord grape juice into the nostrils.

3.     Excess heat: drink 1 cup diluted concord grape juice with two tablespoons aloe vera and a few drops of rosewater.

4.     Burning sensations: If burning stomach or urination, or hotheadedness, drink 1 cup diluted concord grape juice with ½ tsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. fennel powder and ½ tsp. sandalwood powder.

5.     Fever: drink 1 cup diluted Concord grape juice with ½ tsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. fennel powder and ½ tsp. sandalwood powder.

6.     Constipation: Soak a handful of raisins in water overnight and eat in the morning.

7.     Shortness of breath, chest pain: 1 cup diluted concord grape juice with 1 tsp. honey and ½ tsp. dry ginger powder.

8.     Cough: boil a handful of raisins and drink the raisin tea.

9.     Low libido, sexual debility: 1 cup diluted Concord grape juice, 1 pinch pippali (long pepper), ½ tsp. turbinado sugar. For vata add ½ tsp. ashwagandha, for pitta ½ tsp. shatavari and drink one hour before bedtime.

10.  Cystitis: 1 cup diluted Concord grape juice with 1 tsp. cumin powder and 1 pinch rock salt 2-3 times daily.

11. Anaemia: For iron deficiency, soak a handful of raisins in water overnight and eat in the morning with a teaspoon of honey. 

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

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