The Grapevine – A Versatile Plant for Nourishment, Refreshment and Healing
The grapevine is a climbing plant that is grown mostly for its sweet fruit or for the production of alcoholic beverages. But the beneficial effects of grape leaves have also been known since antiquity. In Christianity wine symbolises the blood of Christ and renewal; in natural medicine it is assigned to the blood and the heart. The grapevine (Latin name: Vitis vinifera) is an ancient cultivated plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It grows in relatively poor and dry soil and loves sunny regions. The plant is deeply connected with the earth. Its roots bury up to 20 metres into the soil to reach dissolved minerals and draw them to the surface, depositing them in the grapes. Above ground, the sunlight penetrates the leaves, contributing to numerous chemical reactions that produce valuable plant substances. This enables both the fruits and the leaves to be used for therapeutic purposes, provided they are free of pesticides and herbicides.
Certified Organic Cultivation for Weleda
Because grape cultivation across the globe often involves the use of large amounts of so-called “plant protection agents” and can have a negative impact on the environment, Weleda embarked on a quest to find a sustainable way to obtain this raw material. It formed a number of agricultural partnerships, for example in Portugal, in order to secure sustainable benefits for both people and for nature.
Located in the Alentejo in central Portugal is the acreage of a winegrower who, with the help of 15 women, harvests grape leaves for Weleda. The climate here is dry, with a constant wind blowing and cool nights. It’s a climate of contrasts that the grapevine appears to love. Hardly any microorganisms that could damage the plants live here, so they can be cultivated entirely without the use of pesticides or herbicides. The grape leaves that grow here are of the highest quality, cultivated in harmony with nature and processed into medicinal remedies by Weleda.
A Worthwhile Collaboration with Environmentally Conscious Suppliers
In 2008 Weleda launched a project in this region for certified organic grapevine cultivation with Herdade do Freixo do Meio, a local farm. Biodiversity is of high order here, where a current permaculture project was also established. This mutually beneficial partnership yields grape leaves of a quality that can't be found at any market in the world. This is also a big win for the partner farm, which through the cultivation of uncontaminated grape leaves can remain true to its values respecting both people and nature. This purpose-driven activity means a lot to Weleda, because it receives the positive energy resulting from sustainable cultivation and harvest practices as a free bonus, so to speak. After all, only an approach that is good from the start and consistently followed by all those involved can ultimately lead to good things.
Creating Value Through Resource-Oriented Cultivation
Each year in early summer, around three months after the leaf buds have opened, the young grape leaves are carefully gathered by hand. They are then left to dry for a few days in a greenhouse using the power of the sun, before they are packed into paper bags for their journey to Weleda.
The Grapevine – Its Polarities Indicate its Applications
Few plants are as contradictory in their effects as the grapevine. Consumed in excess, wine can have a negative effect on the liver. Yet at the right dose, the medical substances this plant contains can also have a positive effect. These valuable substances are also beneficial to the blood system. They can infuse us with energy from the depths of the earth, which, under the influence of sunlight, has been transformed into new health-giving substances. Sustainable, environmentally conscious, socially responsible and fair, the grapevine is a wonderful gift of nature to mankind.
Alcohol denotes the drinkable Alcohol (Ethanol, Ethylalcohol). Alcohol is used as an extracting agent for the production of plant extracts, which Weleda uses as active components for its natural cosmetic products. Alcohol has also got a stabilising effect on these products. Depending on the dilution, alcohol has a disinfecting function.