By Terry Sweeney
Scientists have documented the making and consumption of red wine as far back as 5,400 B.C. I wonder if at some point a particularly dandified caveman, with a more evolved palate than the others, ever suggested, “This red wine would pair beautifully with a grilled brontosaurus with scalloped potatoes and a nice lightly dressed green salad.” OK, maybe that’s a little too evolved. Or maybe he was the first gay caveman. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But what I do know is that since that time, civilization after civilization has used red wine not only for dining and recreation purposes but for medical reasons.
The famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, recommended wine as part of a healthy diet and advocated its use as a disinfectant for wounds and as a cure for various ailments from lethargy to pain during childbirth. (Many mothers today use it to treat the pain of child rearing!)
Much later in the Middle Ages, Catholic monasteries used wine for scores of medical treatments. So tied was the role of wine to medicine, that the first printed book on the subject of wine was written by a 14th century physician, Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who used wine to treat dementia and sinus problems and combat a host of other nuisances like Mrs. Villa Nova who constantly complained, “When the hell is that damn book gonna be finished?” (True story!)
Fast forward to 1991 when an episode of “60 Minutes” took on the question of why the French — who smoke more than we do, eat more meat, and exercise less — have fewer heart attacks? Medical researchers came back with a surprising answer: Because they drink red wine. “The French Paradox” started America switching to red wine for its obvious health benefits, a trend that continues to this day.
One of the most important medical areas that Dr. Redwine might be called upon is for a little ol’ thing called longevity. It was once said by some clever pundit who, when told “if he didn’t drink or have sex, he’d live longer,” replied, “No, it’ll just seem longer.”
But actually, a compound in red wine called resveratrol has been shown to definitely increase lifespan in animal studies. It is really the resveratrol that is the miracle antioxidant in red wine that in studies has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; and that reduces the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease. Well-meaning friends have told me that I can now buy resveratrol by itself in capsule form. (Well, I guess that’d work for me, if I can wash ‘em down with a couple of glasses of red wine!)
The good news for men is that other studies have shown four or more glasses of red wine per week reduced a man’s overall risk of prostate cancer by 50% and the risk of the most aggressive form of prostate cancer by 60%. And more good news is that researchers in Spain have found that people who drank more than two glasses of red wine per day have 44 % fewer colds than people who abstain. That’s nothing to sneeze at!
Realistically, of course, this data calls for drinking in moderation — not till you fall down face first on your nice Persian rug or wake up in the middle of your back yard naked. So drink wisely (not like the rest of us down here).
I personally have found that Dr. Redwine is an excellent chiropractor and after a stressful day, two glasses allow me to crack my neck and move achy and stiff limbs. I often say out loud, “Thanks, Dr. Redwine!” Who says doctors don’t make house calls anymore?
By Terry Sweeney