Medicine, Wine In

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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From ancient times to the 18th century, wine enjoyed a central role in medicine (see literature of wine). The earliest practitioners of medicine were magicians and priests who used wine for healing as well as religious purposes (see religion). Receipts for wine-based medicines appear in papyri of Ancient egypt and the tablets of sumer in about 2200 bc, making wine man’s oldest documented medicine.

The beginnings of systematized medicine are commonly attributed to the Greek Hippocrates (c.450 bc), who recommended the use of wine as a disinfectant, a medicine, a vehicle for other drugs, and as part of a healthy diet. He experimented with different wines in order to discover how each might be most appropriately used—whether diluted or not, for example—to cure a specific ailment, from lethargy or diarrhoea to easing difficult childbirth.