The grape cure has been advocated for many years as beneficial in certain forms of disease, but, like the majority of vaunted dietetic "cures," it is almost certain that the chief benefit experienced is from the change of scene and the favourable climatic and hygienic surroundings of the patient, and possibly the influence of a stimulated imagination. The "cure" is in vogue during the grape-bearing season of the vineyards in various parts of southern Europe, especially at Meran and Montreux. Grapes, being very largely composed of water, do not possess a very high degree of nutritive power, and it is impossible to maintain life upon their exclusive use; but the grape sugar which they contain, as well as a large amount of potassium and other salts, may have some slight alterative effect and benefit nutrition. Grapes are also laxative. Almost every one is fond of the fruit, and the cure is therefore an agreeable one to take, especially as the diet is not too exclusive, for the eating of large quantities of grapes is made an adjunct to the employment of highly nutritious food.

Vineyard labourers who eat little else but grapes quickly lose weight, and other food must be taken with the grapes if the strength is to be maintained, for a pound of grapes contains a little less than three grammes of proteid.

It is recommended by Lebert that the grapes should be eaten systematically and in quantities commencing with half a pound, and seldom exceeding four pounds per diem, although six or eight pounds are sometimes eaten, a quantity which may excite diarrhoea. Owing to the mildly laxative effect of the fruit, this cure is beneficial in cases of chronic constipation, and especially in engorgement and hyperemia of the liver accompanied by extensive venous congestion, hemorrhoids, and the formation of various forms of calculi. In gastric catarrh patients are sometimes allowed to eat six pounds of grapes a day. The laxative effect is always greater if the fruit is taken in the intervals between meals, and especially if taken fasting on rising in the morning. At first only half a pound of grapes is to be taken two or three times a day, from half an hour to an hour before meals, the quantity being gradually increased to a pound or more at each dose. Some patients digest the grapes better, however, if they are eaten in the form of dessert than if taken into an empty stomach. The laxative effect gradually increases, and is usually more pronounced after several days.

The uric acid and acidity of the urine is lessened.

When patients become tired of the monotony of this single fruit they may be allowed to substitute pears or figs. It is stated that the gums may become somewhat swollen and tender from the acid contained in so much fruit, and to obviate this difficulty the mouth may be cleansed thoroughly after eating with listerine or a solution of sodium bicarbonate, or the mastication of a small quantity of bread will serve to cleanse the teeth.

Abundant other food is allowed with the grapes, but it is important that it should be of an easily digestible character, and certain articles must therefore be forbidden, such as fats, rich sauces, gravies, pickles, condiments, the heavier vegetables, such as potatoes and the legumes, cheese, pastry, cakes, sweets, and beer.

The usual duration of the cure is from a month to six weeks. The average chemical percentage composition of grapes is given by König as:

Water.................................................... 78.17

Sugar.................................... ................ 14.36

Free acid. ................................................ 0.79

Nitrogenous material....................................... 0. 59

Extractives................................................ 1.96

Stones and woody fiber..................................... 3.60

Ash....................................................... 0.53

The latter is chiefly composed of potash salts, some lime and magnesia.

Patients who have undertaken the grape cure without proper supervision easily disorder their digestion and cause gastric catarrh and even jaundice. Knauthe says that the eating of several pounds of grapes daily may at first cause symptoms of flatulent dyspepsia, more or less vertigo, and increased frequency of the pulse, palpitation, diuresis, and malaise. The stools become more frequent and semisolid.

The grape cure is reputed to be useful in chronic bronchitis, the first stage of phthisis, emphysema, in obesity when combined with a restricted diet, in gastro-intestinal catarrh, anaemia, vesical catarrh, gout, hepatic engorgement, malarial cachexia, and chronic cutaneous affections.

In phthisis the grapes should not be given in quantities sufficient to occasion diarrhoea.