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Grape Expectations: Vinotherapy and the Power of Polyphenols

Grape Expectations: Vinotherapy and the Power of Polyphenols

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Perform your morning ablutions in a steaming wine-barrel bath filled with spring water enriched with essential oils and grape seed extracts. Afterwards, enjoy a grape seed oil massage or a wine-and-honey body wrap. Then, relax with a cup of red vine herbal tea or fresh grape juice while you contemplate the even more luxurious spa treatments in store for you throughout the day.

If this sounds to you like the perfect way to be pampered, you are not alone. More and more people across the globe are becoming aware of a phenomenon known as vinotherapy. Proponents of vinotherapy consider it not only a relaxing indulgence for all of the senses, but also, and perhaps more importantly, an all natural, anti-aging miracle.

Off to a Vine Start

The term Vinothérapie® was coined by Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas. In 1993, fresh out of college, the French couple happened upon a valuable piece of information that would change the course of their lives. When a visiting scientist from Bordeaux University of Pharmacy told them that the grape seeds they regularly disposed of contained one of the most potent anti-aging compounds ever discovered, the Thomases knew they were sitting on a goldmine. The husband and wife team began a little skin care company that would soon become an anti-aging empire synonymous with youth, beauty, and luxury - Caudalíe®.

De Vine Origins

Within the heart of the grape reside powerful free radical fighters known as polyphenols. Free radicals, according to the Mayo Clinic, are unstable oxygen molecules that damage skin cells, leading to wrinkles and other signs of aging. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E, and C, actively fight these molecular rogues. Proanthocyanidins, one type of grape seed polyphenols, are twenty times more powerful than vitamin E and 50 times more powerful than vitamin C in fighting free radicals, according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

The Grape Escape

Along with creating a skin care line based on the restorative power of polyphenols, the Thomases decided to further their success by branching out into the spa business. In September 1999, they launched the first Vinothérapie® Spa in the world. Les Sources de Caudalíe® is located at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, a renovated 18th-century chateau that sits atop fertile lands boasting a vast supply of polyphenol-laden grapes and a natural source of mineral-rich water.

Soon, other entrepreneurs would follow in the footsteps of the Thomases. Wine spas began springing up in vineyards everywhere, from Paarl, South Africa to Edmond, Oklahoma. Today, there are entire websites that cater to the wine spa enthusiast. This widespread popularity, combined with the knowledge researchers have gathered to prove the power of polyphenols, may indicate that the vinotherapy phenomenon is no mere passing trend in anti-aging skin care.

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