Chocolate Delight

Vinotherapy has been around for some time now and is rapidly growing in popularity. The proven health benefits of proanthocyanidins (PCOs) give Vinotherapy its legitimacy.

PCOs are the active component of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. has reported that The Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the luxury pampering market in its newly-opened Spa.

They already offer anti-aging masks made from Chardonnay grapes and are now releasing ‘Choco Therapy’ and “Truffle Therapy”, both of which it is claimed to have rejuvenating properties.

These therapies (ISHI Elements) have been developed by Dr. Davide Antichi, owner and director of Italian Skincare Institute Dafla. Founded 25 years ago, the Dafla Group specializes in the professional well-being and cosmetic sector.

Red wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, is high in polyphenols. Polyphenols, like aspirin, vitamin C, and other natural products, thin the blood, reducing artery thickening and thereby reducing the danger of heart disease.

Professor Joseph Vercauteren of the Department of Pharmacology at Bordeaux University pioneered the idea that grape skins and seeds – left after fermentation – could have as beneficial an effect on the skin as on the heart.

For more than two thousand years, wine was the only available antiseptic and during the early part of the 19th Century it was indispensable for medicine until other disinfectants such as phenols were discovered. It was, in fact, Hippocrates (born in 460 BC) who used wine in remedies for nearly every ailment, from fever to diuretic. The Romans  also used it, to clean soldiers and gladiators wounds, preserve food and of course banish anxiety.

The first testimonies relating to beauty masks being made using grapes, clay and incense date back to Egyptian women at least 2000 years BC. It was Galeno, however, who first recommended grapes as a suitable remedy to improve the complexion. There is also written evidence that the Ancient Greeks used grapes for beauty purposes, to cleanse the skin and make it smooth.

Louis XIV introduced wine in his court due to ‘it’s healing properties and as it exalts beauty and improves facial features and complexion’. It was commonly discussed during the 19th Century how Grape Must was used to prepare masks and compresses for the face and neck.
Chocolate too can claim a variety of beneficial effects.

Also high in polyphenols, it contains demineralising agents, as much phosphorous as found in fish, and emulsions. Whether rubbing chocolate on the skin has any health benefits is unproven, but a joint study by scientists from universities in Glasgow and Rome in 2002 found that 100g of plain chocolate boosted blood antioxidant levels by nearly 20%.

People began drinking chocolate in the tropical regions of South America, where for thousands of years the cocoa tree grew wild, and for which the Indians valued its properties. The Toltecs and Incas were familiar with the cocoa tree, however, it was the Mayans who successfully cultivated it and developed thriving business from plantations in the Yucatan.

Nevertheless the real story of chocolate begins with the Aztecs as the cocoa bean was, in fact, the monetary currency of the Aztecs and the grilled seeds were ground to prepare a drink called ‘xocolatl’ which today is known as chocolate.

The first European encounter with cocoa was when Columbus ran into a Mayan trading canoe that was carrying cocoa beans! In 1502 Columbus returned to Spain, however, it was not until twenty years later that the last Aztec Emperor showed the Spaniards how to drink ‘xocolatl’ – a beverage that was considered invigorating and useful to combat fatigue.

The Choco Th erapy face and body treatments tone by stimulating natural drainage and combating cellulite. The chocolate’s ingredients nourish the skin, prevent dehydration and reduce the effects of ageing. Apparently this specific range is also highly recommended for men to nourish the skin after shaving. Hmmn – I am not too sure about that. I don’t want to end up with egg on my face, let alone chocolate!

According to the Spa’s publicity, the Truffle Therapy Facial is known in Hollywood as “party botox” for its skin-toning effects, while covering the body in chocolate products and massaging for two hours “guarantees inch loss”. Really? I wonder if Sue can be convinced to rub me with truffles in an effort to shed the pounds I put on over Christmas?

Juvenal reckoned the truffle was the fruit of the lightning thrown by Jupiter near an oak, the sacred tree of the father of Gods. Jupiter was also famous for its prodigious sexual activity, for this reason the truffle is characterised by aphrodisiac qualities. In fact among the ancient Greeks the use of stimulating foods was widespread: during the Dionysian festivals, for example, the Truffle is eaten together with eggs, honey, and shellfish in honour to Venus.

As to the renowned erotic properties of the truffle, a hormonal effect seems to consist in its strong smell. With time the science has made clear that the aphrodisiac effects of truffle are attached to the presence of fragrant substances that act at an olfactory level, not only in certain animals but also in man, by stimulating a particular reawakening sense.

Besides its fragrance, it has been discovered that the truffle also acts through its aphrodisiac power at a metabolic level, since it is very rich in landrostenione, a substance that slow down the production of serotonin and then gives serenity and calmness of senses.
Personally I’d rather eat them (and the chocolate) but you never know if I start looking youthful and regenerated you’ll know Sue has convinced me to give it a go . . .

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