I love when two worlds collide.  I found an article in the Epoch Times titled, :Dragon’s Blood: One of the Most Potent Sources of Antioxidants on the Planet.” I thought it was a great topic for this week’s post, as antioxidants are often a topic of conversation in the wine world.

Without going too far down the rabbit hole of genetics, our chromosomes contain regions that hold important information and this is where, if mutations occur, we see a genetic disorder. For example, Chromosome number 4 is responsible for only 6.5% of a human’s genetic material and is made up of about 1000 genes, but a small deletion in a portion of one of the arms of chromosome 4 will lead to Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome is characterized by halted growth, intellectual disabilities, facial abnormalities, and seizures.

image of a baby with WHS courtesy of https://www.semanticscholar.org/

There’s nothing we can do about it, we are all aging. Our cells are able to replicate through the process of mitosis, but each time they split, a bit of the cell’s DNA is lost. The non-genetic ends of a chromosome are called the telomere and they protect the chromosome from being damaged. Each time the cell divides, a portion of the telomere is lost. Eventually they become so short that they can no longer protect the chromosome and the cell becomes damaged and dies. Factors that speed up the degradation include stress, chronic inflammation, chronic infection, some metallic chemicals and ultraviolet light.

image courtesy of NIH

Whether naturally occurring or due to environmental influences, our body is full of free radicals. These are unstable molecules that cause damage to our DNA, which in turn increase the likelihood of cancer of other diseases. Free radicals also are formed during exercise and the natural conversion of food into energy. Additionally, cigarette smoke, air pollution, and sunlight increase the amount of free radicals in our body.

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This is where antioxidants come into play. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), antioxidants can be either man-made or naturally occurring substances that help delay or prevent cell damage. Antioxidants can be acquired through your your diet. (drinking wine and apparently dragon’s blood) When the amount of free radicals in the body increases significantly, they may cause oxidative stress and damage cells, proteins and DNA leading to aging complications. The balance is restored when antioxidants, give up an electron to the free radical. This exchange stabilizes the free radical  while not have a negative effect on the antioxidant itself. As more electrons are given to the free radicals, oxidative stress is reduced, thereby reducing the aging process. 

Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Wine contains antioxidants and since antioxidants help to prevent coronary artery disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, it has been claimed that red wine is heart healthy. The connection is not completely understood, however, it is believed that the antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) while decreasing the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) thereby protecting against cholesterol buildup. These antioxidants, known as polyphenols, resveratrol in particular, are also believed to protect the lining of the blood vessels of the heart. 

Both red and white wines contain resveratrol, but since red wine is fermented on the skins longer, which is where Resveratrol is found, red wine contains more resveratrol. According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, of the 3,100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs, and supplements used worldwide dragon’s blood contains the highest-known antioxidant of all the foods tested.  Dragon’s blood is the sap found within the Dracaena draco tree, our namesake. As I have spoken about previously, the sap is blood red and has been used medicinally for centuries. There is mention of Dragon’s Blood use mentioned by the Greeks and Romans as well as being used in traditional Chinese, Arabic Thai and African medicine. Typical use includes healing wounds, coagulation, an analgesic, curing various digestive issues as well as increasing circulation. 

Now, as much as I love the Dracaena draco tree and the fact that our winery is named after it, I must admit I would prefer to drink wine rather than consume dragon’s blood. But just in case you would like to experience the effects of dragon’s blood for yourself, it is available in powder and capsule form, plus alcoholic extracts, tinctures and ointments.  It is also easy to make your own topical ointment by mixing together dragon’s blood powder with either coconut oil or shea butter. 


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