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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Patients toast Ukraine's 'wine therapy'
By Helen Fawkes
BBC News, Alushta, Crimea

We are all being told to lay off too much booze, but a Ukrainian health spa is prescribing patients a course of cocktails.

A woman undergoes "wine therapy" at the Crimean Stars Sanatorium
Health experts are sceptical about the "therapy's" supposed benefits

The Crimean Stars Sanatorium in Alushta has devised a treatment called "wine therapy".

It claims the treatment can help alleviate a range of medical problems like stress, impotence and heart disease.

Even though it may sound like a joke, the sanatorium takes its "wine therapy" very seriously.

Your first stop is not the bar. Instead, there is a medical consultation.

Patients are then advised which cocktail they should take.


Dr Alexander Sheludko, who came up with the treatment, points out that medical research has shown that wine in moderation can be good for you.

He boasts that hundreds of people have now had a taste of his medicine.

Dr Alexander Sheludko
Wine is a live product which contains vitamins - it has lots of compounds which are biologically active
Dr Alexander Sheludko
Crimean Stars Sanatorium

"Wine is a live product which contains vitamins. It has lots of compounds which are biologically active," he says.

There are seven different types of cocktails on offer.

The formula is simple - lots of dried herbs are mixed with lots of Crimean wine. Sometimes vodka is added for an extra kick.

Then all you have to do is sit back, relax and make sure you take your "prescription" three times a day for a week or two.

Small glasses of the drink are served from 0700 in the sanatorium's cafe.


Lena Borodina, who works as a hairdresser in Russia, has tried lots of alterative treatments.

She says that living in Moscow is stressful and that she travelled to the Ukrainian clinic for something to help her unwind.

I'm happy that it seems to be working well and I rather enjoy it
Lena Borodina

"I think that wine therapy is an excellent type of treatment. It relaxes you, gives you strength and fills you with vigour," she adds.

"I'm happy that it seems to be working well and I rather enjoy it."

But Ukrainian health experts are sceptical about whether there are any real medical benefits from "wine therapy".

There is also the question about whether it is such a good idea in a country that has high levels of alcoholism.

Barrels of wine in Crimea, Ukraine
The wine is produced locally in the Crimea

"I think that such therapy could lead to someone becoming addicted to drink. It could become the first step towards psychological dependence," Dr Iryna Lipych, a specialist in alcohol dependency, says.

"It is also important to remember that alcohol causes lots of medical problems, and especially that it has a bad effect on liver."

Some of the Crimean cocktails taste very strong.

If they are drunk on an empty stomach, they could well make you feel a bit tipsy.

Wine therapy may not be a panacea, but it does give a whole new meaning to the phrase "just what the doctor ordered".

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