Why Does Red Wine Give Me A Headache? (Solved)

Tannins, another grape-skin constituent, could be at fault. Tannins are plant chemicals that impart flavor to red wines and contain antioxidants. But they also spur the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which at high levels can cause headaches in some people.

What is the best wine to avoid headaches?

  • Serotonin is a “happy” neurotransmitter, but too much of it can cause headaches. The dryer the wine, the more tannins it is likely to contain, so to avoid headaches, avoid red wines, especially very dry ones. White wines like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sauterne and pinot grigio are good choices.


How do you get rid of a red wine headache?

How To Avoid A Headache From Drinking Wine

  1. Get caffeinated. Drinking two cups of strong coffee before pouring your wine can help, according to Dr.
  2. Stick to lighter reds.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

What red wines dont cause headaches?

You can try wines that are naturally lower in tannins, such as white wines in general, as well as red wines from grapes that are typically thinner-skinned and lower in tannins, like Pinot Noir.

Can red wine trigger a migraine?

Migraine patients consume alcohol less often than the general public. Although migraine sufferers consider red wine the principal migraine trigger, studies show that other alcoholic drinks are equally or more frequently the cause. Alcohol, and not a different constituent of the drink, is probably the trigger.

Why do I get a headache after drinking a small amount of alcohol?

Alcohol is a diuretic – it acts on your kidneys to make you pee more fluid than you’re taking in. Losing fluid from your body like this can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches.

Which red wines are low in histamines?

Certified Low Histamine Wines

  • Dolcetto D’Alba Doc Low Histamine.
  • Diano D’alba Doc Low histamine.
  • Barbera D’Alba Doc Low Histamines.
  • Langhe Chardonnay Doc Low histamines.

Why does Malbec give me a headache?

Thus, if you find yourself getting a wine headache and your wine of choice is Napa Cab, Mendoza Malbec, or Northern Rhone Syrah, you have a tannin sensitivity. Histamines are found most commonly in food products that are aged — think aged/cured meats, cheeses, and yes, wine.

Which red wines do not have tannins?

Pinot noir is actually one of the most popular red wines because it is a low tannin red wine. Pinot noir is fruit-forward and pairs well with many dishes. Its low tannin levels make it easy to drink and enjoy. Rainstorm makes a gorgeous organic pinot noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon.

What alcohol doesn’t give you headaches?

For those who have the soon-after headaches, drink “headache-safe” beverages, such as white wine and crystal-clear, light liquor.

Why does cheap wine give me a headache?

Wines high in tannins can sometimes – but not always – interfere with serotonin levels, which can result in a headache. The reason cheap wines get blamed so often is because, just like with the sugar, in cheaper wines these tannins tend to be added or even synthetic, which can create the headache.

Why does red wine give me a headache but not white wine?

Red wine contains more histamine than white wine because it’s made from the whole grape (including the skin), not just the juice. Some people have a shortage of an enzyme that breaks down histamine in the small intestine.

How do you stop an alcohol induced headache?

How Can I Treat An Alcohol Induced Headache?

  1. Taking painkillers such as paracetamol can relieve the pain of a headache.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Drinking bouillon can help to restore the balance of the body and will be easy to digest as your stomach may be a little delicate.

What helps a headache after drinking alcohol?

Aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, other brands), and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with the headache and the overall achy feelings. NSAIDs, though, may irritate a stomach already irritated by alcohol. Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Wine Headache: Causes, Treatment, Prevention Tips

When the throbbing begins, you’re sitting down to dinner with a glass of wine in hand. The remainder of your evening is about to be ruined by a wine headache, and you already know what that entails. Headaches are frequently attributed to excessive use of alcohol. The pain is certainly genuine, but there is currently no scientific evidence to support the causes of this occurrence at this time. Let’s take a deeper look at what causes a wine headache, if there is a method to avoid it, and what to do if you do have one in the future.

Depending on how much you drink, the first pang of a headache may appear immediately or it may appear many hours later.

Red wine, in particular, has long been recognized as a migraine-inducing substance.

It’s possible that migraine attacks are caused by a combination of many circumstances.

Here are some plausible explanations for wine-induced headaches.


Histamine may be found in grape skins. Because white wine is produced without the use of the grape skin, it has a lower histamine level than red wine, which is produced using the entire grape. The presence of histamine sensitivity may make you more prone to migraines. Keep in mind that other meals, other than alcoholic beverages, contain higher levels of histamine. These are some examples:

  • Aged cheese, eggplant, sauerkraut, spinach, salmon, sausage, and salami are some of the options.


Grape skins also contain plant compounds known as tannins, which contribute to the flavor of wine by helping to preserve its color. Some people have headaches when they consume tannins because they induce the body to release serotonin. Tannins are found in greater quantities in red wines than in white wines. The tannins in tea, dark chocolate, and various berries and nuts are just a few of the foods that contain this compound. Tannins are believed to be responsible for the onset of migraines in persons who are taking migraine prevention medications.


Wine headaches are occasionally attributed to the presence of sulfites in the wine. Sulfites are chemicals that aid in the preservation of red and white wines, among other things. Breathing issues are more common in those who are sensitive to sulfites than headaches, however.Higher quantities of sulfites can be found in the following foods:

  • Certain fruits and dried fruits, chips, pickles, raisins, and soy sauce are examples of foods that fall within this category.

Wine is typically cited as the most common alcoholic beverage to cause a headache, however any sort of alcoholic beverage can cause one. Alcoholic beverages are not “safe,” and you do not have to be suffering from a main headache issue in order to be affected.

Your particular headache causes are unique to you. Even well-known headache causes are not always effective in alleviating the condition. The development of a headache may be influenced by a range of contributing variables, including but not limited to:

  • Additionally, the things you’ve eaten, drinking on an empty stomach, your stress levels, and level of exhaustion are all factors to consider.

Other elements in the alcoholic beverage; items you’ve eaten; drinking on an empty stomach; your stress and exhaustion levels;

  • Other elements in the alcoholic beverage
  • Meals you’ve eaten
  • Drinking on an empty stomach
  • Your stress levels
  • Your degree of weariness
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Other elements in the alcoholic beverage; meals you’ve eaten; drinking on an empty stomach; your stress levels; your degree of weariness Even while over-the-counter pain medicines are typically harmless, combining them with alcoholic beverages might be hazardous in some circumstances, particularly if you:

  • Taking more medicine than is suggested
  • Consuming three or more alcoholic beverages per day while using the drug
  • Having stomach ulcers or other bleeding issues
  • Taking blood thinning medicines

If you use over-the-counter or prescription headache medications, read the label carefully for directions and cautions about possible interactions with alcohol. Identifying wine as a typical headache cause may indicate that you should abstain from consuming the beverage in the future. It is possible that there will be no more reds, no more whites, or no more wine at all. You could want to try with different types of wine if your headaches are tolerable and you’re prepared to take a chance on it, on the other hand.

  • When it comes to winemaking, there are a range of grape varieties available as well as preservatives and other substances to consider.
  • Any form of alcoholic beverage, especially if consumed in excess, can cause a headache.
  • If you do not consume alcohol, the recommended daily consumption for women is one standard drink per day and two standard drinks per day for men.
  • It is not unusual to get a wine headache, although the cause is not always evident.
  • If you get a wine headache on a regular basis, this does not always indicate that you should stop drinking wine in the future.
  • Drinking gently and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume may also help you avoid a headache.
  • If your wine headache appears out of nowhere, is severe, or is accompanied by additional symptoms you haven’t experienced before, consult your doctor right once.

Why Does Wine Give You a Headache?

Some days it starts with a dull forehead throb, while other days it starts with a warp in the corners of my vision. Afterwards, the discomfort grows until it seems as if my mind is trying to unstick itself from my head. A headache has struck me, a severe one, and I’m not sure why I’ve got it. Because someone asked me a simple question—”Would you like red or white?”—and I picked red despite the fact that I was well aware of the ramifications of my decision. I’m not the only one that feels this way.

  1. Even a single glass of wine might set off a chain reaction.
  2. For example, I was invited to a dinner party hosted by a fashionable acquaintance last year and had a great time.
  3. The hue of the wine was that of rubies.
  4. The woman said, “I’ve got some type ofRiesling in the fridge.” I was on the fence.

But it wasn’t. It was a risky proposition for me. I took a chance and ended up with a pounding headache that I had to smile and bear for the rest of the night. So the issue becomes, how can I, or anybody else, distinguish between a headache-inducing red and a headache-free red?

Sulfites: Innocent Or Evil?

It’s possible that a large number of individuals reading this are thinking: Hold on a minute, I already know the answer. Isn’t it the sulfites that are to blame? The quick answer is that it does not. Because of their anti-oxidant properties, these chemicals have been utilized in wine production since antiquity to avoid spoiling and to preserve reds vibrant and whites white. They’re also a natural by-product of fermentation, which means that making a completely sulfite-free wine is very impossible.

Scientists, on the other hand, have discovered no relationship between sulfites in wine and headaches.

Furthermore, white wines often contain higher sulfites than red wines due to the addition of sulfites.

Skin in the Game

Then what is the cause if sulfites are not to blame? Scientists are split on the subject, but the most likely possibilities are two kinds of naturally occurring substances present in red wines: phenolic flavonoids and biogenic amines. Phenolic flavonoids and biogenic amines are the most likely culprits. Explaining these compounds risks delving into chemistry-class-level nerdiness, but, in general, phenolic flavonoids include many of the molecules that contribute to the color, flavor, and mouthfeel of wine, all of which are concentrated in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes.

  1. They can bounce around your body after being consumed, blocking particular enzymes in your stomach, activating the release of serotonin in your brain, and generating responses that have been associated with headaches.
  2. Red wines, on the other hand, are not made equal.
  3. Abouch Krymchantowski and Dr.
  4. They were instructed to consume the wines on separate evenings and to keep track of their impressions in a journal.
  5. What’s the difference?

Tanning and phenolic flavonoids in the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are extracted in large quantities by winemakers in the Médoc and Haut-Médoc regions (which is where the Bordeaux used in the study was sourced) because these compounds aid in the development of flavors and also add aging potential to the finished wine, respectively.

  • Krymchantowski, are created to be consumed immediately upon release, making them more “approachable.” As a result, less tannins and other flavonoids are removed during the winemaking process, perhaps making these wines more tolerable for those who suffer from headaches.
  • Dr.
  • Tannin and other flavonoids are present in higher concentrations in some wines than others, according to Dr.
  • “Those made with the grape Tannat, or Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly from the parts of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Gironde, and perhaps some Syrahs from South America, are worse than others.” However, he acknowledges that drawing strict lines is difficult.

A Cabernet Sauvignon from a nearby winery, on the other hand, doesn’t upset her at all. “So, what are you going to do?” I inquired about him. “I always try to buy the second bottle of wine,” he said, a prudent response.

It’s All in the Genes

A class of compounds known as biogenic amines, which are created during fermentation, include molecules that are associated with headaches such as histamine and tyramine. While the amount of amine present in wine varies greatly, it is often more in reds than in whites. So these chemicals are the bad guys, don’t you think? Dr. Sami Bahna, of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Department of Allergy and Immunology, notes that genetics (as well as certain drugs like as MAO inhibitors) may hinder certain drinkers’ capacity to metabolize histamine and its brothers.

However, if you have amine sensitivity, you should be aware of the following foods: Aged cheeses, preserved meats, and dried fruits are all known to cause allergic responses.

The Sum of the Parts

Some individuals swear by drinking only natural wines, which are created without the addition of any chemicals, in order to avoid headaches. However, because all of these hazardous chemicals are found in nature, research does not support this hypothesis. In reality, providing a one-size-fits-all answer is nearly impossible since the alchemy of a red wine headache is dependent on only on the chemical content of the wine, but also on the quirks of your body, the circumstances of your life, and even the weather.

Audrey Halpern, an assistant professor of neurology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center who specializes in headaches, explains that people who are prone to migraines are more likely to be adversely affected by red wine, but that multiple triggers are usually required to bring on a full-blown attack: “People who are prone to migraines are more likely to be adversely affected by red wine, but people who are not prone to migraines are not.” “It’s not simply the glass of red wine,” says the author.

It’s the red wine and a slice of pepperoni pizza, as well as the reduction in barometric pressure as a result of a hurricane approaching.” To make matters even more complicated, your proclivity to acquire a headache is dependent on your physiology.

Halpern, hormonal changes “may render the brain more vulnerable to infection.” “Alternatively, if you’re stressed out or not sleeping well,” she says.

The Takeaway

A New Year’s Eve encounter with a magnificent bottle of Quintarelli Valpolicella—an really lush, strong Italian red—left me with a few hours of cringing pain, I determined that was the end of the bottle for me this year. I’d had enough of the wine headaches. Or, at the absolute least, I’d experiment with some wines that were specifically designed with headache patients in mind. Sebastiano Ramello, an Italian winemaker (and exceptionally wonderful son), set out to create a wine that would not exacerbate his mother’s symptoms after she was diagnosed with histamine intolerance.

On a recent rainy afternoon, I had the opportunity to sample both.

However, the bottle of Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto that I opened thereafter didn’t give me a headache and turned out to be an even finer wine than the first.

Thus, it’s possible that my future wine consumption will be dominated by those varietals.

My husband and I still have three bottles of that wonderful Quintarelli wine from New Year’s Eve left over from our celebration. And, regardless of the ramifications, I plan to take pleasure in each and every one of them.

Why Does Red Wine Or White Wine Give Me A Headache?

After a long evening and a lot of wine, we’ve all experienced the following scenario: we’re at the conclusion of the evening and a severe headache begins to develop. The most common reason of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine and not enough water, according to the majority of us. The simplest approach in this situation is to constantly be mindful of how much alcohol you consume and to always drink plenty of water. However, for a tiny percentage of our population, headaches caused by wine can develop even when we don’t consume large quantities of the beverage.

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There are three primary causes and treatments, but before we go into detail about each, we want to dispel a common misconception: sulfites do not cause headaches.

Let’s take a look at the three most common headache-inducing factors:

  1. Firstly, tannins: As we explained in our tannins piece, tannins are naturally occurring chemicals that exist inside grape skins, seeds, and stems, and they are responsible for the color of wine. When you drink a wine that causes a drying feeling in your mouth, you are experiencing the effects of tannins, and for the vast majority of us, tannins do not cause a headache at all. In fact, tannins are an excellent source of antioxidants. In the meanwhile, if you notice that you experience headaches more frequently when you drink red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, you may do a simple test to see whether tannins are the source of your headache troubles. Make a cup of black tea and let it steep for five or ten minutes longer than the packet says, depending on your preference. Black tea contains a high concentration of tannins, and over-steeping the tea will guarantee that all of the tannins are released into the water. Take the tea and see whether you develop a headache as a result of it. If this is the case, you are sensitive to tannins, and avoiding red wines will alleviate your headache problem. Culprit number two is sugar: Combining the effects of alcohol and sugar might result in a very painful headache for many people. When you eat alcohol or sugar, your body necessitates the consumption of large amounts of water in order to aid in the processing of the chemicals. If you are not properly hydrated, your body will begin to draw the required water from other regions of your body, including your brain, in order to meet its demands. A headache develops as the amount of fluids in your brain begins to diminish. For best results, stay away from sweet dessert wines and white wines such as Riesling that are labeled semi-dry or sweet (if you prefer Riesling but don’t want the sugar headache, make sure the wine is labeled dry). Another type of wine to avoid is less expensive wines, which tend to contain more sugar since mass manufacturers add sugar during the fermentation process in order to increase the alcohol content. Histamines are the third culprit. As a result of having an allergic response, histamines are released into the body and can produce symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and a headache. In recent study, it was discovered that foods and beverages that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, might stimulate our bodies to produce histamines, resulting in the symptoms associated with allergies. If you want to avoid getting a histamine headache after drinking red wine, simply take a histamine blocker such as Claritin before you drink it.

Let me reiterate: for the vast majority of us, the cause of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine without drinking enough water. Is there such a thing as a fabled wine headache cure? A wine headache may be prevented by just stopping it before it starts. It’s as easy as that. Don’t go overboard, especially during a work party.

Wine Headaches: What Causes Them and How to Prevent Them

You might be interested in learning more about your wine tastes. Make use of our simple 7-question survey to receive tailored wine recommendations! What about headaches after drinking a glass of wine, sometimes known as “wine headaches,” do you ever experience them? Yes, you read that correctly: we didn’t say after a few glasses of wine. It goes without saying that overindulging is never a smart idea, whether it’s on the sofa or at the corporate Christmas party. Sipping wine gently enhances the enjoyment of the beverage, and your body will thank you for not overindulging.

The vast majority of individuals (happily) can drink wine without experiencing headaches, but some people will get wine headaches, though not all of the time and not with every type of wine.

Surprise, surprise: it’s not what you expect.

First, Debunking the Myth of Sulfites

Good news: sulfites are not the cause of your wine headaches, as you may have suspected. What makes this such excellent news? Sulfites are present in the majority of wines. Sulfur is added to wine because it destroys undesired bacteria and yeasts, which prevents the wine from browning and deteriorating as a result. Sulfites are also a naturally occurring result of fermentation, therefore they are impossible to completely prevent. It is because wines containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfites will be labeled with the words “this wine contains sulfites” that sulfites tend to have such a negative reputation.

In truth, just approximately 1 percent of the population is allergic to sulfites, according to the CDC.

Here’s another interesting truth for those of you who have ever had a red wine headache: white wines often have more sulfites added to them than red wines.

Wine must, which is a freshly crushed fruit liquid that retains the seeds, skins and stems of the grape, is shown up close in this photograph. The longer the skins and stems of the grapes remain in the juice, the higher the concentration of tannins.

The Three Likely Causes of Your Wine Headaches

Tannins are a kind of polyphenol, which is a chemical molecule found in plants. Tannins are derived from the seeds, skins, and stems of grapes, which are used to make wine. Given that red wine derives its color from the skins of the grapes, it stands to reason that red wine has higher levels of tannins than white wine. What does the flavor of tannins taste like? Tannins are responsible for the astringent character of wine. A drying feeling on the sides of your tongue after drinking a glass of wine indicates that you’re experiencing tannins.

Unfortunately, tannins are known to induce headaches in some individuals.

The Fix for Your Tannin Wine Headaches

A polyphenol– a substance found in plants– the tannins are a kind of polyphenol (also known as a polyphenol). tannins are derived from the seeds, skins, and stems of the grapes used in the production of the wine. Given that red wine derives its color from the skins of the grapes, it stands to reason that red wine has higher levels of tannins than white. The flavor of tannins is unknown. Wines with astringent qualities are made using tannins. A drying feeling on the sides of your tongue after drinking a glass of wine indicates that tannins have been detected.

Unfortunately, tannins can induce headaches in some individuals.

2. Histamines

Histamines are another molecule that may be present in foods that people enjoy, such as aged cheese, cured meat, and red wine. It is possible that you will have symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and headaches if your genetics prevent you from properly metabolizing histamine when exposed to this molecule. You are not, however, required to cry (both physically and emotionally) over your cheese board. Here’s what you should do:

The Fix for Your Histamine Wine Headaches

If you know you have an allergy to histamines, you can take a Claritin before having a glass of red wine to prevent allergic reactions. Additionally, you may stick to red wines that are low in histamines, such as Dolcetto and Barbera, or try these varietals from Italian producer Sebastiano Ramello. The discovery by Sebastiano’s mother that she had a histamine intolerance led him to develop wines that contained tenth the amount of histamines found in an average bottle of red wine for the Veglio winery in Piedmont.

The majority of mass-market wines sold in grocery stores, particularly red mixes, are high in sugar, which might result in a headache after drinking them.

3. Sugar

Sugar, particularly when used in conjunction with alcohol, can create a headache. When you drink a sugary beverage and are not well hydrated, your body will draw water from its own reservoir. You’ll experience a headache as soon as the water drains from your head.

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The Fix for Your Sugar Wine Headache

Sugar can create a headache, especially when used in conjunction with alcohol.

Drinking a sugary beverage while dehydrated causes your body to draw water from its own reservoir. It is normal to develop a headache when the water drains from your brain.

In Vino Finito

Fear not – unless you have a sulfite allergy, sulfites are unlikely to be the source of your headaches after drinking red wine. Keep in mind to keep hydrated when enjoying a glass of wine, and seek medical attention if the condition persists. Want to learn even more about wine? Join our daily email, Glass Half Full, for the latest news and updates.


Our team is made up entirely of wine enthusiasts with a lot of enthusiasm. With our great sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been thoroughly educated on everything related to wine. Writing this essay was a collaborative effort between two friends who wanted to share their knowledge of wines with the world.

This Is Why Red Wine Gives You Headaches

Wine enthusiasts make up a large part of our team. All things wine have been taught to us by our great sommeliers, who have been at the helm for years. Writing this post was a collaborative effort between two friends who wanted to share their love of wines with the world.

Red Wine Headaches, The Cause, Solution, Prevention and Cure for RWH

Our team is made up of dedicated wine enthusiasts. With our excellent sommeliers at the helm, we’ve received extensive training in all things wine. We joined together to compose this post in the aim of spreading a little wine-ducation amongst you.

The science behind those painful wine headaches

Passionate wine enthusiasts make up a large part of our team. With our excellent sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been well educated on all things wine. We got together to compose this post in the aim of spreading a little wine-ducation amongst you.

Why Is Wine Giving Me A Headache?

Our team is made up entirely of wine enthusiasts with a lot of enthusiasm. With our great sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been thoroughly educated on everything related to wine. Writing this essay was a collaborative effort between two friends who wanted to share their knowledge of wines with the world.

How to Cure a Wine Headache

Hopefully, you came on this page while searching for information about red wine headaches. Most of the time, there are just three things you need to do to resolve your issue.

Already have a wine headache?

The likelihood is that you came across this page while searching for information on red wine headaches. Almost certainly, you just need to perform three things to resolve your issue.

Wine Headaches Suck

I used to suffer a headache after drinking red wine, it felt like after every glass. No matter how hard I prayed, the dreaded Red Wine Headache (RWH) would hit me every time. Purchase the Book – Get the Course! It would begin around an hour after I began drinking. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was making some rookie blunders. With the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, you will receive the Wine 101 Course (a $50 value) for free.

3 Tricks to Remedy a Wine Headache

1-2 glasses of water with each glass of wine is a good rule of thumb. The most prevalent error that wine drinkers make is underhydrating themselves. Because you’re already drinking, it’s easy to lose track of time. When there is wine involved, hydration is essential, and water is just what you require. Preferably, have a glass of water before you enjoy a glass of wine to avoid dehydration. Although it may annoy your waiter, your forehead will thank you for your efforts. 2 Prior to consuming alcohol, take “two.” I’m referring to two aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen tablets.

  • Having said that, over-the-counter blood thinners can be beneficial.
  • Because I’m offering over-the-counter medications and I’m not your doctor, it’s important that you check with him or her first.
  • 3 Don’t consume sugary foods when drinking wine.
  • Even though confetti cake sounds particularly delicious (especially after a glass of wine), the combined effects of sugar and alcohol will significantly increase the likelihood of a headache.

If you are sensitive to wine, save the confetti cake for your late-night coffee-and-cake binges and use the wine to stave off the temptation for dessert while sipping it.

What Causes a Wine Headache?

1-2 glasses of water with each glass of wine is recommended. Drinking too much water while drinking wine is the most common error made by wine drinkers. Because you’re already drinking, it’s simple to forget. When there’s wine involved, hydration is essential, and water is exactly what you’ll be needing! Preferably, drink a glass of water before you indulge in a glass of wine to avoid dehydration. Although it may annoy your waiter, your forehead will thank you for your generosity. 2 Two pills should be taken before consuming alcoholic beverages When I say “two,” I’m referring to two aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen tablets.

  1. Blood thinners available without a prescription may be beneficial.
  2. Remember that I am not your doctor and that I am only offering over-the-counter medications.
  3. You can skip to trick3 and repeat trick1 if this concept makes you uncomfortable (as it does for many).
  4. One of the most debilitating types of headache is a cake and wine headache.
  5. If you are sensitive to wine, save the confetti cake for your late-night coffee-and-cake binges and use the wine to stave off the temptation for dessert while you are drinking.

MYTH: Sulfites in Wine Cause Headaches

In the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration determined that around one percent of the population was allergic to sulfites, which was a significant finding. In order to protect the health of the sensitive population, wines containing sulfites in excess of 20 ppm (parts per million) must be labeled as “contains sulfites.” A naturally occurring sulfur compound on grapes, sulfur is also routinely added in tiny amounts at the start of fermentation and just before bottling. Typically, red wines contain between 50 and 350 parts per million (ppm), and white wines have between 250 and 450 parts per million (ppm) (because of extreme sensitivity to light, heat and discoloration).

Dried mangoes and apricots contain around 4-10 times the amount of sulfites found in wine (1000-3000 ppm).

FACT: Histamines Cause Inflammation

Dr. Freitag of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago first published a paper in which he hypothesized that histamines were to blame for the occurrence of red wine headaches (1). Tofu, tempeh, champagne, red wine, ketchup, and aged meats are examples of foods that contain high quantities of histamines because they have been fermented or aged. Histamines can produce inflammatory flushing as well as excessive waking throughout the night.

Because most histamines are known to trigger allergic responses (similar to hay fever), taking an anti-histamine before drinking may be a good idea to avoid the problem. An old Chinese remedy for edema advocates for the use of black or oolong tea (2).

THEORY: Sensitivity to Tannins

Tannin is responsible for the color, bitterness, and mouth-drying response that characterizes red wine. It is also responsible for the lengthy shelf life of red wines. Because white wines contain far less tannin than red wines, many people who suffer from red wine headaches attribute their condition to tannin. The tannin in grapes is derived from the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit, as well as from wood. Many commercial wines also contain tannins derived from commercially refined sources such as chestnut, Indian gooseberry, gambir leaf, and the wood of a particularly dense, dark-wooded Spanish tree known as Quebracho, which grows in the Andes.

THEORY: Increased Tyramine Levels

A red wine’s colour, bitterness, and mouth-drying sensation are all attributed to the tannin in the grape. The fact that red wines keep for a long period is also due to this factor. Because white wines contain far less tannin than red wines, many red wine headache patients attribute their symptoms to tannin. Grape skins, seeds, and stems, as well as some types of wood, contain tannins. Tannins from commercially processed sources such as chestnut, Indian gooseberry, gambir leaf and the wood of a very thick, dark-wooded Spanish tree known as Quebracho are also used in many commercial wines today.

This raises the question, “If you don’t respond to tannin in tea, why would you react to tannin in wine?”

NOTE: Allergic Reactions to Alcohol or Yeast

Because wine includes both alcohol and yeast, people who have a high sensitivity to either should exercise caution while drinking it. Hard cheeses and bread (what?!?) should be avoided while attempting to keep your yeast consumption under control when drinking wine. Overall, evaluate your hypotheses thoroughly and don’t be hasty in blaming wine when you aren’t getting enough water in.

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