"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Researchers are attending to the underside of the mystery of red wine headaches in a brand new theory

November 20, 2023 – Scientists have a brand new theory about why some people get headaches shortly after drinking a small glass of red wine.

It is a mystery that dates back to the traditional Greeks who made the primary wines. Popular explanations include that the headaches are brought on by preservatives called sulfites or by the body's response to grape skin components called tannins, but these theories have lacked conclusive evidence.

In one new study From a team of researchers on the University of California, laboratory tests have shown that an antioxidant can trigger a process in some people who prevents the body from properly breaking down alcohol, resulting in a toxic buildup that happens inside hours of drinking Red wine causes headaches. The results were published within the journal on Monday Scientific reports.

The researchers assume that the situation only applies to some people and that not all red wine necessarily triggers headaches. The headache begins shortly after drinking the wine and is just not resulting from a hangover the following day resulting from excessive alcohol consumption.

Based on laboratory experiments, researchers suspect that the antioxidant chargeable for the headache is a flavanol called quercetin. It is taken into account a healthy antioxidant and may even be purchased in complement form.

But “when susceptible people consume wine with even small amounts of quercetin, they develop headaches, especially if they already suffer from migraines or another primary headache disorder,” co-author Morris Levin, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Headache Center on the University of California, San Francisco, said in a opinion. “We believe we are finally on the right path to explaining this ancient mystery. The next step is to scientifically test it on people who develop these headaches, so stay tuned.”

The researchers found that red wines contain ten times more flavanols than white wines. Quercetin content varies greatly from one red wine to a different, and flavanol content is understood to be higher in wines whose grapes have been exposed to lots of sunlight than in shaded grapes. Some vineyards use methods akin to trellising and leaf thinning to manage grapes' exposure to sunlight. Winemaking techniques also influence quercetin levels, based on the researchers, akin to how the wine ages and whether it’s aged with the skins on or off.

A follow-up human study is planned to check the headache effects of wines containing high levels of quercetin with wines containing little or no of it. In the long run, the researchers hope to also investigate why some people get red wine headaches more often.

“If our hypothesis pans out, we will have the tools to begin answering these important questions,” said wine chemist and co-author Andrew Waterhouse, PhD, professor emeritus within the University of California, Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.