What Is The Culprit
SELF reports that tannins a stabilizing agent present in grape skins, seeds, and stems are likely responsible for the migraines. Generally speaking, red wine has a higher concentration of tannins since the skin is kept in the fermentation process, unlike white wine where it is removed. There are some studies that link drinking alcohol with higher levels of tannins and bad hangovers, but more research needs to be done to prove tannins are solely responsible.
Dr. Frederick G. Freitag, a headache specialist and associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, told the Chicago Tribune last year that tannins are responsible for migraines, as is tyramine an amino acid that is produced by the fermentation process of wine. This naturally occurring substance has been known to trigger migraine headaches in individuals unable to break down the amino acid.
Choose A Wine Low In Tyramine
According to WebMD, foods that are rich in tyramine can trigger migraines for people. Tyramine is an amino acid that can naturally be found in aged and fermented foods like cheese, cured meats, and of course, wine. Red wines tend to have a higher count of tyramine compared to white wines.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stay away from all red wines! Not everyone suffers from a headache because of tyramine. The best way to evaluate this is to keep track of the wines that give you headaches, and look for any patterns in the types of winesand even where they were made.
Migraine Triggers Often Work In Combination
Often, its not one particular trigger that sets off your migraine attack but a combination of factors that build up. These could include:
- Stress: Drinking wine when youre stressed or anxious could produce a headache, while a glass or two when youre happy and relaxed is fine.
- Dehydration: All alcohol causes some level of dehydration, which is a known trigger for migraines. Sip a glass of water in between each glass of wine to keep dehydration at bay.
- Hunger: Its an easy mistake to wait too long to eat when youre having a couple of glasses with friends. This causes your blood glucose to dip and is also a common trigger for a migraine episode.
- Foods: Many social events include snacks that are on the list of foods to avoid, such as fried, fatty finger snacks, nuts, hot dogs and food containing MSG or food dyes. Eating just one of the wrong foods on top of the other factors could set off your migraine.
- Sun or bright lights: Drinking wine outdoors on a sunny day sounds wonderful, but in reality, it can be a headache waiting to happen. For migraineurs who are light-sensitive, too, a social event indoors under spotlights can also up the ante in favor of an attack.
- Noise: A vast majority of social events include loud music, and even if they dont, a large number of people in attendance can generate quite a conversation buzz. Add that to your wine sensitivity and the combination could be painful.
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Stay Up To Date On What Healthy Means Now
Teague spoke with Dr. Alexander Mauskop, the director and founder of the New York Headache Center located in Manhattan, about the subject: Mauskop said wine-related headaches is actually one of the center’s topmost cases, but clarified that his knowledge is limited, and then proceeded to catalogue a number of possible explanations: The type of oak casket used in fermentation may play a role, but it’s not clear which oak is worse. He then noted that some of those who experience wine-related headaches wonder if they are actually allergic to sulfites. This is rare, he says .
Wine drinkers could be suffering from dehydration, given that alcohol acts as a diuretic , which Mauskop says is the root of the problem for many of his clients. Another explanation may be a depletion of magnesium: “Alcohol is a major depleter of magnesium,” Mauskop told WSJ. He recommends that chronic headache sufferers seek out 400mg of magnesium supplements per day, and see if that doesn’t help.
But despite Mauskop’s musings, there’s not much published research on wine headaches: Teague unearthed a 1988 Lancet study, titled “Red Wine as a Cause of Migraine,” where two groups of drinkers were asked to drink either red wine or a substitute to see if migraines came exclusively from one or the other. The participants chugged down 300 milliliters, around two glasses, and waited to see if they were affected.
Here’s the latest research on alcohol consumption:
Tips To Prevent Red Wine Headaches
Before you pour the rest of your beloved red wine down the drain and question how youll go on living, you might be pleased to know that are ways you can prevent unbearable RWHs. Although none of these are guaranteed to prevent your headaches, they could improve your vino experience.
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Hangover Vs Red Wine Migraine
The first thing to know is the difference between a hangover headache and a red wine-induced migraine.
Hangovers symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, thirst and dryness of mouth, tremors, dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps happen because the body is digesting alcohol. According to Scientific American, wine is a type of liquor that can produce severe hangovers.
Head pain caused by red wine is different from a hangover in one crucial way: it does not take place after heavy drinking. Those who get migraines from red wine can get pain after just a single serving and its usually triggered by a sensitivity to the wine.
One drink of red wine can trigger a migraine if youre sensitive to it, but one glass of red wine probably isnt going to give you a hangover, Lawrence Newman, neurologist and director of the division of headache medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, told SELF.
Red Wine Headaches The Cause Solution Prevention And Cure For Rwh
From time to time, many drinkers of wine get headaches. In fact, this is so common, it is often referred to as red wine headaches, or RWH.
While some of those headaches are caused from over consumption of wine, meaning the alcohol found in the wine, that is not the sole cause.
That is not to say that there are not also potential benefits from drinking wine. For details on the potential, important health benefits from drinking wine, calories and nutrition found in most wine, please read: Health and Nutrition Facts of Drinking Wine However, from time to time, many people experience a red wine headache when tasting wine.
Sulfites in red wine: A lot of people blame allergies to sulfites on their suffering. While that does happen, that is not the cause of red wine headaches. Sulfites are used in almost every type of wine as a preservative agent.
The percentage of sulfites in wine is really quite low. White wines contain between 250 and 450 parts per million of sulfites. Red wine has even less sulfites, with a range of between 50-350 parts per million.
The truth is, dried fruit, which is the common, agreed upon litmus test for sulfite allergies contain much higher degrees of sulfites with a range of between 1,000 to 3,000 parts per million.
The cause of red wine headaches or RWH: It would appear that there are two potential reasons for the red wine headaches. Histamines and Tyramine, both of which are present in all wines are the guilty parties!
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Some Kinds Of Red Wine May Not Trigger Migraines
Researchers Say More Tannins May Mean More Headache Pain
June 20, 2012 — Many migraine sufferers find that the pleasure of a having a glass of red wine is soon followed by the pain of a headache. Now a small new study suggests that when it comes to migraines, some types of red wine may be more likely to trigger a headache than others.
“My suggestion is the more tannins the wine has, more migraine attacks it triggers,” says researcher Abouch V. Krymchantowski, MD, PhD, of the Rio Headache Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an email to WebMD.
Tannins are flavonoids in red wine that give it a drying, sometimes puckering quality. The more tannins a wine has, the more it will dry out your mouth after you sip it.
No one is quite sure why red wine may trigger headaches, but some studies have shown that tannins may boost production of the brain chemical serotonin. Changes in serotonin levels may trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.
Krymchantowski asked 40 patients at his headache clinic to try an experiment. The patients had said their migraines were triggered by drinking red wine.
He gave them half-bottles of four different kinds of wine: a malbec, a tannat, a cabernet sauvignon, and a merlot. All the wines were from South America. The malbec and the tannat were high in tannins, while the carbernet and the merlot had lower tannin levels. He asked people to wait at least four days after drinking one of the half-bottles before they tried another.
Is Alcohol Or Another Component Of The Drink The Headache Trigger
Red wine is typically considered the most likely alcoholic drink trigger. In 1988, Littlewood and colleagues showed that 300 ml or ten ounces of red wine, but not vodka with an equivalent alcohol content, provoked headache in red wine sensitive migraineurs. Migraineurs not sensitive to wine and non-headache controls did not have headaches triggered. They suggested that red wine contains a migraine-provoking agent that is not alcohol. Some studies in France and Italy report white wine as the major culprit. However, there are reports of also spirits, sparkling wine and beer triggering headache. Wine does not need to be ingested in large quantities to produce headache. In wine sensitive patients the time between drinking red wine and developing headache varied from 30 min to 3 hours. Only one or two glasses at most need be ingested.
The fundamental question still remains to be made definitely clear. Is alcohol or another component of the drink responsible for triggering headache? It remains difficult to answer this question. To provoke a migraine attack a combination of factors may be necessary. These may include a given blood/brain alcohol level with degree of brain sensitivity along with the presence or not of other triggers.
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What Are The Causes Of Migraine Headaches
The exact cause of migraine isnt fully understood. There are no true nerves for pain in the area where the headaches are experienced. Pain and discomfort of this nature ultimately arise from rapid dilation and possible inflammation of blood vessels in the head.
Some researchers believe migraines originate from functional changes in the trigeminal nerve, one of the cranial nerves that houses a major pain pathway. Others think these headaches are due to imbalances in the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates pain messages transmitted through the trigeminal nerve.
The vascular instability that is the immediate cause of migraine is influenced by many factors. Food sensitivity can play a role specific foods trigger attacks in many people who have these headaches. Hormonal fluctuations can be a factor in women. While pregnancy tends to prevent migraines, birth control pills can trigger them. Both stress and heredity play a role.
Typical food triggers include aged cheeses and processed meats peanuts bread and crackers containing cheese as well as any strong-flavored cheeses broad beans, peas, and lentils as well as beverages containing caffeine and chocolate. Wine is another culprit . Fermented foods including soy sauce and miso have been implicated, as have some fish, including sardines, anchovies, and pickled herring. Other foods linked to migraines include avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, figs, raisins, red plums, and raspberries.
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Cured Or Aged Dairy Products
Ripened, or aged, cheese should be avoided. Cheddar, emmenthaler, Gruyere, Stilton, brie, blue and Camembert cheeses all fall within this category. They contain a chemical called tyramine, which is thought to be a trigger. Red wine, beer and soy sauce also contain modest amounts of this chemical. Buttermilk, chocolate milk and sour cream are cured and should be avoided as well.
- Ripened, or aged, cheese should be avoided.
- Buttermilk, chocolate milk and sour cream are cured and should be avoided as well.
What Triggers A Migraine
- Sensory stimuli
This type of headache tends to run in families. But because there is no specific cause and the triggers vary widely, people who get migraineseven if theyre already being treatedare often clamoring for remedies to take away their headache pain.
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Drink Water In Between Glasses
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you’ll experience dehydration as you consume it. Diuretics increase the production of your urine, resulting in frequent trips to the bathroom as the water in your body is flushed out. Keep your body hydrated by having a glass of water in between each glass of wine. That way you’ll avoid drinking an excessive amount, which reduces the chance of getting wine headaches or even a hangover in the morning. Plus, your body will stay nice and hydrated!
The Triggers Of A Migraine
- A very stressful day.
- Changes in your sleep cycle.
- Fasting in the morning.
- Exposure to the sun for a long time.
- Menstruations as well as the use of birth control pills.
- Certain foods such as cocoa and dairy products, especially those containing tyramine .
- Very bright lights, strong smells, screeching sounds and noise.
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What Is A Migraine
Migraines are characterized by repeated bouts of moderate to severe, usually one-sided, pounding headaches. These headaches are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting and worsen with physical exertion. There is also often a hypersensitivity to light and sound.
Although it is still unclear what the exact cause of migraines is, certain factors can play a role in the development of migraines. For example, people may be genetically predestined to get migraines. When migraines occur in the family, family members are significantly more at risk of getting migraines. Migraine is also a polygenetic disorder, which means that not one but several genes play a role.
Is The Red Wine Dilemma Solved
Does that mean people who love red wine but fear it may bring on a headache should just stick to a cabernet or merlot? Alas, the answer is not so clear cut.
Krymchantowski says cabernet sauvignon wines from France, for example, have much higher tannin levels than any of the wines he tested from South America, making it tough for consumers to compare wines grape-to-grape if they come from different countries.
Headache experts who reviewed the study for WebMD praised the research for looking into something that’s a common problem for patients, but one that’s had very little attention from science.
“We hear quite often that wine, specifically red wine, is a trigger for people,” says Brian Grosberg, MD, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City.
But Grosberg says the study also leaves many important questions unanswered.
“Usually it’s a combination of two or more triggers that precipitates a attack. Many women will notice that their menstrual period is a very strong trigger. Or it may be that, ‘Oh, I didn’t get enough sleep, and I had that glass of wine the night before,'” he says. “I’d like to know if they were looking at any of these other variables.”
Grosberg says there are other substances in wine that may cause problems for people, such as sulfites, and he wonders if the researchers looked at sulfite levels in the wines.
Other experts agree that the study is interesting but offers limited information.
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Can Alcohol Cause Migraines
Although there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that drinking alcohol causes migraines, thereis reason enough to find a link between the two.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you expel more fluid when you take it in, often referred to as breakingthe seal. Losing fluid from your body can lead to dehydration, which is another known migraine trigger.Whats more, drinking alcohol relaxes the blood vessels, which causes increased blood flow to the brainand can make migraines more likely to occur.
One 2014 study studied two groups migraine sufferers and non-sufferers after a night of drinking. Theyfound that participants who suffered from migraines experienced a higher tendency of migraine-likesymptoms, but no difference in other hangover symptoms compared to non-sufferers.
Whats more, population-based studies in various countries such as Italy, Japan, the Netherlands,Scandinavia and the US have consistently found that fewer migraine sufferers consume alcohol than thosewithout headaches. This is most likely explained as migraine sufferers giving up alcohol because it istriggering headaches.