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Can Red Wine Cause Migraines

Alcohol Consumption In Migraine

Sulfites – Why Red Wine Gives You Headaches

Since alcohol can trigger a migraine attack, in a sense only a small number of migraineurs should drink alcohol. Population-based studies performed in various countries show that fewer migraine sufferers consume alcohol than those without headaches. Moreover, the more alcohol consumed the less likely the drinker reported migraine and non-migraine headache. This fact may be explained by sufferers of headache giving up alcohol since it is a trigger factor for their headache attacks.

However, an Italian study seems not to support this explanation. In this study, only a very small percentage of non-alcohol consuming female migraineurs reported that alcoholic drinks were a trigger. They concluded that this fact could not explain the large difference in alcohol consumption between migraine and the general public.

Alcohol Consumption In Headache Patients

Since alcohol can trigger migraine and tension headache attack, only a low percentage of headache patients should drink alcoholic beverages. Few and often only descriptive studies exist on this topic, with marked differences in the percentage of consumers perhaps depending on the country habits . No differences between migraine and tension headache were reported .

Table;2 Percentage of migraine patients consuming alcohol

This study is in accordance with a larger population-based study performed to detect cardiovascular risk factor in migraine, showing significantly less alcohol consumption in migraine than in control subjects .

No differences were reported in another population study , and in a small study where, however, some bias is present, that is different periods of evaluation, controls with medical illnesses, etc .

The Fallacy Of Sulfites

Youll often see the wording contains sulfites on wine bottles, which means the product contains a sulfur-based preservative to prevent oxidization and retain freshness. Sulfites are naturally-occurring chemical compounds that prevent microbial growth and reproduction, and winemakers often add extra sulfites to the wine to extend its shelf life. Sulfites are also found in foods, and are believed to trigger asthma attacks more than migraines.

Red wine usually contains fewer sulfites than white or sweet wines do. If experience shows that sulfites could help to provoke an episode, stick to organic wines that usually have lower levels of sulfites. You can expect these to both taste differently and differ in cost as well.

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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:

How To Avoid Food

What Causes Red Wine Headaches? It Could be What You

“Migraine disease is complex and affected by many factors,” says Simy Parikh, MD, program director of Thomas Jefferson University’s Post-Graduate Certificate Program in Advanced Headache Diagnosis and Management and Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson University.

Here Parikh offers some steps you can take to potentially reduce migraine triggers:

Eat healthily and consistently. You may have noticed that the migraine trigger list was lacking a few major food groups ; “healthy” foods such as fruits, vegetables, and protein, in particular. A 2020 review showed that most “migraine-friendly” healthy eating plans, such as low-fat diets, provided a decrease in the frequency of migraine attacks.;;

In addition to eating healthy foods, it’s important to keep a consistent eating schedule to avoid migraines.

Low blood glucose can trigger headaches,” says Parikh. To keep your blood sugar steady, eat at roughly the same time every day without an extended amount of time between meals, she says. Parikh also suggests to all of her patients to maintain a healthy diet and weight.

Track food triggers and eliminate them from your diet. Since multiple factors contribute to migraines, many sufferers keep a headache diary. This is where they can list the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines, as well as possible triggers, including food and drink.

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What Foods Contain Tannins

The list is long, including black walnuts, red wine, tea, chocolate, vanilla, raspberries, and most herbal products. For an excellent list visitJeanette Navia’s excellent tannins and migraine website. Most of the things on the list are already well known migraine triggers, but a few, such as herbal products and vitamins, may be things that you’re taking to help prevent migraine.

The research is still in its infancy, but there are some excellent websites to look at if you’d like more information. Check the two I mentioned above, and also this article from theAlaska Science Forum on initial research on red wine,this interesting article abouttea,and this article fromWikipedia.

How Do I Avoid An Attack If I Want Red Wine

The executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation and the director emeritus of the Diamond Headache Clinic, Dr. Seymour Diamond, gives suggestions for trying to avoid the red wine migraine if you are insistent on having a glass. His first piece of advice is to drink the wine with water or to try sipping the wine very slowly, since wine itself can dehydrate you.1 This is logical advice for the consumption of any alcohol since dehydration is part of the hangover. Secondly, he suggests that you consume two strong cups of coffee prior to drinking the red wine in order to constrict your blood vessels and help lower the effect of the tannins.1

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Alcohol Triggers Migraine Headaches April 20 2020 By Burning Tree Programs Inalcoholism Mental Health

A migraine is a headache disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe. Typically, these headaches affect one half of the head and are pulsating in nature, often with intense throbbing in a particular area. Migraine headaches can last for hours or days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. Common symptoms of migraines include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light, sound, and/or smell.;

Triggers of these intense headaches include hormonal changes, stress, certain foods, and yes alcohol. Alcohol typically triggers two types of headaches in migraine patients, a quick onset attack and a delayed hangover headache.

Is Alcohol Or Another Component Of The Drink The Headache Trigger

What’s Causing those Red Wine Heaches? Surprise…it’s NOT the Sulfites!

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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Can Drinking Bring On A Migraine

Alcohol is a diuretic it acts on your kidneys to make you pee more fluid than youre taking in. Losing fluid from your body like this can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches. So if youre prone to migraines, you might get one if you drink to excess.

Drinking alcohol also relaxes your blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow to the brain. This can also cause headaches, including migraines if youre susceptible to them1.

These potential migraine triggers can be found in any alcoholic drink. But there are also ingredients in specific drinks that are particularly associated with migraines.

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.

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The Components In Question

Several components of alcoholic beverages including tyramine, phenylethylamine, histamine, sulfites, and flavonoid phenols are considered possible triggers for migraine headaches. This is due to their presence in various alcoholic drinks, and the belief that alcohol is capable of triggering migraines. However, nothing has been verified as studies are either negative or lack the adequate proof to support the findings.


Histamine is most frequently mentioned as the component in question. Many foods such as fish, aged cheese, meat , and vegetables contain much higher amounts of histamine than alcoholic drinks. Histamine infused by vein is a time-tested way to provoke a migraine attack. However, there are many other symptoms of a so-called histamine intolerance that are not characteristic of a migraine attack. The fact that antihistamine drugs do not prevent red wine headaches further fails to support histamine as a critical trigger.


The same is true for sulfites, with much higher amounts found in many foods compared to wine. These foods include certain fruits, chips, raisins, soy sauce, and pickles. So-called sulfite sensitivity tends to provoke asthmatic responses rather than headaches.

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Keep A Diary To Understand Your Triggers

Migraines and their triggers are very individual what affects one person may cause no problems for the next. Many migraine sufferers find that keeping a diary helps them identify their own personal triggers and understand their patterns of migraines better.;

If you want to try keeping a diary, you may wish to record what food youve eaten and how much caffeine youve drunk, as well as any alcoholic drinks, as these are all things which can be linked to migraines. Stress;can play a big part in migraines4, so you might notice youre more prone to getting one after a difficult week at work, and for women, your;period could also be a factor.

Our Wine Columnist Talked To Experts In The Fields Of Headache Medicine And Enology In Search Of Strategies For Avoiding The Dreaded Rwh

    I KNOW PLENTY of people who suffer from headaches that they believe are triggered by drinking red wineincluding, occasionally, me. Red Wine Headache is such a common complaint that it has both an acronym and its very own Wikipedia page, albeit with a disclaimer noting a lack of medical evidence regarding the condition and its causes. As Dr. Alexander Mauskop, director and founder of the New York Headache Center in Manhattan, said, We dont know anything for sure.

    Wine-related headaches are one of the centers most common complaints, especially among migraine sufferers, said Dr. Mauskop. He has heard many theories as to the cause. One posits that the type of oak used in the fermentation and aging of wine triggers headaches, though Dr. Mauskop couldnt recall if French oak or American oak was said to be worse. Hes also heard theories about the sulfites in red wine as contributing factors, but he sees very few headache patients who are truly sulfite-allergic. That condition is actually quite rare, and besides, red wines have a lower concentration of sulfites overall than white wines do.

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    Do Allergies Trigger Migraine Attacks

    In short, yes, allergies can trigger migraine attacks.

    A study found that migraine is more common in people with seasonal allergies, and, if youâre a migraine sufferer, getting seasonal allergies can make your migraine attacks more frequent.

    âThis may be related to inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis,â says Dr. Crystal, âor by direct activation of the trigeminal nerve from nasal congestion.â

    Sometimes allergies cause migraines in a more roundabout way. For example, allergies can interrupt sleep, which in turn triggers migraine. And, according to the American Migraine Foundation, medications used to treat allergies and asthma, like Albuterol inhalers, can also trigger migraines.

    Since allergies and migraines can interact in several different ways , it can get a little confusing.

    âItâs important to note that migraine and allergic rhinitis are both highly prevalent diseases, frequently co-exist, and may share common mechanisms,â says Dr. Crystal. âPeople with migraine may experience more severe migraine symptoms with co-existing allergies.â

    What Are The Symptoms

    The Truth About Red Wine Headaches (RWH) and How You Can Prevent Them

    Alcohol can cause two different types of migraine headaches.

    You could get a headache within 30 minutes to 3 hours of drinking. You don’t have to chug a large amount for this to happen. Some people only sip a glass or two of wine before their head starts to throb.

    Or you might be fine until after your blood alcohol level returns to normal. This is called a delayed alcohol-induced headache . It may not show up until the morning after you drink. This type of headache can happen to anyone, but people with migraines are more likely to get one. It can happen even if you drink less than people who don’t get migraine headaches.

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    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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