Alcohol and headaches – Harvard Health Blog


Alcohol is embedded in our society, and it’s troublesome to be in a public house with out seeing a reference to alcohol or being supplied a drink. Alcohol is damaged down within the liver by an enzyme referred to as alcohol dehydrogenase. Individuals with a variant on this enzyme have points with metabolizing alcohol and might develop whole physique flushing or reddening of the pores and skin.

Alcohol consumption has been related to being pregnant defects, liver illness, pancreatitis, hypertension, coronary artery illness, stroke, most cancers, dependancy points, and bodily damage (trauma to self/others with acute intoxication). The well being advantages of alcohol could also be up for debate. Nevertheless, reasonable alcohol consumption might have some useful results, which was appreciated in 1992 based mostly on the remark that populations in France had excessive dietary consumption of saturated fat, however a comparatively low incidence of heart problems. This phenomenon was labeled because the “French paradox,” and has been regarded as due partially to the consumption of crimson wine.

Stop your wine-ing?

Alcohol has lengthy been related to the event of headache, with about one-third of sufferers with migraine noting alcohol as a set off. Primarily based on this affiliation, inhabitants research present that sufferers with migraine are likely to drink alcohol much less usually than individuals with out migraine. Wine specifically is an alcoholic beverage that has been linked to complications courting again to antiquity, when Celsius (25 B.C.–50 A.D.) described head ache after consuming wine. Regardless of this generally held perception, there may be little or no scientific proof to help the assumption that wine is a extra widespread set off of complications than different types of alcohol.

The research which have been carried out counsel that crimson wine, however not white and glowing wines, set off headache impartial of how a lot an individual drinks in lower than 30% of individuals. Decrease high quality wines might trigger complications as a result of presence of molecules often called phenolic flavonoid radicals, which can intrude with serotonin, a signaling molecule within the mind concerned in migraines. In a single examine, the percentages of an individual citing crimson wine as a set off of headache had been over 3 times better than the percentages of indicating beer as a headache set off. In some research, it was noticed that spirits and glowing wines had been related to migraines considerably extra regularly than different alcoholic drinks.

Right here is the recommendation of 1 wine professional

I turned to Barb Gustafson, a sommelier (licensed wine skilled) for some perception on the qualities of wine that may be related to headache.

(Barb works at Paul Mathew Vineyards — and sure, there may be truly a winemaker in California that bears a reputation spelled identically to my very own, however there isn’t any relation.)

Barb feedback:

So far as crimson wine, usually I’m informed by shoppers they can not drink crimson wine or wine with sulfites. This to me just isn’t correct. I can’t be of absolute certainty however my circle would disagree. It’s usually the standard of the crimson wine that appears related to complications. In fact, amount can actually play a job no matter high quality. As properly, extremely processed wines must be of concern. “Low enter” winemaking depends on native yeasts that reside on the vine, including very low quantities of sulfur dioxide, and permitting the wine to ferment in its personal time. This kind of wine appears much less prone to have an effect on our heads.

With 30 years of paying shut consideration to consumption and the boundaries, I’ve advanced to limiting excessive alcohol, extremely tannic, and closely processed wines. With the massive deal with natural meals and what all of us eat, there must be as a lot consideration placed on what we drink.

A parting shot: What does this imply for you?

It’s clear that amount can play a job in triggering complications, and high quality most likely performs a job, however we have no idea for certain how any kind of wine or alcohol will have an effect on individuals with migraine or who’re vulnerable to complications. Like meals triggers, the probability of a specific kind of alcohol triggering a headache might be completely different from individual to individual. In the event you undergo from migraines, discuss together with your physician about how alcohol might have an effect on you.


Moderate red wine consumption and cardiovascular disease risk: beyond the “French paradox”. Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, February 2010.

Alcohol and migraine: what should we tell patients? Present Ache and Headache Stories, June 2011.

Wine and Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Ache, June 2014.

Alcohol Use as a Comorbidity and Precipitant of Primary Headache: Review and Meta-analysis. Present Ache and Headache Stories, August 2017.

Wine and migraine: compatibility or incompatibility? Medication Underneath Experimental and Medical Analysis, 1999.

Food as trigger and aggravating factor of migraine. Neurological Sciences, Might 2012.

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