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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Scientists Discover Why Red Wines Causes Headaches

Bottle of red wine being poured into glass


Seasoned drinkers are used to headaches stemming from the consumption of alcohol, but if you’ve ever housed a bottle of red wine by yourself, there’s a solid chance you’ve been treated to some especially harsh retribution. Now, experts may have identified the primary culprit.

Most people are aware that the negative effects of drinking alcohol are basically your body punishing you for ingesting what it views as poison. However, those downsides can be exacerbated by booze that’s higher in certain substances; for example, drinks that contain more sugar (whether naturally or thanks to the addition of mixers like soda or juice) can lead to a more brutal hangover than you’d get if you were ripping shots of vodka all night.

The notion that different types of booze can cause unique states of inebriation is a fairly contested belief (opting for tequila over other adult beverages probably isn’t the primary reason you decided to rip your shirt off in public), although there is evidence that suggests there are certain properties in some drinks that can transport you to a different kind of headspace.

That brings us back to red wine, which many drinkers claim has the potential to give them a headache after a glass or two on top of the pain you might be greeted with the morning after. Now, The Guardian reports a study examining that phenomenon has potentially figured out why that’s the case.

The alleged revelation comes courtesy of the team of researchers behind a paper that was recently published in Scientific Reports, which asserts the “phenolic flavonoids” extracted from grapes, seeds, and skin to give red wine its signature profile have a tendency to trigger headaches thanks to how they’re processed by your body.

One of those flavonoids (which, on average are 10 times more prevalent in reds than whites) is known as “quercetin,” which is metabolized into a substance that blocks an enzyme that makes it easier to process alcohol. That essentially causes a toxic buildup in your bloodstream, which can lead to you having to deal with some less-than-ideal side effects.

The scientists who conducted the study say they are now hoping to stage a clinical trial where they can see if red wines containing lower levels of quercetin reduce the effect in people with a sensitivity to the substance.

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