This is why you get a headache from drinking red wine

Researchers in the US have figured out the possible reason as to why you get a headache when you drink red wine.


Maybe it’s the same story every time you choose to indulge a glass of red wine – the throbbing headache spoils the pleasure. We’re not talking about a hangover headache, but a headache that occurs within 30 minutes to three hours after drinking even a small glass of wine. This phenomenon has been the focus of a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, the findings of which are published in the scientific journal Nature.

The researchers identified a potential culprit for the so-called red wine headache. It’s name is quercetin, a flavonoid compound found in much greater quantities in red wine than in white wine. “We propose that quercetin-3-glucoronide, derived from the various forms of quercetin in red wines inhibits ALDH2 (the enzyme that metabolises the toxin acetaldehyde), resulting in elevated acetaldehyde levels, and the subsequent appearance of headaches in susceptible subjects. Human-subject testing is needed to test this hypothesis,” the study reads.

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This new possibility is all the more interesting since quercetin is generally presented as being beneficial to health. That’s why it’s listed as a component in various dietary supplements. Moreover, quercetin is not only found in red wine, but also in a whole host of other foods, including apples, onions, citrus fruit, berries, spinach and even tea.

One of quercetin’s notable characteristics is its strong antioxidant action. It acts to neutralise free radicals in the body, unstable molecules associated with premature aging and various chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Researchers suggest that quercetin may help protect the body’s cells against damage caused by these free radicals, offering the potential to prevent diseases linked to oxidative stress.

Another interesting property of quercetin lies in its potential anti-inflammatory properties. Some scientists are also exploring quercetin’s potential for immune support.

In addition, quercetin could play a role in allergy management. Some individuals report a reduction in allergic symptoms when consuming quercetin-rich foods or taking quercetin supplements.

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