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Scientists Discover Link Between Red Wine And Headaches

Research reveals flavonol in red wine interferes with alcohol metabolism, leading to headaches

The reason why drinking red wine can leave you with a sore head has been discovered by scientists.

Researchers have found that a natural compound or flavonol in red wines can interfere with the metabolism of alcohol which leads to a headache.

The team from the University of California, Davis found the flavonol quercetin which is naturally present in all kinds of fruits and vegetables, including grapes.

It’s considered a healthy antioxidant and is even available in supplement form. But when mixed with alcohol, it can be problematic.

Researchers have found that a natural compound or flavonol in red wines can interfere with the metabolism of alcohol which leads to a headache. PHOTO BY ELINA SAZONOVA/PEXELS 

Professor Andrew Waterhouse said: “When it gets in your bloodstream, your body converts it to a different form called quercetin glucuronide.

“In that form, it blocks the metabolism of alcohol.”

They also found that different wines had different amounts of the pain-inducing flavanol depending on how much sunlight the grapes had.

Professor Waterhouse continued: “Quercetin is produced by the grapes in response to sunlight. If you grow grapes with the clusters exposed, such as they do in the Napa Valley for their cabernets, you get much higher levels of quercetin.

Researchers have found that a natural compound or flavonol in red wines can interfere with the metabolism of alcohol which leads to a headache. PHOTO BY ELINA SAZONOVA/PEXELS 

“In some cases, it can be four to five times higher.”

As a result of consuming this flavanol-filled wine people can accumulate a toxin called acetaldehyde which causes the painful symptom.

Dr. Apramita Devi said: “Acetaldehyde is a well-known toxin, irritant and inflammatory substance.

“Researchers know that high levels of acetaldehyde can cause facial flushing, headache and nausea.”

Typically, a red wine headache can occur within 30 minutes to three hours after drinking as little as a small glass of wine.

Professor Morris Levin said: “We postulate that when susceptible people consume wine with even modest amounts of quercetin, they develop headaches, particularly if they have a preexisting migraine or another primary headache condition.

“We think we are finally on the right track toward explaining this millennia-old mystery.

“The next step is to test it scientifically on people who develop these headaches, so stay tuned.”

The team plans to conduct human clinical trials to get further answers as there are still many unknowns about the causes of red wine headaches.

It’s unclear why some people seem more susceptible to them than others.

Researchers don’t know if the enzymes of people who suffer from red wine headaches are more easily inhibited by quercetin or if they are just more easily affected by the buildup of the toxin acetaldehyde.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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