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Does red wine give you a headache? Scientists have a hypothesis to “explain this age-old mystery”

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images A person pours red wine into stemmed glasses.

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Consumption of red wine has fallen by 32% in France over the last ten years according to the Kantar institute.

HANGOVER – If you’re used to drinking alcohol, you may have noticed that red wine causes the worst after-parties. And this even after only one or two glasses. If tannins and sulphites have often been blamed for these terrible headaches, a new study points the finger at quercitrin, a natural antioxidant present in red wine.

Researchers at the University of California studied a dozen compounds in the drink. In the study, published in the journal Scientific Report, they explain that the skin and seeds of the grape contain quercitrin, which could be the cause of this pain. “ We think we are finally on the right track to explaining this age-old mystery “, assures Morris Levin, director of “ Headache Center » from the University of California cited by The Guardian.

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Red wines more painful than others

According to researchers, quercitrin affects the way our body assimilates alcohol by blocking the enzyme that transforms acetaldehyde, a toxic component that allows alcohol to ferment, into acetate in the liver. Acetaldehyde then accumulates in our blood and causes migraines, nausea, or even flushing in some drinkers. These symptoms sometimes appear only a few hours after tasting.

Bad news for southern wine lovers: the more the grapes are exposed to the sun, the more quercitrin they contain. Some red wines can contain five times more quercitrin than others, the scientific team explains in the report.

The next step is to carry out scientific tests on people who develop these headaches”explains Morris Levin, according to The Guardian. Not everyone is prone to migraines, but researchers aren’t sure where this inequality comes from. For example, some might be less sensitive to acetaldehyde.

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Studies implicate other compounds in red wine

This is not the first study that seeks to understand the link between wine and headaches. One of them, published in 2019 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, linked these pains to an allergic reaction to sulphites, products used in the production of wine to stabilize it and to prevent it from continuing its fermentation during aging and winemaking. But these arguments are valid for all types of wine and not just red wine.

If the theory of researchers at the University of California is verified, the most obvious way to drink wine and avoid headaches would be to favor white wine, which contains much lower levels of quercitrin.

But while waiting for further research on the subject, the recommendations for avoiding migraines and other hangover symptoms remain the same: no more than two glasses per day, and plenty of water!

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