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Wine and headache

It has long been thought that migraine attacks could be triggered by food and drinks. Red wine in particular has been acknowledged as a migraine trigger since antiquity. Wine is beverage most commonly implicated as a cause of headaches. A review presents and discusses the available literature on wine and headache.

A Medline search with the terms headache, migraine, and wine was performed. Data available on books and written material about wine and medicine as well as abstracts on alcohol, wine, and headache available in the proceedings of major headache meetings in the last 30 years were reviewed. In addition, available technical literature and websites about wine, grapes, and wine making were also evaluated.

The reviewers found that full papers specifically on headache and wine are scarce. General literature related to medicine and wine is available, but scientific rigor was found to be typically lacking. The few studies on wine and headache were mostly presented as abstracts despite the common knowledge and patients’ complaints about wine ingestion and headache attacks. These studies suggest that red wine, but not white and sparkling wines, do trigger headache and migraine attacks independently of dosage in less than 30% of the subjects.

The reviewers found that wine, and specifically red wine, is a migraine trigger. Non-migraineurs may have headache attacks with wine ingestion as well. The reasons for that triggering potential are uncertain, but it is thought that the presence of phenolic flavonoid radicals and the potential for interfering with the central serotonin metabolism are probably the underlying mechanisms of the relationship between wine and headache. Further controlled studies are necessary to enlighten this traditional belief.

Source: Wine and headache. Krymchantowski AV; Jevoux CD. Headache, Vol 54, No 6, 2014, pp967-975.

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