Red wine may be on your, but for some people, even a small drink can cause headaches. Now researchers say they may have figured out why.
In a new study, published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that the culprit may be a flavanol that occurs naturally in red wines and can interfere with the proper metabolism of alcohol. Flavonols are a group of compounds found in many plants.
Flavanol, called quercetin, is naturally found in grapes and other fruits and vegetables and is considered a healthy antioxidant. However, when it is metabolized with alcohol, problems can arise.
“When it enters your bloodstream, your body converts it to a different form called quercetin glucuronide,” said wine chemist and corresponding author Andrew Waterhouse, professor emeritus in the UC department of viticulture and enology. Davis, in a press release about the study. “In this form, it blocks the metabolism of alcohol.”
The result is a buildup of acetaldehyde, an inflammatory toxin that can cause facial flushing, headaches and nausea.
Headaches from red wine — not to be confused withthe day after consumption – don’t require excessive amounts of wine, the study notes. In most cases, the headache appears 30 minutes to 3 hours after drinking just one or two drinks.
The amount of quercetin in wines also varies widely, the researchers note. Factors such as the sun exposure the grapes receive and the way the wine is made can impact the amount present in the final product.
“If you grow grapes with the clusters exposed, as is the case in Napa Valley for their cabernets, you get much higher quercetin levels. In some cases they can be four to five times higher,” Waterhouse said.
So, is there any way to avoid the risk of headaches other than skipping a sip? That’s what scientists plan to research next.
“We think we’re finally on the right track to explaining this millennia-old mystery. The next step is to test it scientifically on people who develop these headaches, so stay tuned,” said co -author Morris Levin, professor of neurology and director of the Headache Center at the University of California, San Francisco, said in the release.
This research, a small human clinical trial funded by the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation and led by UCSF, aims to determine why some people are more susceptible to these headaches than others and whether quercetin or acetaldehyde are the main target to improve these effects.
“If our hypothesis is true, then we will have the tools we need to start answering these important questions,” Waterhouse said.
Gn En Hd