Alcohol is, hands down, the most common type of drink that triggers migraines. And, we’re not talking about “hangover” headaches either. Alcohol-triggered migraines are very real, very painful, and quite debilitating.
What is it about alcohol and migraines?
Early written references of alcohol provoking migraines date back to the words of Celsus (25 B.C.-50 A.D.) “the pain…is contracted…by drinking wine.”
Another early reference is found by Paul of Aegina (625-690 A.D.) who also wrote of the relationship between drinking wine and migraines.
Certain chemicals in alcohol, such as tyramine and histamine are believed to act on chemicals in the brain, kicking off the series of events that leads to a migraine attack. Because alcohol use can increase with stress, some researchers believe it is a combination of the alcohol and stress which sets migraine attack in motion.
How wine impacts migraines
Different studies report different findings on which type of wine triggers the most migraine attacks. A European study found that 11% of migraine sufferers pointed to red wine as the most common culprit. However, a French study showed that 54% of the alcohol-induced migraine attacks came after drinking white wine. Histamine, which doctors say is a prominent migraine trigger, is found in far higher quantities in red wine than in white. Red wine contains 20 to 200 times the amount of histamine than white wine.
Studies show that women are more likely to have migraines triggered by red wine than men.
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