A study published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ has revealed that some individuals are unable to drink red wine, even in small quantities, due to it causing headaches. According to the research, a compound called flavanol present in red wines can interfere with the proper metabolism of alcohol and lead to headaches. This discovery was made by a team from the University of California at Davis (USA).
The flavanol responsible for these headaches is quercetin, which is naturally found in all types of fruits and vegetables, including grapes. While it is considered a healthy antioxidant and is consumed as a supplement, when metabolized with alcohol, it can be problematic. Quercetin is converted into a different form called quercetin glucuronide, which blocks the metabolism of alcohol and leads to the buildup of acetaldehyde toxin. This causes redness, headache, and nausea in susceptible people.
The researchers hypothesize that this buildup of acetaldehyde is likely what causes headaches, particularly in individuals who have preexisting migraine or other primary headache conditions. The next step is to scientifically test this hypothesis on people who develop these headaches through a clinical trial. The levels of quercetin in red wine can vary dramatically based on several factors such as how it’s made, and scientists plan to investigate these variations further.
Overall, this study sheds light on the previously mysterious phenomenon of red wine headaches by revealing that quercetin may be responsible for them and that there may be unknown factors affecting its metabolism in certain individuals. Further research will help us understand more about why some people are more susceptible than others and whether enzymes or other factors play a role in their sensitivity to acetaldehyde buildup caused by red wine consumption.