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Shëndeti

Got a headache from drinking red wine? The study reveals why

Got a headache from drinking red wine? The study reveals why

Scientists may soon discover the reason why we get headaches every time we drink red wine, according to a new study .

A flavonol found naturally in red wines can interfere with the body's ability to metabolize alcohol, causing a build-up of toxins that can lead to headaches, according to a recent study in the journal Scientific Reports. Quercetin, a flavonol, is a plant compound found in fruits and vegetables, including grapes, berries, onions and broccoli.

"When quercetin enters your bloodstream, your body converts it to another form called quercetin glucuronide," said study co-author Andre Waterhouse, a wine chemist.

Red wine has a tenfold higher amount of phenolic compounds, especially flavonoids, than white wine, which makes the drink responsible for headaches, the authors cite. Researchers want to find out why headaches start right after consuming just one or two glasses of red wine. They studied how the flavonol can affect a genetic variant of an enzyme called ALDH2 that is involved in the metabolism of alcohol in the body.

Nearly 8% of the global population has a variant of the enzyme that is not particularly active, and the deficiency is most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, affecting about 40% of this population. Having a non-functional ALDH2 variant has been associated with skin rashes, palpitations and headaches after drinking.

When people drink, alcohol is broken down in the liver by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which turns it into the compound acetaldehyde, a known irritant and inflammatory toxin, said the study's lead author, Apramita Devi. The presence of acetaldehyde in the body is supposed to be short-lived as the ALDH2 enzyme transforms it into acetate, which is less toxic. Using laboratory tests, the authors found that a quercetin derivative, quercetin glucuronide, inhibited the enzyme variant. The intervention, they hypothesized, would lead to a buildup of the acetaldehyde toxin and headaches in people who are more susceptible. But experts who were not involved in the research caution, characterizing the study as a theory proposition rather than proof.

"The study was conducted only in a laboratory and the substances were tested outside the human body at concentrations several times higher than those in the blood after a few glasses of wine," said Dr. Jonas Spaak, an associate professor of cardiology at Karolinska.