Wine Wisdom for Chronic Migraine

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August 5, 2015

The current scientific wisdom defining the relationship between chronic migraines, headaches and wine is, that nobody is certain about much of anything! In fact, according to a new study, the maligned relationship has roots dating back to antiquity when the controversial Greek philosopher Casus complained of wine triggered headaches, sometime between 25BC and 50AD. So before you toss your glass and bottle of merlot out of the window in the name of ‘drug free migraine’ therapy, consider the latest medical findings by medical experts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Despite countless anecdotal reports of wine’s triggering impact on migraines, the medical research supporting this theory has not been entirely definitive. According to a Medscape report about the recent study, which was published in the journal Headache, scientists gathered and reviewed information obtained over the past 30 years about the subject. They evaluated data and literature relating to migraines, headaches, wine and even the process of winemaking. Various compounds contained in wine were examined for headache culpability such as 5-hydroxytryptamine, sulfites, tyramine, flavonoid phenolic compounds, histamine and phenylethylamine.

While sulfites in wine are commonly blamed for triggering headaches and migraines, the findings instead pointed to phenolic flavonoid radicals-which actually contain hundreds of different chemicals responsible for the attributes of a particular wine. You may be more familiar with the term ‘tannins,’ which are flavonoids that make you pucker when drinking wine. It is believed they impede the metabolism of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved with migraines.

Though many chronic migraine and headache sufferers have resigned themselves to many drug free migraine therapies, including banishing all wine, the research seems to suggest this may be overkill. The report indicates that past studies found less than 30 per cent of migraine sufferers experienced red wine triggered headaches, and that certain regional wine may ‘go-down-smoother.’ Since everyone’s migraine condition is unique, it is best for you to talk with your migraine physician and track your symptoms and experiences with as much accuracy as possible. This way you can make an informed decision about whether a little red is OK.

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