Red Wine Headaches Explained: This Flavonoid Could Be To Blame

The flavonoid interferes with the metabolism of alcohol.

The flavonoid interferes with the metabolism of alcohol.

The intense hangover after drinking large amounts of alcohol is related to genetics, metabolism of alcohol (ethanol), sulphites, and congeners (compounds created by ethanol fermentation).

But wine products also contain other substances including tannins and histamine that can trigger headaches.

But when it comes to the “red wine headache” phenomena, there might be a different explanation.


Scientists think there must be other reasons that some people who are not heavy drinkers experience red wine headaches.

These headaches can occur 30 minutes to three hours after drinking a small glass of red wine.

Researchers came up with a theory that an antioxidant called quercetin may trigger headaches by interfering with the metabolism of alcohol.

That makes sense since quercetin levels are much higher in red wine than other alcoholic drinks, including white wine.

Professor Andrew Waterhouse, the study’s senior author, explains how this healthy flavonoid interferes with alcohol:

“When it gets in your bloodstream, your body converts it to a different form called quercetin glucuronide.

In that form, it blocks the metabolism of alcohol.”

Toxin acetaldehyde

Ethanol is converted to toxic acetaldehyde in the body and than is metabolized by the ALDH2 enzyme to acetate.

If this fails than the acetaldehyde toxin would build up in the body causing symptoms such as headache, nausea, facial flushing, and excessive sweating.

Ms Apramita Devi, the study’s first author, said:

“Acetaldehyde is a well-known toxin, irritant and inflammatory substance.

Researchers know that high levels of acetaldehyde can cause facial flushing, headache and nausea.”

Nearly half of East Asian population experience these symptoms after a drink because their enzyme doesn’t work properly and so toxins builds up in their body.

Alcoholics who take drugs such disulfiram to overcome drinking also experience similar symptoms because the medication blocks the enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde.

This study suggests that quercetin produces similar adverse effects by blocking ALDH2 which would result in accumulation of the toxin.

Professor Morris Levin, study co-author, said:

“We postulate that when susceptible people consume wine with even modest amounts of quercetin, they develop headaches, particularly if they have a preexisting migraine or another primary headache condition.”

Grapes and the sunshine

The higher the exposure to sunlight, the more flavanol in red grapes.

Normally red wines with better quality are produced from grapes that are grown with care and in sunnier climates.

Therefore, these type of grapes contain greater levels of quercetin.

The levels are also influenced by the process of wine making such as removing unwanted material known as fining, skin contact during fermentation, and aging.

Professor Waterhouse said:

“Quercetin is produced by the grapes in response to sunlight.

“If you grow grapes with the clusters exposed, such as they do in the Napa Valley for their cabernets, you get much higher levels of quercetin.

In some cases, it can be four to five times higher.”


The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Devi et al., 2023).

Wine, Beer And Liquor Each Trigger Different Emotions

Some types of alcohol make people feel aggressive and confident, others make them feel relaxed.

Some types of alcohol make people feel aggressive and confident, others make them feel relaxed.

Different types of alcohol are linked to different emotions, a survey about alcohol finds.

Liquor makes people feel more aggressive, while wine is linked to feeling relaxed.

Liquor (spirits) were linked in people’s minds to feeling energetic, confident and sexy.

Like wine, beer was also linked to feeling relaxed.

Professor Mark Bellis, who led the study, said:

“For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence.

This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks.

In the UK, a litre of off-licence spirits can easily be bought for £15 or less, making a double shot only 75 pence.

Such prices can encourage consumption at levels harmful to the health of the drinker and through violence and injuries also represent a risk to the people around them.”

Alcohol beliefs

The results come from a survey of almost 30,000 people from 21 different countries.

Because of the nature of the study, it isn’t possible to say that different types of alcohol actually cause these different emotions.

Rather it is an insight into people’s beliefs about the effects of liquor versus wine versus beer.

Of course, our beliefs have considerable influence over what we experience, so the study is informative.

Kath Ashton, the study’s first author, said:

“People routinely use alcohol in order to alter their moods but this study suggests different drink choices may result in different emotional outcomes.

Understanding the relationships between different drinks and their emotional consequences may provide important insights into the prevention of alcohol related harms.”

The study was published in the journal BMJ Open (Ashton et al., 2017).

The #1 Avoidable Risk Factor For Early-Onset Dementia

The damage done by this risk factor was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

The damage done by this risk factor was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

Alcohol is the biggest avoidable risk factor for dementia, according to research.

The conclusions come from over 1 million people diagnosed with dementia in France.

The damage done by alcohol was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia in the sample, 57% were related to chronic heavy drinking.

Heavy drinkers are defined as those consuming an average of 4-5 standard US drinks per day for a man, or 3 standard US drinks for a woman.

This is like drinking close to a bottle of wine per day for a man or over half a bottle per day for a woman.

While this study only looked at heavy drinking, others have suggested moderate alcohol intake also carries risk for the brain.

Dr Jürgen Rehm, study co-author, said:

“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths.

Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”

Alcohol use disorders are thought to shorten life by an average of 20 years.

The link between heavy drinking and alcohol may be even stronger than this study reveals as only the most severe cases were included in this study.

Dr Bruce Pollock, study co-author, said:

“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition.

Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.”

The study was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health (Schwarzinger et al., 2018).

Very Common Drink Linked To Brain Damage — Once Again

The study found thinning in areas of the brain important for memory, language, awareness, consciousness and attention.

The study found thinning in areas of the brain important for memory, language, awareness, consciousness and attention.

Binge drinking of alcohol is linked to brain damage in young people, research finds.

Binge drinking is defined in the US as four or more standard alcoholic drinks for women or five or more for men in two hours.

Using alcohol in this way was linked to thinning in areas of the brain important for memory, language, awareness, consciousness and attention.

For example, binge drinking is associated with problems learning new words in young people.

This research backs up studies that have also linked moderate alcohol intake in adults to brain damage.

Moderate intake is defined in the US as between 7 and 10 standard drinks per week.

Here are examples of one standard drink in the US:

Dr Anita Cservenka, who led the study, said:

“Adolescence is a time when the brain still matures including not only biological development but also maturation of psychosocial behaviours.

Given the increase of binge and heavy drinking in young people, understanding the effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol on neural development and the impact on cognitive skills is very important.”

The conclusions come from a review of studies on the link between alcohol and brain damage.

Along with thinner brains, binge drinkers also have worse memories, the studies found.

Dr Cservenka explained:

“We looked at six areas to determine the deleterious impact of heavy drinking on brain response, namely: response inhibition, working memory, verbal learning and memory, decision making and reward processing, alcohol cue reactivity, and socio-cognitive/socio-emotional processing.”

Dr Cservenka said:

“These brain alterations, as a result of heavy alcohol use during adolescence and young adulthood, could result in increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later on in life.

It is therefore important to continue raising awareness of the risks of binge drinking and to promote future research in this area.

Our review provides a useful basis to determine the areas that require further attention.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Cservenka & Brumback, 2017).

The Popular Drink Linked To Cognitive Decline — Yet Again

While the drink used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

While the drink used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

Drinking as little as three glasses of wine or three cans of beer per week is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, research finds.

People who drank more than this amount of any alcohol, the study found, had elevated levels of iron in their brains.

Iron accumulation has been found in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and may help to explain cognitive decline.

The research included over 20,000 people included in the UK Biobank study.

All had reported their alcohol consumption and had their brains scanned, while 7,000 had had MRIs of their livers to assess iron levels.

Average alcohol intake was around 18 UK units, which is equivalent to over 7 cans of beer or 6 large glasses of wine.

The results showed that anything above 7 units per week was linked to high levels of iron in the basal ganglia, a group of neurons involved in a whide range of cognitive functions, such as learning, movement and the emotions.

Dr Anya Topiwala, the study’s first author, said:

“In the largest study to date, we found drinking greater than 7 units of alcohol weekly associated with iron accumulation in the brain.

Higher brain iron in turn linked to poorer cognitive performance.

Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol-related cognitive decline.”

In the US, 7 units is this is about 4 standard drinks, which are 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of a distilled spirit.

Reassessing alcohol’s effect on the brain

While moderate drinking used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

Lower and lower amounts of alcohol have been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration.

For example, as little as one alcoholic drink per day has been linked to brain shrinkage.

People who have as little as a glass of wine or pint of beer each day show greater signs of brain shrinkage with age.

Averaging four drinks a day was linked by this study to the equivalent of 10 years of brain aging.

The more people drink, therefore, the stronger the association gets between alcohol and brain shrinkage.

Even low levels of alcohol intake can damage memory, problem-solving skills and the ability to read emotions.

And alcohol continues to cause brain damage even six weeks after giving it up.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Medicine (Topiwala et al., 2022).

Are There Benefits To Drinking Alcohol At Low Levels?

Is drinking a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer a day be good for you?

Is drinking a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer a day be good for you?

Some studies have suggested that daily consumption of low-volume alcoholic drinks such as a glass of wine could lower heart disease and death from any cause.

In contrast, new evidence shows that light drinking does not bring any health benefits.

The review also shows that higher consumption levels of alcohol dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and death.

In the United States, one “standard” drink contains nearly 14 grams of pure alcohol, equivalent to a glass of wine at 12 percent alcohol (150 ml), a bottle of beer at 5 percent alcohol (355 ml), or one shot of hard liquor such as whisky, vodka, gin, and rum.

Dr Tim Stockwell, the study’s co-author, said:

“Low-level or moderate drinking is roughly defined between one drink per week and two drinks per day.

That’s the amount of alcohol that many studies, if you look at them uncritically, suggest reduces your risk of dying prematurely.”

But the results from those studies have been influenced by some biases so after adjusting for them:

“…the appearance of the benefit from moderate drinking greatly diminishes and, in some cases, vanishes altogether.”

The review analysed 107 studies examining the association between consumption of alcohol and death.

Dr Stockwell explained:

“This is an overview of a lot of really bad studies.

There’s a lot of confounding and bias in these studies, and our analysis illustrates that.”

Former-drinker bias

A common flaw for those studies was that they included former drinkers in the non-drinkers group.

But it is well-known that if a former drinker has stopped drinking or reduced alcohol intake, it is often because of some health issues.

When compared to abstainers, former drinkers are at a higher risk of early death by 22 percent.

Dr Stockwell said:

“We’ve put Band-Aids on all of these bad studies to try and explore how these different characteristics result in the appearance of health benefits.”

Their analysis reveals that occasional drinking (9 g of alcohol per week) or light drinking (less than 24 g a day; one or two drinks a day) didn’t reduce the likelihood of death.

There was a slight increased risk of death among those who drank more than two a day (25 g to 44 g of alcohol per day).

The risk of death was greatly increased among heavy drinkers (45 g or more of alcohol per day).

Dr Catherine Lesko from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said:

“There’s this question about whether low-level drinking is beneficial, and I think I’d take this to mean that it’s really not particularly beneficial.

I don’t know that it’s harmful, very low-level drinking.

But a lot of the results are reinforcing the harmful effects of even moderate to high level drinking.”

Drinking even at lower amounts caused more dramatic effect on women’s health than men.

Ms Patricia Aussem, a counsellor at Partnership to End Addiction, explained:

“Women experience alcohol differently than men because of biological factors.

Even when drinking the same amount of alcohol, women will have higher blood alcohol levels, feel intoxicated more quickly and take longer to metabolize it.”

Furthermore, binge drinking increase the odds of car accidents, homicides, suicides, as well as cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, and stroke.

Some consequences of lifetime drinking:

  • You are more likely to escape harm when having 2 drinks or less per week.
  • You are more prone to develop some forms of cancer such as colon or breast cancer when having more than 3 standard drinks per week.
  • You are much more likely to develop heart disease or stroke when having 7 standard drinks per week.

Ms Aussem said:

“Each additional standard drink radically increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences.

These risks increase in lockstep with consumption as it is more difficult to repair the damage done to cell tissue in the body and brain.

Simply put, less is better.

Any steps to cut back can be helpful in terms of reducing the risks of alcohol-related cancers and cardiovascular disease.”

The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Zhao et al., 2023).

The Common Drink Linked To A Lower IQ

The drink is consumed by 86% of Americans and is popular around the world.

The drink is consumed by 86% of Americans and is popular around the world.

Drinking higher levels of alcohol and binge drinking are both linked to a lower IQ, research finds.

People with higher IQs tend to avoid binge drinking.

The conclusions come from a study of 49,321 Swedish men conscripted for military service between 1969 and 1971.

They were given IQ tests and asked about their alcohol intake.

The lower their IQ was, the more they drank and the more likely they were to binge drink.

It is not clear from the study exactly how IQ is linked to alcohol intake.

However, it is likely that lower IQ is linked to lower social status and emotional problems, both of which may drive higher rates of alcohol consumption.

The study’s authors conclude:

“We found that lower results on IQ tests are associated with higher consumption of alcohol measured in terms of both total alcohol intake and binge drinking in Swedish adolescent men.”

People with higher IQs tend to be healthier, the authors explain:

“One suggested explanation for the association between intelligence and health is that cognitive skills enhance possibilities to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Cognitive ability has been found to be associated with several health-related behaviors, such as smoking, food intake, and physical activity.”

Previous studies have also linked binge drinking to lower IQ.

However, in that study, people with higher IQs had higher levels of average alcohol consumption.

The results fit with the fact that highly intelligent people are also more likely to use drugs.

It could be because the intelligent tend to be easily bored.

At the same time, though, they also led healthier lifestyles.

The divergence between the studies could be down to different populations.

The study was published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Journal (Sjölund et al., 2015).

This Drink Reduces Growth Of New Brain Cells 40%

New brain cells in the hippocampus — an area critical for memory — were reduced by 40%.

New brain cells in the hippocampus — an area critical for memory — were reduced by 40%.

Even moderate alcohol intake could reduce the brain’s ability to produce new cells by 40 percent, research suggests.

Regularly having as little as 3 to 4 alcoholic drinks could reduce the structural integrity of the adult brain.

Ms Megan Anderson, the study’s first author, said:

“Moderate drinking can become binge drinking without the person realizing it.

In the short term there may not be any noticeable motor skills or overall functioning problems, but in the long term this type of behavior could have an adverse effect on learning and memory.”

The conclusions come from a rodent study in which the animals were given the equivalent amount of alcohol to reach the legal driving limit.

This amount of alcohol did not have much effect on their motor coordination.

However, the results showed that the production of new brain cells in the hippocampus — an area critical for memory — were reduced by 40%.

Ms Anderson said:

“…this substantial decrease in brain cell numbers over time could have profound effects on the structural plasticity of the adult brain because these new cells communicate with other neurons to regulate brain health.

If this area of your brain was affected every day over many months and years, eventually you might not be able to learn how to get somewhere new or to learn something new about your life.

It’s something that you might not even be aware is occurring.”

Drinker who are ‘at risk’ are currently defined as men who have 14 drinks per week or more and women who have 7 or more per week.

Ms Anderson said:

“This research indicates that social or daily drinking may be more harmful to brain health than what is now believed by the general public.”

The study was published in the journal Neuroscience (Anderson et al., 2012).

This Drink May Cut Dementia Risk In Half

It can help clear the brain of toxins.

It can help clear the brain of toxins.

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is linked to a 45% lower risk of dementia, research concludes.

Moderate drinkers — those who drink no more than around a bottle and half of wine a week — saw the reduced risk in comparison to those who do not drink.

Moderate drinkers also had a lower risk of dementia than those who drank heavily.

As alcohol intake increases, so does the risk of dementia.

A couple of alcoholic drinks per day, though, can help clear the brain of toxins, some research finds.

Low levels of alcohol — the equivalent of around 2.5 standard drinks per day — may help to remove waste linked to Alzheimer’s disease and reduce inflammation in the brain.

The study’s authors write:

“We show that both long term alcohol abstinence and excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of dementia.

Given the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple by 2050 and the absence of a cure, prevention is key.”

The study’s conclusions come from an analysis of 9,087 people who were followed for around 23 years between 1985 and 1993.

Dr Sevil Yasar, writing in a linked editorial, said:

“The most intriguing finding from this study was the significantly increased risk of dementia among abstainers, including long term abstainers and participants who became abstainers, and that association was only present in those who abstained from wine.”

Dr Yasar continued:

“Wine, in addition to alcohol, contains polyphenolic compounds, which have been associated with neuroprotective effects on both neurodegenerative and vascular pathways, and with cardioprotective effects through inflammation reduction, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and alteration of lipid profile.”

One limitation of the study is that people who abstain from alcohol may have a history of overindulgence.

Along with the study design, this makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about causality.

The study was published in the BMJ (Sabia et al., 2018).

How Alcohol Affects The Cerebral Cortex

The more alcohol people drank, the greater the damage to the cerebral cortex.

The more alcohol people drank, the greater the damage to the cerebral cortex.

High alcohol intake can lead to a thinner cerebral cortex, research finds.

The cerebral cortex is the layer of neurons that supports most higher-level cognition.

However, the brain damage caused by drinking is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon.

The more people drank, the greater the damage to this area of the brain.

The irony is that alcohol damages the very areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling alcohol intake.

However, people who had been alcoholics but now abstained showed the brain can recover.

Dr Catherine Brawn Fortier, the study’s first author, said:

“We now know that alcohol has wide ranging effects across the entire cortex and in structures of the brain that contribute to a wide range of psychological abilities and intellectual functions.”

Alcohol affects both the gray and white matter in the brain.

The greatest impact, though, is seen in the temporal lobes.

Dr Fortier explained:

“These brain areas are critical to learning new information and, even more importantly, in self-regulation, impulse control, and the modification of all complicated human behaviors.

In other words, the very parts of the brain that may be most important for controlling problem drinking are damaged by alcohol, and the more alcohol consumed, the greater the damage.”

How alcohol affects the cerebral cortex study

The conclusions come from brain scans of 65 people, some of whom were recovering alcoholics and others who were nonalcoholics.

Dr Fortier explained the study’s results:

“First, the outermost layer of cortex across the entire brain was reduced in our sample of recovered alcoholics.

Second, alcohol’s effect on the brain is continuous across a wide range of drinking behavior and appears to be dose specific.

Pathology is often thought of as occurring as an all-or-none phenomenon — you either have brain damage or you don’t.

This study shows that the damage occurs in gradations, and the more you drink, the greater the damage.”

Dr Fortier concluded:

“A widespread reduction in cortical tissue in recovered alcoholics indicates that even with abstinence, cognitive abilities are compromised in former drinkers.

Severe reductions in frontal brain regions can result in a dramatic change to personality and behavior, taking the form of impulsivity, difficulty with self-monitoring, planning, reasoning, poor attention span, inability to alter behavior, a lack of awareness of inappropriate behavior, mood changes, even aggression.

Severe reductions in temporal brain regions most often result in impairments in memory and language function.”

The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (Fortier et al., 2011).

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