The Real Reason Wine Can Give You A Headache

A night out with a few too many drinks can lead to a rough morning hangover that often includes a bad headache. We know that drinking alcohol can dehydrate you which may lead to symptoms such as headache, and that even one glass of wine can trigger intense migraines for some people (via Healthline). Researchers have been looking into the exact ways that alcohol, and specifically wine, can cause headaches. What they found may help you decide whether to reach for that next glass of wine or pour yourself some water instead.

The ancient Greek philosopher Celsus described the first recorded red wine headache sometime between 25 B.C and 50 B.C., and wine has been taking the blame for head pain ever since (via National Library of Medicine). But even though wine is the most common alcoholic beverage associated with causing headaches, scientists aren't so sure it deserves the bad reputation. There just isn't any significant evidence to support the idea. However, there are a few reasons that drinking wine could be contributing to headaches or even migraines.

Is wine the real culprit?

Some of the chemicals in wine are thought to trigger headaches. Histamine, a chemical that is naturally found in our bodies, can help our immune identify invaders like allergens that could harm us. Too much histamine in our bodies can lead to an overreaction of our immune system and could cause headaches (via Clinical & Experimental Allergy). So where else do we find histamines? Both red and white wine have them, but red wine tends to have more.

Tannins are chemicals found in grape skins as well as a variety of other foods, and may cause your body to make more of the brain chemical serotonin. This could contribute to a headache. The class of preservatives known as sulfites are used to keep wine fresh, but can trigger breathing issues as well as migraines in some people.

Scientists are still looking for the real reason people tend to blame wine for their headaches. In the meantime, if you find yourself in pain after drinking wine, it's possible that your body is sensitive to one of these chemicals. And while wine may be tasty, you might want to find other ways to relax or celebrate that aren't as much of a headache.