Red Wine May Not Trigger Migraines

Red wine type may play role in whether migraine is triggered

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) To avoid the debilitating headaches, migraine sufferers are generally urged to identify their triggers. Red wine is often pinpointed. Yet it may be only certain types of red wine that bring on migraines.

In most cases, researchers found red wine didn't trigger a migraine.  

When it did, varieties, such as Tannat and Malbec, with higher flavonoid content were more likely to cause a migraine. Previous studies suggested that the flavonoids may offer heart benefits such as lower blood pressure.

"Talk to a doctor about migraine triggers."

Abouch V. Krymchantowski, MD, PhD, of the Rio Headache Center and author of the study, noted that among most patients with migraines who believed red wine to be a trigger, a headache did not occur after they drank wine.

But when it did, South American varieties triggered the highest number of attacks.

“It is possible,” said Dr. Krymchantowski, “that different varieties of red wines with different content of tannins and resveratrol can trigger migraine differently. More research is definitely needed to establish which varieties are most likely to trigger an attack.”

During the study, investigators from the Headache Center of Rio in Rio de Janeiro, followed 33 migraine patients who regularly drank wine. All of the participants believed their migraine attacks were linked to their wine consumption. Most patients were women.

The participants consumed four bottles of wine within a minimum of four days. Of the patients, 29, or 88 percent, reported a migraine within 12 hours of drinking wine.

Of the participants, 55 percent reported migraines on at least two occasions after consuming wine, and 7 patients suffered a migraine attack on three occasions. A third of the patients suffered a migraine all four times they drank wine.

Only 12 percent of the participants reported no migraines after drinking the wine.

Researchers compared the migraine attacks to wine varieties, finding that wine often did not cause a migraine, but that when it did certain types appeared more likely to trigger migraines.

When patients consumed Tannat, 52 percent developed a migraine, while 48 percent who had Malbec reported a migraine.

The small study will require confirmation with larger studies to validate the findings. The research was recently presented at the 54th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Headache Society in Los Angeles, Calif.

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Review Date: 
June 25, 2012
Last Updated:
June 25, 2012