Inhibition of ALDH2 by quercetin glucuronide to explain red wine headaches

59 points9
thsksbd6 hours ago

The name quercetin jumped at me, as it should to every italian.

So I looked it up

It come from the latin for oak, where it was first isolated. I find it i interesting that red wine is aged in oak barrels.

Therefore, a question to the forum

Does cheap wine, aged in stainless steel barrels, have the same effect?

TrueSlacker01 hour ago

A lot of wine is moving to all stainless for tons of practical purposes such as cleaning and sanitizing, only dealing with 1 tank, barrel loss, storage space, etc. They then add sawdust for the wood flavor desired (obviously not your average wood shop leftovers). This has way more surface area as compared to a barrel, leading to a way shorter aging time. Then just hit it with some of the normal clarifiers and filter out the little bit left with the plate filter. Both higher end and lower end wineries do this.

phaker1 hour ago

Quercetin is present in grapes. Wikipedia says it's "the main flavonol" in both red and white wine ( ).

It is or at least was pretty common to hear about flavonols, flavonoids and specifically quercetin in various foods and their purpoted health benefits. Seems we've moved on to other compounds that are not yet known to be ineffective.

brookst5 hours ago

Hey now, there are great wines aged in stainless. And even more aged in concrete. And yet more aged in neutral oak, which has been used so many times it no longer imparts the oak character. If the quercetin -> oak link holds, I would expect it to also appear in lower levels from neutral barrels.

Would be super interesting to know.

thsksbd4 hours ago

I never said bad, just cheap ;)

I didn't know about natural oak, super cool

jghn4 hours ago

Also should qualify cheap. A lot of people likely picture a much lower price point than where one might find stainless, concrete, etc

karmakaze5 hours ago

I don't know about that, but shiraz never gives me headaches.

cmrdporcupine3 hours ago

There is a growing trend for amphora/qvevri/ceramic aged wines. Would be interesting to compare. Also wines at least partially aged in concrete tanks.

Many cheap wines are in fact oaked to hell, usually in the form of chips, extracts, etc. because the oak flavour can mask faults or give character to mediocre wines. I use oak shavings in my wine (from grapes from my vineyard) because barrels are a pain to work with.

(People also don't realize how much of the wine sold in stores at even medium price tiers is flavoured and homogenized with the addition of concentrates and other additions. One of the big ones is "MegaPurple(tm)", a colouring and flavouring agent made from Rubired grapes, that is responsible for a lot of the jammy fruity "new world" flavours that people seem to think is representative of "Aussie Shiraz" or "Ripe Zinfandel" or whatever their preference is. It's really just a concentrated grape extract. And extremely popular, and doesn't need to be labelled on the wine because it's made from grapes. It's one way producers can get consistent product year over year.)

mrob7 hours ago

If this is true, why is there no "beer and curry" headache? British style curry is based on a sauce called "base gravy", which is primarily onion (high in quercetin). It's commonly paired with beer, but I've never heard anybody blaming this combination for headaches.

My theory is that red wine gets blamed because it's usually higher in alcohol than white wine. Some people assume all wine is the same and end up drinking more alcohol than they expected.

rileyphone6 hours ago

I can drink white wine for days but a few sips of certain red wines can cause splitting headaches. They even address onions in the paper.

mrob6 hours ago

Onion is "addressed" by pointing out that it doesn't contain alcohol. This isn't a good explanation when it's combined with alcohol.

selimthegrim4 hours ago

Maceration probably degrades the quercetin? e: refs. 55-56 here say it's more bioavailable in fried onion

OldGuyInTheClub4 hours ago

Wish there were some answer. I've tried and liked red wine but even a few ounces makes me irritable, slow, and headachy for over a day after. Hydration, having with food, preemptive analgesics... nothing works. But, the same is true for beers so maybe for some people alcohol is a non-starter regardless of the inhibitor in question.

plasma_beam3 hours ago

I’ve long had this issue, seemingly with red wine, and hoppy beers. An IPA headache is no joke. I also have a crazy sweettooth..candy, ice cream, cookies, etc. Ate way too much. On a whim several months ago I cut sweets from my diet entirely. I swear my headaches have completely left. Like somehow it was the sugar crashes that amplified some reaction to these alcohols (that have no sugars). Who knows. But my head is better now without all the added sugars.

taf23 hours ago

I had the same issue I take a new migraine medicine and side effect no hangovers anymore either. Two new drugs came out in 2018 basically allergy medicine. Tells the immune system don’t worry about certain chemicals in the brain and all is good. I get one extra day a week and bonus drinking no hangover

jayunit1 hour ago

I'm curious - what's the medication? Someone I know gets pretty regular migraines. She takes sumatriptan when they occur, and also has cut alcohol due to being a potential cause.

OldGuyInTheClub3 hours ago

Sugar doesn't affect me in that way although I need to be careful for other reasons. Alcohol is such a social lubricant in so many societies that the inability to consume even small amounts affects one's personal and professional life.

Darmody7 hours ago

In my family it's the white wine that gives us headaches. Half a glass is more than enough for me. On the other hand, I can drink red wine until I die of alcohol poisoning without getting a headache.

pezezin5 hours ago

For me both red and white wine are OK, but a glass of Japanese sake and the next day I want to kill myself to end the suffering. Which is a pity, because I like the flavor, but it gives me the worst hangovers ever.

justinclift3 hours ago

Some red wines used to give me headaches, but it wasn't super hard to figure out what looks like the cause.

When reading the back of the bottle, if it has a warning about potentially containing "sulfides" then it'll be fine. It's the ones that don't contain sulfides, instead using some other preservative (or similar), which give me bad headaches.

cmrdporcupine3 hours ago

All wines contain sulfites. Yeasts produce them naturally during fermentation.

Almost all winemakers add additional sulfites during crush, pressing, and bottling. There are "natural" wine makers who don't, but their wines still contain sulfites produced by the yeast during fermentation, though it's a much lower amount. And their wines usually end up faulty in some detectable way.

What varies is labeling requirements for sulfite additions. California requires it, so it kind of spread because of that. But if the intended market for the wine doesn't require mentioning it, wine producers may not bother putting it on the label.

RantyDave4 hours ago

"Human-subject testing is needed to test this hypothesis."

Ahh, and this is why you are submitting a grant proposal for $100k in red wine?

oakwhiz3 hours ago

This joke made me curious about the actual funding for this research, shown here:

oblib7 hours ago

That's interesting to me because I get splitting headaches from just a few sips of red wine. I've always assumed it was sulfites that caused that.

cmrdporcupine3 hours ago

White wines have just as much or more sulfite than red. The sulfites are there to prevent oxidation, and minor oxidation in a white is a far more obvious fault -- visually, and on the nose -- than in a red. People nowadays expect their whites to be crisp and fruity and without a hint of oxidation.

Especially lots of sulfites in off-dry whites, which require a lot more intervention to stop them from fermenting to dry (sterile filtration, extra sulfite, and sometimes potassium sorbate [which I can personally taste at even extremely low concentrations and instantly classifies the wine as 'cheap' to me])

Finally, should mention that while sulfites are added, they also occur naturally as a byproduct of fermentation. Yeasts produce them. Another way (along with alcohol production) they they seem to want to commit suicide :-)

One thing that is (mostly) unique in reds is malolactic fermentation / malolactic bacteria. I've always wondered if the red-wine-headache people might in fact be sensitive to byproducts from that.

neverrroot7 hours ago

Drink red wine and get a headache because of drinking it? Switch to white wine. Still interesting they found the source of the headache in the suffering individuals.

TeaBrain5 hours ago

They didn't find whether it was actually the source of the headaches, but only proposed a new hypothesis. The linked paper is a review, which proposes a novel hypothesis on red wine's mechanism of causing headache, and suggests that an experiment should take place to test the hypothesis. Many papers have previously suggested alternative ideas on why red wine causes headaches. Other hypothesises that I'm aware of is that the headaches are likely caused by histamine or tannins in red wine.

TacticalCoder5 hours ago

> Drink red wine and get a headache because of drinking it? Switch to white wine

Pro-tip: sparkling white wine from the french region of Champagne. There's never headaches with this, even if you seriously abuse.

NL8076 hours ago

Funny you should say that, as another user on here has the opposite problem:

mreid7 hours ago

From the paper:

"Alcohol is known to induce headaches when consumed in large quantities."

[Citation needed]

upsidesinclude6 hours ago

>Human-subject testing is needed to test this hypothesis

This is a hypothesis and one that seems poorly born considering quercetin is available over the counter as a supplement and in no way causes headaches.

It is however, amazing at bolstering the immune system

khazhoux8 hours ago

This is a case where a "cure" is not actually beneficial to society.

Case in point: red wine gives me headaches and hives, whiskey burns my tongue, and alcohol just makes me very sleepy. As a result, I've just stopped drinking.

Would I want a cure so I can partake with friends when out? No -- my extended family is full of alcoholics. Why travel down that path?

B1FF_PSUVM7 hours ago

Seems they're explaining why things work, such as this:

"In fact, drugs such as disulfiram which inhibit aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), and cause acetaldehyde accumulation if alcohol is consumed, are used as a treatment for alcoholism by causing discomfort noted above, including headache8 to discourage consumption."

LZ_Khan7 hours ago

Adverse reactions to alcohol like asian flush are actually an evolutionary defense mechanism against alcohollism.

pezezin5 hours ago

If that is the case, it doesn't work very well. I live in Japan and I have seen plenty of people with strong flush reactions that don't give a shit, they still drink like sponges.

OldGuyInTheClub3 hours ago

Is that in professional contexts where long hours at work followed by drinks with the boss are expected (so I'm told)?