The Role of Quercetin in Red Wine-Related Headaches: A Comprehensive Guide

2023-11-30 21:30:19

Quercetin in red wine: A potential cause of headaches

Quercetin, a substance abundant in red wine, could be the cause of headaches frequently reported by consumers, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”. This discovery could shed light on one of the most common annoyances associated with drinking red wine.

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Quercetin, a compound in question

Quercetin, a compound found in the skin of grapes, is particularly abundant in red wine. Contrary to previous beliefs that attributed headaches to tannins or sulfites, this study suggests that quercetin may be the real culprit. Symptoms often appear 30 minutes to three hours after drinking one or two drinks, sometimes including flushing and redness.

The process of accumulation of acetaldehyde

The study indicates that these headaches could be due to a buildup of acetaldehyde in the body, a byproduct of alcohol digestion. Normally, the ALDH enzyme in the liver converts alcohol to acetaldehyde and then to acetate. If this conversion does not occur properly, acetaldehyde builds up, causing symptoms such as headaches, nausea and intense sweating.

Quercetin inhibits the ALDH enzyme

Research suggests that quercetin in red wine may inhibit the ALDH enzyme, leading to a buildup of acetaldehyde. The study authors note that this inhibition is similar to the effect of treatment for alcoholism, which also reduces the activity of the ALDH enzyme.

Variability of quercetin in wines

The study looked at 16 red wines from different countries, varieties and winemaking methods, finding that the amount of quercetin varied widely. On average, white wine contains ten times less quercetin than red wine. Factors such as the grapes’ exposure to sunlight and winemaking techniques influence quercetin content.

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Increased sensitivity in certain populations

Certain populations, particularly in East Asia, may be more likely to experience these effects due to variation in ALDH enzymes. About 40% of Asians, including Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, may be affected, with higher blood concentrations of acetaldehyde.

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Résumé :

Suspected quercetin : This substance in red wine could explain headaches in some consumers.
Acetaldehyde accumulation : The accumulation of this alcohol byproduct could be causing the symptoms.
Inhibition of the ALDH enzyme : Quercetin would inhibit this key enzyme in the metabolism of alcohol.
Variability of quercetin in wines : The quercetin content varies between wines, influenced by various factors.
Sensitivity in certain populations : Asians may be more susceptible to these effects due to genetic variations in the ALDH enzyme.
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