Headache After Drinking Wine

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Pain

Dear Dr. Northrup,

I am 55 years old, in perfect health, 5’6″ and 118 lbs, and it’s been two years since I’ve had a period. I love to exercise, do yoga daily, and I don’t take any medication, except for vitamins. I’m also happily married with two grown daughters. I would like to enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, but I often wake up in the night with a headache if I have even a single drink. Any suggestions?

Infinite love and gratitude for all you do for women – T.I.

Dear T.I.,

The headache after drinking wine (usually red) is most likely from the sulfites and/or nitrates that are added. But no one knows for sure. Here’s my advice: Avoid cheap wine. Go for the really good stuff. It’s less likely to trigger a headache. See if some brands work better than others. Develop a taste for white wines like Chardonnays. (When I was in Italy, the local wines had no additives at all. And didn’t keep very long either. I actually liked them. And as a rule, I don’t drink any alcohol because I simply don’t like the taste!)

Also, be sure to be well-hydrated when you have a glass of wine. I suggest having a couple glasses of water before you have your wine. I would also take some high dose grape seed extract (OPC’s) before going to bed. Try 90–180 mg. Anecdotally, I’ve seen this approach help some people. Vitamin C, another great antioxidant, might also work well.

I enjoyed this question!

Let me know how this works for you – C.N.

Last Updated: December 14, 2009

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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  1. Laara Landre'
    3 months ago

    I have never been able to drink red wine, I did not get a headache after the fact, ( hang over) onset was before 5 ounces were consumed. Reason: I am allergic to tannin , especially from black tea and red wine. A headache does not begin to describe the pain. Also another contributing factor to reactions to wine ( red or white ) are the sulfides in the wine. Also the amount of chemicals sprayed on wine grapes , especially in France, is enough to make your head and everything else hurt.

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