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If You Get Wine Headaches, Mouth Bacteria May Be To Blame

Not to be too dramatic, but there are days when red wine and chocolate keep us going.

Both are smooth and rich, sliding down your throat silkily and washing away all your stresses for a few minutes.

As a teen, I used to poke fun at my mom for her love of wine. As an adult, I finally understand.

But, for a certain group of people, both are triggers for migraines that just won't quit. Until now, scientists haven't had much understanding of why the pair could cause a full-on mental meltdown.

As it turns out, the answer is probably cozily resting on your tongue. Researchers have found that the bacteria in your mouth probably explains why only some people experience immediate side effects from dark chocolate and vino.

According to researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, both foods (along with some leafy veggies) contain nitrates. Certain bacteria in the mouth transforms them into nitrites, which can become nitric oxide while in the bloodstream. Got it so far?

Well, people with heart conditions sometimes take medicines that also contain nitrites. Patients who take them complain of migraines, so the two seem to be related.

Using bacterial gene sequencing, the team found people with migraines tend to have a different species of bacteria than their headache-free equivalents.

Where do we go from here? Researchers say they're not sure exactly what the connection between nitric oxide and red wine is, but they're working on it.

Until then, the American Migraine Foundation recommends the pain-prone keep their wine consumption in low doses. There's no need to avoid it entirely, but be careful.

The Foundation advises,

A small dose of alcohol, such as a 5 ounce glass of good wine, can be consumed if it does not trigger migraines frequently. Drink in small amounts to the benefit of your heart, but use caution with breast cancer risk.

Oh wine, you fickle beast.

Citations: This Might Be Why You Get Migraines From Wine and Chocolate (NY Mag)