The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Red Wine Headache

Red Wine Headache vs. Sulfite allergy:

Sulfites used to take the blame for RWH. About 20 years ago the Food and Drug Administration determined that about 1 percent of the population is allergic to sulfites and required that wines containing certain levels of the compound be labeled “contains sulfites.” Many people have assumed, incorrectly, that the labeling is designed to warn people who get a red wine headache. [In fact, sulfite sensitivity is a true allergy. Sufferers experience an allergic reaction, but not a headache. RWH is something else.]

In 1981 Herbert Kaufman, M.D., reported that the prophylactic ingestion of aspirin prevented the red wine headache syndrome, RWH, (Lancet 1981; 1: 1263). He also noted that once RWH begins, aspirin has little or no effect in altering the headache. Five years later, in a non-controlled study, Kaufman reported that aspirin inhibited the immediate and late phases of RWH, and the proposed mechanism was through interruption of prostaglandin synthetase […]

this study was very limited but suggested that taking aspirin and possibly Ibuprofin before drinking red wine may reduce or eliminate Red Wine Headache.