Champagne Headache: The Science & 4 Tips

Champagne Headache

While champagne is one of the most popular beverages served for celebrations and special events, its unpleasant side effect is the dreaded headache. As a company with years of research on alcohol, we'll give into everything you need to know about the champagne headache, and as a bonus we'll point out a few key ways you can help avoid it.

Champagne Headache

A champagne headache is a type of headache that occurs after consuming champagne or other sparkling wines. The headache can range from mild to severe, and it usually starts within a few hours of drinking the champagne or the next day.

It's one of the most notable among alcoholic headaches and hangovers due to its severity, in which many report it as bad as a red wine headache that's considered to be the worse.

The Science: Why Does Champagne Cause Terrible Headaches?

Many wonder why they get a terrible headache after drinking champagne.

There's many theories floating around on the cause of champagne headaches, from tannins to alcohol. Which is true? Let's first explore each theory of the cause of champagne headaches.

Theories Of Champagne Headaches:

  • Sulfates: Sulfates are a naturally occurring preservative and antimicrobial agents resulting from fermentation , or added by some winemakers.¹ Experts say though that headaches are not caused by sulfates, only allergies or asthma can be triggered by it.²
  • Tannins: Natural plant chemicals that makeup the flavor of wine, tannins are said to both be an antioxidant and also release serotonin.  High serotonin can supposedly can lead to headaches.³ Research also suggests that vasorelaxation from tannins leads to headaches. But to note, tannins may not be the culprit, as champagne has a much lower amount than red wine.⁴
  • Histamines: Histamines, a potent biogenic amine, are present in alcohol including wine and champagne. They are naturally released from the body's immune system for allergens, but can cause blood vessels to dilate and lead to vascular headaches.⁵
  • Dehydration: As the alcohol in champagne being a diuretic, this can lead to fluid loss and dehydration.⁵  Dehydration can be a cause or worsen headaches.⁷ Wired magazine states though that hangover severity doesn't correlate with electrolytes levels.⁸
  • Sugar: Being a version of white wine, champagne contains a much higher sugar content than most alcohols. A lot of glucose in the body caused high blood sugar, and may lead to a headache.⁹
  • Acetaldehyde Buildup: Your body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical. Research shows acetaldehyde is connected to alcohol induced headaches.⁶
  • Carbonation: The carbonation that champagne is loaded with, which is using carbon dioxide, has been shown to increase the alcohol absorption rate via the stomach.¹⁰ ¹¹
  • Inflammation: Studies have discovered a relationship with alcohol, alcohol-induced headaches, and inflammation.⁶ Specifically neuroinflammation is linked to headaches from alcohol.⁶ Even a UCLA team showed an inflammatory response, cytokines, are related to a hangover.⁸

Conclusion Of The Champagne Headache Cause

While numerous factors can play a role in drinking, why does the champagne headache seem to be the worse?

Our conclusion is that the main factors at play are sugar and carbonation. 

  • Sugar
  • Carbonation

Sugar and carbonation are the few factors that are unique to champagne. Champagne is not only high in sugar, it has a high amount of carbonation for the alcohol content it contains in comparison to other alcoholic drinks such as sparkling vodkas like High Noon and White Claws.

The two other factors that appear to play a big role in a headache from alcohol, but not unique to champagne, is acetaldehyde buildup and inflammation.

Is Champagne A Migraine Trigger?

While not isolated to only champagne, alcohol in general can be a migraine trigger.

Studies show that so many factors are involved with a migraine. However, in some research around one-third of participants reported alcohol to be a migraine trigger.¹²

What Champagne Won't Give You A Headache?

There's not a champagne with alcohol that's headache-free. Although, it appears the best champagne you could drink with a lessor headache effect could be brut champagne.

Brut champagne has less sugar than its other counterparts. Less sugar could help lessen the blow of alcohol and headaches on the body.

4 Tips To Avoid A Champagne Headache

Champagne is a popular drink for celebrations and special occasions, but it can also lead to unpleasant headaches and hangovers the next day.

We know you can't cure a hangover, but there's some precautions you can take to avoid the damage from alcohol.

Here's 4 tips to avoid a champagne headache:

1. Stay Hydrated

One cause of a headache from alcohol can be dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can cause you to lose more fluids than you take in.
Drinking plenty of water or other hydrating fluids like coconut water can help to replenish your body's fluids. Expert typically recommend a minimum of drinking half you body weight in ounces of water a day.
TIP: To enhance hydration, try adding sea salt (electrolytes) to your water/food, and using Zaca chewables to help increase water and electrolyte absorption.

2. Get A Good Nights Rest 

Alcohol can impair your sleep quality and even oxygen saturation. It will make it harder to have a good nights rest, but sleep is key.
Sleep in known to be the secret ingredient for recovery. In fact, one Dutch study found less sleep to be correlated with a more severe hangover.¹⁵ It's commonly recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep.

3. Aspirin Medicine

Aspirin is approved by the FDA to relieve headaches, pain, and considered a hangover reliever as an OTC active ingredient. Although a medicine, this may the closest thing to a champagne headache cure or remedy.
The downside though is the warning that it's not recommended to mix with more than three alcoholic drinks, and aspirin can potentially be damaging to the liver.

4. Supplement DHM

DHM, short for dihydromyricetin, is a flavonoid derived from the Hovenia Dulcis plant that's been used for hundreds of years in ancient Asian culture.
Using Hovenia Dulcis, South Korea discovered significant declines in hangover symptom scores from participants.²² And a university in Beijing found it to increase alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) activity, which plays a role in helping to break down alcohol.²⁰

In summary, these four tips can help you avoid the dreaded champagne headache — including staying hydrated, getting a good nights rest, aspirin medicine, and supplementing DHM.

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1. What Are Sulfites in Wine And How They Affect You
2. Why Wine Gives You Headaches, and 4 Tips for Avoiding Them
3. Ask the doctor: What causes red wine headaches
4. Hangovers: What causes them and how to avoid them
5. What to know about headaches after alcohol
6. Alcohol-Induced Headache with Neuroinflammation
7. Dehydration and Headache
8. Everything Science Knows About Hangovers—And How to Cure Them
9. Does Sugar Cause Headaches?
10. Alcohol concentration and carbonation of drinks: the effect on blood alcohol levels
11. Alcohol Facts
12. Alcohol And Migraine
13. The Dangers Of Drinking Champagne: Why Champagne May Give You A Headache
14. Effects of Alcohol
15. Does Sleep Help a Hangover? Yes and No.
17. OTC Active Ingredients
18. Why Champagne Causes Headaches (and What to Do About It)
19. Hangover Headache
20. A standardized extract of the fruit of Hovenia dulcis alleviated alcohol-induced hangover in healthy subjects
21. Effect of juice and fermented vinegar from Hovenia dulcis peduncles on chronically alcohol-induced liver
22. Influence of Hovenia dulcis on alcohol concentration in blood and activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) of animals after drinking