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ilikepie

Migraines From Alcoholic Beverages

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Throughout 2008, I was having some trouble with alcoholic beverages that I never experienced before. I used to go out and drink at parties, not to the point where I was in a stupor, but I would generally be drunk. I would never get hangovers though. Ever.

At first I just started getting hangovers. Then they became increasingly intense, and would last at minimum 48 hours. I began getting horrendous migraines during these hangovers. And it was odd because I would feel completely fine the next morning and all through the day, but then that night (about twenty hours after the drinking took place) I would get my pounding, relentless, would-rather-die-than-have-this-migraine migraine.

I thought maybe I was reacting to a specific type of alcohol I was drinking, so I switched things up. I had been drinking vodka, and I switched to wine. I figured it must have just been the vodka, because this cured my problem. But eventually the same problem showed up with the wine. It occurred slowly over time, and the migraine pain and duration would increase. It starts out so I can drink any kind of wine, and then it seems only one specific bottle or brand, and then none at all. So I switched to tequila: same thing. Fine at first, then slowly progressed to migraines. It's become so that I get the migraine immediately upon drinking, even a tiny sip, or from a container that hasn't been washed thoroughly enough that once contained alcohol.

I decided I would have to give up drinking altogether, because feeling like someone is hammering a nail into my head just isn't enjoyable. My friend had bought some tequila, called Lunazul. I figured I would try it. It would be my last attempt to drink alcohol before giving it up completely. To my surprise, I felt fine after drinking it, and continue to drink solely it when I choose to have a drink.

What confuses me is that EVERY other type of alcohol I've tried, my body hates. Even other brands of clear tequilas. I'm just confused as to what is going on here, why this happened to me, and what exactly it is I am reacting to.

Any thoughts?

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I found that when my Celiac kicked in, I was extremely more sensitive to liquor that ever before, regardless of whether the alcohol was grain based or not.

I don't know why and I have not seen any research to link, but it caught me by surprise once or twice. :unsure:

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I had somewhat similar things happen. Except for the part about migraines. I had my feet and ankles swell up, and couldn't sleep. It didn't happen right away, but over a period of time I had worse reactions when drinking wine. So I quit the stuff for several months and felt better. Tried it again and ok for a while but then started getting sick again. So quit for good. I suspect that either yeast or sulfites are the problem for me in the wines. I haven't figured out which and may never for that matter. Tater vodka seems to be ok for me. It tastes just like water ya know..! :D Moderation though is key. There is a thread in the coping with forum called the rain barrel effect. Could be the correct analogy.

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I have reacted to alcohol for years - in fact I haven't had any for years apart from a very occasional small glass of very low alcohol plonk (which I seem to be ok with) and an odd glass of well-diluted Pimms now and again (both of which I seem to be ok with in the occasional tipple) as I didn't like the way it made me feel (I wish chocolate had the same effect!).

I did have a theory that I may be reacting to tannins in it as I also can't tolerate tea, but I also wonder if, as Candida has long been an issue for me, whether it might more likely be a cross-alcohol reaction as Candida makes Actelyaldehyde as one of its sugar digestion by-products.

On doing a bit of research (as Jestgars' above) it seems that whilst some Tequilas are made with 100% agave, others have added glucose and fructose (and possibly other things). Although fructose has to be converted to glucose before the body can use it, glucose can get straight through into the cells so, and it is only a theory, I wonder if you may just be getting a reaction to the sudden sugar surge and consequent blood sugar spike. As a diabetic, when my blood sugar is raised even slightly I get a whole-body-pounding thing going on - not a migraine or even a headache but then my reaction isn't necessarily going to be the same as yours.

Is there any way you can contact the manufacturers of the brand that you are ok with to see if they can tell you how it is made and what if anything is added to it? Their answer may just help to answer your question (conversely it might pull up a whole load more but ce la vie!).

As many may be aware I am a huge proponent of the gut bacteria idea and how we are affected by the bad and protected by the good. Again this is only a theory but as your reaction seems to fade on changing to a different type but then inexplicably come back again I can't help wondering if you may be carrying some microbe that feeds on the alcohol, dies back when it is removed then gradually adapts to the new one and picks up again. We carry hundreds of the little beggars in and on our bodies and many of them potentially could become pathogenic if given the right environment. I have read that Candida alone can kick out over 70 different toxins depending on where it is and on what it feeds, and certainly some of those could likely affect the brain.

Of course it could be caused by any one of these, or indeed none of them at all, but they are just a few more ideas to ponder.

I did have a 'rain-barrel' type effect some time ago with apples (perhaps I should call it apple-barrel!). About 18 months ago I decided to go on an 'apple fast', eating virtually nothing but apples for a few days. I was fine for about 4 days then one morning I ate my breakfast apple and 'bang', went down with an anaphylactic reaction. Whether it was one too many apples, whether it was something sprayed on the apple or whether it was because that one was a type I had never eaten before I really don't know but needless to say I didn't do the apple fast any more! I have eaten them since and been fine. I suppose I might also (and here is another theory for your problem) have acidified or alkalised my body too much and the reaction was a 'back-off' warning!

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Maybe your previous tequila choices haven't been pure agave http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tequila

Yes, 100% agave tequila are generally better than "mixto's". However, non-100% agave tequila's are at least 51% agave, with the other 49% derived from cane sugar. So, if you can tolerate rum (which is 100% fermented cane sugar) you should be able to tolerate non-100% agave tequila's.

Please note, the non-100% agave tequila's can contain additive's such as coloring's and/or flavoring's.

My friend had bought some tequila, called Lunazul. I figured I would try it. It would be my last attempt to drink alcohol before giving it up completely. To my surprise, I felt fine after drinking it, and continue to drink solely it when I choose to have a drink.

As for Lunazul. There's nothing special about that brand. Although it is a 100% agave tequila, it's definately on the low end, quality wise IMO (and many other's). That's why it's relatively cheap. Nothing wrong with that. But, there are many, many brands out there much better, albiet perhaps more costly, that you should be able to tolerate equally as well.

best regards, lm

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Yeah Lunazul is cheap and on the low end...that is one reason why I am surprised I can tolerate it. It just seems to be so random. Some high end stuff that other people have offered to buy me I have had bad reactions to.

I haven't tried rum since I have been having this problem...but cane sugar gives me horrible migraines as well. It makes me feel as though I am knocking on deaths door. Could the alcohol thing be related to sugar??

Now even the lunazul is becoming difficult for me to tolerate. I drank it last night, and all day today I have had a mild migraine, and I also just made the connection that I get back pain from drinking as well that keeps me up at night. I think as of now I am just deciding to give up alcohol altogether.

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The back pain throws a whole different light on it - it sounds as though your liver may well be complaining at the overload.

As the alcohol is processed in the liver, if it is already struggling then it is just adding to its stress and the more stressed it is the less it can cope and the more toxic we become. If the liver cannot process the alcohol properly or fast enough then the toxic load may well be enough to trigger the migraines. The body is a fantastic thing but there is only so much it can take.

I was getting the same problem with certain foods - not only was my stomach complaining but my liver was too (and likely my pancreas) and the backache drove me mad at times, but gradually since eliminating the foods that were causing me problems and sticking to a basic diet the backache (and the stomachache) has thankfully been receding and I very rarely get it now thank goodness. I also have more energy as a result because my digestion is no longer having to drain my body of valuable resources.

I have realised that those foods (or drink) that I couldn't cope with were just constantly challenging my highly stressed digestive capacity and I was not going to get better unless I gave it a break and some respite from the challenge and the tools to help it recover. Unfortunately, although we can avoid certain things including alcohol, we have to eat to survive, but what we eat has a huge, huge bearing on how well or how badly we survive.

I only have one body and I have thrown bad food choices at it for years and expected it to just get on with it - ignoring the messages it kept sending me and finally the worm turned. Unless I sort it out now I may not have another chance.

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Something that occurred to me. When one eats, or drinks out, one subjects oneself to unknown variables, as relates to gluten, and other potential reactions.

Perhaps it would be enlightening to stay home and conduct these drinking tests under more controlled conditions. ie., in your own gluten-free kitchen, using your own glassware, eating food you prepare (one should consume food along with alcohol, that's a given).

best regards, lm

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That would have been a good idea to only try drinking this stuff in my own home to be sure the glassware etc. was gluten free, only, whenever I drink I have been using my own things :(

It also doesn't make me believe it is related in that way because every time I drink it, the problem gets increasingly worse, even if it is over a long period of time. It has been probably 4 months since I drank wine, but if I were to have even a sip, the pain would be unbearable.

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Hi ilikepie,

I'm new to this board, but I'll chip in here since I've had exactly the same problem with alcohol for many years.

It all started with terrible night sweats whenever I had alcohol, then turned into those dreadful headaches, an undescribable pain making me unable to even watch tv or talk on the phone, then five years ago becoming 'poisoning', making me throw up for 72 hours (even boiled water). For a while I could manage if I just drank very little, and like you just stuck to certain kinds of alcohol. But eventually it became all kinds of alcohol. Then it expanded to sugar in general, and later also to wheat- and now also other grain products.

Through trial and error (lots of other symptoms and a long history of health problems), eventually an alternative Dr, I worked out it was candida/leaky gut creating the problem. Btw, I totally agree with AliB's analysis that it is the gut bacteria which mess us up - creating individual and yet oddly similar health stories.

Using a variety of anti-fungals as well as the candida diet, I could keep it at bay (never to regain the ability to drink alcohol though), yet, as soon as I strayed from the diet, the problems would begin again, until I was knocked out with a 'poisoning' once more and had to start all over. At its worst, I was sick, ie totally debilitated half the time.

Only about three months ago, did an American health practitioner point me to celiac disease, and though blood tests were negative, the diet has to me been absolutely conclusive. No doubt that I don't tolerate gluten. Yet, even gluten free, problems kept arising, and I've now put myself on an anti-Candida / SCD diet; that is the SCD modified to cut out all sugar and dairy and putting the emphasis of the intake on raw vegetables, while at the same time sticking to natural antifungals such as oregano oil and olive leaf extract. It has only been two weeks, but the results are so far remarkable. For the first time in five years, I dare believe I can become totally healthy again !

All this story, just to say that my (long and painful) experience has been, that only a total approach to the problem will help with those terrible headaches, that I believe are caused by 'poisoning' from the toxins created by pathogens partying on the alcohol/carbs (also non-gluten) that we feed them. Hope this can be of use to you.

Also just want to thank everyone on this forum; Having just found it recently, I've already learned so many useful things. Nice also to get confirmation that though my personal learning/experiences have often gone against what a plethora of doctors have said (I'm from Scandinavia where candida/leaky gut/celiac are still foreign concepts to most), I'm not alone in searching down this road ...

Ms Jan

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Yes! That is how it happened to me! First alcohol, then sugar became a problem, causing horrible migraines mostly. I have been battling candida for a LONG time and a while ago figured out that's what the problem was. I started doing the SCD as well. I feel MUCH better, but alcohol is still a problem. I guess my body just won't tolerate it.

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I have been battling with Candida for 30 years (well that's when I became aware of it - it could be even longer!) and although I used to drink alcohol pretty heartily when in my late teens, by the time I got to my mid-20's I could cope with it no longer.

I too am convinced that it is the Candida and possibly other pathogens that have been behind that and a host of other health issues - it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't totally or partially responsible for my Diabetes too!

I am sure it will all come out eventually but until such time the Medical Profession accepts it as a common legitimate problem (why on earth do they assume that it is only hospital-acquired by people with very compromised immune systems?!! Anyone who even has a cold must have a compromised immune system otherwise their immune system would have been able to fight it off! The Candida itself will keep the immune system continuously challenged too!) we just have to keep battling away with whatever help we can muster.

As the gut bacteria takes some time to change I suspect that it is just a case of completely physically and mentally adjusting the type of food we eat. My degeneration took hold in just the same way and I kept trying to ignore it until my digestion finally threw its 'hands' up in the air and said 'enough'!

As it had all but completely collapsed (Ms Jan, I know what you mean by even water being a problem!) I had no choice but to radically change my diet - I could eat hardly anything! But gradually, after having removed the carbs and other 'challenging' foods, my digestion is slowly improving and I can now cope with far more than I could a year ago. a good proportion of my health problems have also either gone or have much improved - whether the same will happen with the diabetes or whether the damage is permanent, only time will tell.........

I will never go back to eating the 'normal' diet that created the problems in the first place. I don't know whether I will ever be able to tolerate alcohol again, but to be quite honest I'm not that bothered - I don't actually like it very much!

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I have been battling with Candida for 30 years (well that's when I became aware of it - it could be even longer!) and although I used to drink alcohol pretty heartily when in my late teens, by the time I got to my mid-20's I could cope with it no longer.

I too am convinced that it is the Candida and possibly other pathogens that have been behind that and a host of other health issues - it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't totally or partially responsible for my Diabetes too!

I am sure it will all come out eventually but until such time the Medical Profession accepts it as a common legitimate problem (why on earth do they assume that it is only hospital-acquired by people with very compromised immune systems?!! Anyone who even has a cold must have a compromised immune system otherwise their immune system would have been able to fight it off! The Candida itself will keep the immune system continuously challenged too!) we just have to keep battling away with whatever help we can muster.

As the gut bacteria takes some time to change I suspect that it is just a case of completely physically and mentally adjusting the type of food we eat. My degeneration took hold in just the same way and I kept trying to ignore it until my digestion finally threw its 'hands' up in the air and said 'enough'!

As it had all but completely collapsed (Ms Jan, I know what you mean by even water being a problem!) I had no choice but to radically change my diet - I could eat hardly anything! But gradually, after having removed the carbs and other 'challenging' foods, my digestion is slowly improving and I can now cope with far more than I could a year ago. a good proportion of my health problems have also either gone or have much improved - whether the same will happen with the diabetes or whether the damage is permanent, only time will tell.........

I will never go back to eating the 'normal' diet that created the problems in the first place. I don't know whether I will ever be able to tolerate alcohol again, but to be quite honest I'm not that bothered - I don't actually like it very much!

Okay, I am going to chime in here. When you are out drinking do you have enough water when you are out. I have a rule that I need to eat before I go out, and for every alcoholic drink I have I have 1 to 2 glasses of water in between. ( i usually always order a glass of water with every drink I order, this keeps me/us from getting too dehydrated). i also try to go with some food in my belly. there have been days when I wake up and I feel I can conquer the world and by the afternoon I feel as if someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat, and I have been a migraine sufferer since I was 16, we all know the difference between good booze and bad booze (meaning cheap stuff vs good stuff) and our bodies tolerate things differently. just because we have celiac, doesn't mean we will have the same symptoms, most of them will be the same for most part, but for the individual stuff, we all react differently. what affects me, might not affect you. my suggestion is, keep it light when you go out, drink some water or soda in between and limit your self to one or two, or two to three and see how you do the next day. good luck

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I do make sure to be hydrating and eating when I drink. There have been times when I haven't and I paid for it. The problem I am having though doesn't seem to only happen if I drink large amounts of alcohol. I drank some water out of a cup that previously had wine in it. I rinsed it out but apparently it wasn't enough, because I got a throbbing migraine, the same one I get from drinking. It wasn't as intense or long lasting as if I had actually drank, but it was definitely the same kind of pain. Or I can taste an alcohol to see if it will effect me, and I will get a migraine. It used to be almost 24 hours later that the migraine would come on, but now it happens a lot immediately.

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