Alcohol is a known migraine trigger for many people. Some alcohols, like red wine, tend to trigger migraine headaches more often than others.

If you’ve been diagnosed with migraine, you might be wondering if gin is less likely to trigger a migraine than other alcohols.

Because everyone’s migraine triggers are unique to them, there’s no easy answer to this question. Gin might be a good alcohol choice for some people with migraine, but it could be a migraine trigger for others.

Alcohol is a commonly reported migraine trigger.

Several studies have investigated alcohol as a potential migraine trigger. One study found that more than 35 percent of participants with migraine reported alcohol as a trigger. And more than 77 percent cited red wine specifically as a migraine trigger.

But other studies have found the numbers to be far lower. While they have found that many people with migraine do report alcohol as a trigger, it seems to happen occasionally.

Researchers estimate that about one third of people with migraine are sometimes triggered by alcohol, but only about 10 percent are frequently triggered by alcohol.

When do symptoms arise?

For some people, symptoms of migraine headache appear within about 30 minutes of drinking, for others it can be hours later.

People with migraine are also more likely to report headaches as a hangover symptom than people without migraine. The reasons for this are unclear.

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No one knows exactly why alcohol can trigger migraine headaches. But some possible links between alcohol and migraine include:

  • Dehydration. Alcohol contains chemicals that can increase your need to urinate. This is called a diuretic effect and it can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is a known migraine trigger.
  • Congeners. Congeners are the result of alcohol fermentation. Some people think they can trigger migraine.
  • Blood vessel expansion. Alcohol can cause your blood vessels to expand. It’s possible this could result in migraine.
  • Histamine. Histamines are one of the chemicals commonly found in alcohol. There are theories that the histamines in alcohol can trigger migraine in some people who have histamine intolerance.

Some people think their migraine headaches are triggered by a combination of alcohol and other factors. For instance, the combination of alcohol and stress or alcohol and low blood sugar.

In these cases, people with migraine might be able to drink a glass or two of alcohol without any trouble most of the time, but they might occasionally find that just half a drink triggers a migraine.

For many people, the type of alcohol they drink plays a role in whether it triggers a migraine attack.

For instance, studies show that many people with migraine report ‌they cannot drink red wine. This is thought to be because red wine contains histamines, sulfites, and other ingredients that may trigger migraine.

A 2008 review compared red wine consumption to vodka consumption in people with migraine who are sensitive to wine. They found that vodka did not act as a migraine trigger in people who reported sensitivity to red wine.

Reactions to alcohol often depend on the person. Some people with migraine might find that gin is their biggest migraine trigger. Others might find that they tolerate it well.

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All gin needs to be at least 40 percent Alcohol by Volume (ABV) in order to be classified as gin. That makes gin stronger than a lot of other alcohol options.

Additionally, gin is made with botanicals and juniper berries. Although neither type of berry or botanical is a common migraine trigger, they could be triggers for some people.

If either or both of these things are migraine triggers for you, gin could trigger a migraine attack.

Knowing your migraine triggers is important because avoiding those triggers can reduce your total number of migraine attacks. Unfortunately, almost anything can be a migraine trigger, and migraine triggers are highly individualized.

However, there are some migraine triggers that affect a lot of people. These triggers are a good place to start when looking for what triggers your attacks.

Common triggers include:

  • Stress. It’s common for stress at work, school, or home to trigger migraine attacks.
  • Hormonal changes. Menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and other hormonal fluctuations can trigger migraine.
  • Changes to your sleep cycle. Having your sleep cycle disrupted for any reason may result in a migraine attack.
  • Changes to the weather. Many people with migraine report that cold fronts or changes in barometric air pressure trigger migraine.
  • Caffeine. Some people find that caffeine is a migraine trigger. Other people find that caffeine can help prevent migraine.
  • Dehydration. Dehydration is a common migraine trigger.
  • Smells. Strong smells can trigger migraine in many people.
  • Light. Light that’s too bright, especially direct sunlight or fluorescent lighting, can trigger migraine.

There are also several foods that are commonly reported as migraine triggers.

This includes:

  • chocolate
  • aged cheese
  • dairy
  • cured meats
  • foods with very strong smells
  • citrus fruit
  • diet sodas
  • other artificially sweetened foods and drinks
  • sourdough breads and other baked goods high in yeast
  • some nuts and seeds

One of the best ways to find your migraine triggers is to keep a diary or use a migraine tracking app.

In your diary, you can keep track of your potential triggers. You’ll record if you’ve had a migraine, and you’ll list your symptoms. This can help you find your triggers so you can discuss them with your doctor.

The best way to avoid migraine when you drink depends on your exact trigger. Drinking gin instead of wine could definitely help some people, like those sensitive to wine, but it may not make a difference for other people.

However, there are some general tips that may help you avoid migraine when you drink and help prevent a hangover headache. These include:

  • drink slowly and stick to small amounts
  • drink water as you drink alcohol to make sure you stay hydrated
  • drink on days when you’re not under stress
  • mix your alcohol with drinks that are low in sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • have some honey before you begin drinking
  • eat a large meal before you drink to slow down your body’s absorption of the alcohol

People with migraine often report that alcohol triggers migraine attacks. Red wine is the most commonly named culprit, but any type of alcohol, including gin, can lead to a migraine.

The exact link between alcohol and migraine isn’t fully understood. It’s likely that there are several links and that different people respond differently to different features of alcohol. It’s also possible that it’s combinations and other factors that trigger migraine.