Why Does Gin Give Me A Headache?

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Whether you prefer a gin and tonic, a slow gin fizz, or Bombay Sapphire on the rocks, gin lovers everywhere may sometimes wonder why gin gives them a headache?

Gin is a liquor that boasts a 40 percent alcohol volume, which means it is 80 proof and strong. It is derived from grain distillation along with juniper berries for flavor. The name gin comes from the Dutch word for juniper, which is genever.

Why Does Gin Give Me a Headache?

Reason 1: Histamine-Induced Headaches 

All alcohol, including gin, contains a chemical called histamine. Your body also produces histamine through your immune system, which means you have an increased amount when you drink gin and that can cause inflammation throughout your body. This all comes from the ethanol that is the main ingredient in the gin that you are drinking. Once it gets into your system, it can create a chemical that triggers headaches.

Histamine can be caused by allergies, including allergies to certain alcohols, and anti-histamine medication can be taken to counteract the effects and get rid of your headache. Histamine is also found in alcohol, including gin, and will certainly give you the type of headache you do not want to deal with for long.

Histamine can give you a headache because of its neurogenic inflammation properties. Histamine interacts with mast cells as well as calcitonin-gene related protein, which can lead to your gin-induced headache.

To prevent or to rid yourself of a histamine headache while drinking gin, you may want to:

  • Eat fresh meat or fish while drinking gin.
  • Take anti-histamine medication.
  • Take allergy medications which also contain antihistamines.
  • Drink plenty of water between your gin-filled drinks.
  • If drinking mixed drinks that require milk, opt for coconut or almond milk instead.

Gin and other alcohols sometimes give people a headache within 30 minutes to three hours of starting to drink. Some people only sip a glass or two of gin before their head starts to throb, while others have to consume a lot more before they get a headache. It all depends on the chemical makeup of your body, how much you have had to eat that day, and a number of other factors.

Reason 2: Deydration

Ethanol not only produces histamine, it also acts as a natural diuretic, which means it is very dehydrating to the body, which can also cause you to have a headache.

While your body’s natural metabolism can actually turn some of the components in gin and other alcohols into nutrients and energy in the body, alcohol can also act as a diuretic.

It is actually the liver in your body where alcohol is converted and starts to act as a diuretic as it is processed by the enzymes that are found in the liver. Alcohol is then converted into large amounts of acetaldehyde. This type of substance can actually become toxic in your body if you get too much of it. In order to break it down, the liver does most of the work, turning it into acetate. Alcohol also tends to decrease the amount of vasopressin that your body makes. This is not good and can cause a headache because vasopressin is an anti-diuretic hormone that will help your body hold onto water. When that hormone is suppressed, it can lead to your body becoming dehydrated.

To avoid all of this from occurring in your body, you need to drink at least a few sips of water between each alcoholic drink that you consume, including drinks that are made with gin.

Reason 3: Hangover Headache

Some people do not get a headache while they are drinking gin but have one the morning after. Many people refer to this as a hangover, but it is actually a delayed alcohol-induced headache. The hangover from gin and other alcohols is the least favorite part of a night of enjoying cocktails that everyone tries to avoid, but it happens frequently to most people.

If you continue to consume more alcohol while your body is already busy still processing the drinks you’ve already had, it will raise your blood alcohol content quickly. This is why you end up with a hangover headache. It will help ward off the hangover headache if you eat some vitamin-dense foods, including nuts, spinach, and eggs. You should drink plenty of electrolyte fortified water or even sports drinks that can help rehydrate your body more quickly than just plain water can. You can also take-over-counter medications such as ibuprofen that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body and can lessen your chance of a bad hangover headache. You should also get plenty of rest, so in other words, sleep off your hangover.

If you still want to enjoy mixed drinks that contain gin but want to avoid getting a headache, you can try drinking several glasses of water before you begin to drink the alcoholic beverages. You can also drink a glass of water periodically throughout the evening to help ward off the dreaded headache.

In each type of situation that can cause a headache while drinking gin, the common factor is to keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It can be your best friend while you enjoy a glass of gin.

To sum it up, you can still enjoy all types of gin in moderation and possibly ward off a headache through these methods. Gin has been a popular alcohol for centuries and will be around for centuries in the future.

2 thoughts on “Why Does Gin Give Me A Headache?

    • Avatar photo
      Tristan says:

      It could be due to an allergic reaction to the histamine and terpine compounds in gin! If you take an antihistamine medication before drinking, do you still get the headaches?

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