Q: I suffer from chronic sinusitis and other inflammatory diseases. If wine has anti-inflammatory properties, does that mean it could alleviate my symptoms?—Craig, Salem, Ore.
A: Sinusitis is a condition where the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. It is usually triggered by the common cold or allergies. Although wine can be a good source of anti-inflammatory properties, experts caution against a one-size-fits-all approach—in other words, it's complicated.
Wine is acidic, and its pH usually lies between 3 and 4. According to Dr. Sujana Chandrasekhar, partner at ENT & Allergy Associates and clinical professor of otolaryngology at the Zucker and Icahn schools of medicine, acidic beverages such as wine can aggravate sinusitis inflammation by releasing an inflammatory enzyme called pepsin from the cells that line our nose and sinuses.
"People who have polyps (abnormal tissue growth on a mucous membrane) in their noses and who are sensitive to aspirin have an over 80 percent likelihood of worse nose and sinus inflammation after having wine, while people who have chronic sinusitis without polyps have about a 30 percent chance," Dr. Chandrasekhar told Wine Spectator. She emphasizes that it usually takes more than two glasses of wine to induce inflammation, which is only temporary, so moderation is very important.
Although wine may worsen symptoms associated with sinusitis, other inflammatory diseases stand to benefit from wine's many polyphenols, including resveratrol. "Moderate wine intake reduces the types of inflammation associated with the clumping of platelets, which is one of the important causes of heart disease," Dr. Chandrasekhar said.
Please consult your local ear, nose and throat (ENT) expert or physician before incorporating wine into a healthy diet.