Today’s topic is Asian Flush, the experience many Asians (and a handful of non-Asians) get when drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages. Asian Flush is that very uncomfortable feeling of extreme heat and redness that is something other than a hot flash ☺
I can remember being at a party in my early 20s and having my Asian friend Ken lodge himself into the freezer to cool off. We all got a kick out of seeing him do this, and we talk about the experience even to this day.
But why did Ken need to get into the freezer? That is the big question.
The body requires a two-step process to handle alcohol. The body first converts the alcohol into acetaldehyde. An enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH-2) then converts the acetaldehyde into carbon dioxide, fats and water, which the body can easily process.
According to steadyhealth.com, nearly half of all Asians have non-functional copies of the ALDH2 gene. So they experience increased levels of acetaldehyde, which result in the allergic-like symptoms.
My Asian friend Leslie swears by Pepcid AC. Wikipedia supports her enthusiasm by saying that “Some sufferers feel that ingestion of low doses of heartburn medicine, containing ranitidine or famotidine (such as Zantac or Pepcid AC), may be able to relieve the body of the symptoms if taken 30–60 minutes before drinking.”
Steadyhealth.com adds this suggestion: “Taking fructose or glucose might help because it is proven that supplementation of diets with fructose or glucose increased the elimination of alcohol, but without affecting the alcohol dehydrogenase activity.”
The website that I found to have the most thorough information on treating Asian Flush was answers.google.com. One of their suggestions was to take high doses of niacin to increase the efficiency of the non-functional enzyme.
If you suffer from Asian Flush or have friends or family members who do, I would love for you to read this article and share your thoughts with us. I’d also love to hear what you’ve tried that has worked or hasn’t worked. Please share your experiences here. Thanks!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing Betty
I agree. I’ve had many Asian friends over the years who have had to deal with this.
I found your post and think that getting in the freezer is definitely less efficient than pepcid AC. I think it’s interesting about the glucose dose before drinking. I find that it’s better to take pepcid AC (or the generic) and also eat something before drinking wine. That consistently prevents symptoms. My sister-in-law, who is a pharmacist, says that Pepcid AC is an antihistamine that works in the gut, so it would make sense that it would be effective against Asian flush. Thanks for your thorough research!
Leslie, you were the person who first taught me the trick of using pepcid AC. I’ve told so many people about that over the years, and they’ve been so happy to hear about a solution. So thank you!!!