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!