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Are Asians Allergic to Alcohol?

Are Asians Allergic to Alcohol?

⏱️ TL:DR ∙ Article in 20s

Over 36% of Asians experience an 'Asian flush' reaction when drinking alcohol due to having low levels of an enzyme called ALDH2. This causes a buildup of acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct, leading to facial flushing, nausea, increased heart rate, and other uncomfortable symptoms. While not technically an allergy, it feels similar due to the body's difficulty processing alcohol. There's no cure but there are over the counter supplements that can minimize discomfort from the flush. The reaction results from genetics, not an inherent alcohol allergy, but the end result is often the same severe flushing symptoms. Read on to find out more and see our favourite supplement to prevent Asian Flush.

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If you are of Asian descent and tend to flush whenever you drink, you may be wondering, are Asians allergic to alcohol? Or, is there at least some form of Asian alcohol intolerance? And, why are Asians allergic to alcohol in the first place?

If you're already familiar with the term alcohol flush reaction, or have experienced this condition yourself, then you’re probably acquainted with the other terms that are used to describe this condition which has similar reactions to an alcohol allergy or alcohol intolerance, like Asian flush syndrome or Asian glow.

These other names are not pure coincidence; individuals of Asian descent are more prone to this reaction than non-Asians, and we’ll explain why most Asians and alcohol don’t mix well together as you read further. Asian flush, being a condition when one’s face and upper-body turns rapidly red, can occur even after only 2 sips of alcohol.

This can be a big problem if all you want to do is enjoy a glass of wine over dinner, or have a martini while at an after-work party with your colleagues. Luckily for you, Get Sunset has developed an effective solution for preventing flush: Asian glow pills! But before we get into that, let’s first address the question at hand: are Asians allergic to alcohol? And then, we'll discuss what causes your uncomfortable reaction to drinking alcohol, and what symptoms it produces.

Are Asians Allergic to Alcohol?

So, what gives...are Asians allergic to alcohol?

The answer is no - Asians are not inherently allergic to alcohol. Now, with that said, Asian people do suffer from Asian flush - also known as alcohol flush reaction - at a greater frequency than other ethnic groups. We see Asians report alcohol allergy and alcohol flush reaction in greater numbers than Caucasians, for example. Make no mistake, though - alcohol flush reaction in Caucasians exists too! It's just a bit less common.

Thus, because it is predominantly Asian people who suffer from alcohol allergy, the condition has come to be referred to as Asian flush, or Asian alcohol intolerance. But what causes alcohol allergy in Asian people - or anyone, for that matter? Let's take a look.

Asian Glow before and after alcohol intolerance

Causes And Symptoms Of Asian Alcohol Intolerance

At this point, you now know that the short answer to the question, "are Asians allergic to alcohol", is not exactly. But, Asians do tend to be more sensitive, or even intolerant, to alcohol.

In short, the alcohol flush reaction is largely your genetics’ fault. Due to one or more gene deficiencies, one or more enzymes do not work properly when breaking down the alcohol (ethanol). In order to explain this better, let’s see how normally the body gets rid of alcohol.

How Our Bodies Break Down Alcohol (Usually)

We are all aware that alcohol is not good for the body, especially if taken in regular intervals and in large amounts.

This is exactly the reason why once it enters our system, the body cannot wait to eliminate it and flush its toxins out. The two main enzymes responsible for this are alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

When alcohol is ingested, they are up and ready to protect us from its harmful byproducts.

Therefore, the ADH enzyme first breaks down the alcohol (ethanol) and converts it in the toxin acetaldehyde, whereas the ALDH enzyme’s job is to convert this toxin into the less harmful compound known as acetate. This way, other chemicals in the body can easily turn the acetate into water and CO2, after which it leaves the system.

When it comes to Asian flush sufferers, due to a genetic anomaly which theoretically dates back as far as 10,000 years ago, in some cases both while in some one of these enzymes doesn’t work properly.

The first one, the ADH enzyme, breaks down the alcohol more rapidly than normally, which causes rapid accumulation of acetaldehyde in the blood and the liver.

On the other hand, the second ALDH enzyme, instead of quickly converting this toxin into a less harmful compound, it does the complete opposite. This leads to acetaldehyde being stuck in the liver which causes dilated blood vessels which increases the blood pressure.

Improper acetaldehyde breakdown can cause an Asian Alcohol Intolerance

As a result, the face and skin start to glow red, and along this other symptoms appear as well, like:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling
  • Increased heart rate
  • General discomfort

The accumulation of acetaldehyde can lead to many health problems, like hypertension, liver diseases, even esophageal cancer, which makes this reaction more serious that what it appears to be. If you want to learn more, read our complete guide to sudden alcohol intolerance.

Asian Alcohol Intolerance

Why Are Asians Allergic To Alcohol in Greater Numbers Than Other Groups?

It’s true that Asian flush can happen to anyone, no matter where they come from. But generally speaking, it is mostly Asians allergic to alcohol. Why is that? Why are Asians allergic to alcohol in greater numbers than other groups?

This is a condition that mostly affects East Asians in particular. According to this study, more than 36% of East Asians, primarily Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese people, suffer from this peculiar condition. So why Asians?

Well, according to this study, it’s theorized that alcohol flush reaction developed in Southern China, as far as 10,000 years ago. This was during the rice cultivation era, when people discovered how to ferment it and produce alcoholic beverages from this newly-discovered fermentation process.

Since alcohol was a fairly new thing that Asian people were not used to, it was consequently a new compound for the body. One that they didn't know how to breakdown properly.

Therefore, a gene anomaly developed where the functionality of the above-mentioned enzymes was impaired, so that people couldn’t ingest large amounts of alcohol without showing the previously-said symptoms.

So, one way to look at it is that this gene developed in a way to discourage people from drinking too much, preventing the rise of alcoholism during that time.

All in all, this reaction used to be very beneficial since people at that time were not quite aware of the negative consequences of alcohol, like we are now, so it prevented them from drinking too much.

Asian glow caused by beers at sunset

Is There A Solution For Asian Alcohol Intolerance?

Now that you know alcohol allergy or Asian flush is simply caused by the inability to remove acetaldehyde from the body naturally, you're probably wondering...is there anything I can do about it?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Asians allergic to alcohol, or even an intolerance. We only have the ability to prevent its symptoms. Your best bet is to abstain from alcohol consumption altogether. However, if you want to be able to maintain your normal social life and keep drinking alcohol in moderation, there are a few things you can do to minimize the effects of Asian flush. First, let's talk about what you should not do:

Why Antihistamines are actually not the right approach for Asians allergic to alcohol

One prevention would be the use of antihistamines, but this is only a temporary solution. The reason why it’s not really recommended to use antihistamines, especially regularly, is because of the fact that they only mask the symptoms instead of taking care of the enzymes’ deficiency.

So, your face will be less red and flushing, that’s true, but the dangerous toxin acetaldehyde will still stay in your system and accumulate with each sip you take.

Also, taking Zantac or Pepcid AC before drinking will quickly increase your blood alcohol level, meaning that you’ll get drunk faster than usual. You can read our blog to learn all about the dangers of using drugs like Zantac or Pepcid for Asian glow from alcohol.

The Best Treatment For Asians Allergic To Alcohol - Sunset Pills

However, there are ways you can learn how to get rid of Asian glow that don't just mask the symptoms, but also takes care of the main problem, which are the enzymes.

We’re talking about Sunset pills, the best Asian flush prevention product that is on the market today.

Not only this product has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, but also many vitamins and ingredients that make sure it does the job well.

The reason why these pills are extremely potent and efficient is the way in which Sunset pills work.

The NAC amino acid directly assist the deficient ALDH enzyme to more effectively break down the toxin acetaldehyde, so as opposed to antihistamines, this product makes sure that this harmful compound is not stuck in your system for a long time.

Other ingredients and vitamins help out this amino acid so that it can do its job properly, while reducing inflammation and controlling acetaldehyde accumulation.

Are Asians Allergic to Alcohol? Wrapping Things Up

Well, there you have it - while Asians are not inherently allergic to alcohol, they do show adverse effects from alcohol consumption at a greater frequency than other ethnic groups. And, you also know why Asians are allergic to alcohol at a greater clip. This is caused by genetics - specifically, an Aldh2 deficiency.

While there is no "cure", there are some treatment methods you can employ to hide the Asian flush while still being able to drink alcohol with your friends and family here and there. Get your Sunset Pills today and say goodbye to facial flushing every time you have an alcoholic beverage!

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We use a pharmacist-formulated blend of Quercetin, Bromelain, Dihydromyricetin, Cysteine, L-Theanine, & B Vitamins to stop alcohol flushing before it can begin.

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