Let’s get right to it. Are Asians allergic to alcohol? Technically no, but it certainly looks like it!
Many Asians, specifically those of East Asian descent, have an ineffective liver enzyme. This means that they cannot break down alcohol properly, which leads to really unpleasant symptoms. This reaction can happen with tiny amounts of alcohol, even just one sip in some cases. Some also find that certain alcoholic beverages give them a worse reaction, such as red wine or beer.
So while it can look like they are allergic to alcohol, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. To make it more confusing, this condition doesn’t happen to just Asians: Caucasians can have this deficient liver enzyme, too.
What is Asian Flush?
Most commonly, this negative reaction to alcohol is called Asian Flush. It has this name because a large portion of Asians experience it (although not exclusively). In addition, the most common symptom is red facial flushing, hence the word “flush” in the title.
When someone with Asian Flush drinks alcohol, their body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. This is toxic, harmful and can even cause an increased risk of certain cancers and damage DNA. You don’t want to be exposed to acetaldehyde for extended periods of time.
When someone with Asian Flush continues to drink, the alcohol breaks down into acetaldehyde which begins to build-up in their system. This chemical causes all sorts of nasty symptoms, such as:
- Red facial flushing (the famous “bright red face from alcohol”)
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing or wheezing
Many times, alcohol flush response is an unrecognized risk that many believe it’s something to be ignored. It tends to come with a higher risk factor for esophageal cancer, too. Of course, we can imagine this would increase with increased exposure over long periods of time.
Those with Asian Flush can also have fairly severe hangovers as well. All in all, it’s not a pleasant experience.
What happens if I don’t have Asian Flush?
If you don’t have Asian Flush, your body breaks down acetaldehyde further into a harmless chemical. Eventually alcohol and its byproducts are completely eliminated from the body. Those without Asian Flush can still get hangovers, however. But non-Asian-Flushers will not experience immediate symptoms when drinking alcohol like those with the condition will.
Other names for Asian Flush include
- Alcohol flushing response
- Alcohol flush reaction
- Asian Glow
- Alcohol intolerance
- Alcohol flush syndrome
Are Asians allergic to alcohol? No, but that doesn’t mean this reaction isn’t serious
No matter what you call it, the condition is embarrassing, uncomfortable and painful. Because the symptoms seem similar to those of an allergic reaction, maybe people believe they are simply allergic to alcohol.
However, a true allergy to alcohol is very rare. In those instances, symptoms are typically much more severe, too. So instead of some redness on your face, you could get hives all over your body. Or where alcohol might make you a bit wheezy, an alcohol allergy could make it very difficult to breathe.
If I’m not allergic to alcohol, how can I stop this reaction?
As you can imagine, the best way to stop a negative reaction to alcohol is to stop drinking. It’s the only way that you will completely eliminate your reaction. However, not everyone wants to completely cut alcohol out of their diet forever.
However, there are a few DIY Asian Flush Cures you can try at home. These will not “cure” this condition, but might help reduce your symptoms.
Asian Flush Cure is committed to trying, testing and reviewing as many Asian Flush products as we can. These products (drinks, patches and supplements) are supposed to reduce Asian Flush symptoms. But do they do so effectively, or are they a waste of money? We aim to share all of our results with you, so you don’t waste your time and money on things that don’t work.
Check out our recent reviews here: