Preventing Asian Flush the Right Way
The idea of preventing Asian flush sounds great, doesn’t it? The ability to drink alcohol confidently, without having to worry about the social embarrassment of a bright red face.
The reality is, there are easy and effective ways to stop alcohol flush reaction and there are dangerous and irresponsible ways of achieving more or less the same result.
In particular, there are more and more Australians turning to antihistamine medications such as Pepcid and Zantac to stop their Asian flush symptoms. This has been warned against by medical professionals and should be discouraged. Please read more about these dangers in our article titled: Zantac for Asian Flush? Don’t be an Idiot (Coming Soon).
The purpose of this article is to outline some safer ways for Australians to prevent their Asian flush symptoms. Without further ado, here are the 7 easiest ways for Australians to stop Asian flush:
- N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Green Tea
- The “Pre Drink”
- Green Tinted Make-Up
- Timed Drinking
- Smart Drink Selection
- Asian Flush Products
1. N-Acetyl Cysteine
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is growing in popularity as an effective remedy for Asian flush because of claims of some Canadian scientists that it can bind acetaldehyde – the underlying cause of Asian flush.
All known pathways of ethanol metabolism result in the production of acetaldehyde, a highly reactive compound. N-acetyl cysteine, an analogue of the dietary amino acid cysteine, binds acetaldehyde, thus preventing its damaging effect on physiological proteins.Source: Aldehyde induced hypertension in rats: prevention by N-acetyl cysteine
Once enough of this toxin enters the bloodstream, the body reacts by releasing histamines that cause all kinds of symptoms including a red face, puffiness around the eyes, difficulty breathing, etc.
If NAC can bind acetaldehyde, not only could it help reduce the symptoms of Asian flush, it could also help protect against some of the longer-term dangers of acetaldehyde exposure.
The results in the above Canadian study are partially supported by a 40-year-old study coming out of the Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania, USA.
Researchers in this study were able to administer lethal doses of acetaldehyde to rats and achieve a 100% survival rate. They achieved this by giving the rats a combination of l-cysteine and thiamine prior to administering the lethal dose.
NAC is a derivative of l-cysteine and, as studies have indicated, may also share the same ability to bind acetaldehyde and protect against Asian flush.
Many Australians with Asian flush source NAC on its own from health food shops or purchase ready-made Asian flush supplements that combine NAC with other beneficial compounds such as thiamine and l-theanine.
2. Green Tea
A compound in green tea called l-theanine is used by many Australians to increase alcohol tolerance. It does this by increasing alcohol dehydrogenase activity – i.e. the breakdown of alcohol in the liver.
Apart from apparently increasing one’s tolerance to alcohol, l-theanine has also been studied extensively by Japanese scientists for its ability to break down acetaldehyde – the toxin that causes Asian flush.
On the 1st hour after ethanol administration, the ethanol concentrations in blood of the theanine combined groups decreased compared with the ethanol-alone group. The alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities in the liver increased by combined theanine.
In this study, the l-theanine helped the liver break down alcohol and also acetaldehyde. However, it should be noted that this study was conducted on rats and not humans.
If l-theanine performs the same function in humans, it may be helpful in aiding the body to break down acetaldehyde and reduce the symptoms of Asian flush.
L-theanine can be ingested via the consumption of green tea or through supplements. Many Australians may also choose Asian flush supplements that combine l-theanine with other complementary compounds such as NAC and thiamine.
3. The “Pre-Drink”
The “pre-drink” refers to an Asian flush prevention method that has been passed around by word of mouth for generations.
It basically involves flushing red from a pre-drink of alcohol at home before going out drinking. The idea is that if the face flushes red and then recovers fully, the next time alcohol is consumed the flushing will be reduced.
What this method lacks in scientifically-backed evidence, it makes up for in serious street-cred and positive anecdotal endorsements. Anyone who has researched how to cure Asian flush will have tried the pre-drink – and most likely with surprising success.
The way to execute the perfect pre-drink is to perform a little once-off experiment to find out two important pieces of data:
- How much alcohol does it take to go red?
- How long does it take for the redness to go away?
This data will be different from person to person. Once recorded, it should provide a good guide for how much alcohol to consume for a pre-drink and how long before going out to drink the pre-drink.
According to many seasoned flushing veterans, a well-executed pre-drink can prevent Asian flush from becoming overwhelming and ruining the night.
Many Asian flush supplements also come with instructions that encourage the use of this pre-drink strategy.
4. Green Tinted Make-Up
Many people who wear make-up have reported that adding a slight green tint to one’s foundation can work to cancel out the redness from Asian flush. The basis of this method something referred to in cosmetics as colour correction.
According to colour correction theory, the green colour is to be used to correct broken capillaries and general redness.
Check out this video about make up techniques that stop Asian flush featuring Susan Yara, beauty guru from Mixed Makeup:
It should be noted that using topical applications such as make-ups does not address the underlying cause of Asian flush. Whilst they might be effective in reducing the appearance of symptoms, people might also choose to combine them with other methods that tackle the problems happening below the surface of the skin – i.e. acetaldehyde build-up.
5. Timed Drinking
Most people who visit a general practitioner about their Asian flush are told to abstain from drinking or to significantly reduce their alcohol intake.
The is often unsatisfying advice for those looking for a pill to fix their symptoms, but it should not be completely disregarded.
Alcohol flushing usually occurs after a certain amount of alcohol is consumed. This will vary from person to person, but it is usually within the range of 0.5 to 2 standard drinks.
The severity of a person’s flushing will depend on how quickly the alcohol is consumed. This is because the flushing is directly related to the rate at which the body is forced to break down the alcohol.
If alcohol is consumed slowly, it is possible to continue drinking without triggering a flushing reaction. The key is in recognising the subtle signs that precede a full-blown flushing reaction and timing further consumption accordingly.
These signs can include:
- Warming of the skin on the face
- A slight tingling or numbness on the face
- A slight feeling of restricted breathing
These are the symptoms that usually come before the red facial flushing. Stopping all alcohol consumption at the first sign of these symptoms can often prevent the red flushing reaction from happening.
Once these symptoms subside after 10 or so minutes, drinking can commence again slowly until they happen again. The key is to be in tune with the body and to stop alcohol intake at the first sign of symptoms.
Timing the rate of drinking like this has been known to be effective in stopping Asian flush from becoming noticeable and allows the drinker to appear like they have not stopped drinking throughout the night.
6. Smart Drink Selection
Some types of alcohol will cause a more severe flushing reaction than others. This is why being smart with drink selection can help prevent Asian flush from getting out of control.
Many people have differing degrees of intolerance to the various ingredients used in alcoholic beverages. Sometimes this intolerance can cause a histamine release that can make an existing Asian flush reaction even worse.
Each person will differ in terms of what ingredients can trigger this histamine release. This is why becoming familiar with one’s personal food intolerances can significantly aid reducing Asian flush reactions.
Some of the more common ingredients in alcohol that can make flushing worse include:
In order to save time going through the ingredients list of every single alcoholic beverage on the market, as a general rule, the following drinks are likely to make Asian flush worse:
- Beer, red wine and whiskey
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcohol mixed with sugary mixers
This list more or less rules out a lot of the more common drinks consumed on a normal night out. On the other hand, the following drinks are likely to help reduce Asian flush:
- White wine
- Straight rum
- Straight vodka
- Straight gin
- Mixers with real fruit juice with no added sugar
Most people underestimate the effect that drink selection can have on the severity of their flush reaction. Simply following these guidelines can mean the difference between slightly pink cheeks and a full-blown Asian flush breakout.
7. Asian Flush Products
With nearly 50% of Asian people having alcohol flush reaction, its no wonder that business savvy companies are moving quickly to offer a solution to the problem.
Pills, liquid shots, patches, powders, drinks and non-flushing alcohols are now all readily available to the consumer and all claiming to be able to stop Asian flush – of course, for a hefty price.
Before going out and spending money on an Asian flush remedy that may or may not work, it can help to be aware of some key points that should be addressed by any product claiming to stop Asian flush.
- Does the product address acetaldehyde build-up?
- Will it be readily absorbed by the body?
- Does it employ a strategy to deal with histamine release?
These are just some of the questions that we answer in our article titled: The Best Asian Flush Products in 2020 (Coming Soon).