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Tue, 04/19/2011 - 15:41 by Ananth in response to bargle

We went out for our pal Rachelle's birthday on Saturday - karaoke and everything, it was a lot of fun! Yuko rarely drinks because of how she responded to alcohol once in college - she skipped all the fun parts and went straight to bargling. After it happened again over the weekend (despite having plenty of water and a full stomach) I decided to do some research.

Asian alcohol intolerance is real (to varying degrees for different people) and is caused by a gene mutation. It affects only part of the Asian population. The liver produces two enzymes to break down alcohol - the first enzyme converts the alcohol to acetaldehyde, and second enzyme converts acetaldehyde to acetic acid (which can eventually be broken down into carbon dioxide and water). People with the gene mutation have decreased activity of the second enzyme, which means that they experience a buildup of acetaldehyde - toxic in large quantities. The flushing that comes with drinking is a sign that the body is trying to expel the buildup of toxin through sweating (vomiting in extreme cases). Further reading below (it was tough to find good sources but I think these worked out):

I'm curious to hear from any of you who know more or have had similar experiences, especially any of you whose experience has been more to the extreme. 

CMYcat t-shirts are almost sold out! There are a couple of Mens' Large and XL tees left. But not to worry! We put in an order for more yesterday, and while we're at it we're bringing back the Hokusai tees! I'll post about it ahead of restocking - it'll be some time in the next few weeks. 

That's all from us! We'll be playing a bit of catch-up over the next couple of days, but I'll drop in and respond to comments when I can. Til Thursday!


This is why i love being

Comment by Scrawl (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 03:41

This is why i love being Irish

My girlfriend is Chinese and

Comment by LooseCripsSinkShips (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 06:37

My girlfriend is Chinese and although she doesn't flush, I've seen her get falling-over drunk on a large Gin and Tonic - however, she has *never* had a hangover. No matter how drunk she is, she wakes up with a head as clear as a bell and mocks me as I crawl to the toilet.
I haven't read through all the comments, so I don't know if this is a thing among other Chinese people.

I turn bright red after a

Comment by KaT J Adams (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 11:58

I turn bright red after a shot, but I'll usually be able to go through a /lot/ of liquer (I don't like beer, so it's mixed and straight for me-ah, martinis...). Having been raised irish and southern done me in I tells ya.

Good genes and practice

Comment by Ian (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 12:28

I'm 100% Chinese and my Mom's the same way. Allergic to alcohol is what she used to say. As such when my Dad's genes proved to be dominant (particularly the ones allowing ability to drink like a maritimer) she didn't have any experience with how to deal with her college aged son hanging out with his friends at a pub (ostensibly training his liver with his Irish friends). Fortunately my Dad went to an engineering school and had enough experience to tell my mom not to worry. I could do far worse.

I stopped drinking for a reason.

Comment by Katt (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 17:52

My intolerance is fairly extreme as well. It didn't get bad until the later part of college; I guess the more I drank, the more the tolerance went down.

And trust me, it gets WAY worse when the elevation goes up. Sea level, I can handle maybe one glass of wine a night without wanting to run to the bathroom (though, there is the unpleasant flushing). Here, a quarter of a glass makes me run to the bathroom and empty the contents of my stomach.

Yuko, I feel your pain ;;

I have actually taken advantage of people's knowledge of this.

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 20:45

I passionately dislike like the taste of alcohol, but people (especially drunk people) tend to take "But I don't like alcohol" as a challenge, so I find it easier to just say "I'm allergic/alcohol intolerant" because that is not seen as a challenge to overcome ("there must be some drink you like! C'mon, just try this one...") and also avoids the problem of the fact that I actually have very low alcohol tolerance (being a quite small woman might have something to do with that). My grandfather is rather difficult to persuade that really, I don't need a drink of any kind (especially at passover seders and the like) especially since he KNOWS there's no real reason I can't, and he can't imagine that anyone would NOT want a drink. (straight vodka, for preference. he's russian. A Jew, so not standard russian stock, but he's russian.)

Ironically, the one time I've had a drink actually pressed on me without asking first was in Japan. I was 16 at the time, and stunned. I passed it off onto my dad.

I'm irish/italian and used

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 04/22/2011 - 22:53

I'm irish/italian and used to drink a lot without any side affects but when I hit 22 I started having the same problem with alcohol. I can still drink hefeweizens without any problems, but thats it.


Comment by Katie (not verified) Sun, 04/24/2011 - 07:13

I am actually a little Chinese (1/4) and I have talked to my parents about the "Asian Glow" and my dad's a doctor and he said that its because Asians lack a certain number of liver enzymes (like 2 out of 3 or something) so they take longer to process alcohol.

I am the exact same way, one drink and I glow.

Not really helping..

Comment by Gahouji (not verified) Sun, 04/24/2011 - 16:57

I wish I could help, but I'm under-aged and have no wish to drink alcohol. Like, ever. I blame it on my school district. They constantly drilled those anti-drug-and-alcohol programs at a young age, and drivers ed didn't help either. xD Plus I'm pretty sure I'd "bargle" pretty quickly, since my stomach isn't made of iron...more like watercolor paper...or something. :B

Tolerances are weird things

Comment by Chevette Girl (not verified) Sun, 04/24/2011 - 21:29

My mom got tipsy on half a dealcolized wine cooler and now doesn't drink alcohol because she thinks she's intolerant, which might be correct as she's got gluten and lactose and a bunch of other intolerances...

My alcohol tolerance is strange. Two beers knocks me down drunk for longer than I care to admit (I won't have a beer with dinner at a restaurant if I have to drive home afterwards), three glasses of wine and I'm definitely not driving but I'm still coherent, five shots of something harder and I'm still sitting there, waiting for them to kick in... seems the faster I put it into my system, the faster my body recognizes and deals with it, and it doesn't recognize beer as a threat at all so it runs rampant through my system. However, the older I get, the less alcohol I need to become sick from it. Which works well with the fact that if I get drunk I won't stop drinking, just like my dad, so I pretty much stick to a 3-drink maximum anyway. Oh, and mixing drinks? Any combination of two seems OK but never all three in one evening or do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to bargle.

ooooh yes

Comment by deva (not verified) Tue, 04/26/2011 - 01:26

My mom has had to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning after drinking most of a mixed drink. Yes, that is correct, not even a full, single drink. Luckily my dad is German so I can have 3 and be ok ^_^

Actually, having the same

Comment by bong (not verified) Tue, 04/26/2011 - 14:27

Actually, having the same condition that is hilarity incarnate for my friends, I found out something to get around the intolerance. Tske pepcid qc max or some other type of extra strength avid reducer/controller. It lets me drink 3 drinks till I'm drunk without getting the effects of the Asian curse. It interferes wih the h2 receptors in your stomach. Granted, It's not exactly healthy but if you can deal with it, that's what I would suggest

I'm only a quarter Japanese,

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Thu, 04/28/2011 - 23:50

I'm only a quarter Japanese, but after just a few sips of alcohol, I go completely red.

The first time I tried 'really' drinking, someone had the bright idea to start us off on vodka, and since I had no idea of my alcohol tolerance (or non-), I just started downing shots. An hour or so later, I ended up vomiting nine times.


My dad drink whiskey!

Comment by T.Chicken (not verified) Fri, 04/29/2011 - 00:36

He's a chinese (well 12.5% burmese to be exact) and he drinks whiskey (about 2 cups) and never gets drunk (well abit.)

Speaking of bargling...

Comment by Jerm (not verified) Thu, 05/05/2011 - 12:21

I was in NY for a friend's birthday this past Easter weekend. The birthday girl (petite Chinese girl, barely 5' tall) got drunk fast. Over the span of 4 hours, she had 1 shot of tequila, 1 shot of malt liquor and a watered down long island iced tea.

She was feeling the effects of the tequila and malt liquor after about an hour. She was red, couldn't really walk in a straight line but was still coherent. The constant swaying of the subway cars made her vomit though. Uhh... projectile vomiting actually. =\

I'm Chinese myself but my tolerance is ridiculously high. I remember getting tipsy once but never actually drunk.

Somewhat strange Asian exception...

Comment by Mouse (not verified) Thu, 05/26/2011 - 12:04

First off *praises JW*. Love your guys' stuff. Really do.
As soon as I get my credit card, I'm raiding your store.

But yeah, my dad and I are Filipino, but we're a little of the Asian exception. We can more or less handle our liquor - him more than me - but we don't get hung over. No headaches, no bargle. But neither of us can sleep very well after having a lot to drink.

My mum, on the other hand, gets drunk off half a beer or a sip of a stronger drink. No joshing - she seriously does.

Pretty interesting to hear there's actually a scientific explaination for this - I'll have to pass this on to my 6'8" Euromix friend. He's a damn tank who always makes fun of my inability to out drink him. At least I can out tequila him.

A drop of the pure

Comment by Fox (not verified) Sun, 12/18/2011 - 13:49

My mother is wildly sensative to achohol.
Her symptoms, depending on the dose. Range from not being able to breath to unconscious.
My Dad use to mix a little rum with his coffe when he was on holidays. My Mom stole a sip from him only once.
My sister is also a little supseptable. But for the most part we just keep her away from the drink. Were pretty sure shell turn into Father Jack if she got into the sauce. XD


Comment by Trx-Trainer (not verified) Fri, 04/26/2013 - 02:14

Companies Previously used to Laugh about TRX Training - Today We laugh at all of them