What is ALDH2 deficiency and what does it mean?


Our body is a complex connection of various elements that work together and make our body workable against any given job. But many times problems occur in this system due to our own ignorance or due to natural system. No matter what the underlying cause is, the best option is to attain great knowledge about the problem and then decide on the best available recovery options. One such problem is ALDH2 deficiency.

Sometimes known as Asian Flush or Asian Glow, Alcohol Flush Reaction is typically a mixture of symptoms that emerges when people with ALDH2 Deficiency drink alcohol. The most commonly visible symptom is red flushing of the face and skin. Other symptoms include headache, overheating, nausea, dizziness, rapid heart-beat, and exaggerated hangover symptoms. This is commonly called known as Flush due ALDH2 Deficiency, and therefore Alcohol Flush Reaction, is predominantly found in people of East Asian descent. Before we move to recovery options, it is necessary to understand the problem a much deeper.

When we drink alcohol, the ethanol present in alcoholic beverages is first converted into acetaldehyde by a different enzyme known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH). The acetaldehyde is then rapidly transformed into mild acetic acid by Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which is then employed for energy used by the body. Now individuals with ALDH2 deficiency don’t fully convert acetaldehyde into acetic acid which leads to the accumulation of acetaldehyde.

Alcohol Flush Reaction is nothing but a mark of damage happening to the body. When a person counters Alcohol Flush Reaction, high levels of acetaldehyde accumulate in the blood, leading to inflammation, oxidative injury, and the other symptoms mentioned above. This accumulation can be as high as 10x that of an individual with general ALDH2.

ALDH2 refers to Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2, a crucial enzyme associated with alcohol metabolism and is accountable for the breakdown of a toxic compound known as acetaldehyde. This enzyme is encoded by the ALDH2 Gene. ALDH2 Deficiency is primarily caused by a change in the ALDH2 Gene. ALDH2 Deficiency is genetically inborn and is present in 35-40% of people of East Asian descent. Here inheritance means that the problem is genetic and is transferred from parents to their children. Each individual carries 2 copies of every gene, one from his/her mother, and one from his/her father. It only takes one of those ALDH2 Genes to be changed for a person to experience ALDH2 Deficiency. Those with 2 changed ALDH2 Genes have an even lesser power to breakdown acetaldehyde.