Gut fermentation syndrome will get you drunk

Well this is weird! I would doubt it, just like the medical staff and his family did. But, it’s legit.

Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut.

A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.

There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.

Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to “closet drinking.” But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.

So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.

The infection with yeast along with the consumption of starch caused fermentation of the sugars into ethanol which was then absorbed into the blood. This “auto-brewery syndrome” case was published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine. It’s not the first time this has been recognized in the medical literature. I found several citations in Pub Med. But they are all individual cases since it is so rare.

Antifungal medication will cure this.

*Someone did send me this story at another link but this was the complete article. Sorry, I have lost the message. But thanks for the heads up.

  5 comments for “Gut fermentation syndrome will get you drunk

  1. September 19, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I’m surprised this is not a more common problem. Brewer’s yeast has long been used by some people as a nutrition supplement, and some people take more than the recommended dose for supplements. I know there are other forms of yeast also used for that purpose, but this story involves brewer’s yeast, thus my surprise its not more common.

  2. Ceppie
    September 19, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    I just look back at all the money I have wasted at the bars when the “solution” was right there all along.

  3. September 19, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    This puts a new twist on the phrase “belly up to the bar”!

    Nutritional yeast and brewers yeast sold as supplements are deactivated and do not have this effect.

  4. Ceppie
    September 19, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Hello, not a comment I wish to post but I was unable to find any contact info….I have been trying to follow your coverage of the Marks trial but when I click on your link I get a 404 error page not found, not sure if you were aware of this (though I imagine you are) but still wanted to bring it to your attention. Thanks for the excellent site as well.

  5. neko
    September 19, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    I used to brew beer and wine at home, and I just remember how it took days. That was with an ideal solution of sugars and carbs, in an isolated, bacteria free and temperature controlled tank. If you had said yeast in your gut could make enough alcohol to get an adult man drunk before the food leaves the other end, under competition pressure from fecal bacteria, I’d have laughed assuming you were joking.

    So this particular strain of yeast is highly productive, high temperature, and possibly can make alcohol from manure! And they killed it!

    the fools… we should have studied it…

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