A Man's Body Brewed Beer in His Gut

The condition is called auto brewery syndrome and it turns starch into ethanol inside the human body.
Loukia Papadopoulos

New Scientist reported the strange case of a 46-year-old man in the U.S. whose body started brewing beer in his gut after it accidentally became home to high levels of brewer’s yeast. He began suffering many of the symptoms of being drunk such as mental fogginess and memory loss and had to quit his job.


Auto brewery syndrome

He saw several doctors, none of which could find what was wrong. This is not the first such case. In fact, the condition has a name: auto brewery syndrome.

Back in 2013, a Texas man suffered from the same condition. The 61-year-old man stumbled in a hospital and was found to have a blood alcohol level of .37.

However, he insisted he hadn’t had a single drop of alcohol all day. In a report published in Scientific Research Publishing, U.S. researchers Barbara Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy tested out what they call “gut fermentation syndrome.”

Soon enough they found that the patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a common yeast. When he consumed starch the yeast fermented along with the sugars, turning into ethanol. He was essentially brewing beer in his gut.

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The syndrome is rare however it is crucial that it be recognized because being drunk comes with many negative effects such as losing one's job, said Cordell and McCarthy. They added that there have only been about five cases of the condition in the last 30 years.

A rare syndrome

“This is a rare syndrome but should be recognized because of the social implications such as loss of job, relationship difficulties, stigma, and even possible arrest and incarceration. It would behoove health care providers to listen more carefully to the intoxicated patient who denies ingesting alcohol," said the researchers.

Another such case, occurred in September of 2019 in China. This time medical professionals found an abundance of the microbe Klebsiella pneumoniae in the patient's gut.

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