19 September 2013

Gut Fermentation Syndrome

As reported in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine, via NPR:
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...

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 patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut.
I'm not sure the term "infection" is proper here; probably better to say his intestines were colonized, presumably as a result of his avocational exposure to the yeast. Still, it's rather interesting.


  1. How weird!! Never heard of that before.

  2. gives a new meaning to having a beer gut :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...