Weird Ailment Makes Guy Drunk—Without Drinking

Blame the yeast in his gut: NPR
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2013 3:54 PM CDT
Weird Ailment Makes Guy Drunk—Without Drinking

(Newser) – Is it possible to get drunk without drinking a drop of alcohol? Yes, it turns out, thanks to a rare and bizarre ailment newly dubbed "auto-brewery syndrome." As NPR explains, the case involved a Texas man who would get drunk at random times while swearing up and down that he hadn't been drinking. Doctors isolated him in a booze-free hospital room for 24 hours and, sure enough, his BAC level magically rose. Or not so magically: It seems he had a lot of brewer's yeast in his gut—he is, or was, a home brewer—and when he ate carb-rich foods, the yeast got busy fermenting.

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"That's right, folks," writes Michaeleen Doucleff, "the man's intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery." NPR dug up a handful of similar cases, usually involving antibiotics that eliminated gut bacteria and allowed yeast to gain a foothold. Grist, meanwhile, thinks there must be a market for this "hyper, hyper-locally brewed beer." Failing that, "try wiping out your gut flora and eating a lot of brewer’s yeast," suggests Sarah Laskow. Then load up on carbs, "stick a tap in your belly button and call it a day." (When it comes to beer and health, Budweiser apparently reigns supreme in an area it may not want to rule over.)

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