People With "Auto-Brewery Syndrome" Appear Drunk Because They Make Beer in Their Gut

October 25, 2019

A bizarre and rare condition called "auto-brewery syndrome" causes bacteria or fungi to ferment and produce ethanol in the stomach--which leads to people feeling and appearing drunk, even though they haven't had a drop of alcohol. “A person is intoxicated from this fermenting yeast, and it’s a horrible illness,” Barbara Cordell, a researcher of auto-brewery syndrome and the author of My Gut Makes Alcohol,' toldThe Washington Post. An article exploring this phenomenon highlighted the case of a 46-year-old man, who started having symptoms such as depression and memory loss after a course of antibiotics in 2011. “Everybody thought that he was a liar, he was a closet drinker,” said Fahad Malik, a doctor and the lead researcher on a Richmond University Medical Center study in which the man was featured. After the man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.2, a relative recommended he see doctors, who fed him a carb-loaded meal that caused his blood alcohol level to rocket to 0.57. The man eventually found treatment that allowed him to eat normally.