A man in Texas has a stomach that ferments and produces its own beer.
The 61-year-old man recently stumbled into a Texas hospital complaining of dizziness. Doctors performed a standard blood alcohol test and found that his levels had reached 0.37 percent, five time the legal driving limit in Texas.
After being admitted into the hospital, the man swore up and down that he had not consumed any alcohol that day.
Barabara Cordell — the Dean of Nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas — explains the man’s odd situation:
“He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime. His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer.”
Cordell and gastroenterologist Justin McCarthy wanted to figure out why the man was becoming randomly drunk. Unlike other doctors who attributed his problem to “closet drinking,” they decided to perform more tests.
Doctors isolated the man in a hospital room for 24 hours. At one point, his blood-alcohol test came back at 0.12 percent.
Realizing that the man wasn’t a closet drunk, Cordell and her colleague eventually realized that the man had an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.
In basic terms, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like its own internal brewery.
Cordell explains that the patient had been infected with Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
When the patient ate or drank anything with a lot of starch, the yeast would ferment the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. That meant eating a bagel, pasta, or even drinking a soda would get the man drunk.
Cordell and McCarthy reported the case of “auto-brewery syndrome” in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.
The case is unique in the sense that some people actually take Saccharomyces as a probiotic supplement.
Cases of auto-brewery syndrome have been seldom recorded since the 1970s when Japan’s doctors recorded the first case.