Brewing Beer in Your Digestive Tract

Brewing Beer in Your Digestive Tract


Imagine- your wife begins to think you’re a closet
alcoholic, so she purchases a breathalyzer to test your blood alcohol content (BAC) throughout
the day. Your doctors concur with her assessment, thinking
you’re sneaking off into dark corners to imbibe without the judging eyes of the world
to condemn you. The only problem, you really haven’t been
drinking. All of the begging and pleading in the world
won’t convince anyone. After all, you’re constantly drunk. That’s exactly what happened to a 61 year
old man from Texas. After going to a local emergency room to complain
of dizziness, he was told he was just drunk. His BAC was 0.37- nearly 5 times the legal
limit to drive. The mystery lay in the fact that he hadn’t
been drinking. So how do you get drunk without drinking or
otherwise putting any alcohol into your body? This is where gastroenterologist Dr. Justin
McCarthy, from Lubbock Texas, stepped in to try and figure out the curious case of the
drunk man who drank no alcohol. What they found was that this man had experienced
a set of circumstances that allowed alcohol to be fermented within his own stomach and
intestines. Yes, you can brew alcohol in your stomach. Endogenous Ethanol production, or Auto-brewery
Syndrome, was first described in medicine in 1972 in Japan. Very few cases are ever reported, presumably
because the syndrome requires an unusual set of circumstances to cause noticeable symptoms. In all of the known cases, some type of yeast
(in this man’s case Saccharomyces cerecisiae, or brewer’s yeast) ferments the sugars coming
from carbohydrates or any sugary foods into ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Should enough ethanol be produced, you get
drunk. Brewer’s yeast is found in many different
types of foods like breads, wine, and beer. It’s also sold as a nutritional supplement
due its high levels of selenium, protein, and B-complex vitamins. Unlike other types of baking yeasts, it’s
high in chromium, an essential mineral that helps with maintaining our blood sugar levels. So why is it that such a common food additive,
ingested by people the world over, only creates auto-brewery syndrome in such a small number
of people? The truth is that the phenomenon of different
types of yeast producing ethanol in our digestive tracts is very common. One study of people suspected of having auto-brewery
syndrome showed 61% of people had an increase in their blood alcohol level when given oral
glucose (sugar). Another study done in the United Arab Emirates
showed that while this alcohol production was common, the production was “too low
to have any forensic significance”. Basically, people don’t complain because
the amount of alcohol produced didn’t give them any symptoms. (Although, that same study noted that the
average blood alcohol level of the participants was approximately .034%- almost half the legal
limit to drive in most US states.) That being said, auto-brewery syndrome leading
to problems such as the above man from Texas had is rare enough that there haven’t been
many studies performed that can isolate who is most at risk of contracting the problem-
unless of course you think getting drunk on bread and candy isn’t a problem. 🙂 One documented case involved a girl who had
a short bowel. When contents from her shortened bowel began
to grow certain types of yeast (Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae), those yeasts
fermented any carbohydrates the girl consumed and she would become intoxicated. Japan has the highest number of cases reported. Why do Japanese people have this problem more
than others? It comes down to enzymes. About 50% of Japanese people have a mutated
gene that leaves the liver unable to properly filter alcohol. The result leads to them being unable to quickly
get rid of the alcohol in their system, which in turn means they also remain drunk longer. So, essentially, smaller amounts of alcohol
produced over time build up to make them drunk where others’ bodies might simply be able
to filter out the alcohol quick enough that no noticeable symptoms occur. WARNING: Ultra Nerdy Science Details Right
Ahead: Specifically, many Japanese people lack an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase
(ALDH). This enzyme would normally convert a byproduct
of ethanol being processed by the liver (acetaldehyde) in to a harmless acetate. Due to the fact they have no ALDH, when they
consume alcohol, or their bodies produce natural ethanol (remember approximately 61% of suspected
cases have been shown to produce it at low levels), it leaves them with a build up of
acetaldehyde in their system. That excess causes numerous unwanted symptoms
and can also produce more ethanol, thereby giving them a higher BAC than would normally
be. /Ultra-Nerdery As you can see, the circumstances around all
known cases are somewhat different and no known definitive test exists that can confirm
diagnosis. Instead, doctors need to figure out each unique
situation based on the person’s medical history. In all cases, the underlying mechanism of
the syndrome is an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract that ferments carbohydrates
into ethanol. The curious case of this 61 year old is no
exception. His story began in 2004 when he broke his
foot. After a surgery to repair it, he was given
antibiotics to control the infection. Directly after that, he became excessively
drunk after only 2 beers, and would even sometimes get drunk after not having drunk at all. What was unusual about this case was that
the gentlemen in question would not become drunk for sometimes up to 24 hours after ingestion
of carbohydrates. After several frustrating years, he presented
himself before Dr. McCarthy in 2010 and his problem was revealed. The antibiotics killed off some of the bacteria
in his digestive tract. The resulting loss allowed a growth of brewer’s
yeast to take hold in his gut. Drunken sandwiches were on the menu from there
on out! His treatment is the same as most people who
have this disorder. He was given anti-fungal medication (Diflucan)
to kill the yeast, followed by a course of Acidophilus (a type of gut bacteria) to recolonize
his digestive tract with appropriate amounts of gas producing microbes! In the end, it is possible to brew beer in
your stomach. If you want to start avoiding all those liquor
taxes, take a high dose of antibiotics to kill all your gut bacteria, eat a bunch of
brewer’s yeast and take your date to the Olive Garden. Eat all the salad and bread-sticks you want
because you’re not paying for the drinks! Who said there aren’t legal ways to avoid
paying taxes… Of course… don’t actually
do that.

100 thoughts on “Brewing Beer in Your Digestive Tract”

  1. Yes. As a non drinker, I find this happens to me. I don't like the effect of alcohol on my body and a very low carb diet helps control it. Constipation aggravates the condition. I think it's only one place in the intestine that's a "dead zone". Antibiotics generally have an "enteric coating" on them to get them past the stomach acids and into the duodenum before dissolving. The section where the antibiotics were released may never recover…
    And back in the 60s and 70s I was given a lot of antibiotics.

  2. Autobrewery Syndrome was terrible for me. I was brewing my own wine years ago and didn't properly strain out the yeast. For months I smelled like old stale beer because of the fermentation in my gut and the constant off-gassing(burps) that resulted. Didn't really notice any alcohol effects though.

  3. gut bacteria balance is an area of lots of research at the moment, and although it is preliminary there is some basic research that has linked it to everything from obesity, through cancer to depression. Maybe a today I found out in there?
    In the meantime the NHS has a great resource to sift the headlines for nuggets of reality. https://www.nhs.uk/news/

  4. While I've never heard of this condition, as I've gotten older taking care of the gut really does become an issue. Just in case anyone is interested, finely ground flax seed mixes well with gravy for roasts, hamburger-based dishes, and can be added to nuts as dessert toppings. Your gut will thank you! The occational yougurt won't hurt either.

  5. Question. It would appear that some Japanese people have a low tolerance to alcohol, is there some correlation with Canadian First Nations people who have similar responses ?

  6. Simon, you think this is wild, there is a medical condition where the body manufactures the chemicals present in Antifreeze poisoning. Yes, your body could have a gene that makes it look like you've been drinking car coolant.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11953504

  7. when i eat barley flakes instead of oatmeal or spelt flakes or with either of those and add some rye flakes i get this alcohol action and there are things you can do to create a nice spirit inside. i eat a lot of breads but thought of just buying yeast for this reason. this is prolly why im so sensitive to alcohol and only ever need like 4 REAL beers to get drunk. but it depends on my diet

  8. This case was explained in a Dr House episode. Very interesting what the body can do but quite difficult to explain to a policeman, I'm sure ; )

  9. In light of this new information, we have to start carding people before they can buy bread. No ID, no bread. Sorry starving children of the world, we can't have you turning into drunks and breadaholics lol.

  10. I love alcohol more than most people, but i still don't think I'd like to have my alcohol levels be out of my control. After a night of hard drinking, i need a day off, and if my stomach made beer anyway, i think I'd be pretty miserable lol

    Would also prefer to be sober for work n stuff lol

  11. We used to eat a bunch of wild crab apples without cleaning them as kids then go work getting up hay or bringing in cows the activity plus the sugar and wild yeast would frequently get us pretty tipsy.

  12. I love how this channel seems like complete clickbait but actually delivers on it, and even cites it's sources!
    Fantastic work on this!

  13. Today I Found Out: "Brew Beer in Digestive Track"
    Brew beer is small-time. Contact me, and I will sell you a "Today I Found Out" video premise including clinical citations for creating Schedule-I narcotics in the digestive track

  14. Well, this explains where the stereotype of the Chinese can not hold their liquor come from. It turns out its a mutation in the digestive tract.

  15. Pics of enzymes are twisty, windy, and just looks like a tangle mass. How do chemical bonds make up the enzyme (how would it look visually and do the charges keep the enzymes shape).

  16. When I was in college, my professor claimed that after the bombing of Hiroshima some of the survivors began to be found drunk in the hospital- they were making saki in their stomachs from the rice they were fed.

  17. Ha, great video. I was the brewmaster for a medieval re-enactment group for some years, doing mostly beers, fruit wines, and various meads. I don't care about social prestige, so it was kinda weird to be the most popular guy on the site. Still, it was a fun hobby and made for funny scenes and stories. Sometimes I'd wake up at dawn as usual and find several people just crashed out in the grass around my campsite. I ended up making it a musical proverb set to the old song "15 Miles on the Erie Canal." I reworded it with: "Don't drink mead with the mead-maker!"

  18. I learned about this watching an episode of The Law and Mr. Jones, staring James Whitmore. Back in 1960. Sometimes it pays to be old.

  19. Those Arab scientists conducting the study were like, "Well, if the Koran only says that we can't drink any alcohol…"

  20. Some people have all the luck.
    I mean I would save so much money on booze that I could afford to hire somebody to drive me. Damn.

  21. That guy is so lucky.How do I get this?? I have to buy beer. But I do love the taste of beer. I would miss that.

  22. so in essence (!) we're all alcoholics. And the ones who advocate an abstinent lifestyle are just making the stuff extremly close to home?

  23. I'm more surprised that any Doctor took him seriously enough to run tests than I am that this happens. I have a history of false negatives on strep tests, and had to fight to get the x-ray to look at my lungs. He was in the middle of saying he doesn't expect to find anything and will end up prescribing an antihistamine, when the results came in showing I had bacterial pneumonia. The dark spots on my lungs confirmed it. I was getting worse and it took weeks before I even got that test and could have died. A Doctor's general tendency to assume they know everything and all patients exaggerate or lie is a Neverending source of frustration.

  24. I'm just confused if you either actually found a photo of a scientist wearing a keffiyeh, or just shopped one in.

  25. Why is there so much hate when it comes to drinking today? in the 70`s people would drink on the job witch was fine as long as you got your work done in the same way as you would with out drinking. I find it interesting how things go from ok to not ok when they change nothing.

  26. I hit the like when I'm awake. I have 1700 vids on the playlist now. I could sleep for days and never hear the same one twice, lol.

  27. funny enough… his suggestion is something healthcare people do regularly… we give antibiotics which kill everything and then we give brewers yeast to prevent c.dff…. sssoooo i'm just making my patients drunk?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *