September 22, 2013
Man Brews Beer In His Belly
Brewing your own beer can be a lot of fun. There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes with showing up to a party, naked brown bottles in hand, and telling fellow merry-makers, “Why yes, I did brew this beer.”
One man in East Texas, however, has not enjoyed his home brewing experience. Not only was he brewing beer in his garage, (I assume) he was also brewing beer in his gut.
Deep behind the Pine Curtain lives a man who found himself becoming dizzy in the middle of the day without any explanation. He stumbled into the hospital one day to get to the bottom of his wobbly walk and, after being subjected to a breathalyzer, discovered his BAC (or blood alcohol level) was 0.37 percent. That’s FIVE times the legal limit in the Lone Star State. As you may imagine, few people believed the inebriated 61-year old man when he swore he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.
Even his wife didn’t believe him. Men are notoriously stubborn when it comes to going to the hospital, so before he ever checked himself in, his wife also bought him a breathalyzer and accused him of drinking on the sly.
“He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime,” said Barbara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas.
Despite several heath officials writing the man off as an alcoholic with a penchant for telling tales, one doctor decided to take a look at the case more closely. Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, did some research and discovered a very rare and little known condition called “auto-brewery syndrome.”
As it turns out, the brewers yeast he had been consuming from his home brew setup didn’t wash out of his gut as it normally does and made itself a nice little home in his intestines.
As tiny, amorous little creatures, yeast love only one thing: getting down and making babies. They really only take time out from reproducing to eat, because, hey, you can’t have a 24-hour orgy without some sort of sustenance.
Whenever the East Texas man ate carbs or sugar (or even drank soda) the yeast gave thanks to their brewing overlord, ate the food and, as is the natural way of things, farted alcohol, causing the man to get drunk without lifting a bottle to his lips.
It’s like all the reward without any of the enjoyment.
The doctors were able to recreate this system when they locked him in a hospital room, fed him a ton of carbohydrates, and watched his BAC peak to 0.12 percent.
Now, normally, brewers yeast gets flushed out of your system pretty quickly. Remember that old phrase “You don’t buy beer, you only rent it?”
Yet there are a few reported cases where this yeast doesn’t process out of the body and, like the Texas man, lives in the stomach. Even though this specific case has been observed and reported, there are still some who are quite skeptical about this condition.
“The problem with a case report,” said Dr. Joseph Heitman, a microbiologist at Duke University, “is that it’s just one person. It’s not a controlled clinical study.”
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