Home brewers might envy the ability to naturally produce alcohol directly in the body –no equipment required. But as one British man recently revealed, a rare medical condition that does just that is not as much fun as it seems. Nick Hess suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome” – a rare disorder that results in him getting drunk after consuming carbohydrates, reports the BBC. “It was weird, I’d eat some carbs and all of a sudden I was goofy, vulgar,” he said.
Auto-brewery syndrome causes an overgrowth of yeast in the gut to turn carbohydrates from food into excess alcohol in the blood. Aside from an upset stomach, there are other serious consequences for those who suffer from this medical condition, and they are frequently mistaken for alcohol abusers by their friends and family. Hess’s wife even searched their house for liquor bottles that she suspected her husband was hiding. “Every day for a year I would wake up and vomit,” Hess admitted. “Sometimes it would come on over the course of a few days, sometimes it was just like, ‘Bam! I’m drunk’.”
Auto-brewery syndrome was first identified in Japan in the 1970s. Over the years, multiple people have tried to claim they suffer from the extremely rare condition to get out of drunk-driving charges.
Forensic toxicologist Wayne Jones, a former member of the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine, is skeptical about the reality of this condition. He explained that any alcohol that we produce in the gut through the breakdown of carbohydrates has to pass through the liver before it enters the bloodstream. There, enzymes process alcohol so that almost all of it is removed from the blood.
Nevertheless, anti-fungal drugs and a low-carb, low-sugar diet have dramatically improved Hess’s condition. “I still have one or two episodes a month,” he said. “But it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. I have my wife to thank for that. She carried on searching for an answer when I was ready to give up. I’m so grateful to her.” [BBC] [Photo: Flickr.com/mhaithaca]