Making yourself drunk – without booze???

I was surprised to read of a man who made himself drunk through an internal disorder.  NPR reports:

This medical case may give a whole new meaning to the phrase “beer gut.”

A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.

There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.

. . .

Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to “closet drinking.” But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.

So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.

That’s right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.

There’s more at the link, including details of how the problem occurred.

I can understand that if the man was exposed to large quantities of brewer’s yeast (which he would have been through his home-brewing activities) he could, indeed, have developed an internal reaction to it.  Outlandish though the incident may sound, it’s entirely feasible.

Hmm . . . If I could figure out how to ‘graft’ this yeast infection into inmates’ stomachs in prison, I could render them capable of internally producing their own ‘pruno‘ or ‘hooch’ to become permanently drunk!  I sense a business opportunity here . . .



  1. I had heard of that in a fellow in Japan who became drunk after eating rice, so pretty much permanently. Same syndrome. I would set up the experiment by giving the "lab rats" brewers yeast in gelatin capsules to delay the spread until it got into the intestines.

    Volunteers shouldn't be hard to find. Side effects include Cirrhosis and early death.

    The heierarchy of jobs from astronaut to lab rat is here:

  2. I've heard of this before, years ago. The guy was well-known as not a drinker, but over the course of several months got progressively more incapacitated after meals. Any refined carbs, like sugar, or starches did it. He had a colony of something that produced alcohol.

    Almost got fired for being drunk on the job before the doctors figured it out.

    It was at a time when everyone started drug testing and poppy seed bagels were causing false opioid readings.

  3. Story about this sort of thing in Reader's Digest many years ago. Soldier stationed in Japan picked up a gut infection that would do this. Took many years before they figured out he was not a closet drinker. Some remote part of Japan. Came home with the problem, and it took 20? years to figure it out. Don't think it was brewer's yeast.

  4. I take it that you did not get to read my previous begging comment that you say something to Mrs. Hoyt in defense of me Peter, because this is only the second of five I've just posted here which has actually shown up. Mrs. Hoyt seems to have some idea that I'm spoofing her because my IP number changes from time to time, but as I tried to explain to her, I'm poor and thus on dial-up. I sent her an email trying to explain things a coupla days ago and haven't heard back yet. Meanwhile, my comments on her blog, which used to show up immediately, seem to disappear into the ether.

    Can you help me, here?

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