Drunk without alcohol: You brew "beer" in your own body

Drunk without alcohol: You brew

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Rare disease produces alcohol in the body

English-language media are currently reporting on a bizarre case: A 46-year-old man from North Carolina was checked for unusual behavior while driving. Drunk driving was suspected, but the man said he had not drunk. When he refused to do an alcohol test, the police delivered him to the hospital for a forced test. The blood alcohol level corresponded to the consumption of ten alcoholic drinks - but the man had actually not drunk anything. His body produced the alcohol itself.

A team of doctors from the Richmond University Medical Center in New York recently published a case report describing a rare disease. It's about the so-called Eigenbrauer syndrome, a rare fungal disease in which carbohydrates in the body convert to alcohol. The case report was recently published in the specialist journal "BMJ Open Gastroenterology".

Constantly drunk without alcohol

The 46-year-old North Carolina construction worker was examined more closely in the hospital. His blood alcohol level was 200 mg / dL, which corresponds approximately to the consumption of ten alcoholic beverages. He kept reassuring himself that he had not drunk alcohol, but had noticed atypical behavior changes in himself for about three years. He constantly suffered from foggy vision, depression, memory loss and aggressive behavior.

Problems started after taking antibiotics

As the patient said, the strange symptoms started shortly after an antibiotic treatment that he had done in 2011 due to a thumb injury. In a man's stool sample, the doctors found the mushroom Saccharomyces cerevisiae - also known as brewer's yeast. In the production of alcoholic beverages, the mushroom is used to ferment carbohydrates into alcohol. The discovery finally cleared up the case.

Eigenbrauer Syndrome (Auto-Brewery Syndrome)

The patient suffered from the rare Eigenbrauer syndrome, also known as intestinal fermentation syndrome. Mushroom yeasts, which produced alcohol from food carbohydrates, had settled in the man's intestine. The doctors come to the conclusion that taking antibiotics for a longer period of time destroyed the intestinal flora of the man and the yeast could spread.

Patient could be cured

The American was not allowed to consume carbohydrates for the first six weeks after the finding. Various probiotics were used to inhibit the fungi in the intestine and to rebuild the natural intestinal flora. The patient was also treated with antifungals. After six weeks he was able to consume carbohydrates again without symptoms. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Fahad Malik, Prasanna Wickremesinghe, Jessie Saverimuttu: Case report and literature review of auto-brewery syndrome: probably an underdiagnosed medical condition, BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2019,

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