Sometimes when the human body goes wrong it can establish its own brewery within your organs. Far from being a cheap way to have fun, the condition causes unexpected and unpleasant waves of drunkenness as well as significant damage to your liver if left unchecked. A case study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine describes how a patient brewing alcohol in his gut was successfully treated with a transplant of an unusual origin to essentially reset the composition of his gut microbiome and shutdown the brewery from within.
Gut fermentation syndrome, as the condition is also known, is a rare syndrome where ethanol is produced inside the stomach. The fermentation process is fueled by a carbohydrate-rich diet. As your body continually churns out more and more ethanol, you fall ill with all the usual symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption, including wooziness, elevated blood alcohol, liver damage, and nausea. In one unusual case, the auto-brewery took place in a woman’s bladder and caused her to pass alcohol instead of urine.
In this recent instance, the patient was a 47-year-old man who presented with intermittent episodes of feeling tippled despite not having had a drink. His clinicians ruled out all the more conventional causes for such disorientation before considering the possibility of gut fermentation syndrome.
Sure enough, their diagnosis was correct and they attempted to treat the man with a low-carbohydrate diet and some medication. Despite these measures, the patient continued to present with the signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication despite not consuming any drinks.
In an attempt to effectively reboot the gut microbiome of the patient, they carried out what is essentially a poop transplant. Fecal microbiota transplantation, as it’s more professionally known, is a treatment used when a patient’s gut microbiome has been disrupted. This can be the result of inappropriate antibiotic use or recurrent infections such as Clostridium difficile.
After the poop transplant, the patient’s intoxication symptoms disappeared immediately. It was so effective that he was even able to return to a carbohydrate-rich diet and consume alcohol without recurrence before the final follow up at 34 months. The researchers state that fecal transplantation is a valid course of treatment to consider for patients suffering from hard-to-treat cases of gut fermentation syndrome. It might not sound like a terribly classy solution, but, as countless videos on the internet can attest to, it's not all that classy to be drunk all the time either.