Yes, it's possible. It's called auto-brewery syndrome, and it happens when your stomach gets infected with Saccharomyces cerevisiae – the go-to yeast for brewers of beer.

Top image by Ferran Jordà via Flickr

Over at NPR, Michaeleen Doucleff tells the story of a 61-year-old man who recently arrived at a Texas emergency room with an unaccountably wicked case of the dizzies:

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.

"He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime," says Barabara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas. "His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer."

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.


Apparently, the yeast had managed to take up residence in the patient's intestines, carving out a sizable niche in the ecology of the vast microscopic menagerie comprising his microbiome.


Our understanding of the microbiome is limited, but it's growing by leaps and bounds. New research suggests that understanding our microorganismal makeup could help treat everything from obesity to IBS – and, apparently, auto-brewery syndrome.



More at NPR.