Auto-brewery syndrome

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Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is a rare medical condition in which intoxicating quantities of alcohol are produced through endogenous fermentation within the digestive system.[1] [2] Numerous cases have been documented in the medical literature.[3] One gastrointestinal organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has been identified as a pathogen for this condition.

Claims of endogenous fermentation of this type have been used as a defense against drunk driving charges.[4][5]

One case went undetected for 20 years.[6]

It has also been investigated, but eliminated, as a possible cause of sudden infant death syndrome.[7]

The antifungal drug fluconazole can be effective treatment for the condition since the drug is capable of killing Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the gastrointestinal tract.[2]


  1. ^ Michaeleen Doucleff (September 17, 2013). "Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut". NPR. 
  2. ^ a b Cordell, Barbara; McCarthy, Justin (2013). "A Case Study of Gut Fermentation Syndrome (Auto-Brewery) with Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the Causative Organism". International Journal of Clinical Medicine. pp. 309–312. doi:10.4236/ijcm.2013.47054. 
  3. ^ Kaji, H.; Asanuma, Y.; Yahara, O.; Shibue, H.; Hisamura, M.; Saito, N.; Kawakami, Y.; Murao, M. (1984). "Intragastrointestinal Alcohol Fermentation Syndrome: Report of Two Cases and Review of the Literature". Journal of the Forensic Science Society 24 (5): 461–471. doi:10.1016/S0015-7368(84)72325-5. PMID 6520589.  edit
  4. ^ Logan BK, Jones AW (July 2000). "Endogenous ethanol 'auto-brewery syndrome' as a drunk-driving defence challenge". Medicine, Science, and the law. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  5. ^ Cecil Adams (October 20, 2006). "Designated drunk: Can you get intoxicated without actually drinking alcohol?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  6. ^ Gazette, Evening (Oct 7, 2013). "Auto-brewery syndrome: Teetotal Teesville man can't stay sober as everything he eats turns to alcohol". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  7. ^ P. Geertinger MD, J. Bodenhoff, K. Helweg-Larsen, A. Lund (1982-09-01). "Endogenous alcohol production by intestinal fermentation in sudden infant death". Zeitschrift für Rechtsmedizin. Springer-Verlag. Retrieved 2013-02-27.