Auto-Brewery Syndrome

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Auto-Brewery Syndrome Assignment

In late December 2014, Ray Lewis, a former truck driver for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, was seriously injured and lost his job when he crashed and overturned his truck and spilled its cargo of 11,000 salmon on the McKenzie River Highway outside of Eugene, Oregon. Lewis was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – having a. 29 blood alcohol level, which is three times above the legal limit (Medrano, 2017). In 2015, after medical tests, Lewis was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome. Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome or endogenous ethanol fermentation, occurs when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol (LaMotte, 2016).Auto-Brewery Syndrome Assignment

A person with this digestive disorder experiences alcohol (ethanol) intoxication without consuming any alcohol. Instead, a person becomes naturally intoxicated by the ingestion of carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, potatoes or rice. Alcohol is produced inside the body from sugars and other carbohydrates by a process called fermentation, which is the chemical breakdown of bacteria or yeast. The earliest case of auto-brewery syndrome was recognized in Japan in 1972. Since then, only a few cases of this disorder have been reported in the last three decades (Cordell & McCarthy, 2013). Through stool cultures, the causative organism of auto-brewery syndrome is a yeast called saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as Brewer’s yeast (Cordell & McCarthy, 2013). This form of yeast is commonly used as an ingredient in bread, as well as alcoholic products. People who suffer from auto-brewery syndrome will have an overgrowth of saccharomyces cerevisiae in their body (specifically in the small intestine) and begin to convert sugars from foods (mainly carbohydrates) into alcohol (MacMillan, 2016).Auto-Brewery Syndrome Assignment


Although auto-brewery syndrome is a rare medical condition, Kelly Painter and Richard Whitten from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (2018), state that this condition has been identified in both adults (males and females) and children — of any age. Contributing risk factors that accompany auto-brewery syndrome is the excessive consumption of carbohydrate-rich food, gastrointestinal surgery, and antibiotic medications. These factors are known to eliminate the bacteria in the stomach and allow for the production of Brewer’s yeast. Auto-brewery syndrome must be recognized because of the social implications such as physical harm or death (both the person suffering and others), possible arrest and incarceration, and loss of employment. Modifiable factors, such as diet alone, can help decrease the symptoms of this disorder.Auto-Brewery Syndrome Assignment