Spontaneous human drunkenness and the faecal transplant that cures it

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A 47-year-old man from Belgium discovered he had the syndrome after feeling drunk throughout the day, despite not having had any booze. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
A 47-year-old man from Belgium discovered he had the syndrome after feeling drunk throughout the day, despite not having had any booze. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Now here’s a something quite a few South Africans would not have complained about in 2020 – a bizarre, rare condition which causes drunkenness, without drinking any alcohol!

Auto-brewery syndrome causes intoxication when yeast in the gut produces excessive amounts of ethanol after eating carb-rich foods.

A 47-year-old man from Belgium discovered he had the syndrome after feeling drunk throughout the day, despite not having had any booze.

After two months of boozy - but booze-free days - doctors diagnosed him with auto-brewery syndrome, and prescribed a low-carb diet and a course of anti-fungal medication, reported the Daily Mail.

The man’s wife, however, said she could still smell alcohol on his breath, and he complained of still feeling drunk. The last straw for him was being pulled over by the cops for “drunk driving” and having his license revoked.

His doctors’ next steps were even more bizarre than his condition – they said he’d need a faecal transplant to help rebalance the bacteria in his gut.

Whoa.

In a case study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine last month, specialists revealed that the man’s 22-year-old daughter was the poop donor.

Doctors transferred faecal microbiota, the bacteria found in faeces, from his daughter, and implanted it into the man’s gut through his small intestine.

The last straw for him was being pulled over by th
The last straw for him was being pulled over by the cops for “drunk driving”. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

It’s believed that the man became susceptible to the condition after he had completed a course of antibiotics and had a gastric bypass surgery years earlier, which caused an imbalance in his gut microbes.

Now, 34 months after his surgery, he no longer suffers from any symptoms and has been declared “the first successful treatment of a patient with chronic gut fermentation syndrome by using fecal microbiota transplantation,” reported Insider.

And he even got his driver’s license back!

What is a faecal microbiota transplant (FMT)?

It is the administration of a solution of fecal matter from a donor into the intestinal tract of a recipient to replenish bacterial balance and cure some infections.

How is it performed?

Usually performed by a colonoscopy. The doctor will insert a small flexible tube through the rectum into the colon. Some doctors prefer injecting the liquid solution through an enema into the colon or inserting tubes into the nostril, down the patient’s throat and into their stomach.

Is it safe?

The procedure is reasonably safe and effective. Common side effects include a mild fever, abdominal discomfort and flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting – but these symptoms usually pass after a few weeks.

Sources: Daily Mail, Unilad, Insider, Science Alert, Medical News Today, Dove Press   

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24