Man Who Got Drunk on Carbs That His Stomach Turned Into Alcohol Treated With Fecal Transplant

A man with a rare condition that meant he felt drunk after eating carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta and bread has been successfully treated with a fecal transplant, according to doctors.

The unnamed 47-year-old man in Belgium complained of intermittently feeling drunk in the two months prior to visiting hospital, despite not consuming alcohol, according to the case study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. His condition began after he started taking antibiotics.

The man underwent a number of tests that ruled out other possible conditions, leading clinicians to wonder whether he had what is known as auto-brewery or gut fermentation syndrome. This is where the fungi or bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal system produce alcohol after a person consumes carbohydrates. Treatment can include a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates to stop sugar in the gut being turned into the substance.

But even after doctors prescribed the man a low-carbohydrate diet and anti-fungal drugs, he still felt drunk after eating certain foods. His wife said he smelled of alcohol, the man told his doctors, and he lost his driving license after a random police check.

So the team performed a fecal transplant. This is where the stool of a healthy person is transferred into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient whose gut bacteria needs rebalancing. His 22-year-old daughter agreed to be a donor.

After the procedure, the man's symptoms of drunkenness vanished, and were still gone when the team followed up with him 34 months later.

Co-author Dr. Danny De Looze, a professor at Ghent University, told Newsweek via email the man felt drunk after eating carbs such as bread, pasta, or potatoes.

"This is the first publication (to our knowledge) of successful fecal transplantation in [regards to] auto brewery syndrome."

Looze said it is generally thought that auto brewery syndrome is caused by fungal overgrowth, but bacteria can also produce ethanol. As the man appeared to have been treated by the fecal transplant, Looze said this may mean that it eliminated an ethanol-producing microbial species, potentially a bacteria, from his gut.

Looze said: "Fecal transplants should be given a try in the future in patients with ABS [auto brewery syndrome]. Setting up a trial would be the ideal scenario, but given the rarity of the syndrome, this kind of trial in humans will not be possible."

spaghetti, pasta, eating, stock, getty
A stock image shows a man eating spaghetti. Doctors have described the case of a man who got drunk after eating carbs. Getty