back to article If you have enough of this type of gut microbe, you can get drunk for free after eating carbs

Do you ever feel drunk, even though you swear you haven't touched a drop of alcohol at all? Well, your gut might be harbouring a type of bacteria that brews booze as a byproduct. A team of Chinese scientists have written about the phenomenon after finding a patient with odd symptoms. Every time the individual consumed high …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    You are not a single individual. You are a complete biome.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Shh! No-one tell the transhumanists!

    2. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Faecal Transplants? OMFG...

      It'll be the spa treatment of choice next summer.

      1. RancidRodent

        Already there, faecal transplants are already used to treat people who have nearly died from vegan diets.

        Roughly 5% of Caucasians people on a vegan diet will experience an over-breeding of a particular type of gut bacteria - this then causes perforated or "leaky" intestines which will result in death if left untreated - the treatment is a faecal transplant from a healthy meat eater to reestablish a healthy balance. Early symptoms of the above are sores, poor skin, generally feeling unwell. Obviously if the bowel has gone from "leaky" to "perforated" then you're probably past saving.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          External symptoms look like every vegan

        2. Alan_Peery

          5% caucasians - vegan -> need for fecal transplant

          I've been seeing coverage of fecal transplant, but not this particular variant. Do you by chance have a reference so I can catch up?

          1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

            Re: 5% caucasians - vegan -> need for fecal transplant

            Keep your fecal donor cards ready in case of accident..

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Boffin

        OMFG...

        It'll be the spa treatment of choice next summer.

        Someone has already suffered severe side effects from this treatment (aka death). Auto-brewery syndrome is something that has been known and studied for over 60 years now. The most important non-clickbait bit in this story is that the strain of bacteria causing grief to this particular individual was also causing other health issues.

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: OMFG...

          I'm sure I read an El-Reg article not four or five years ago about an individual who generated his own gut-alcohol every time he ate.

          Or did I dream it?

          1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

            Re: OMFG...

            Not sure it was on El Reg, but this booze auto-generation story did ring a bell. Maybe something about people being flagged positive to a breath test even though they hadn't drank at all.

            ETA: it was on El Reg after all, 6 years ago day for day. Did someone say coincidence?

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/23/drunk_without_booze/

            1. Christoph Silver badge

              Re: OMFG...

              I wonder what hapens when someone gets arrested for drunk driving from this? Is there any way to prove the cause?

              And what is the legal position? If someone knows that this will happen then obviously they should refrain from driving, but are they legally obliged to?

              1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

                Re: OMFG...

                IANAL, but the general opinion is that it doesn't matter how the alcohol made it to your bloodstream, if you're over the limit then you're not safe to drive. You might escape a conviction the first time if you can somehow prove it, but thereafter you'd better refrain from driving, or test yourself before taking the wheel.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: OMFG...

                  It's also been the subject of a few cases in the TV shows House and Holby City

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: OMFG...

                "I wonder what hapens when someone gets arrested for drunk driving from this?"

                I'm not sure about this at the common alcohol limits but it affects arguments for zero-tolerance; ramp up the sensitivity of the testing and you could get a non-zero reading from a tea-totaller.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: OMFG...

          The most important non-clickbait bit in this story is that the strain of bacteria causing grief to this particular individual was also causing other health issues.

          I'd hazard a guess that the fatty liver and organ damage was caused by the alcohol, not directly by the bacteria (those are after all, classic symptoms of alcoholism).

          I'd say that the most important bit is that this was caused by a bacterium, not a yeast (which is why an anti-fungal treatment didn't fix it, and it required a course of antibiotics).

          I'm surprised, and somewhat intrigued, to see this sort of fermentation from bacteria, rather than a yeast. I wonder how different the biochemical pathways are to those used by yeasts for anaerobic respiration - have the genes been picked up wholesale and transferred naturally by a virus (nature's gene editing), has the bacterium somehow acquired them from a yeast cell, or has teh pathway eveolved independently? Does this produce CO2 as a by-product, as with yeast-based fermentation, or something else? Could the bacteria be used practically in fementers for industrial alcohol production in place of yeast (e.g. for fuel production)? How tolerant to high alcohol content is the bacterium? Could it be used to brew past the 14% ABV or so that wine yeasts will tolerate before dying? So many questions...

          1. EnviableOne Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: OMFG...

            true student of the Fermentaion process, If you haven't got several that you've made already, have a beer

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: OMFG...

            It's not unheard of. Kombucha (a peculiar fermented tea that's a current fad) relies on both fungal and bacterial action to achieve the desired result.

            As for other things, I don't know if we should trust this culture. Based on research I've picked up, it normally ferments lactose (milk sugar), and if it gets out of the gut, it can be pretty nasty so it probably does other things one wouldn't want in the mash. It seems the most direct way requires yeast; bacteria that produce alcohol generally do it as a side effect to something else.

            It's seeing better reviews in the agricultural sector where it's found to be pretty good at nitrogen-fixation.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: OMFG...

              The thing that sparked my interest here is that, fromt eh report, this strain seems to be particularly efficient at converting starch, not sugars, to alcohol. Yeast doesn't have ths ability which is why beer is made from malted barley, which contains amylase to convert starch to sugars - the malting process involves germinating the grain so that it produces this enzyme. The patient had not only measurable blood alcohol content as a result of the bacterial action, but a high BAC, and this was obviously going on long enough to cause fatty liver disease.

              It's also worth noting that yeasts that produce alcohol also do it as a byproduct to something else (anaerobic respiration). To any organism that produces ethanol, this is a waste product. In the presence of oxygen, yeasts will respire aerobically, and produce only CO2 and H2O as waste products of burning sugars.

            2. Vincent Ballard

              Re: OMFG...

              Doesn't kombucha's culture use yeast for sugar to alcohol, and bacteria for alcohol to vinegar?

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Faecal Transplants?"

        Just hope the waiter washes his hands thoroughly if you don't want one. And above all, hope he doesn't dry them on a towel someone else has used. (Long-ago bacteriology practical included dabbing the lab towel onto an agar plate.)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reverse it and get rich!

    Please, come up with some bacteria that does the reverse. I'd love to don a couple dozen beers and just get fat, instead of drunk.

    I like the taste of booze, but not getting drunk per se.

    Make pills out of it and name it "Buzz off" or "Fuss off" or something.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Reverse it and get rich!

      There's a simple solution : when you start feeling tipsy, stop drinking booze. Drink water and eat something filling, then wait an hour or two. After that, maybe you can have another glass.

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: I like the taste of booze, but not getting drunk per se

      Pint of Cobra? They do an alcohol free beer.

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Reverse it and get rich!

      You get fat from alcohol because there is no pathway to store alcohol as either fat or carbs. It HAS to be burned. This means you are not burning your own stored carbs or fats as they have been displaced by alcohol.

      Of course some alcohols have lots of other carbs in them. Beer is very calorific. Least calorific is white spirits. Just make sure the mixers are diet. The heavier the beer the more calories in it as a general rule.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do I get a diagnosis?

    I literally get rather sick from too many carbs, but not that kind of sick... like, hangover feeling. :O

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: How do I get a diagnosis?

      "I literally get rather sick from too many carbs, but not that kind of sick... like, hangover feeling. :O"

      Buy your own breathalyser?

      First link I found. Single-use from Halfords for £3.

  5. John Jennings

    A new definition of homebrew....

    Mine is the kid by the pool

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Joke

    Validation of an old insult?

    So telling someone to eat s**t may not be an insult anymore but a lifesaving procedure? How times have changed.

  7. Neoc
    Coat

    Does that make Klebsiella pneumoniae a BACteria?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. BAC

    Actually there was a case of someone in the US being "caffeinated" or "DWI" technically this applies to things like driving having taken antihistamines, codeine, etc and being impaired but using it for caffeine is a new one.

    The worrying thing is the courts convicted despite there being no evidence of alcohol or illegal drugs, in fact the report came back "nothing found" apart from caffeine. The BCL was equivalent to having drunk 20 cups of coffee in a very short time and high enough to cause visible symptoms.

    Supposedly the officer was rather shocked as the gentleman in question slammed on his brakes half a second after the blue lights came on, because they were driving "a bit strange" ie 45 in a 50.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/24/california-dui-caffeine-lawsuit-solano-county

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Re. BAC

      "The worrying thing is the courts convicted despite there being no evidence of alcohol or illegal drugs, in fact the report came back "nothing found" apart from caffeine. The BCL was equivalent to having drunk 20 cups of coffee in a very short time and high enough to cause visible symptoms."

      DUI doesn't require the influencing substances to be illegal to be enforceable. After all, alcohol is legal as long as you're old enough, and impairment can easily come from a dose of diphenhydramine hycrochloride or doxylamine succinate (both common over-the-counter sleep aids--Simply Sleep and Unisom, respectively). Besides, 20 cups of coffee in a short time is actually physically dangerous. The FDA-specified limit for caffeine is 400mg/day as above that the heart can be affected (as in potentially cause fatal arrhythmia).

  9. clyde666

    non alcoholic ???

    Back in the 1990s a bunch of us would often go to a Chinese restaurant next door after late overtime. One schoolboy got pints of cola because we wouldn't allow him booze. He was always the first to roll around drunk. We just accepted that was how it was for him.

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