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We're back with a new one for our medXpert: Drama Dissected.

Ever been drunk without actually drinking alcohol?

And no, I'm not talking about drunk on love sort of thing.

There are people in this world whose body produces alcohol on its own leading to them being drunk.

Today's disease is from Chicago med(season 6 episode 1) as well as Graceful family. It's called Auto-brewery syndrome

So, what is it?

It is a disease in which the body turns the carbs eaten into alcohol.

Auto brewery syndrome is also known as gut fermentation syndrome and endogenous ethanol fermentation. It’s sometimes called “drunkenness disease.” This rare condition makes you intoxicated — drunk — without drinking alcohol.

This happens when your body turns sugary and starchy foods (carbohydrates) into alcohol. Auto brewery syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. It may also be mistaken for other conditions.

Only a few cases of auto brewery syndrome have been reported in the last several decades. However, this medical condition has been mentioned in the news several times. Most of these stories involve people who were arrested for drinking and driving

Auto brewery syndrome can make you:

  • drunk without drinking any alcohol

  • very drunk after only drinking a small amount of alcohol (such as two beers)

Symptoms and side effects are similar to when you are slightly drunk or when you have a hangover from drinking too much

Who can have these?

Both adults and children can have auto brewery syndrome. Signs and symptoms are similar in both. It is not a congenital disease.

Auto brewery syndrome is usually a complication of another disease, imbalance, or infection in the body. However, you may be born with or get another condition that triggers auto brewery syndrome.

For example, in adults, too much yeast in the gut may be caused by Crohn’s disease. This can set off auto brewery syndrome.

Toddlers and children with a condition called short bowel syndrome have a higher chance of getting auto brewery syndrome. A medical case reported that a 3-year-old girl with short bowel syndrome would get “drunk” after drinking fruit juice, which is naturally high in carbohydrates.

Other reasons you may have too much yeast in your body include:

  • poor nutrition

  • antibiotics

  • inflammatory bowel disease

  • diabetes

  • low immune system

This condition is still newly discovered and more research is needed. Symptoms alone are typically not enough for a diagnosis.

Your doctor will likely do a stool test to find out if you have too much yeast in your gut

Auto brewery syndrome can be treated. Your doctor may recommend reducing carbohydrates in your diet. Treating an underlying condition like Crohn’s disease may help balance fungus in your gut.

The people who have this syndrome should follow a strict diet. Avoid sugary foods and simple carbs.

What happened in the Chicago med episode?

I actually came across this syndrome while watching the Graceful family where the female lead, seok hee, in order to save someone, eats a piece of bread, gets into the car and drives it into another car.

She then gets arrested for drunk driving. She says she didn't drink and shows a medical certificate to the police saying she's got the auto-brewery syndrome.

Coming to Chicago med,

On the season 6 episode 1,

A patient named Anita comes to the ER due to a fall in the kitchen when she hurt her arm. She also has bruises from a former fall for which she doesn't take medication because she thinks this country is overmedicated. Her husband tells them she just stopped her diet and going to the gym. Dr. William Halstead tells them they’ll need to run a few tests.

Another doctor named Maggie, tells Dr. William that the patient looks high.

After the tests, they find out that Anita's arm is not broken. However she has a high blood alcohol level, but she and Brad insist she didn't drink.

They try to give Anita electrolytes which doesn't want . She insists she wants to leave, fights everyone and has to be sedated. Everyone then thinks that she has an alcohol problem.

Dr. Will, who knows Anita personally, then tries to research more about her case after which he finds out that she actually hasn’t been drinking. He then concludes her as a auto-brewery syndrome case. The cause of why she had this all of a sudden was because she just ended her paleo diet

Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fats- These are all the things a person avoids when on a paleo diet.

Will apologizes to her and advises her to cut out simple carbs and she'll be fine.

That was how the case ended on the episode.

Auto-brewery syndrome is a very rare disease with less than 100 cases reported so far and because it is rare, it has made the headlines quite often.


  • 'High on Life': US Man's Gut Brews its Own Beer Due to Rare Medical Condition

  • She didn't drink, but her urine was full of alcohol. Turns out, her bladder was its own brewery.

(Doctors tried to treat a woman with liver cirrhosis for alcohol-use disorder when she came in looking for a liver transplant after results showed her urine was full of alcohol.

The problem: She denied ever drinking a drop.)

The condition also made news in 2014, when the driver of a truck that spilled 11,000 salmon onto a highway claimed to have auto-brewery syndrome. The next year, a New York woman was charged with driving under the influence after she registered a blood alcohol level that was more than four times the legal limit, CNN reported. A judge dismissed the charges after being shown evidence that she had auto-brewery syndrome.

With that said, as budding doctors, feel free to explore and research more about this syndrome.


We will be back with another disease for the MedXpert: Drama dissected with the series of your choosing.

Let us know in the comments below which drama you would like us to dissect next. Also head on over to our Instagram page where we upload snippets of the blog the day before.



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