The man, in his late 40’s at the time, refused to take a breathalyzer test and was taken to a hospital, where his initial blood alcohol level was found to be 0.2% — about 2.5 times the legal limit and the equivalent of consuming 10 drinks an hour. Despite the man swearing up and down that he hadn’t had anything to drink, doctors didn’t believe him either.
But researchers at the Richmond University Medical Center in New York eventually discovered that the man was telling the truth. He wasn’t downing beers or cocktails — instead, there was yeast in his gut that was likely converting carbohydrates in the food he ate to alcohol.
Researchers treated him with antifungal medications
Things weren’t the same for the man after he completed a course of antibiotics to treat a thumb injury. His personality started to change, researchers wrote in the study, and he experienced episodes of depression, ‘brain fog,’ memory loss and aggressive behavior that was out of character for him.
Three years later, after his suspected drunk driving arrest, the man’s aunt bought a breathalyzer to record his alcohol levels. She had heard about a similar case that had been successfully treated by a doctor in Ohio and convinced her nephew to seek treatment there too.
His basic lab tests turned out normal. But doctors found two strains of yeast in his stool: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast commonly used in beer brewing, winemaking and baking, as well as another fungus.
The man was successfully treated at the Ohio clinic and told to stick to a strict carbohydrate-free diet along with some special supplements.