Autodistillation or intestinal fermentation syndrome is a bizarre condition that can become a real burden in the lives of those affected, as it gets them drunk without consuming any alcohol at all. But scientists are getting closer to the cause of self-distillation.
For Nick Carson, specific episodes can even occur two or three times a week. He first begins by speaking incoherently, slurring his words, then he loses his balance and has no stability on his own feet.
Conversations go round and round, then he falls into a deep sleep. The father of two shows all the signs of a drunk. Except Nick Carson didn’t drink any alcohol, fittingly BBC.
All the symptoms of a hangover, minus the alcohol
His apparent drunkenness is, however, accompanied by other symptoms, such as stomach pain, chronic fatigue and bloating. Frequently, he feels sick, then passes out. The first such episode was about 20 years ago, when the family noticed that he had moments when he lost concentration. And the next day, the 64-year-old man from Suffolk (Great Britain) hardly remembers what happened.
“I had no idea what happened. Six hours later I would wake up as if nothing was wrong with me, and I very rarely felt a hangover,” he explained.
Finally, Carson and his wife noticed that hangovers and other specific symptoms seemed to be activated after eating high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes. After multiple visits to doctors, Carson was diagnosed with a rare condition called Auto-Brewery Syndrome.
What is fermentative bowel syndrome?
This condition, which is also known as fermentative bowel syndrome, is one that increases blood alcohol levels and causes symptoms of intoxication in patients, even if they have consumed very little or no alcohol at all. The condition can cause patients to fail a breathalyzer test and creates unpleasant social consequences.
“I think most toxicologists agree that this is a real medical condition and that gut fermentation can actually create significant alcohol concentrations. We all produce a small amount of alcohol from fermentation, but the amounts are too small to measure,” said Barry Logan, a researcher in Philadelphia.
Stress, antibiotics and processed foods are among the causes considered
Even though this syndrome was detected in people without medical problems, an increased prevalence was recorded in those who had comorbidities, such as diabetes, liver diseases due to obesity, intestinal disorders, Crohn’s disease or even intestinal bacteria.
But the research went even further. Long-term use of antibiotics could be a risk factor worth considering, especially as patients reported having received such treatments frequently in the past for various conditions. It is well known that antibiotics disrupt the intestinal flora. But more analysis needs to confirm that there is, however, a link between the syndrome and the use of antibiotics.
Excessive consumption of ultra-processed foods can also play a role.
But there could be other reasons, the researchers point out. In addition to the patient’s usual diet, pollution, chemicals and stress may also play a role.
That’s why Nick Carson manages to keep this syndrome under control with the help of a nutritionist’s diet and a multivitamin regimen.