This woman was found to have a rare medical condition called auto-brewery syndrome, sometimes known as gut fermentation syndrome. It occurs when a person’s intestines are colonized by particular strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Anyone who has tried their hand at brewing beer will be familiar with this single-celled organism.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used in brewing for its ability to ferment carbohydrates into alcohol. That’s exactly what’s going on in the gut of someone who has auto-brewery syndrome. The yeast are consuming sugars and pumping out so much alcohol that a person can end up drunk without touching a drop of liquor. This has effects on one’s health just like excessive drinking, making it a serious long-term health concern.
The accused in this case was able to submit medical evidence to the court that under the observation of doctors, she reached a BAC of 0.34 without ingesting any alcohol. The charges against her were dropped, and presumably she will undergo treatment. Antifungal medications can clear the yeast from the GI tract, but sticking to a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce symptoms without any medical intervention.