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Old 09-23-2013, 03:10 AM   #1
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Default Autobrewery Syndrome

This has been posted about a thousand times but all have been "wouldn't this be awesome" and I haven't seen a * scientific discussion * of this: http://file.scirp.org/Html/1-2100535_33912.htm

Firstly, I don't see this as even possible:
Can s.cerevisiae even survive in the stomach?
Assuming it can survive and ferment in the human body, what is the potential alcohol in a meal? (do we consume enough sugar at one time to intoxicate someone?)
Is it possible for a yeast to be fast acting enough to metabolize the sugars into enough alcohol to cause intoxication before the human body breaks them down?

And assuming it is true, what does this mean?
Are we all in danger of this affliction?
If this strain of s.cerevisiae can survive in stomach pH its probably immune to acid sanitizers like starsan. How long before this escapes into the wild and starts contaminating breweries and infecting us all?
What are the possibilities of a resistant mutant strain of yeast rising from the huge numbers of homebrewers with poor sanitation habits.
Could there be a "Saccharomyces Andromeda" out there that could destroy beer as we know it?
We always hear "nothing that infects beer can make you sick" but AIDS came out of nowhere. Could there be a new strain of bacteria that could thrive in beer and also make us sick?

* and by "scientific" I mean "wild paranoid joe roganesque sci fi stoner speculation"

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Old 09-23-2013, 03:35 AM   #2
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My only problem with the one story I read is people taking s.cerevisiae as a probiotic supplement. S.cerevisiae is not a probiotic.

Not everything is 100% digested in the stomach and it can take up residence in your intestine. And you have a lot of intestine. And as the sugar comes along it can metabolize it, time release style. So it's not like you eat sugar and it instantly becomes alcohol.

Also, this is after the liver, so any alcohol produced can go straight into the blood stream.

The NPR story seemed to indicate that this might be only the second documented case.

The main thing I took away from the story is that maybe I should hold off on the homebrew for a couple days if I'm coming off a heavy regimine of antibiotics.

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Old 09-23-2013, 04:51 AM   #3
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Not everything is 100% digested in the stomach and it can take up residence in your intestine. And you have a lot of intestine. And as the sugar comes along it can metabolize it, time release style. So it's not like you eat sugar and it instantly becomes alcohol.
Right! I just remembered seeing a show about 6 months ago that was talking about the theory that autism is caused by an antibiotic resistant bacteria in the intestines that ferments and releases some sort of toxin- its usually at a low level but can take over if antibiotics kill off other microbes and can lead to brain damage in infants. maybe this plausible too?
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:34 AM   #4
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Could there be a "Saccharomyces Andromeda" out there that could destroy beer as we know it?
A bit of super geek trivia - the opening credits and several cut away scenes from the original Andromeda strain movie are (for back then) state of the art microscope shots of yeast multiplying...
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:49 PM   #5
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I suspect there are multiple issues with digestive physiology occurring in this syndrome. Regulation of pH, bacterial population control, starch/sugar metabolism, liver dysfunction, just to name a few options. Although some fermentation does occur in human digestive tracts normally, the BAC from these people is obviously not normal.

Small intestine colonization by yeast is bad in general. Even then, the amount of fermentable sugars available is incredibly low, as they are being broken down by enzymes produced for this purpose. Ethanol absorbed in this part of the digestive tract is transported to the liver and quickly oxidized.

Yeast colonization of the lower GI is normal in small amounts. But the concentration of fermentable sugars in the lower GI is even lower than the upper GI. The yeast also have to compete against professional probiotic bacteria, which (normally) do a great job of breaking down remaining nutrients, fermenting some, and secreting nutrients. Even then, everything absorbed in this part of the GI (besides the last 1/3 of the rectal canal), is transported to the liver.

It is almost like these people have an entire GI tract colonized with brewers yeast and eat nothing but starch and handfuls of sugar (which I guess is not that unbelievable).

Most people are not aware of the benefit provided by our intestinal microbes. Most also don't realize the how detrimental disrupting this population with antibiotics can be. Alterations of our intestinal microbiota is implicated in many diseases and conditions. The best thing you can do after (and during for that matter) a course of antibiotics is to eat lots and lots of yogurt.

Deactivated S. cerevisiae, or nutritional yeast, is a nutritional supplement. Vegans use it as a source of vitamin B12. Maybe someone was confusing their supplements. I do it all the time. I think I am taking a pill of good ole' Bifidobacterium and instead I inject anabolic steroids into my gluteus.

Was that sci fi rogan-stoner-esque? Do I need one of these: ? Or maybe a TL;DR.

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Old 09-24-2013, 11:14 PM   #6
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Deactivated S. cerevisiae, or nutritional yeast, is a nutritional supplement. Vegans use it as a source of vitamin B12. Maybe someone was confusing their supplements. I do it all the time. I think I am taking a pill of good ole' Bifidobacterium and instead I inject anabolic steroids into my gluteus.
I just thought I'd comment on this portion of your post. Some vegans do use nutritional yeast as a source of B12 and other B vitamins. However, the B12 in nutritional yeast is added. It's not from the yeast originally.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:18 PM   #7
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Was that sci fi rogan-stoner-esque? Do I need one of these: ? Or maybe a TL;DR.
That was sciency enough and you addressed the "is it possible" but not the paranoid beer doomsday stuff

...My concern is that with the rise in homebrewing and craft beer, everyone is trying so hard to come up with something original and putting crazy new adjuncts in beer - weird fruits that have never been used in beer and potentially have wild yeast on them that could be immune to current sanitation techniques. If we can have "beard yeast", whats to stop this from happening with something potentially dangerous to humans? Or maybe not that bad but just an incredibly resistant brettanomyces that will **** up beer and be impossible to remove? And tell me you don't believe we are on the eve of beer destruction?
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:16 AM   #8
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There is no reason to think that the yeast involved is some kind of "super yeast". The case in question was not stomach fermentation, but gut fermentation. The Saccharomyces made it past the stomach at some point, and then colonized the intestines presumably after the administration of severe antibiotics.

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Old 09-26-2013, 03:29 PM   #9
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That was sciency enough and you addressed the "is it possible" but not the paranoid beer doomsday stuff
And tell me you don't believe we are on the eve of beer destruction?
The only doomsday issue is how wimpy our bodies are becoming. If a normal brewers yeast can do this, we may have no hope against something more dangerous. But, to boldy go, right?

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There is no reason to think that the yeast involved is some kind of "super yeast". The case in question was not stomach fermentation, but gut fermentation. The Saccharomyces made it past the stomach at some point, and then colonized the intestines presumably after the administration of severe antibiotics.
Exactly, just a super screwed up body.
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:48 PM   #10
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A very good friend of mine had a form of this - but not to the extent of the article. In the end, he was diagnosed with severe diverticulitis, Chrone's and Celiacs. It took two weeks in the hospital to diagnose the problems and many of their initial treatments made things much worse. Only after a resection of bowel and analysis did they discover a massive flora of yeast and bacteria that were fermenting the colon contents, breaking down the lining of his colon and slowly poisoning his liver. Along with alcohol, there were other poisons that the liver couldn't handle - and he came close to landing on a transplant list.

He and the doctors believed that it started from a serious course of antibiotics from a kidney infection, and the undiagnosed Celiac complications. At one point they even accused his wife of potentially trying to poison him.

I guess my point was that there was various strains of yeast and bacteria which created a severe and toxic problem, not just a single "yeast" strain. Of course, that sounds like a bad episode of House, doesn't it.

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Last edited by mchrispen; 09-26-2013 at 03:55 PM. Reason: clarification
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