My Gut Makes Alcohol!

The Science and Stories of Auto-Brewery Syndrome

Non-Fiction - Health - Medical
260 Pages
Reviewed on 09/09/2019
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Author Biography

Barbara Cordell is a holistic nurse with forty years of experience and dozens of published articles including research on Auto-Brewery Syndrome (ABS). When her husband Joe, was diagnosed with ABS she took a deep dive into the literature and research on the rare disease in order to help him and others get well. Her hobbies are reading non-fiction and staying active with yoga, paddling kayaks and boards, and bicycling.

Barbara and Joe live a peaceful life on a lake in East Texas and spend time with nearby family and friends. They have a son in San Diego, four fur-babies, and a camper to travel just about anywhere they can. They are active in church, Rotary and other worthy causes.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

My Gut Makes Alcohol! The Science and Stories of Auto-Brewery Syndrome by Barbara Cordell is a non-fiction health memoir and medical book about a relatively unknown condition known as Auto-Brewery Syndrome or ABS. In this book, Barbara describes in the introduction what prompted her on the journey of delving deep into this medical condition. Both Barbara and her husband are nurses, so when her husband developed symptoms of acute alcoholic effects, they discovered that the yeast in his body was causing abnormal fermentation that produced the effects of intoxication. The book is divided and labeled neatly into chapters that cover many topics including the biological process that triggers this condition, Human Microbiome, a detailed look at symptoms and diagnosis, how yeast works, fermentation, and plenty of case studies of patients themselves.

My Gut Makes Alcohol! is an extremely comprehensive and thorough book about this little known condition of ABS. I had never heard of it myself, and Barbara and Joe, although both being nurses, hadn’t heard of it either so that shows how rare and unknown it is. Even health care professionals and doctors are unaware of it so this book is very important to spread awareness. Barbara writes in an empathetic style and her passion for the subject is evident. She has provided a lot of medical information about the chemical processes that create this condition in a manner that even a layperson can understand. She has also pointed out the deficiencies of the legal system and how it can be better implemented. Like many illnesses, this is also an invisible disease and I hope a book like this goes a long way towards educating people on this rare condition. I would definitely recommend reading this book!

Viga Boland

If you’ve ever been faced with the agony of knowing something is very wrong with you physically, but no doctor can figure out the problem even after doing a batch of the usual blood and other tests, or even suggests it’s all in your head, you know how devastating that is both mentally and emotionally. That’s the horrible reality Dr. Barbara Cordell and her husband Joe faced when she and others saw him stumbling and slurring his words as if he were totally drunk first thing in the morning. And yet, he hadn’t had a drop to drink! As Dr. Cordell writes in her important book, My Gut Makes Alcohol!, Joe is one of the hundreds of people who suffer from the little-recognized Auto-Brewery Syndrome, and believe me, this almost inexplicable malady is one that nobody wants to live with as either a patient or caregiver spouse.

My Gut Makes Alcohol! has been written to enlighten both sufferers and healers. To make that work for both, Dr. Cordell has included a fascinating and eye-opening collection of first-hand patient accounts interspersed with very detailed medical information on what happens in our guts after eating and drinking anything, not just alcohol. Regardless of whether you are a patient, a spouse or doctor, what you thought you knew about digestion seems grossly inadequate once you read the author’s very comprehensive breakdown. You see, it is indeed completely possible for some people’s guts to turn into an alcohol brewery, depending on how their guts handle carbs, sugars, even the smell of solvents, chemicals or stress of any kind, just to name a few triggers. There are many more. And what do brewers use in making alcohol? Yeast!

As the author points out, when our guts go haywire, as in Joe’s and other cases Dr. Cordell shares, it’s an overgrowth of yeast in our guts that can make us act, speak and vomit as if we were dead drunk. Just imagine how that can affect people in their jobs! Or imagine being pulled over for drunken driving, or worse yet causing an accident, and insisting you have had nothing to drink. Who would believe you, especially when you end up blowing well over acceptable limits in a breathalyzer test? Auto Brewery Syndrome, ABS, is no joke and not as rare as you might think. Victims’ lives have been turned upside-down and inside out after losing their jobs, draining their finances and still having no easy solutions, even medication, to relieve or end their suffering. Dr. Cordell includes copious references to reading materials and resources, her own website at, and mentions Facebook groups you might wish to look into for more information and support. There are also several other links to ABS you will find on Google, but I recommend beginning your investigation into this syndrome by reading this book. Doing so could save someone’s life, possibly your own. Pick it up today.

Christian Sia

My Gut Makes Alcohol! The Science and Stories of Auto-Brewery Syndrome by Barbara Cordell is an eye-opening book that introduced me to a completely strange medical condition. It is shocking to discover that some people can have very high alcohol content in their body without being an alcoholic. For Barbara Cordell, the revelation is shocking and she captures it at the opening of this book: “I was at my pastor’s house for an Easter luncheon after church and I watched my husband Joe fall off the porch as if he were stone cold drunk. My gut clenched and then lurched; my heart sank, and my legs began to quiver. So many emotions went through my body-mind: shock, fear, embarrassment, worry, and confusion. I felt overwhelmed.” This experience set the author on the path to investigate and look for answers to Auto-Brewery Syndrome, a condition that plagued her husband.

In My Gut Makes Alcohol! The Science and Stories of Auto-Brewery Syndrome, the author shares her harrowing experience with a husband suffering from ABS and her journey with patients with the same syndrome. The author allows the shock of the discovery of this condition in her husband to come out clearly, and documents her journey with patients, uncovering stunning facts — and some not readily accepted by the medical community — and providing solutions that are life-changing. Barbara Cordell’s voice is strong and authoritative, a pioneering work that explores a disturbing phenomenon while providing surprising answers to readers. This book is as entertaining as it is hugely informative.