Vietnam: Doctors treat alcohol poisoning with 15 cans of beer

After drinking a large amount of tainted liquor, a 48-year-old man suffered severe alcohol intoxication. This was treated by the doctors rather unusual.

It sounds absurd at first: to cure a man of his severe alcohol intoxication, his doctors give him even more alcohol, one can of beer per hour. But the procedure works: After 15 hours and therefore 15 cans of beer, the man can leave the hospital, except for a bad hangover, he has no more complaints.

This is reported by Le Van Lam, head of the intensive care unit at Quang Tri Hospital in the North Vietnamese province of the same name, to the daily Tuoi Tre News. The 48-year-old patient had been unconscious on 25 December and had been admitted to a life-threatening condition after drinking large amounts of alcohol at a party. Presumably it was inferior liquor that was contaminated with methanol.

- Tuoi Tre News (@tuoitrenewsvn) January 10, 2019

In Asian countries, it often happens that people get seriously ill after the consumption of cheap bruised fangs or even die. Methanol is formed if you do not work properly when distilling alcohol. When the liver then tries to detoxify the body from the alcohol, the methanol is converted to formaldehyde and formic acid. This can damage nerve cells, lead to blindness and even death.

In their unusual treatment, the doctors in Vietnam used a trick to prevent the conversion of methanol: they used the liver elsewhere by giving the patient ethanol, ie "normal" alcohol, in the form of beer. The dangerous methanol is then not first degraded, but gradually excreted through the respiration and urine.

The emergency physician Hans-Jörg Busch from the University Medical Center Freiburg told the German Press Agency dpa: "The therapy with 15 cans of beer is rather unusual, but very understandable.Perhaps the Vietnamese colleagues had no other alcohol at hand." It does not necessarily depend on the type of alcohol, according to the professor. "Much more important is that the therapy is initiated immediately."