Kombucha and Health
Benefits and Risks

kombucha tea with mother

Let's look at Kombucha and health - both the benefits and risks of drinking Kombucha tea.

And yes, there are both.

Although there are claimed health benefits my personal stance is why expose yourself to the risks when other fermented foods can give a similar boost to your health without the risks.

I base my opinion on the fact that it is very easy to study scientific reviews on fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt and these reviews are mostly positive or at worst inconclusive. However when I search these data banks for the scientific evidence for Kombucha, there are few studies done on humans that prove any benefit and a number of reports of serious adverse effects including death1.

 

Risks

People who have drunk this tea have had liver damage, metabolic acidosis, allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, jaundice and there have been deaths reported2.

One incident of cutaneous anthrax infection through the application of the tea. It was not clear whether the Kombucha was contaminated due to storage in unhygienic conditions2.

Whilst no contamination with pathogenic bacteria was found in commercially brewed tea, some home made teas have been massively contaminated with yeasts such a Candida albicans, the yeast responsible for most yeast infections.

That is why my recommendation is - if you simply must try this tea - then start with a commercially prepared tea such as those show lower on the page. Much safer.

Whilst the very low pH does protect against pathogenic bacteria gaining a foot hold it also encourages leaching from ceramic or lead crystal containers.

 

Claimed Benefits

Improve resistance against cancer

Prevent cardiovascular diseases

Promoted digestive functions

Stimulates the immune system

Reduces inflammatory problems

"The claimed benefits of Kombucha were not supported by the limited clinical evidence presented. The author appropriately cautioned against the therapeutic use of an unproven remedy and highlighted potential side-effects which may or may not be attributable to the remedy itself."2

 

So what actually is in a typical kombucha tea?

Alcohol, carbon dioxide, glucuronic acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulphate, heparin, antioxidants and B vitamins.

 

Bacteria in Kombucha

Typical lactic acid bacteria found in most kombucha include Gluconacetobacter and Lactobacillus spcs.

 

Yeasts in Kombucha

Typical yeasts found in most teas are Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Zygosaccharomyces bailii.

 

Kompucha

If you must try this controversial tea then start with a commercial product rather than homemade.

 

 

REFERENCES for Kombucha and Health

1. Radhika Srinivasan, MD, Susan Smolinske, PharmD, and David Greenbaum, MD. Probable Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Kombucha Tea. J Gen Intern Med. Oct 1997; 12(10): 643-645.

2. Ernst E. Kombucha: a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Apr;10(2):85-7.

 

 

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