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Kombucha Tea: Another Health Food or Fad?
June 16, 2009
Kombucha Tea:  Another Health Food or Fad?

Kombucha Tea: Another Health Food or Fad? [PDF] [Print] [E-mail]

Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 00:00

 While Kombucha tea is widely promoted to have miraculous medicinal properties, there is no evidence that Kombucha tea is effective for any of the reasons it is promoted for.

In fact, as the saying goes, I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole.  [smile]

What is being sold as Kombucha today is a colony of numerous species of fungi and bacteria living together, which permeate the tea. The precise composition of any sample of Kombucha depends to a great extent on what was floating around in your kitchen when you grew it or the kitchen (room) where it was grown. 

The most common microorganisms found in Kombucha tea include species of Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Saccharomyces, Candida, Torula, Acetobacter, and Pichia. However, some analyzed specimens have been found to contain completely different organisms, and there is no guarantee that they will be harmless. 

In addition, as you can see, there are many case reports which suggest that Kombucha preparations can cause such problems as nausea, jaundice, shortness of breath, throat tightness, headache, dizziness, liver inflammation, and even unconsciousness. 

Mayser P, Fromme S, Leitzmann C, et al. The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’. Mycoses. 1995;38:289-295. 

Food and Drug Administration. FDA cautions consumers on “Kombucha Mushroom Tea” {News release}. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration, March 23, 1995 

CDC. Anticholinergic poisoning associated with an herbal tea — New York City, 1994. MMWR 1995;44:193-5. 

Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D. Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? J Gen Intern Med. 1997;12:643-644. 

Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea-Iowa, 1995. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. 1996;275:96-98. 

Perron AD, Patterson JA, Yanofsky NN. Kombucha “mushroom” hepatotoxicity. Ann Emerg Med. 1995;26:660-66 

Sadjadi J. Cutaneous anthrax associated with the Kombucha “mushroom” in Iran [letter]. JAMA. 1998;280:1567-1568.

Crit Path AIDS Proj. 1994-94 Winter;(No 30):31-2. Kombucha–toxicity alert. 

AIDS: The Kombucha mushroom, also known as Manchurian mushroom, is a mail-order product touted to lower blood pressure and raise T-cell counts. No controlled trials have been conducted to test these claims. Aspergillus, a mold that may grow on the Kombucha mushroom, attacks the brain and may be fatal to persons with weakened immune systems. Reported toxicity reactions have included stomach problems and yeast infections. Taking Kombucha in combination with other drugs may affect the drugs potency.  PMID: 11362190 

GMHC Treat Issues. 1995 May;9(5):10.Links Kombucha: a dubious “cure”. 
Majchrowicz M. 

The kombucha (or Manchurian) mushroom has numerous claims of “significant” health improvements, yet there is no research or any basic evidence to back up the claims. According to folklore, the kombucha is a super immune booster that can fight many ailments, including AIDS, cancer, arthritis, constipation, and more. However, there is concern about the safety of kombucha, which is not really a mushroom but a yeast culture. Since the culture must grow at room temperature for seven to ten days, contamination and growth of other organisms can take place. The tea’s original ingredients include caffeine and large amounts of sugar. These may account for the increased energy some individuals have claimed. Some stories state miraculous results. Other accounts mention no improvement in general well-being. PMID: 11362411 

J Gen Intern Med. 1997 Oct;12(10):643-4. Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? 

Kombucha tea is a health beverage made by incubating the Kombucha “mushroom” in tea and sugar. Although therapeutic benefits have been attributed to the drink, neither its beneficial effects nor adverse side effects have been reported widely in the scientific literature. Side effects probably related to consumption of Kombucha tea are reported in four patients. Two presented with symptoms of allergic reaction, the third with jaundice, and the fourth with nausea, vomiting, and head and neck pain. In all four, use of Kombucha tea in proximity to onset of symptoms and symptom resolution on cessation of tea drinking suggest a probable etiologic association. 
PMID: 9346462 

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

Kombucha has become a popular complementary remedy. The aim of this systematic review was to critically evaluate the evidence related to its efficacy and safety. METHODS: Computerised literature searches were carried out to locate all human medical investigations of kombucha regardless of study design. Data were extracted and validated by the present author and are reported in narrative form. RESULTS: No clinical studies were found relating to the efficacy of this remedy. Several case reports and case series raise doubts about the safety of kombucha. They include suspected liver damage, metabolic acidosis and cutaneous anthrax infections. One fatality is on record. CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of these data it was concluded that the largely undetermined benefits do not outweigh the documented risks of kombucha. It can therefore not be recommended for therapeutic use. Copyright 2003 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg 
PMID: 12808367

Doesn’t sound like much of a health food/product to me.    🙂

In Health 


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