Kombucha Tea Benefits and Side Effects - Ted's Q&A

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Posted by Mary

Do you have any feedback on kombucha? Just started. Heard it was good for everything.

Replied by Ted
Bangkok, Thailand
391 posts

Mary: Any feedback? I don't have much other what people general know, being that it is protective of the liver, mice lived longer, somewhat of an antioxidant, toxicity is relatively not much, for example. However, it had no effect on weight loss. There is in fact anti microbial properties more potent then either vinegar or apple cider vinegar alone. Much of the problems of sickness reported appears to be brewing in non-glass containers, such as glazed ceramics which is high in lead, or that the mushroom quality is contaminated or poor, being the real issue. How do you get rid of aspergillus mold? Well I have not yet tested it, but it is possible to kill the aspergillus mold if the mushrooms were soaked in a weak solution of H2O2 (0.5%), but I haven't had a chance to try this idea, since I could not obtain the Kombucha mushrooms locally. In theory, the H2O2 should kill the anaerobes, and keep the beneficial bacteria still alive. However, it may also prevent the success of any fermentation should the mushrooms be soaked for a minute or two in H2O2.

Perhaps the best way of to deal with it is cleaning your Kombucha mushroom SAFELY (assuming that they are safe to use) is to use plain vinegar and soaked it for a couple of minutes and light cleaning. It will not kill the beneficial bacteria and will very likely kill the harmful bacteria and you can have safe fermentation still, without the harmful molds and other things. The reason why I know that it will not kill the beneficial bacteria is simple: acetic acid is one of the by products of the kombucha tea fermentation. Ted

'1: Biomed Environ Sci. 2001 Sep;14(3):207-13. Links Studies on toxicity, anti-stress and hepato-protective properties of Kombucha tea.

Pauline T, Dipti P, Anju B, Kavimani S, Sharma SK, Kain AK, Sarada SK, Sairam M, Ilavazhagan G, Devendra K, Selvamurthy W.

Defence Institute of Physiology Allied Sciences, Timarpur, Lucknow Road, Delhi-110054, India.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to evaluate toxicity, anti-stress activity and hepato-protective properties of Kombucha tea.

METHOD: Kombucha tea was fed orally for 15 days using three different doses i.e. normal dose, five and ten times the dose. Rats were then sacrificed and various biochemical, and histological parameters were estimated. Anti-stress activity was evaluated either by 1) by exposing animals to cold and hypoxia and estimating the levels of malondialdehyde and reduced glutathione in plasma/blood or 2) by subjecting the animals to restraint stress and recording faecal output. Hepato-toxicity was induced by challenging the animals to an acute dose of paracetamol (1 gm/kg) orally and determining the plasma levels of SGPT, SGOT and MDA.

RESULTS: The effect of oral administration of different doses of K-tea to albino rats was examined and the results indicate that K-tea has no significant toxicity as revealed by various biochemical and histopathological parameters. K-tea has been found to prevent lipid peroxidation and fall in reduced glutathione level when rats were exposed to cold and hypoxia in simulated chamber. Further, K-tea has also been found to decrease the Wrap-restraint faecal pellet output in rats. K-tea has also been found to decrease paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity significantly.

CONCLUSION: The study shows that K-tea has anti-stress and hepato-protective activities.

PMID: 11723720 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1: Biomed Environ Sci. 2000 Dec;13(4):293-9.

Subacute (90 days) oral toxicity studies of Kombucha tea.

Vijayaraghavan R, Singh M, Rao PV, Bhattacharya R, Kumar P, Sugendran K, Kumar O, Pant SC, Singh R. Defence Research and Development Establishment, Jhansi Road, Gwalior-474002, India.

Kombucha tea (KT) is a popular health beverage and is used as an alternative therapy. KT is prepared by placing the kombucha culture in solution of tea and sugar and allowing to ferment. The inoculum is a fungus consisting of symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria. KT is consumed in several countries and is believed to have prophylactic and therapeutic benefits in a wide variety of ailments, viz., intestinal disorders, arthritis, ageing and stimulation of immunological system. Though KT is used in several parts of the world its beneficial effects and adverse effects have not been scientifically evaluated. Since there are no animal toxicological data on KT, subacute oral toxicity study was carried out. Five groups of rats were maintained: (a) control group given tap water orally, (b) KT given 2 ml/kg orally, (c) plain tea (PT) given 2 ml/kg orally, (d) KT given in drinking water, 1% (v/v) and (e) PT given in drinking water, 1% (v/v). The rats were given this treatment daily for a period of 90 days. Weekly records of weight, feed intake, water intake and general behaviour were monitored. There was no significant difference in the growth of the animals as evidenced by the progressive body weight change. The organ to body weight ratio and histological evaluation did not show any toxic signs. The haematological and biochemical variables were within the clinical limits. The study indicates that rats fed KT for 90 days showed no toxic effects.

PMID: 11351863 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1: Nutrition. 2000 Sep;16(9):755-61. Links Effects of chronic kombucha ingestion on open-field behaviors, longevity, appetitive behaviors, and organs in c57-bl/6 mice: a pilot study. Hartmann AM, Burleson LE, Holmes AK, Geist CR. Department of Psychology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6480, USA. Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea beverage popularly consumed as a self-prescribed folk-remedy for numerous ailments. Kombucha is claimed to enhance cognition, aid weight loss, and prolong life. This pilot study reports longevity, general health, and open-field exploratory behavioral outcomes from a 3-y longitudinal study of 64 C57-BL/6 mice (males and females), half of which chronically drank kombucha, and all of which experienced natural mortality. Compared by MANOVA to controls, mice that drank kombucha showed greater vertical exploration (P = 0.001) and a sex-interactive effect in novel object manipulation (P = 0.049). MANOVA of kombucha-drinking mice compared to controls detected differences in appetitive behaviors (food consumption, P < 0.001; beverage consumption, P = 0. 008), and gross body weight (P < 0.001). Appetitive behaviors changed with the addition of voluntary exercise on a running wheel, with differing patterns of change noted for males and females. Both male and female mice who drank kombucha lived longer than controls (P < 0.001), with the greatest variability among the male mice (sex interactive effect, P < 0.001). Comparable effects and mechanisms in humans remain uncertain, as do health safety issues, because serious health problems and fatalities have been reported and attributed to drinking kombucha. PMID: 10978857 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Effect of Kombucha tea on chromate(VI)-induced oxidative stress in albino rats. Sai Ram M, Anju B, Pauline T, Dipti P, Kain AK, Mongia SS, Sharma SK, Singh B, Singh R, Ilavazhagan G, Kumar D, Selvamurthy W. Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Lucknow Road, Timarpur, 110054, Delhi, India. The effect of Kombucha tea (KT) on oxidative stress induced changes in rats subjected to chromate treatment are reported. KT feeding alone did not show any significant change in malondialdehyde (MDA) and reduced glutathione (GSH) levels, but did enhance humoral response and delayed type of hypersensitivity (DTH) response appreciably over control animals. Chromate treatment significantly enhanced plasma and tissue MDA levels, decreased DTH response considerably, enhanced glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities; however, no change in GSH, superoxide dismutase and antibody titres was noticed. KT feeding completely reversed the chromate-induced changes. These results show that Kombucha tea has potent anti-oxidant and immunopotentiating activities. PMID: 10904168 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. Sreeramulu G, Zhu Y, Knol W. Department of Applied Microbiology and Gene Technology, TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands. Kombucha was prepared in a tea broth (0.5% w/v) supplemented with sucrose (10% w/v) by using a commercially available starter culture. The pH decreased steadily from 5 to 2.5 during the fermentation while the weight of the "tea fungus" and the OD of the tea broth increased through 4 days of the fermentation and remained fairly constant thereafter. The counts of acetic acid-producing bacteria and yeasts in the broth increased up to 4 days of fermentation and decreased afterward. The antimicrobial activity of Kombucha was investigated against a number of pathogenic microorganisms. Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella sonnei, Escherichia coli, Aeromonas hydrophila, Yersinia enterolitica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae, Staphylococcus epidermis, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus cereus, Helicobacterpylori, and Listeria monocytogenes were found to be sensitive to Kombucha. According to the literature on Kombucha, acetic acid is considered to be responsible for the inhibitory effect toward a number of microbes tested, and this is also valid in the present study. However, in this study, Kombucha proved to exert antimicrobial activities against E. coli, Sh. sonnei, Sal. typhimurium, Sal. enteritidis, and Cm. jejuni, even at neutral pH and after thermal denaturation. This finding suggests the presence of antimicrobial compounds other than acetic acid and large proteins in Kombucha.

PMID: 10888589 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] : Med J Aust. 1998 Dec 7-21;169(11-12):644-6.

Comment in: Med J Aust. 1999 May 3;170(9):454.

Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot.

Phan TG, Estell J, Duggin G, Beer I, Smith D, Ferson MJ. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW.

Kombucha tea is an alternative therapy that is gaining popularity as a remedy for a diverse range of ailments. We report two cases of symptomatic lead poisoning requiring chelation therapy in a married couple who had been drinking Kombucha tea for six months, brewing the tea in a ceramic pot. We postulate that acids in the tea eluted lead from the glaze pigment used in the ceramic pot, in a manner analogous to elution of lead from crystal decanters by wine and spirits.

PMID: 9887919 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1: Crit Path AIDS Proj. 1994-94 Winter;(No 30):31-2. Links Kombucha--toxicity alert. [No authors listed] 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 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE].