Kombucha Side Effects: The Healing Crisis

 

It is very common to wonder about Kombucha Tea side effects, especially because our diets often lack fermented foods or probiotics. Introducing probiotics, new types of nutrition and cleansing is sure to bring benefits and side effects.

The good news is, those who drink Kombucha say that Kombucha adverse effects (which only a small percentage of them experienced) are temporary while the benefits of Kombucha (which nearly everyone says they see some kind of benefit) increase over time.

That’s because any side effects of Kombucha come from the body’s own toxins, not the Kombucha, which is simply helping you rid yourself of these built up toxins from past foods, pollution, stresses and other behaviors.

Let’s delve further into Kombucha side effects by exploring this usually misguided claim: ever heard someone say “I’m allergic to Kombucha?” I suppose it’s possible to be allergic to Kombucha, if you are allergic to tea for example. 

Beyond that main ingredient* however, the concept of being allergic to Kombucha does not exist, IMO.  The adverse effects of Kombucha those people have experienced upon first starting to consume it is almost definitely called a “Healing Crisis,” and though it can be scary at first, this is the first wonderful step toward feeling better.

Ever heard the phrase, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better?” Well, in some cases, that’s true. In the case of Kombucha, what might cause a reaction is not the drink itself but the initial effects it is having in your system. Let me explain.

The body is like a huge filing system. Everything good or bad you’ve ever done, your body has a small record of that stored away in fat cells and places like your joints and muscles. If you spent 2 years binge drinking in college, that’s stored somewhere inside you.  Run a marathon, your body never forgets.

The Side Effects of Kombucha are temporary and the result of a healing crisis. Kombucha adverse effects result from the toxins in your body being released through detoxification.

Potential Kombucha Side Effects: Healing Crisis

Those who seek out Kombucha often do so because they feel the need for a lifestyle change or an improvement to their diet and routine. That’s wonderful, but often it means the body is toxic and in need of purge. Even if the lifestyle has not been terrible, detoxification will occur. When detoxification is introduced, the Kombucha Tea side effects begin. Sometimes, too fast!!

That is why it is always recommended that new drinkers start with just a few ounces of Kombucha a day at first, along with plenty of water, and then gradually increase the intake.  In this way, the body will slowly begin to release toxins and the water will ensure a smooth elimination process and minimization of adverse effects.

However, if the detoxification happens a bit too quickly, and especially if the drinker has previous “illnesses” or weaknesses (acne, prior rash, arthritis, etc), there may be an initial and temporary return or intensification of that previous condition. A breakout on the face or shoulder, feeling “itchy” all over.  Upset stomach and loose stool are very common as the Kombucha has introduced pro-biotic life to a system that needs it badly and is ready to kick all the bad stuff out and get healthy!

The informative site The Natural Path lists the following as common symptoms of a healing crisis:

  • muscle cramps or pain
  • arthritic flair ups
  • diarrhea
  • extreme fatigue
  • restlessness
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • sinus congestion
  • fever
  • skin eruptions
  • strong emotions or mood swings

The good news is that these reactions are truly temporary and provide just a bump on the road towards better health.  However, cut back on, but don’t stop your Kombucha intake until the reaction subsides.  It will likely move from one part of the body to another and be short in duration.

You should also know that healing reactions are not exclusive to Kombucha. On the contrary, Kombucha side effects are exactly like those of most other holisitc and naturapathic treatments, intended to induce this detoxification process.  Kombucha is simply one of the easiest to do for yourself, and moreover, actually helps the liver purge where other probiotics only stimulate the detox.

That means that one of the most important Kombucha Benefits is that it helps relieve Kombucha Side Effects and other temporary adverse effects of drinking Kombucha. That’s pretty amazing.

Shirley’s Wellness Cafe provides some great guidelines for getting through a Herxheimer Reaction (doctor speak for healing crisis) including:

A black and white photo of mustachioed and spectacled Dr. Herxheimer.
Dr. Karl Herxheimer
  • Drink lots of pure alkaline ionized water
  • Get minimal exercise daily
  • Lots of sunshine
  • Take detoxification slowly … one step at a time
  • Don’t increase the dose of herbals
  • Keep the organs of elimination (bowels, lungs, skin, kidneys) open
  • Take detox baths
  • Use aromatherapy oils for aches -like peppermint, birch, and wintergreen
  • Sweat by using exercise, saunas, baths, and herbs
  • Avoid foreign chemicals and refined processed foods

As she says, “The more toxins there are to eliminate, the sicker one is when they come out. Generally, one will feel better when all is over and health is restored again. Just remember, don’t give up.”

If you want to know more, please go there and read as there is a wealth of information available about how to identify a healing crisis vs. an illness, so that you can tell the difference between Kombucha side effects and something more serious with adverse effects that are unrelated to the Kombucha.

Please educate yourself if you have any concerns. Below are some other great resources you can utilize:

The Natural Path
Cajun Ernie

Health Science Spirit

Homeopathe International
– Dr. Hering, father of American Homeopathy

Fernz Health

*I don’t include sugar as a main ingredient of mature, homebrewed Kombucha because when brewed properly, Kombucha contains about 1-2 grams of sugar 8oz glass. By contrast, orange juice contains about 28 grams of sugar per 8 oz glass. Bottled kombucha beverages (or your own flavored versions) may contain more; as always, read the labels.
Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +
Kombucha Mamma SCOBYs & Kits ship free in the US!
51 Responses to Kombucha Side Effects: The Healing Crisis
  1. bitt

    Interesting idea. If I haven't had kombucha for awhile the effects are stronger for me.

  2. Megan Adair

    Guess what? I'm allergic to tea! (So is my mother! Allergy tests & all.)

    A year ago I made a cup of hot tea- black raspberry green tea by Republic of Tea. I wanted to see if my allergy was still there. The tea smelled wonderful! But sure enough, I barely made it through half a cup before I was thoroughly nauseated and felt awful. I rarely experience nausea.

    BUT-
    I can drink kombucha no problem! In fact, it's usually quite a help! My guess is that the fermentation process alters it so much that it's a totally different product by the time I drink it. My mother used to drink it regularly, too, and she never had her usual symptoms of tea consumption (feeling drained, severe brain fog, headaches).

    Obviously tea is not an anaphylaxis allergy for either of us, but it's wonderful to be able to drink kombucha. I've been brewing it for over a year now, and it's been an important part of my healing journey! =) Thanks for your blog!

    • Faith R

      Rasberry flavoring – could that be the problem? Essential Oils and other flavoring agents, chemical soups, etc. are used to flavor products. I doubt that the rasberry flavoring was organic, pure essential oil. And I like organic essential oils, but they are very powerful and deserve much research and respect.

      • Deb

        I can guarantee that the raspberry wasn’t an essential oil. I work for one of the main essential oils companies in the corp office, and raspberry oil is impossible… There’s no oil to be had from a raspberry. (Think about it, it’s a water based plant…)

  3. Denise Smith Maddox via Facebook

    Happy Saturday to you! Thanks for the article.

  4. I’m waiting a couple more days before my very first batch of K. tea has fermented. So thanks for the ‘heads up’ advice. I would have freaked out if this happens and I wasn’t aware of it….;)

    • Drink your water! Its the best way to keep the toxins flowing OUT of the body.

  5. ian

    Hello, I think i had a healing crisis and look forward to your comment, i started having kombucha, water kefir, and milk kefir, a little at a time, but after a few weeks i might have overdone it, i began brewing two batches of kombucha 2 weeks apart, and one day I woke up with a cold, the next day a bad skin infection that landed me in the hospital for 3 days, its been a year and i still have a little bit of the infection in my leg, i was never sure if it was all the ferments i had from the 3 i mentioned plus kraut, plus miso, plus raw milk, but i have stopped all ferments for 6 months maybe because two doctors told me to do that, two holistic doctors, who said the infection is from excessive heat in the body, and ferments cause more heat, so i am not sure what do, I would love to go back as i read how healthy they are for you but i have battling this infection on my skin for a year and want it gone, i look forward to your reply, thanks
    ian

  6. Sjc

    I have been making and drinking kombucha for two years or so now, and this summer keep experiencing angular cheilitis, which is a form of candida. I thought I was eating too much citrus at first. Sometimes I get cracks on the corners of my mouth in winter from xc skiing in the cold. But I’ve been drinking 8oz or more of kombucha at least once a week. I decided to tone it down and see if the cheilitis goes away. I am getting enough B vitamins and iron, and eating healthy, so the detoxification seems to be the only possible thing. I will try to stay away from processed sugars. I often eat Special K as a snack. It is the 5th time this summer I’ve had the corners of my lips start to turn red and crack. Not fun.
    Has anyone else had anything like this after detoxing or drinking kombucha?

    • Sounds to me like your body may be letting you know that something in your diet isn’t in balance. Have you considered eliminating gluten for a period of time to see if that might be the culprit? Kellog’s uses GMOs in their food, so it could be the Special K. Just a thought!

    • auntiehotmama

      The corners of my mouth started to crack a couple years ago. I went to a homeopath and he gave me Nat. Mur 6X. Hylands is the brand. As long as I take it regularly, no symptoms appear. He said my body needs salt and you cant get this type of salt from table salt, it has to come from the earth.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Lori

    If my stomach is bothering me as a result of drinking too much kombucha, I find that pure ginger tea helps. Have you heard or experienced that in the past?

    • Ginger is anti-inflammatory and aids digestion – so that makes sense. You might also try diluting your KT with water to ease absorption.

  8. babs

    I have been making an drinking Kambucha for approx 15years. I love it but the past 6months I have been getting severe headaches maybe once a month that last for 3/4 days. I put it down to stress and or Migrain. However I have just been away for 5 weeks so couldn’t take any Kambucha and I have had no headaches. I am very reluctant to start drinking it again. I have been back for 2 weeks so that’s no headaches for about 7/8 weeks

    • Every BODY is going to have its own response. Trust YOUR gut!

  9. Vanessa

    Thanks for the information on the healing crisis. I had my first 8 oz of Kombucha yesterday and a few hours later felt bloated ad experienced strong cramps and diarrhea. Guess I’m pretty toxic and will continue to drink it on my path to better health.

  10. Biviana

    I really like the drink, but if I drink more than 4 oz, my whole body starts to itch, since the first day I drank it . I still drink it, but it is very uncomfortable, Head to toe, itching all over! And this is happening over 3 years now. I am stubborn , I think it’s time to stop drinking it.

  11. lianhua

    Any comment on the difference between the healing crisis on consumption of kombucha tea made from unfermented tea eg. green tea vs. fermented tea eg. Pur Er or other Oolong?
    I have Eczema and currently on Holistic treatment, undergoing Acupunture and Herbal Therapy. Being advised by the TCM doctors that at pesent, my body is ‘heaty’ so to stop consumption of fermented tea since they are procecessed with heat.
    Would value your view on this matter as I thought the end product …..which is kombucha would have altered the biochemical nature of the tea.
    Thank you. Waiting for your reply, Hannah….or anybody in the world for your views.
    Regards,
    Lianhua

    • We are not TCM doctors so are not totally familiar with how their protocol works. There is a post in a comment stream at the KommUnity talking about Kombucha as being Yin and fluid rather than Yang (which is the hot stuff). Here is a link to the discussion. Our best advice is Trust YOUR Gut!

  12. Rosa Banks

    Funny! You say to start off drinking only a few ounces at a time. I just finished a 16oz. bottle. :) Most of the comments were about brewing your own. I just purchased this at the store – Millennium Products, INC. Beverly Hills Ca. It’s Organic Raw KOMBUCHA, Lavender #3. I immediately loved the flavor and was telling myself that this is my new found drink. I only decided to read about it and ran across this site because I have never heard of Kombucha. I feel a little feverish but I think that is only because I was up late last night and because I am reading this article…LOL. I did read on another site that this particular company had to reformulate this drink after settling a class action lawsuit due to the fact that they state on the bottle that it has a trace of alcohol but it was further fermenting especially if left out in the warmth and the alcohol content was actually higher! Anyway, so far so good. I have been switching to an organic lifestyle the last 3 months and that is what first caught my eye. I purchased 3 different flavors but this one actually smells like lavender. It is so wonderful and lovely…I’m not giving it up. Hoping that it’s different from something you make yourself…Hmm?

  13. Silver

    I feel off if I don’t drink at least 32 oz’s of ‘buch a day, 48 oz is just great, a bottle with every meal. Maybe it’s because I cut processed foods from my diet, or maybe I’m just a big healthy freak!!!!

  14. Joy

    I drank about 8oz today. I’ve had a sore throat, a stuffy nose, and have been extremely exhausted today. I’m going to cut back tomorrow and see if I feel better.

    Also, a friend of mine started drinking it 8oz a day. He has been having body aches.
    He still drinks wine… Maybe he shouldn’t drink kombucha…

    How will kombucha respond with the alcohol in tinctures? And the herbs, and infusions I’m consuming?

    • Every body will react to Kombucha differently. Trust YOUR Gut! If you are feeling the symptoms of a healing crisis, cut back on the amount you are consuming, increase the amount of water to aid with elimination and then gradually increase when your body responds positively. You will need to consult your primary care physician for further details regarding interactions with the herbs/infusions you are also taking.

  15. Brenda

    Ive been drinking kombucha now for a month but off and on since I would run out before next batch was done. After I began drinking it regularly for about 11/2 weeks I suddenly was TIRED with no energy. After two days of this I bean having aches as when I have the flu. I backed off on amount of kombucha and after two days of aches I was suddenly symptom free. Now I’m anxiously waiting to see what will happen next. ;)

  16. Angela Scanlan

    Curious… Could kombucha ever promote fungus in toenails? My husband drinks it constantly and has that issue.
    Also has dry flaky skin on both sides of the nose and inside the ears. Connected? Please help.

    • Sounds like he may be experiencing a healing crisis. We don’t “get toxic” in one day, so it may take a period of time for the body to rid itself of built up toxins before it rebalances. He can try using the Kombucha topically – either really sour old Kombucha Vinegar or using a piece of the culture applied directly to the affected area. Leave on for up to 15 mins and observe how it behaves. Check out this post for some skin care tips using SCOBYs -

    • Lara

      I bought it off the shelf, and drank a bottle a day. That was too much. My tongue began to look jagged, inside of my mouth became swollen, lips itchy, but that was after five months of drinking a bottle nearly every day. I quit altogether, and months later still get flare ups inside my mouth. I’m vegetarian, and pretty healthy. Feel like I created problems for myself. I’d say drink it in moderation, if at all. Red beets are also pretty cleansing, without risk of side effects.

      • Over consumption of anything can throw your organism out of balance. Many find that a bottle a day is a perfectly find amount for them – but every body is different. Trust YOUR gut!

  17. Irene

    I have been drinking store bought kombucha for 6 months i was drinking a bottle per day…amazed at how good I felt and was able to get off my Prilosec for heart burn. I recently started brewing my own and have had lots of congestion in my lungs dizziness and stomach pain. Thinking about stopping but it sounds like I could be detoxing.

    • kkadmin

      Sounds like detox symptoms. Dial back the amount, increase water and then gradually increase Kombucha as the symptoms subside.

  18. Hi, I’ve been drinking fresh K for about 8 weeks now and the results have been terrific. After a few days, my insomnia that I’ve had for 5 years, is gone. I am now sleeping all night. I can’t express in words what a different person is in my body now. The negative side affects did not start until 3 -4 weeks passed. I started having headaches which I never used to get for about a week, they now appear to be over.

  19. Eva

    I have been making and drinking my own booch for the last 6 months or so. My Dr. just called that I have a bladder infection, I did not know that, so no symptoms. She wants to put me on antibiotics, but my husband is wondering if it’s the booch. I drink 16oz daily. As well as 16oz of home brewed water kefir daily. Any thoughts?

    • Healing crises can come at different stages of the process and take many different forms. Trust YOUR gut Eva.

    • Lara

      16 oz home brewed is too much. I’ve read that you should drink no more than 2 to 4 oz a couple of times day in more than one place, but specifically on a bottle of Kombucha that came from Germany. Millenium (irresponsible) doesn’t give dosage amounts, and should. Yes, you can drink too much kombucha.

  20. Sydney wallis

    My question is concerning my son. We have been making. Our own kumbucha for awhile now. Turning out great, kids flavoring with lemon, ginger and orange. Very fizzy etc. anyway my 15 yr old son who was born in Ethiopia and has been in the USA for 3 yrs is having hive like reaction over a large portion of his body! He was drinking alot more kumbucha than I told him too. I know over 16 oz maybe more per day. He has taken string antibiotics for parasites two different times in the past months. He also tested positive for exposure to TB although certainly not contageous just exposed at some time in his life. I feel that it’s a waking crisis but I’m not sure. Wondering about taking him to the doctor?? Thoughts???

    • We are not trained medical professionals. We advise you to connect with your primary care physician if you have a specific health concern. A rash can be a sign of a healing crisis. Try cutting back the amt of KT he is drinking and increase water consumption to see if the rash subsides. Then gradually reintroduce Kombucha and closely observe to see how his organism responds. Trust YOUR gut!

  21. Rebecca

    Hi, quick question…about how long does it typically take people to detox and adjust to drinking kombucha. Since I started having 4-8oz of homemade kombucha everday I’ve noticed a very thick white coating on the back of my tongue. Kombucha is the only new things I’ve added over the past week. Do you think it’s my body detoxing? Should I keep drinking it? How many more days/weeks do you think it’ll take to get back to normal? Thanks in advance!

    • Sounds like a typical healing crisis. How long it will last varies from person to person. Read some of the other comments to hear how others have fared on their Kombucha Journey.

  22. CHRISTINE NEALE

    Hi Hanna, and other posters :)

    I have been reading all the ‘healing crisis’ posts the past TWO months while I have been trying and trying to get past the headaches and bloating associated with my delicious Kombucha. It seems to me that homemade brings more symptoms than store bought did…can that be?

    Anyway, I am SO happy to share that after 2 full months of working at it, and nearly giving up several times, I can now drink 1/2 a bottle with NO detox symptoms. I have had three symptom free days in a row and am ready to swig just a little more than half a bottle the next few days.

    I love my Kombucha and am happy that I don’t have to give it up – now, to begin experiencing the health benefits of staying de-toxed! :)

    Thanks for all the helps on this good site.
    Christine

  23. Cecelia

    Hello,

    I’ve read contradicting information about whether kombucha is good or bad for the liver. Do you have any information to help shed light on this issue? I’ve been a wine drinker for all my adult life and am wondering if I should steer away from kombucha if there is an issue.

    Thanks,

    Cecelia

    • There are several research studies showing the hepatoprotective effect (read as liver protecting) of Kombucha. It makes a great hang over cure and helps to curb alcohol cravings. We love to make Kombucha cocktails with it – a little antidote with your poison!

  24. Candace @ Candida Free Candee

    Very helpful post! I am starting with kombucha and since drinking it I have been super itchy allover but I am listening to my body an it says it’s working so I’m going to stick with it! Thanks again!

  25. Tim

    Probiotics in general promote healing. However many people are also exploring diet changes such as Paleo or GAPs. When you remove toxic substances & add probiotics like Kombucha and Kraut, not only do you get bouts of healing induced reactions, you also get periodic doses of poisons and other undesired (by the body) stored substances in body fat that your newly healing body is consuming.
    I like to think of it like modern Artic researchers who bore down through the ice layers, essentially going back in time to reveal past events. In a sense that’s what is happening as we detox.
    So I guess Kombucha is the finely crafted tool we use to bonk what crawls out of our past.
    You really have to love fine tools… and finely brewed Bucha.

  26. susanne

    any known incidents of kombucha causing hematuria as a detox side effect? or would it possibly a brewing malfunction related to “beerstone, a scale that forms on containers”. i use very good clean technique, if it is beerstone (causing calcium oxylates to form) could it be the environment, once the brew is sitting and fermenting?
    also, any known episodes of ear popping, possibly candida..or would it be a detox sx getting rid of candida?
    thanks for clearing these questions, as i love brewing and drinking kombucha, never had hematuria (blood in the urine) seems it happens a day after drinking about 12 ounces of homebrew.

    • kkadmin

      **WE ARE NOT PHYSICIANS AND DO NOT OFFER ANY MEDICAL ADVICE** KT can cause a healing crisis and those who suffer from candida will likely go through a “die off” period before it clears up. Kombucha contains acids that are anti-candida. We’ve not heard of any specific cases of hematuria (blood in the urine) from drinking KT. If you are experiencing this, we suggest contacting your care provider immediately. Kombucha is a diuretic so drinking less Kombucha and more water until this clears up may be a good idea until the root cause has been determined.

  27. Julian

    I started having lower back pain for awhile after increasing the volume of K. Being familiar with detoxing, I knew it was my kidneys. It persisted and I began to wonder how long it was going to take. One day I started drinking more water early in the day… voila, pain gone!!! I can’t emphasize how crucial drinking plenty of water is. I’m wasn’t a big water drinker, but I am now. Thanks Hannah for an amazing website… I continue to purchase product (second continuous brewer now in action) and reference for information.

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Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

How does it work?

By changing the starting ratio from…
1 Part KT:9 Parts Starter (orignial method)
to
3 Parts KT:1 PART Starter Liquid (CB method)
…the brewing cycle is dramatically reduced (just 1-2 days to complete).

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What about the Sugar?

Your colony of bacteria and yeast will be hungry and will very quickly process the small amount of sugar into mature KT.

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I don’t want to take on more work.

Actually, CB results in less work.  One example: a more streamlined bottling experience, without the need to lift your brewing vessel, clean it every week or deal with the mess afterwards.

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Yes.  With a straight face.  It is.

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