Disclaimer: These statements regarding Kombucha benefits have not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice or attention of heath-care professionals; this information is for educational purposes only. Kombucha Tea is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and nothing here should be taken as a claim of specific Kombucha benefits for any person. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice. Full disclaimer here.
Whether it’s been around since 220 BC or only for a few hundred years, Kombucha benefits are the main reason people try this funky brew for the first time. They hear from a friend or relative that Kombucha helped with something like stomach problems for example. So they grab a bottle from the store or find a SCOBY to try a homebrew. But what are these reported Kombucha benefits? And are these health benefits of Kombucha the same for everyone?
Most websites say that all the support for Kombucha benefits is anecdotal. And it’s true that for hundreds of years, that’s how people passed around their health traditions. As a result, popular nicknames for Kombucha in many different languages reflect this folklore of Kombucha health benefits: “Tea of Immortality”, “Elixir of Long Life”, “Magic Juice” just to name a few.
These names are exaggerations of course. As we say, Kombucha is not panacea. It will not solve all your health problems overnight or by itself. But many people have incorporated it into otherwise healthy routines and find it’s been a great addition to their lives. So maybe you will find you love it too!
Kombucha Benefits Research?
But is there no scientific backing for any Kombucha benefits? While it is true that large scale human trials are lacking, there were hundreds of scientific studies done on Kombucha in the 20th century. These early studies outline the many potential health benefits of Kombucha for all kinds of patients, including those suffering from arthritis, gout, and many other ailments. Mostly this research was conducted in Germany and Russia from 1920-1950.
Because Kombucha has become a best seller in the American beverage market, and now overseas as well, a second “research boom” is in progress all around the world. Hundreds more studies on various Kombucha benefits have been published in the last 15+ years and more are sure to come.
From The Big Book of Kombucha (Crum & LaGory, Storey Publishing, 2016), p. 364:
Researchers around the world have conducted studies using either kombucha or SCOBYs, testing them for a variety of components and properties, but a couple of recent papers have synthesized the modern research in very helpful ways.
In the survey paper “Current Evidence on Physiological Activity and Expected Health Effects of Kombucha Fermented Beverage” (Journal of Medicinal Food, 2014) (link), Ilmāra Vīna and colleagues at the Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology in Latvia concluded that kombucha tea has the “four main potencies necessary for numerous biological activities: a detoxifying property, protection against free-radical damage, energizing capabilities and promotion of immunity.”
Additionally, “A Review on Kombucha Tea — Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus,” authored by leading kombucha researchers Rasu Jayabalan, Radomir V. Malbaša, and others (Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2014) (link), shows the extent to which recent research has begun to establish the connection between the anecdotes and the science. As more research is conducted, we anticipate that the anecdotal evidence that has been mounting for centuries, if not millennia, will continue to be supported by additional studies.
Hopefully some of those new studies will include ones completed by American universities and other Western institutions, which could then unlock more money for those human trials after all!
Already you can find Kombucha tea and cultures used as ingredients in medical treatments and beauty products in Russia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Ireland, the United States.
Health Benefits of Kombucha – Anecdotal
However, Kombucha Tea is JUST A FOOD – a naturally carbonated, healthy tonic enjoyed by those who brew and consume it regularly, often throughout the day in small doses. People are usually very loyal to their daily Kombucha consumption, and consider the drink healthy for a number of reasons.
Here are the ones we hear most from our clients and on social media. Remember, these are just opinions from people who drink Kombucha all the time, not scientists. These are the benefits people say the can FEEL rather than scientifically prove. You may experience some, all, or none of these effects from consuming Kombucha.
Top Anecdotal Reasons People Drink Kombucha
- A great substitute for sugary sodas, juices, or multiple trips to the coffee pot
- Acts as a snack or pre-meal hunger control
- Better digestion, more regular pee and poo
- Eliminates acid reflux reactions
- Clearer skin
- Maintains Hair Color
- Less arthritis pain and more flexibility
- Get sick less often, better immunity
- Relieve headaches, migraines, and hangovers
- Smooth energy from low levels of caffeine in the tea
- Reduced stress – theanine
- Just plain feeling better and happier!
However, Kombucha is NOT a panacea – it doesn’t cure ANYTHING! It may help the body bring itself back into balance naturally. That is how it is able to do so much – because it’s really just your body working with nutrition, like any other food. Even though some think of it as a medicinal tonic, it’s really just a delicious and healthy beverage choice and one of many fermented food options. We love it because it’s easy to drink at any time of day and takes to flavoring and many other uses so well. Plus, making Kombucha is just fun! 🙂
Kombucha Benefits VIDEO:
How Much Kombucha to Drink?
with Hannah Crum the Kombucha Mamma
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Kombucha Benefits – Scientific
Now that we have the anecdotal out of the way, is it really true that there are no anecdotal Kombucha benefits that science can confirm? A brief review of the research done in the 21st century shows many promising potential benefits from consuming Kombucha that line up well with the anecdotal reports. As mentioned above, none of these are FDA approved statements or based on double-blind human trials, we are simply referencing a variety of scientific studies carried out around the world:
- Helps bring the gut into balance. Antioxidants, acids, enzymes, living bacteria and yeast all contribute to Kombucha’s supportive effects to help with ulcers, candida, and a variety of digestive issues. (link) (link)
- Compounds in the drink may help maintain a happy liver = happy mood. Researchers call out antioxidant activity, reduction of oxidative stress, and even lead removal as potential causes. (link) (link) (link) (link)
- Helpful to the heart and lungs as well. (link) (link) (link) (link)
- Beneficial to those with diabetes or blood sugar issues. (link) (link) (link)
- Shows potential for having positive effects against cancer cells. (link) (link) (link) (link) (link)
- Improved Immunity (benzonitrile, benzoic acid, itaconic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin, catalase, glucaric acid). (link) (link) (link) (link) (link) (link)
- Improved joint health. (link) (link) (link) (link)
- A rich source of B-Vitamins. (link) (link)
- Antibacterial against pathogenic organisms such as h.pylori, E. coli, and more. (link) (link) (link)
- Certain acids present are considered candida-cides (link) (link)
Does This Mean Kombucha is Proven Medicine?
No. Simply put, Kombucha is an all natural, healthy beverage, but the Kombucha benefits you experience may vary. There are more and more scientific studies beginning all the time and we may never understand everything about how food works with our bodies. We never expect the full blown, double-blind Western medicine-style trials required for FDA approved medical claims to be completed on Kombucha because it cannot be patented. Each person must simply remember: Trust Your Gut. People have been consuming Kombucha for generations because they believe it works for them. The continued spread of Kombucha can only be attributed to the safe consumption of a delicious beverage that inspires people to believe they are receiving benefits.
Kombucha Benefits VIDEO:
Is It Possible To Drink Too Much Kombucha?
with Hannah Crum the Kombucha Mamma
The Golden Rules
- …use a refrigerator stored SCOBY to make Kombucha.
- …use a dehydrated SCOBY to make Kombucha.
- …attempt to grow a SCOBY from a commercial bottle of Kombucha that:
- has been pasteurized
- has been flavored
- has been filtered or reformulated
- says anything less than “100% Kombucha” on the label
- …use a fresh, full-size Kombucha SCOBY to begin brewing.
- …store your SCOBYs in a SCOBY Hotel in a dry and dark place.
- …pass along healthy, fresh SCOBYs with at least 1-2 cups of mature Kombucha Tea and complete, clear instructions to ensure success. If you cannot, recommend a reputable source instead.
What’s the deal with Bacteria?
Aren’t they bad for us?
The fact of the matter is that while in the 19th century we were in dire need of sanitary practices, the negative attitude towards ALL bacteria has spiraled out of control. Bacteria outnumber our human cells 9 to 1! With all the hand sanitizers and constant antibiotic prescriptions, we have created a worse problem than we have realized. The bacterial cells tell our human cells what to do, how to behave, how to replicate. We NEED bacteria.
When you have an over population of “bad” bacteria – sugar loving bacteria – they send signals to your brain that you need to consume MORE sugar so they can reproduce. You may think you have a sweet tooth, but more likely you have an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria and unhealthy yeast like Candida. By incorporating “good” bacteria into your body – those found in ALL fermented foods – foods that humans have been consuming since they figured out how to use it for preservation (no fridge), you start to displace that “bad” bacteria. Your body’s pH returns to a more alkaline state. The gut moves those sugar bugs out and your cravings decrease – in fact, you may find that our over-sugared food supply doesn’t taste good at all. Eventually your body will regain its natural instincts and ability to “tell” you which foods are most nourishing.
Are There Really “Good” Bacteria?
This notion of “good” bacteria also extends to pasteurization (named for Louis Pasteur – who recanted his position on his deathbed). When we pasteurize food, we kill all of the bacteria present – good and bad. When it comes to a product like raw milk, that means that the bacteria that helps your body naturally digest the milk as well as the most nutritious enzymes are no longer able to help. You are left with a dead product that provides no nutrition and causes phlegm and congestion (vehemently denied by the Dairy Board, of course!)
We NEED bacteria to help us deal with our natural environment. We NEED bacteria to help our bodies absorb nutrients and enzymes essential to our health. Most of the time, they want to pasteurize the milk because the conditions in which most dairy cattle are kept are downright disgusting. Drinking Kombucha, making Kombucha at home (or kefir, or sauerkraut, or sour dough bread, or …the list goes on and on!) contributes to recolonizing the body with the good stuff. So it can return to balance and allow your immune system to function as it should. It empowers you in a simple and inexpensive way to take control of your health!
Of course, I have to remind you that you should consult with your physician before starting any new dietary changes, especially if you are currently taking medications. Though I will also tell you that Kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years and not a single death has been attributed to drinking it. Can prescription drugs claim that? (no, they cannot.)
Kombucha Brewing Tips
- Never store Kombucha SCOBYs in the Refrigerator!
- Sanitize with hot water or vinegar – NO SOAP. It kills the kombucha culture.
- Airflow is key – find an open area for your Kombucha Tea.
- If you see mold, throw everything away. Kombucha SCOBYs are not salvageable when mold strikes. More Kombucha mold info and photos here.
- Keep a SCOBY Hotel for backups and extras.
- Kombucha is a LIVING organism. Many believe the energy in the room will directly influence your culture.