Disclaimer: These statements regarding Kombucha & Radiation have not been evaluated by the FDA. Kombucha Tea is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Full disclaimer here.
When tragedy struck the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan in 2011, people were suddenly forced to confront questions they never thought to ask before. Topics such as daily radiation exposure, its effects on the body, and how to protect oneself in both the short and long term became popular.
Social media declared: everyone needed iodine pills. And nobody was ever eating Pacific Ocean fish again!
The hysteria passed, as it always does. But questions of radiation exposure are not limited to Chernobyl-style disasters.
Everyday concerns such as EMFs, WiFi, 5G and more have health professionals on alert. And exposure is cumulative, so finding a way to reduce the effects or even detox them from the body is critical.
There is a growing chorus in favor of eating fermented and macrobiotic foods and drinking Kombucha to help protect against radiation. But is there any basis that the health benefits of Kombucha extend into this arena?
Yes! At least 7 studies since 2008 seem to indicate that Kombucha may be able help reduce the negative effects of EMF and radiation exposure in humans. Let’s take a look at the science. But first for context, let’s explore some of the anecdotes and legends around this topic.
For decades, doctors and alternative health professionals have been recommending Kombucha to their patients. Though most cancer organizations do not endorse the use of Kombucha Tea as a specific treatment option, that misses the point of Kombucha’s benefits.
KT is not a medicine intended to treat any disease. It is simply a healthy tonic that can be consumed daily and helps the body with its natural processes.
German doctor Rudolph Sklenar famously claimed to use Kombucha to treat cancer (among many other diseases in early stages) with fantastic results. Today, alternative treatment courses sometimes involve adding Kombucha to the daily routine.
Relatedly, some people claim Kombucha alleviates or prevents chemotherapy sickness due to reduction in absorbed radiation. This assertion is the most relevant to the current question: Can Kombucha protect the body against harmful radiation?
25 years ago, Russian residents near the town of Chernobyl suffered through the worst nuclear accident in human history. The effects of the radiation released on the local population (and the entire world) has been debated ever since, with some early studies claiming only isolated health problems associated with the accident.
However, recent studies have more accurately captured the horrific, long-term effects on the health of plants and animals both in the region and all over the world with the dramatic release of radiation, linking nearly 1 million deaths worldwide to the explosion at Chernobyl. Surprised? Not exactly. Radiation should be taken seriously as a health issue.
Legends of Kombucha
Russia serves as backdrop for one of the most common Legends of Kombucha. (Note: We call these stories “Legends” not because we think they are false but because they come to us largely without proof, in a modern day sense.)
The Russians, concerned with an increase in cancer rates post WWII, launched a full scale investigation. While increased pollution from industrialization was determined the likely culprit, there were two regions that were discovered to be nearly cancer free.
Upon further study, it was determined that the people of these regions (the Solikamsk & Berezniki districts) had been drinking Tea Kvass (Kombucha) ever since the Czar had introduced it hundreds of years before.
Another Russian legend tells the tale of many people who live well into their 100’s living in pockets among the Caucasus Mountains, Kargosok and rural areas of Siberia, Ukraine, Tibet, and even Spain. These people live active lives, work hard, and enjoy their “yeast enzyme tea,” a staple of their diets for hundreds of years.
Nobel-Prize winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes in his book “Cancer Ward” that Kombucha Tea cured his stomach cancer during his internment in Soviet labor camps. (Although some information points to the possibility he was referring to Chaga rather than Kombucha.)
It is rumored that upon hearing of this remedy, President Ronald Regan began drinking Kombucha Tea and was cured of his own cancer.
Although there is no scientific evidence to back up these legends, that does not mean they are false. Collective wisdom can be just as or even more important to a culture. When both science and tradition point to the same answer, we are most satisfied.
Kombucha & Radiation – Recent Scientific Studies
And now to the science. To be clear, none of these are FDA approved, double blind studies. Because Kombucha cannot be patented, research dollars are difficult to secure. These scientific publications are based on experiments undertaken by researchers located all over the world, those interested in and drawn to Kombucha as a subject.
The conclusions drawn from this research are simply theories at this point. Kombucha is just a food. But we can all agree that consuming the right healthy foods for your body’s needs is a path to better health. And if those foods can help ameliorate the effects of everyday radiation we are experiencing, all the better!
Have you heard the rumor that there have never been studies about Kombucha done on people? Well, that’s incorrect. Three of the studies quoted here used humans as subjects.
The first known research around radiation and Kombucha appears to have been done in 2008, and was promising. It showed that rats with livers damaged by irradiation or exposure to harmful chemicals had improved function after consuming Kombucha.
The following study (2009 – pdf) looked for chromosomal aberrations (CAs) caused by radiation as they are considered to be the main culprit behind many forms of Cancer. According to the science, Kombucha does provide a “radioprotective effect against ionizing radiation.” It’s important to note that increased dosages provided increased protection. Here is their conclusion:
“(T)he results of the present study clearly confirmed that g – radiation induces CAs formation in human lymphocyte cells. But, supplementation with KM – tea (Kombucha Mushroom Tea) can protects (sic) against g – radiation toxicity, by reduction effects of free radicals. Therefore, antioxidant role of KM–tea may be used as a ‘genotoxicity–limiting agent’ to reduce environmental effects of radioactive agents in the near future.”
Let’s translate that very important finding into plain English: Bad radiation causes your chromosomes to go haywire. Daily Kombucha consumption limits these effects.
Detoxification is at the heart of Kombucha’s powerful benefits to the body. It has long been established that Kombucha Tea helps detoxify the liver & kidneys. However it has also been discovered that Kombucha can provide preemptive protection against environmental pollutants such as TCE (Trichloroethylene) for example, a common ground water contaminant. This 2009 study (pdf) demonstrated that Kombucha Tea “repair(s) damage caused by environmental pollutants such as TCE and may be beneficial to people who deal with these chemicals.”
Building further, this study (2011 – pdf) focused on rats that were exposed to Cadmium Chloride & Gamma Radiation (very bad). Kombucha Tea was administered to the rats before exposure.
When they were injected with the Cadmium Chloride or dosed with radiation (or both), rats consuming a steady diet of Kombucha Tea absorbed lower levels of toxins than those who were not. The report’s conclusion states:
“According to the results obtained in the present study, it appears that KT (Kombucha Tea) ferment administration to rats would decrease the toxicity associated with oxidative stress and thereby reducing the damage induced by exposure to cadmium and/or radiation.”
“KT [Kombucha Tea] could proffer a measure protection against EMF exposure induced oxidative damage by possibly reducing lipid peroxidation and increasing the antioxidant defense mechanism in rats.”
Reaffirming that conclusion in another study 2 years later (2013), new research showed that rats consuming Kombucha had healthier levels of copper and zinc, 2 metals affected by EMFs, than those in the control group.
“The results clearly indicate that FBT [Fermented Black Tea aka Kombucha] has significant potential to protect cellular system from radiation-induced damage and ability to scavenge free radicals might be playing an important role in its radioprotective manifestations.”
As always, Kombucha is a healthy addition to your routine and does not prevent or cure any disease. It can only help the body fight more efficiently, detoxify more completely and rebuild its defenses more regularly. The best defense against toxins will always be to never come in contact with them.
But in our daily life, avoiding all radiation is impossible. Choose healthful food and drink that assists the body’s natural healing processes, like Kombucha!
Have you received a specific health benefit that you attribute to drinking Kombucha?
Leave your story in the comments below!
- Possible Protective Effect of Kombucha Tea Ferment on Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Liver Damage in Irradiated Rats – Gharib, O.A Published 2008
- Protective effect of kombucha mushroom (KM) tea on chromosomal aberrations induced by gamma radiation in human peripheral lymphocytes in-vitro – Kultigin Cavusoglu Published 2009
- Does kombucha tea attenuate the hepato-nepherotoxicity induced by a certain environmental pollutant? – Gharib, O.A Published 2009
- Possible Protective Effect of Kombucha Tea Ferment on Cadmium Chloride Induced Liver and Kidney Damage in Irradiated Rats – Nashwa K Ibrahim Published 2011
- Role of Kombucha Tea in the Control of EMF 950 MHz Induced Injury in Rat Heart and Lung Organs – Gharib, O.A Published 2011
- Effect of kombucha on some trace element levels in different organs of electromagnetic field exposed rats – Gharib, O.A Published 2013
- Fermented black tea ameliorates gamma radiation induced cellular and DNA damage in human blood lymphocytes – Tanmoy Mondal Published 2015