Kombucha’s Protection Against Radiation: Anecdotes, Legends & Science

Radioactive SymbolWhen tragedy strikes, as it has in Japan, people are forced to confront questions they never thought to ask before. In this case, there are serious questions about radiation, its effects on the body and how to protect oneself in both the short and long term, provoking an unnecessary run on iodine pills.

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?

At least 3 studies from the last few years indicate that YES; Kombucha can help reduce the negative effects of radiation exposure in humans. Alrighty, let’s put on our thinking caps and delve into the anecdotes, legends and science behind this assertion.

Anecdotal Stuff

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, specifically as a daily health tonic meant to prevent disease and assist the body’s 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.

Legends of Kombucha

Mobile Tea Kvass Brewery in Russia
The Russians call it Tea Kvass.

Russia serves as backdrop for one of the most common Legends of Kombucha. (Note: I call these stories “Legends” not because I 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.

Respected Kombucha author (and e-mail buddy) Günther Frank elaborates on another Russian legend:

It is well documented that there are pockets of people, who are centenarians, clustered not only in the mountainous Caucasia’s where they are most celebrated, but also in outer rural areas like Yakutia in Siberia, or the Poltaya District of the Ukraine, as well as Tibet and Spain…There is an area in Russia called Kargasok [ED: One of Kombucha’s many other names is “Kargasok Tea.”], where the people are a dairy and vegetable-eating populace who cherish family ideals and traditions.

They are a hearty outdoor folk who work hard as carpenters, bookkeepers, and farmers who usually live well over 100. These Elders are revered, as active and valued members of society and family…the Russian centenarians attribute their longevity not only to their work habits, but also to the Yeast Enzyme Tea which has been in their diet 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. (Some claim he meant Chaga, however Günther Frank’s book states that Solzhenitsyn confirmed it was Kombucha in interviews after he defected to the U.S. in 1974.)

It is rumored that upon hearing of this remedy, President Ronald Regan began drinking Kombucha Tea and was cured of his own cancer.

Recent Scientific Studies

Again, just because the above legends have no scientific evidence to back them up does not mean I believe them to be false. On the contrary, I find collective wisdom to be just as important as scientific evidence. When both science and tradition point to the same answer, I am most satisfied.

Have you heard the rumor that there have never been studies about Kombucha done on people? Well, that’s incorrect. Two of the three studies quoted here used humans as subjects.

Study #1

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.”

Study #2

Gamma radiation pentration is demonstrated by showing it going through three levels of wall insulation that stop other types of radiation
Gamma Radiation is the most invasive and harmful type.

That makes these recent studies on Kombucha and radiation all the more exciting. For example, this study (2008 – 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.

Study #3

Also, the following study (2010- 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.

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!



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Responses to Kombucha’s Protection Against Radiation: Anecdotes, Legends & Science

  1. i just started my first batch very excited ,i had act scan yesterday iam hoping this wiil help the radation of the scan

  2. My sister had a kidney infection that would not go away. She as on her fourth antibiotic when she was crying on the phone to her daughter because of the pain. Her daughter told her to go get kombucha, neither of us ever heard of it. After her second bottle and one hours time her pain was gone and the infection vanished. We have both been drinking kombucha ever since.

  3. Thanks for the article, a lot of good information. I take issue with one point though. At the top you mentioned “provoking an unnecessary run on iodine pills,” linking to a website put out by “health officials.”

    First, U.S. “health officials” have never proven themselves helpful in putting out the type of information people really need in order to get and stay healthy, to recover from chronic diseases. I’ve learned to be very wary of health advice from the U.S. mainstream healthcare system. More often than not, they misguide the public, ensuring high numbers of preventable death and disease in our population.

    Second, there is an unnecessary scare about potassium iodide supplementation in this country, no doubt started by “health officials.” In reality, a large percentage of our population is suffering from iodine deficiency in the form of various diseases, especially thyroid.

    I suggest people read Dr. David Brownstein’s book “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”. He and some colleagues have done clinical studies on thousands of patients, helping a large percentage of them overcome serious health problems through the use of large doses of potassium iodide, then having them continue on a maintenance dose which would be considered “dangerous” by “health officials.”

    Potassium Iodide has shown to be effective at helping ADHD, Breast Cancer, Detoxification, Fatigue, Fibrocystic Breasts, Graves’ Disease, Hashimoto’s Disease, Hypothyroidism, and Immune System Improvement (according to Brownstein’s research).

    I’m still new to Kombucha, but I love it and am experiencing detoxing effects from it so far. I bet everything you posted in the article about Kombucha and its purported benefits are true. I don’t think that means, however, that potassium iodide couldn’t be used as an additional source for building better/optimal health. Right now, it is helping my husband with his Grave’s Disease. I take it too and am overcoming my long-time chronic fatigue issues. I began brewing Kombucha as another great tool to help him recover and for us both to greatly improve our general health and well-being.

  4. Thanks for posting this – does this mean that regular kombucha consumption also helps with reducing the effects of EMFs of power lines, cell phones, and electrical devices? Also, are there any studies on how it helps the body rid itself of pesticides from food consumption and drinking water? Thanks for the response

    • Kombucha is a powerful detoxifyer. The gluconic acid it produces binds to heavy metals and chelates them out of the body. Our research page with links to Kombucha studies is coming soon! I’ll post the link here when its up.

  5. Reading this reminds me that back when in the USA we heard and started wondering why these little villages had such long lifespans someone decided it must have been the yogurt . Too bad they didn’t keep researching. Kombucha could have been as common as yogurt in our supermarkets

  6. Standard chemo with radiation actually intentionally induces formation of free radicals which has a selective effect on tumors and normal tissue. Does Kombucha intefere with this modality?

    • I’m not a physician and cannot speak to this specific modality. Many who have gone through chemo have also drunk KT to help them through. Listen to your body and consult your physician to see if this is the right course of action for you.

    • Free radicals have a very short life span (or better random reactivity) therefore anything that comes from the gut will not affect them. Anyway, science is starting to understand how free radicals and antioxidants do work In Vivo, after years of contradictory and frustating results In Vitro.
      In short, drink your kombucha and eat as many of good quality antioxidantas as you can (brocoli, cabbage, cacao, good quality extra virgin olive oil, etcetera) and every ferment that comes close to you.

  7. I just finished five weeks of whole breast radiation. At week two, my breast was very sore, and the nipple was starting to crack. That’s when my first batch of Kombucha was “cooked”. After three or four days of regular drinking, all negative side effects — disappeared. Today, as I said, was my fifth week. I rode horseback for five hours yesterday – no pain at all. Simply amazing.

    • Thank you for sharing your story of healing, Sally! This is a testament to its tremendous power of KT’s ability to detoxify & the body.

  8. Interesting! From what I understand though, kvass is a fermented drink made from bread and sugar, while kombucha is made from tea and sugar. The starters are also different, containing a different combination of yeasts and bact. I think though that it is the acetobacter which forms acetic acid that is the most well known for fighting disease.
    Both drinks also taste quite different! Can’t say I like kvass but I love kombucha!

    • Hi Maria. Yes, there are 2 different types of kvass. Tea kvass and bread kvass, though these days you may also see beet kvass, carrot kvass, etc. Basically they are using a similar culture to ferment those foods to increase their health benefits.

      I have to agree – I ♥ Kombucha too!

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