9

There are several websites (e.g. http://www.kombuchakamp.com/ and http://kombu.de/english.htm) as well as books (e.g. search Amazon for "Kombucha") about kombucha tea and most of them claim that drinking it has a positive effect on health. The main claim is that it improves your immune system and detoxifies the body. Further claims even go so far to say that it helps people which suffer from cancer or AIDS. This could be explained as well from the improved immune system.

http://www.kombuchakamp.com/basic-kombucha-faq:

Drinking Kombucha promotes better health by detoxifying and improving the efficiency of your digestive system which boosts immunity.

or see http://www.kombuchakamp.com/health-benefits-of-kombucha for a larger list of claimed health benefits.

However, there are also people which warn for kombucha, as it can lead to lead poisoning if done in an inappropriate container, or for other reasons.

Are there any scientific results supporting at least some claims of an improved health due to kombucha consumption? I'm looking for an answer showing research results in favor or against the main claims mentioned above. Results about similar claims are also welcome.

  • I like to mention that I myself brew kombucha at home and think there are at least some health benefits for it. It is safe to brew as long you take a food-safe container (i.e. without lead!). Unfortunately the way it is presented by some people reminds others on some alternative medicine mambo-jumbo. To my knowledge there are indeed some research papers about it. I might post an answer by myself after a while. – Martin Scharrer Mar 22 '12 at 13:53
  • By having so many claims here, you make it difficult or impossible to give negative evidence, so it is a form of bias. Please whittle it down to one or two claims (and post other questions if you want to know about other aspects). If you know there are research papers, are your questions about those studies? – Oddthinking Mar 22 '12 at 14:02
  • @Oddthinking: The main claim, as noted, is the improved immune system and detoxification effect. I can mention this more clearly at the end again. However, a proof of some health benefit would be already enough, but I understand your concern that this makes disproofing more difficult. I don't have questions about done studies. I would like to see an answer listing some trustworthy research results I could later point to (related meta post). I'm willing to do this work myself if required, but I'm of course happy to see other attempts. – Martin Scharrer Mar 22 '12 at 14:15
  • I think that the detoxification part could be made into its own question like "does detoxification exist at all?". It is a very vague term, often used with alternative medicine products, but none of them tell the specific toxins to be washed out. – Baarn Mar 22 '12 at 16:54
  • @Baarn "but none of them tell the specific toxins to be washed out." - They wash out "the bad ones". Checkmate, skeptics! – Graham Oct 11 '13 at 18:09
6

I've recently been interested in brewing my own Kombucha tea at home after hearing from several people how beneficial the tea is from their own personal experience.

I was shocked to see that little positive scientific studies have been published on this tea, but instead the opposite.

According to http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/kombucha

Because of the fermentation process, Kombucha can easily become contaminated. Allergic reactions, jaundice, serious illness and occasionally death have been associated with the consumption of home-grown Kombucha tea. It may also reduce the absorption of drugs that are sensitive to the pH level of the stomach.

There have also been reported cases of anthrax from improperly preparing the tea.

The above cases may be rare, but it gives enough concern that home brewing the beverage may be a risk that most should avoid.

Without more research on the tea it is hard to know if the benefits outweigh the possible side effects. Every article that I found that had something positive to say about the tea seemed to be from personal experience or hearsay. All the risks that I found were connected with home brewing the tea, so it might be a safe option to drink the tea when it is prepared professionally. For now, I would suggest ingesting foods that have similar benefits without the side effects.

In response to a comment about deaths only being associated with improper containers being used to prep the tea; there have been deaths associated with severe acidosis as well. Most issues are due to improper handling of the tea when brewing it, even an unclean brewing environment can cause the lesser side effects.

  • 3
    I find the side effect death some what rather serious then a slight benefit of increased immunity. – Lyrion Oct 8 '13 at 8:46
  • @Lyrion: The only death report I'm aware of are about two women who lived in the same household and brewed kombucha in a clay container which contained lead. The acidic kombucha removed some of the lead, leading to a lead poisoning. – Martin Scharrer Oct 8 '13 at 22:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .