The Skinny on Kombucha


by Barbora Simek

At OMB, we’ve been drinking Kombucha for years finding it helps increase energy, and awareness and balance moods. We wanted to find out what the real deal was behind the drink that many Bikram Yoga practitioners are hooked on, and here is what we found…

The History…

No one really knows where Kombucha came from. Reports of the fermented drink go back thousands of years, the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Russians all created versions of Kombucha although no one has conclusively identified the roots of the drink.

A Kombucha 'SCOBY'

The process of making it….

It all starts with a beige rubbery pancake-like culture called ‘SCOBY’ (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts). The SCOBY is added to sweetened green or black tea and left to ferment for approximately two weeks. As the ‘SCOBY’ feeds on the sugar in the tea, it releases a cocktail of organic acids, enzymes and amino acids.

The end result…

After two weeks (or longer if you want a fizzy drink), the ‘SCOBY’ is removed, along with its ‘daughter’ (a smaller version that forms and can be grown into a Kombucha culture.) Flavors are added to create the drink you consume off your store shelves.

Does actually it work?

What the skeptics say….

Few medical studies have been done into the health benefits of Kombucha, no randomized case-controlled studies have been done on humans, however in mice it has been shown to increase the size of the liver and spleen. Some worry that Kombucha has negative effects on the body such as causing toxification of the liver, headaches and allergic reactions. Many of these reactions are caused by bad batches of home-brew, or by over consumption of the drink. Find out more about ways to prevent Kombucha dangers here.

Scientists that have done tests have found it difficult to isolate all the beneficial acids and ingredients that Kombucha claims to have. For example, in lab tests while Kombucha has caused an increase of Glucuronic Acid in consumers of the drink, scientists have failed to find it in the beverage itself.

What the advocates say…

Kombucha has existed for thousands of years, and has been used medically by many cultures with vast histories in alternative healing. The organisms and biochemical reactions of Kombucha are similar to that of vinegar, which has been used medically for centuries to help with liver, gallbladder function and to help fight scurvy.

In testimonials, people have claimed that Kombucha helps with everything from cancer, to depression, arthritis, anorexia and more.

So is it really a miracle cure-all? What do I trust?

Dr.Thomas L. Stone, Medical Director of the Center for Biological Medicine in Rolling Meadows, Illinois wrote the following about Kombucha…

“The tea is known to contain small but probably significant amounts of important nutrients such as the B vitamins, essential amino acids, etc. and could very well have been seen as a miracle food in the past by those who were unknowingly trying to compensate for a very limited diet.”

Ultimately, you chose. Modern medical science is a powerful tool and some brilliant scientists have studied the drink with unimpressive results. However, it is important to stay objective and remember that research is fueled by money and it is unwise to trust studies without fully understanding the bias of those who commission and carry out the studies.

While perhaps not medically substantiated, thousands of years of testimonials claim that Kombucha does in fact have positive results on health. You can read some here, here and here.

What is claimed to be in Kombucha…

Even though it is fermented, Kombucha contains less than 1% of alcohol.

  • Probiotics (Lactobacillus Bacterium and S. Boulardii) – Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that help in the process of digestion and help to support your immune system.
  • Live active enzymes Usually found in food that has not been cooked or processed these enxymes revitalize cells.

Organic Acids

  • Lactic Acid – Helps to regulate and maintain healthy digestion and is good for the liver.
  • Acetic Acid -A preservative and natural antiseptic that helps to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Glucuronic Acid – This powerful detoxifying acid is produced by a healthy liver. When toxins enter the liver it is glucuronic acid that binds to them and flushes them into the kidneys. When consumed in Kombucha it helps to detoxify the body of harmful chemicals that leach out of plastics, petroleum products herbicides and pesticides. Gluronic Acid is also easily converted into glocosomines which are the foundation of the skeletal system and help to lubricate joints and are found in cartilage and collagen.
  • Usinic Acid – An acid with antibiotic qualities that can help to deactivate viruses.
  • Oxalic Acid- Which helps to encourage the intercellular production of energy.
  • Malic Acid – Another liver detoxifier.
  • Butyric Acid – Helps to fights against yeast infections like Candida by strengthening the walls of the gut, and also helps to protect human cell membranes

Health benefit claims of Kombucha*


Claims to help with:


* all these are claims only and are not scientifically verified, taken from Dr. Thomas L. Stone’s article, “Kombucha Tea”

More…

GT Raw Kombucha Site

Kombucha Dangers

A cure in a cup? By the Guardian.co.uk

Kombucha America

Kombucha Article for Seeds of Health

2 Comments

Filed under Daily Feature, Nutrition

2 responses to “The Skinny on Kombucha

  1. shokuh

    hello.i mailed you from iran.i want to increase kombucha juicer like your company.i have kombucha mushrom and i know how to produce it.but if i want to expand my production industrially what should i do? as you know after days this juicer become acidic even if it was in refrigerator.for solve this problem what should i do? i work in naural water and green tea juicer company.i like to add kombucha to our green tea as a flavour.is it possible?kombucha was my tesis when i take my M.s degree in developmental biology.i`m really willing to heard your advices and helping.please.

    • Hi Shokuh,

      I really do not know anything about brewing Kombucha. Sorry that I cannot be of more help, but I know there are other websites out there with forums that could possibly help. Good luck with the brewing!

      B

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