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Can Kombucha Feed Candida and Cause Heartburn?

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The tingle across your palate. The explosion of bubbles in your mouth. It’s no wonder that fizzy drinks are so wildly popular.

As it turns out, our attraction to sparkling beverages may have very old roots. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, bubbly refreshments have been used as a digestive and restorative tonic for centuries. (1)

Even today, some mothers still believe carbonated drinks will help an upset tummy.

Of course, many of these carbonated drinks have no long-term benefits. And some carbonated drinks, like soda, are even destructive to our health. Over the last several years, healthier alternatives have been showing up on market shelves.

One study found that some kombucha samples harbored the yeast responsible for Candida overgrowth.

Kombucha is for many a healthy alternative to soda pop. It is available in health food stores, and some brands even make a variety of flavors.

But those with weak immune function, hormonal imbalances, or pre-existing gut disorders are often unable to tolerate kombucha.

The Difference Between Kombucha and Other Carbonated Beverages

Kombucha tea is a carbonated drink that contains uncontrolled and unregulated wild ferments. While fermented foods and beverages are beneficial to digestive health, wild ferments may not be tolerated by those with Candida overgrowth and gut disorders.

Kombucha is one type of a lacto-fermented beverage. It is made by adding sugar to black, green, or yerba mate tea and then allowing a select community of microorganisms to feed on the sugars. During the fermentation process, bacteria multiply and produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is what gives kombucha its distinctly sour taste.

One difference between kefir, kvass, and kombucha is the culture that is used in the fermentation process.

For example:

  • Kefir is traditionally made with kefir grains, which look like translucent, irregularly-shaped pearls.
  • Kvass is made with fresh, unpasteurized whey.
  • Kombucha tea is made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, commonly called a SCOBY.

The Problem with Wild Ferments

Wild ferments are uncontrolled and unregulated. They rely on the microorganisms that are found in the starter or SCOBY. When it comes to wildly fermented drinks, environment also plays a role.

While some people can and do benefit from wildly fermented foods and drinks, many more cannot tolerate some microorganisms that show up in a wild ferment. This is especially true if you are battling:

  • Candida overgrowth
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

While kombucha may contain many beneficial strains of lactic acid bacteria (or probiotics), it can also contain several strains of yeast. Some of these yeasts are beneficial to the body, while others are not. (2)

The problem with wildly fermented kombucha tea is that most of us have no way of knowing what strains of yeast the kombucha SCOBY contains. (3)

In fact, one study found that some kombucha samples harbored Candida albicans, the yeast that is responsible for Candida overgrowth. (4)

If You Are Healing, Kombucha May Be a Roadblock

The kombucha SCOBY is well-tolerated by many people.

However, if you are struggling with any health disorder, you may want to think twice about drinking wildly fermented beverages like kombucha tea. This is especially true if you have a pre-existing Candida yeast infection.

If you would like more information on whether or not kombucha tea is right for you, you can speak with your primary care physician about:

  • A stool sample, which can help to reveal how in or out of balance your inner ecology is.
  • A urine organic acids test. This can help to detect small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or a Candida yeast infection.
  • A blood analysis to check for intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.”

While lab tests are good for information, if you already have signs and symptoms of an imbalanced inner ecology, you may want to try removing kombucha tea first from your diet.

Other wildly fermented beverages, such as kefir and kvass, may contribute to the problem, rather than the solution. With a wild ferment, there is no way to tell.

The Healthy Way to Ferment

If you have been on the Body Ecology Diet, you probably already know about starter cultures used to regulate the type of bacteria that flourishes instead of risking a wild ferment.

Both coconut water kefir and even milk kefir can be made in a way that benefits the digestive tract and the immune system. The key: Inoculate your coconut water or dairy with specific strains of bacteria and yeast, not wild grains.

When you choose a starter with specific yeast and bacteria, you choose what grows and ultimately what ends up in your body.

For those of us who cannot chance harmful strains of yeast in a wild ferment, cultured beverages like coconut water kefir are the perfect solution!

One easy alternative is to drink a few ounces of a premade probiotic beverage like InnergyBiotic.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Carbonated beverages are popular for a reason. History points to the fact that fizzy drinks have been used as digestive tonics for centuries. For many diehard soda addicts, kombucha tea seems like a healthy alternative at face value. Unfortunately, those with hormonal imbalances, weakened immune function, and pre-existing gut disorders may not be able to tolerate the wild ferments in the drink.

Wild ferments like kombucha are problematic because they are uncontrolled and unregulated. While many people will receive benefits from a wild ferment, others with specific health issues may not react well to certain microorganisms. This is especially true for sufferers of Candida overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and irritable bowel syndrome.

To make the process of enjoying ferments easy on yourself, stick with safe Body Ecology starter cultures with regulated bacteria that will benefit your inner ecosystem. A deliciously fizzy cultured beverage like coconut water kefir is easy to make at home. Or, you can conveniently enjoy a few ounces of a prepared probiotic drink like InnergyBiotic to receive the same benefits!

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  1. Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. NewTrends Publishing. 2001 p. 585.
  2. CJ Greenwalt, et al.  Kombucha, the fermented tea: microbiology, composition, and claimed health effects. J Food Prot. 2000 Jul;63(7):976-81.
  3. AL Teoh, et al. Yeast ecology of Kombucha fermentation. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Sep 1;95(2):119-26.
  4. P Mayser, et al. The yeast spectrum of the 'tea fungus Kombucha'. Mycoses. 1995 Jul-Aug;38(7-8):289-95.


  • I agree that it's an individual thing. Some of us are fermenting the sugar and black tea until there's hardly any sweetness left (but lots of probiotics). It's been very beneficial to me. I've been able to shake ten pounds that were really hanging on; kombucha's been part of my regimen.
    My friend, on the other hand, just can't tolerate it. It does her no good. I think it really depends on the person!

    Posted on May 7 at 3:31 pm

  • Molly Fitzpatrick says:

    I was a candida sufferer for many years and could not drink commercial Kombuccha. If I did, I would get hot, itchy, and irritable. I tried many cleanses and although I am not 100% clear from the yeast- I have minimal symptoms. I make my own kombuccha and I have no negative reactions to it. I found this such a treat because I generally cannot tolerate sweet things. Home Made Kombuccha is my treat!

    I think in reading this article it is important to gather information- and then filter this through your body wisdom. Truth has many variables- keep your mind open!

    Posted on Mar 22 at 10:00 am

  • kenny swann says:

    Sorry but this is very see through manipulation of information that is obvious
    ly designed to have people use your proprietary technology. Very Monsanto like.

    Posted on Oct 1 at 9:56 am

  • Thing is, different people react differently to all these fermented drinks. There also NO general rule when it comes to what's suitable to someone, it is often a matter of personal prefference.
    For instance I love Kombucha tea and milk kefir, however I cannot stand the taste of water kefir.

    Posted on May 13 at 4:06 pm

  • Casandra Dean says:

    My 12 yo has been diagnosed with IBS and severe dairy intolerance. So far he cannot tolerate any probiotics, including cultured coconut milk. I recently bought kombucha and he is tolerating that ok, is there any health benefit?

    Posted on Mar 26 at 11:42 am

  • This just confirms what my colleague Paul Pitchford has been saying for years about Kombucha...

    Posted on Jan 3 at 3:59 pm

  • Sarah says:

    I have always thought of kombucha as being something like the Borg in Star Trek - a collectice consciousness that wants to take us over from within. I have always had a very bad feeling about it and marvel at the kind of language and reverence that is used or shown towards this drink. And how has a drink that is made from black tea and white sugar gotten to the list of "holy drinks"? The whole thing is strange.

    Posted on Jan 3 at 3:42 pm

  • Anthea says:

    Is all kombucha wildly fermented? If not, which brands are safe?

    Posted on Jan 3 at 12:37 pm

  • Sheila says:

    I feel like I've have drunk alcohol. I start to feel like I m tipsy. Is that normal?

    Posted on Jan 3 at 11:44 am

  • tom says:


    Posted on Dec 21 at 11:55 am

  • Cheryl says:

    I made my own water kefir and never tolerated it..always felt like I had a fever. Some said that was die off but I suffer from migraines and yeast seems to be implicated as one of the triggers. I loved milk kefir and believe it made a difference in my health though, so maybe it's the sugar left over in the water kefir...I'll never know for sure I guess.

    Posted on Nov 29 at 12:51 pm

  • jo says:


    Would this apply to cultured vegetables as well?

    Posted on Nov 29 at 12:03 pm

  • Meg says:

    Thanks for writing this. Last year I read that Kombucha was like a wonder drink so I tried it. I drank it for 4-6 weeks and then I started having dizziness and then developed other health problems. I have always felt that the kombucha had something to do with all of it. This is only the second article I have run across that recognizes that komucha is not necessarily a wonder drink and, in fact, can create health issues!

    Posted on Nov 29 at 11:26 am

  • Jennifer Aguirre says:

    I'm so happy to read this article. I had heard about the health benefits of kombucha and when I tried it I had awful awful joint pain and inflammation of the intestines. It nearly laid me out for a day. I do have candida and irritable bowl. I have found cultured veggies and kefir to be most beneficial and healing and soothing. Kombucha not for me!!

    Posted on Nov 29 at 11:11 am

  • sharon Engel says:

    Does the same hold true for wildly fermented vegetables?

    Posted on Nov 29 at 9:28 am

  • Jenn says:

    this is a great article! I have been talk of this for years, and this has confirmed for those with yeast allergy, or candida, not all ferments will benefit. thank you for clarifying this long overdue explaination!

    Posted on Nov 29 at 8:25 am

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