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What You Should Know About Kombucha Before You Drink

The only reason to drink kombucha is because it makes you feel healthier. After all, no diet or study contains more wisdom than your body. At Body Ecology, we know that kombucha is popular. But this information is for people who don’t feel good when they drink kombucha — and they don’t know why.

Kombucha is a sweet fermented tea that is made with “tea fungus,” or a floating network of bacteria and yeast.

Kombucha tea fungus will absorb and sometimes even magnify pollutants.

Kombucha tea fungus is also called a SCOBY, an acronym for “symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast.”

Kombucha first showed up in northeast China. Around 1,600 years ago, it then traveled to Japan where it was used to cure the digestive problems of the Emperor Inkyo. As trade routes expanded, the tea made its way into Russia and eventually Germany, France, North Africa, and Italy.


As popular as it is, kombucha is a wild and unpredictable ferment. You can safely ferment your own cultured vegetables at home, teeming with friendly bacteria, by using the Veggie Culture Starter.

These days, kombucha is available worldwide. You can buy it at most grocery stores, or you can make it at home with tea fungus, black tea, and sugar. Kombucha wouldn’t have survived for thousands of years if it didn’t have something to offer. But kombucha isn’t without risk.

In a recent review, researchers warned against pregnant women, lactating mothers, and those with compromised immune systems drinking kombucha. (1)

Are there health benefits to kombucha? Yes. Both folk medicine and animal studies tell us that kombucha has a lot to offer.

Is kombucha on The Body Ecology Diet? No. Read on to find out why.

4 Reasons to Reconsider Kombucha Tea

  1. Kombucha may contain Candida yeast.

In a study from 1995, investigators found that two samples of homebrewed kombucha (from a pool of 32) were contaminated with Candida albicans — the same opportunistic yeast that can take over your gut and invade your body. (2)

While this is one small study concerning two samples (that came from the same home), it drives home the fact that kombucha is a wild ferment.

You never really know what’s in your tea fungus or SCOBY. And microbes work together — the presence of one can easily trigger the growth of another.

Scientists can tell us about general trends. For example, there are specific strains of yeast and bacteria that show up in tea fungus again and again. That said, the SCOBY in your homebrewed kombucha changes according to its environment. It can become contaminated, housing molds and fungi that cause illness.

  1. Kombucha contains alcohol.

One of the trends that researchers have noticed is that tea fungus contains yeast. And many of the strains in kombucha are the same yeast strains that are used in beer and wine production. (3)

Indeed, kombucha contains far more yeast than bacteria. One yeast — known as Zygosaccharomyces bailii or Z. bailii — is common in both kombucha and the food industry.

Z. bailii is extremely robust. (4) It can live off of food preservatives and spoil “shelf-stable” foods such as:

  • Fruit concentrates
  • Wine
  • Soft drinks
  • Syrups
  • Ketchup
  • Pickles
  • Salad dressing

When the yeasts in kombucha feed on sugar, they produce alcohol and gas. Like Candida, Z. bailii also produces acetaldehyde as it feeds on sugar. (5) Acetaldehyde is an irritant, carcinogen, and air pollutant that is found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust. At high enough levels in the body, it can lead to a rapid pulse, sweating, skin flushing, nausea, and vomiting. (6)

If you’ve ever had a hangover, you have felt the effects of too much acetaldehyde.

When brewing kombucha, the alcohol content increases with time (around the sixth day) and then slowly decreases. (7) One study found that kombucha contains as much as 5.5 g/L of alcohol — or 2.8% alcohol. (8) Kombucha that is allowed to brew for a longer period of time contains less alcohol (but possibly more acetaldehyde).

  1. Kombucha may contain heavy metals and fluoride.

The tea fungus (or SCOBY) floating around in your kombucha is biosorbent. Like a magnet to iron, it binds to contaminants and heavy metals.

Biosorbents are used to clean up the environment and wastewater.

Indeed, several studies have found that a kombucha tea fungus effectively removes heavy metals like copper, chromium, and arsenic from wastewater. (9)(10)

Other research shows that kombucha itself contains small amounts of lead and chromium. There have even been a few documented cases of lead poisoning from kombucha. (11)(12)

If you’re concerned about fluoride, a 2008 study published in Food Chemistry found kombucha to contain as much as 3.2 mg/g of fluoride. (13) This is significantly more than what’s found in unfermented black tea.

Kombucha tea fungus will absorb and sometimes even magnify pollutants.

When making kombucha at home or buying from a manufacturer, both air quality and water quality matter. So does your storage vessel — pass on stoneware that may be coated with a lead or cadmium glaze.

  1. Kombucha contains sugar.

Common table sugar — which also goes by the name of cane sugar, beet sugar, or sucrose — powers the fermentation of kombucha.

Yet a considerable amount of sugar is left unfermented in kombucha. (14)

In 2001, researchers at Bucharest University found that a little over 34% of sugar remains after seven days of fermentation. After 21 days, this percentage drops to 19%. This is why kombucha still tastes sweet — even though it’s fermented.

The Only Reason to Drink Kombucha: A Reminder

For the reasons listed above, kombucha isn’t on The Body Ecology Diet. It falls into the category of a wild ferment and is too much of a threat to a recovering immune system. The sugar in kombucha also feeds Candida yeast.

But many people report feeling better when they drink kombucha.

This all comes back to the Principle of Uniqueness. It's all about what works best for you. But for some, the sugar, the small amount of alcohol, and wild strains of yeast in kombucha are enough to keep you from reaching your health goals.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Kombucha is a celebrity favorite, but how does it fit into a healthy diet? Researchers have warned that pregnant and nursing women and those with compromised immune systems should avoid kombucha. Kombucha has some health benefits, but it is not on The Body Ecology Diet.

Here are four things you may not expect to find in your fermented tea:

  1. Candida yeast. Researchers have found kombucha contaminated with opportunistic Candida. Since kombucha is a wild ferment, you never know what you're going to get.
  2. Alcohol. Yeast in kombucha that feed on sugar produce alcohol and gas. Kombucha yeast also produce the irritant, carcinogen, and pollutant acetaldehyde that can cause rapid pulse, sweating, flushing, nausea, and vomiting when consumed in excess.
  3. Heavy metals and fluoride. Research confirms that kombucha may contain small amounts of lead and chromium; there have been documented cases of lead poisoning from kombucha.
  4. Sugar. Despite the fermentation process, a large amount of sugar is left unfermented in kombucha. 19% of sugar may remain in the tea after 21 days of fermentation.


  1. Jayabalan, R., Malbaša, R. V., Lončar, E. S., Vitas, J. S., & Sathishkumar, M. (2014). A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 13(4), 538-550.
  2. Mayser, P., Fromme, S., Leitzmann, G., & Gründer, K. (1995). The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’. Mycoses, 38(7‐8), 289-295.
  3. Teoh, A. L., Heard, G., & Cox, J. (2004). Yeast ecology of Kombucha fermentation. International journal of food microbiology, 95(2), 119-126.
  4. Martorell, P., Stratford, M., Steels, H., Fernández-Espinar, M. T., & Querol, A. (2007). Physiological characterization of spoilage strains of Zygosaccharomyces bailii and Zygosaccharomyces rouxii isolated from high sugar environments. International journal of food microbiology, 114(2), 234-242.
  5. Marsh, A. J., O'Sullivan, O., Hill, C., Ross, R. P., & Cotter, P. D. (2014). Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples. Food microbiology, 38, 171-178.
  6. Swift, R., & Davidson, D. (1998). Alcohol hangover. Alcohol Health Res World, 22, 54-60.
  7. Reiss, J. (1994). Influence of different sugars on the metabolism of the tea fungus. Zeitschrift fuer Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung, 198(3), 258-261.
  8. Chen, C., & Liu, B. Y. (2000). Changes in major components of tea fungus metabolites during prolonged fermentation. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 89(5), 834-839.
  9. Razmovski, R., & Šćiban, M. (2008). Biosorption of Cr (VI) and Cu (II) by waste tea fungal biomass. Ecological Engineering, 34(2), 179-186.
  10. Mamisahebei, S., Khaniki, G. R. J., Torabian, A., Nasseri, S., & Naddafi, K. (2007). Removal of arsenic from an aqueous solution by pretreated waste tea fungal biomass. Iranian Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering, 4(2), 85-92.
  11. Phan, T. G., Estell, J., Duggin, G., Beer, I., Smith, D., & Ferson, M. J. (1997). Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. The Medical journal of Australia, 169(11-12), 644-646.
  12. Sabouraud, S., Coppere, B., Rousseau, C., Testud, F., Pulce, C., Tholly, F., ... & Descotes, J. (2009). [Environmental lead poisoning from lead-glazed earthenware used for storing drinks]. La Revue de medecine interne/fondee... par la Societe nationale francaise de medecine interne, 30(12), 1038-1043.
  13. Kumar, S. D., Narayan, G., & Hassarajani, S. (2008). Determination of anionic minerals in black and kombucha tea using ion chromatography. Food chemistry, 111(3), 784-788.

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  • Bullshit

    “One study of two samples from the same home” (Sure...Real scientifically integrally sound...)

    “ large enough amounts” (So unless you’re concentrating 1,000gal of kombucha into pure acetaldehyde and drinking just that, you’ll be fine)

    “Scoby binds to contaminants and heavy metals” (So the contaminants have to be in your water in the first place. And if they bind to the scoby, they’re being removed from the kombucha itself)

    What an absolute bullshit article.

  • buy kombucha in bulk online

    have a look here guys

  • mrpush

    Hi I think the most absurd part is the mention of fluoride in the Tea. fluoride is an element it doesn't Just Produce itself during a fermentation process in a jar with a scoby and some sweet tea there has to be a source. the only way fluoride can be concentrated in a kombucha batch is if fluoridated water is used or if the tea that's used or the sugar that used is contaminated with fluoride. this article makes it sound like just Brewing Kombucha tea can magically concentrate fluoride just by brewing it ! that's ridiculous. Shame on you the author of this. Get your facts right!

  • GimmyTruth

    Kombucha! Documentary Evidence
    The following article was written by a man who studied medicine at the Lomonosov University in Moscow, and the Military Academy in Leningrad from 1946 to 1954. He has emigrated since then, and now lives in Germany. Name and address are known to me, but the author wishes them not to be published. I should like to express my thanks to him for permitting me to print this interesting account of what happened behind the scenes.
    From the history of medicine in the USSR.
    Episode from 1951 to 1953 and how the USA has profited by it since1983.Background to the breaking off of a promising research project on cancer therapy in the Soviet Union. President Ronald Reagan was cured of cancer with metastases. After the great national war (1941-1945), the number of cancer cases in the Soviet Union, as in other lands, increased by leaps and bounds from year to year. At the beginning of 1951 the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Central Oncological Research Institute in Moscow decided, among other important research measures, to analyze minutely the statistical data on the varying frequency of cancer cases in the individual regions, districts, and cities of the USSR. In doing so, the habits and environmental conditions of the populations in the districts where there were particularly few cases of cancer were to be investigated in especially close detail. In this way you might say almost criminologically, it was hoped to reach new discoveries in the field of pathogenesis and, if possible, succeed in finding an effective cure for cancer.
    Conspicuous in this respect were the districts of Ssolikamsk and Beresniki in the region of Perm on the Kama in the central western Urals. There were hardly any cases of cancer here, and then only in people who had just moved there. The environmental conditions were no better here than in the old industrial areas. In the Ssolikamsk and Beresniki districts there was new and continually expanding industry which, on account of its pollution (potassium, lead, mercury, and asbestos mines and the dangerous processing works connected with them) was much more dangerous than the old industurial areas in other parts of the Soviet Union.
    Although the population density was considerably less, the pollution was in comparison considerably more dangerous. The trees were dying and so were the fish in the Kama. Two exploration teams of ten scientists each, plus associated personnel, were set up. Dr. Molodyev headed the team in the Ssolikamsk district, and Dr. Grigoriev the team in Beresniki. The techniques used in the exploration, which were very extensive and lengthy, need not be described in detail here.
    Among other things explored by the teams were:
    Origin of the population
    Ethnic differences
    Dwelling and living conditions
    Eating, drinking, and sleeping habitsLeisure activities
    Age groups
    And much more besides.

    At no point did these innumerable factors, which were further subdivided, show any substantial difference to the populations in other areas of the USSR. The laboratory measurements of the pollution and its effect in the earth, water, fauna, and flora gave extremely unfavorable results. If these unfavorable results had not intensified, the contradiction to the fact that in spite of them there were hardly any cancer cases here, the investigation probably would have long since been broken off. Nevertheless, the long investigation revealed nothing of importance. The only thing that stood out was that, in spite of a comparatively higher consumption of alcohol and nicotine, the work morale was considerably better than in other areas of the USSR. Non-payments of social security contributions due to illness were considerably fewer. Drunken offenses were extremely rare. In spite of higher alcohol consumption, drunkenness was virtually unknown. It looked as if people here could take more alcohol.
    The norms for work and production were consistently and genuinely exceeded. The general mood of the population on the whole was high. Explanations for all these phenomena were not at first forthcoming. There seemed to be little prospect of finding an explanation for them. One warm summer's day the team leader, Dr. Molodyev, personally visited the dwelling of one of the families to be questioned. The wife and husband were out at work, and the children were at kindergarten or playschool. Only an old "babushka" was there, doing the housework. She helped several other related families in this way. The old "babushka" offered Dr. Molodyev refreshment, as the day was particularly hot, and he accepted gratefully. The beverage, which was unknown to Dr. Molodyev, was pleasant, refreshing, and tasty. When he inquired what sort of drink it was, the old lady told him it was called "tea kvass." Dr. Molodyev was astonished. He only knew of kvass, which was fermented from bread. On inquiry, the old lady explained that "tea kvass" was not made from bread but from sweetened tea, which was fermented by means of the "tea fungus" or "tea sponge." When she saw that Dr. Molodyev had difficulty understanding this, she showed him about ten big stoneware jars, which were standing side-by-side on shelves in a small neighboring room, and which had muslin or linen cloths tied down over them. She uncovered one of the jars. It smelled strongly of fermentation. On the top floated a large grey-brown jelly-like thing, flat as a pancake, which looked almost like a jellyfish. "Not exactly appetizing," said the doctor. "But very healthy for all that, easy to digest, and what's more, free," retorted the old lady.She then described in precise detail for Dr. Molodyev the method of preparing it:
    Into the stoneware jar is poured three to five liters of warm black tea (one teaspoonful of tea to one liter of water), sweetened with 100 to 150 grams of sugar per liter.
    While the tea is lukewarm, a "fungus" or an offshoot of one is placed on top, after a cup of ready-fermented tea kvass has been added. Then, a linen or muslin cloth is bound over the jar.
    After standing for 10-12 days at 20 to 30 degrees centigrade, the new tea kvass or "tea wine" is ready.
    Of course, the culture propagates itself from time to time by a cylindrical binary fission. However, using a sharp blade, three or four kopeck-sized pieces of culture (about the size of one DM coin) can be cut from the edge of the main culture, like a gear wheel, and placed in small glass jars (150 ml) on black tea and Kombucha beverage (in the ratio 1:1), sweetened as above. After three or four days new cultures will have grown, and they can be replaced right away on two liters of tea plus Kombucha beverage. The old lady must have told him that there was not a family in the whole Ssolikamsk region that did not brew and drink "tea wine." It had been so for many hundreds of years. It was said that learned travellers had brought it with them from China long ago. The Chinese had obtained it from the Japanese. The scholars had presented the Czar with this ferment with which one could make wine out of tea. After a while the Czar remarked that this "wine" was no longer to his taste. He commanded that it be given to the people, with the comment that now everyone could make wonderful wine from tea. The little moujiks would stop being so covetous, and they would not get drunk on this "wine" either. By a similar strange coincidence, the team under Dr. Grigoriev in Beresniki also stumbled onto this otherwise almost unknown tea ferment during their research. Long and thorough investigation proved that in both regions there was hardly a household that did not possess the "tea fungus," produce this strange "tea wine," and consume it in large quantities. Here was a cheap and beneficial folk beverage. Even alcoholics drank large quantities of it before, during, and after drinking alcohol. The remarkable thing about this was that after consuming large quantities of alcohol, drinkers showed hardly any signs of inebriation. Drunken offenses and accidents--either on the roads or at work--caused as a result of consuming alcohol, were extremely rare. The consumption of alcohol and tobacco was rather higher in the areas investigated than in other regions of the USSR. Now came the scientific evaluation of the results of the investigation. This was made more difficult because nobody in either team was in a position to classify or define the "tea fungus" with scientific exactitude. The Moscow Central Bacteriological Institute was able to help fairly quickly. From color photos and samples, it was definitely established that they were dealing with the little-known Kombucha. Kombucha is the Japanese "tea sponge" or "tea fungus," which is a jelly-like mass formed of Bacterium xylinum and nest-like deposits of yeast cells of the genus Saccharomyces. To this symbiosis also belong: Saccharomyces ludwigii, Saccharomyces of the apiculatis types, Bacterium xylinoides, Bacterium gluconicum, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Acetobacter ketogenum, Torula types, Pichia fermentans, and other yeasts. It was also known that this Kombucha was used in some parts of the Sovient Union to prepare a cider-like beverage called "tea kvass."
    The Central Bacteriological Institute in Moscow did not know much more about Kombucha than this. They relied mainly on the manual written by the German W. Henneberg, "HANDBUCH DER GARUNSBAKTERIOLOGIE," Volume II, 1926. However, the German manual did not say anything about the biochemical functions of the Kombucha symbiosis either. So, then the Central Biological and Biochemical Institute in Moscow was consulted.
    We now know that the so-called "Kombucha tea fungus" is not a fungus but a lichen. Kombucha is a symbiosis of yeast cells and bacteria, a fungal lichen membrane, which does not produce by means of spores--like a fungus--but by budding...(Note by G. W. Frank: I hope the author of this article will forgive me, but I do not agree with the classification of Kombucha as a lichen. A lichen is a symbiosis of algae and fungi, and requires light as a source of energy in order to build up chlorophyll by photosynthesis, a typical feature of algae. Kombucha, on the other hand, flourishes even in the dark, precisely because it contains no algae components, a typical feature of lichens.)*. Detailed investigation revealed that Kombucha, apart from other not easily definable sustances possessing an antibiotic effect, produces: GLUCORONIC ACID in particular, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, as well as folic acid and dextrogyral; i.e. L-LACTIC ACID (+).Of prime interest here were the GLUCORONIC ACID and the dextrogyral L-LACTIC ACID (+). A healthy liver produces sufficient quantities of GLUCORONIC ACID, which as yet can hardly be synthetically produced. It binds in the liver endogenic metabolic toxins which have entered the body, which are then transferred via the gallbladder into the intestines, and via the kidneys into the urine. Toxins bound by the glucoronic acid cannot be reabsorbed by the intestines or the urinary system. Glucoronic acid consequently has an extraordinarily important detoxifying function. A healthy body can produce it in sufficient quantities in the liver under normal circumstances, ensuring in general an adequate detoxification of the system. It becomes critical when the environment contains excessive amounts of freely circulating toxic substances or when excessive amounts of endogenic metabolic toxins accumulate in the body.
    The gradually and increasingly weakened liver cannot manage to produce sufficient gluoronic acid any more. In a situation where excessive amounts of endogenic and environmental toxins are present, the development of cancer and other diseases is fostered. Above all, the endogenic resistance system (RES) breaks down. Besides this, it is of great significance that GLUCORONIC ACID in conjugated form is the building block of the very important polysaccharides such as hyaluronic acid (ground substances of connective tissue), chondroitin-sulfuric acid (ground substance of cartilage), mucoitin-sulphuric acid (building block of the stomach lining and the vitreous humour of the eye), and heparin.So, it is not surprising that KOMBUCHA is used so successfully for weak connective tissue, arthrosis and arthritis, damage to the stomach lining and complaints of vitreous humour of the eye. It is also helpful for thrombosis and thrombophlebitis. The antibiotic component in KOMBUCHA is USNIC ACID, normally obtained from lichen. It has a strongly antibacterial effect, and can even partly inactivate viruses. USNIC ACID is a dibenzofurane derivative. L-LACTIC ACID (+)--dextrogyral--is almost never present in the connective tissue of cancer patients. So long as it is predominantly present in the connective tissue, cancer cannot develop. It is interesting to note here that a pH value of 7.56 is exceeded in cancer patients. Organisms which are free from cancer (and also free from precancers) show pH value of under 7.5. A deficiency of L-LACTIC ACID (+) in the diet leads to failure of cell respiration, fermentation during the breakdown of sugar, and the build-up of DL-lactic acid in the tissue. Mixtures of both lactic acids [levogyral(-) and dextrogyral(+), i.e. D and L-lactic] in equal amounts, whose directions mutually cancel each other out, are called racemates. These racemates promote the development of cancer, and even make it possible in the first place. Plenty of food-containing dextrogyral (L-lactic acid), manual labor, muscle training, saunas, etc., besides the elimination of waste products, enables the body to get rid of this lactic acid, and thus regulates the pH value of the blood and helps lower it. Serological tests of the blood in the veins have shown that the KOMBUCHA beverage shifts the pH value noticeably toward the acid side. That should give you a broad outline of our chief interest in KOMBUCHA. Detailed urine tests showed that after drinking Kombucha, the urine of patients who had never had Kombucha to drink before contained considerable traces of environmental toxins (such as lead, mercury, benzol, caesium, et cetera). It was thus ascertained that the beverage was completely free of these substances. Professor Vinogradov, member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, who was also Stalin's personal physician, ordered a series of further medical and pharmacological tests using Kombucha. Rumors of a future miracle cure for cancer reached the ears of the Minister of the Interior and the Chief of Secret Service, L. P. Beria, who had himself gone on a guided tour of the laboratories of the various research institutes that were now busy testing Kombucha, and had everything explained to him in minute detail. When Beria heard how they had come across KOMBUCHA, he was jubilant. "That's the criminological investigation of the KGB for you! You see? Science can learn from the KGB! But learning from the KGB means learning how to be victorious! I shall have to tell Comrade Stalin about this. He just recently reproached me and said we must work more efficiently, that is, scientifically." In this connection people began to talk about how Stalin's anxiety about the possibility of getting cancer was growing even greater. Added to this, there was a scientific treatise by Professor Petrovsky, Principal of the Leningrad Institute of Parapsychology, who said that people often die of the disease they have always dreamt about. Stalin had apparently read this treatise, and due to his "belief in science" was now so depressed that something had to happen.In view of this state of affairs, and because harmful side effects could with certainty be ruled out, Stalin was pacified by treating him with the raw product of KOMBUCHA, the beverage itself, before a corresponding pharmaceutical preparation could be developed.
    Professor Vinogradov made his decision in this respect, dependent on the assent of a medical council. In the Autumn of 1952 a council of 12 doctors gave their consent. Beria gave the go-ahead, but he had done so without reckoning on both his deputies, KGB Generals Ryumin and Ignatiev. Both had gotten wind of the affair and had likewise had themselves conducted around the laboratories, naturally not without listening to the relevant scientific explanations about it, but then, however, coming to different conclusions. Ryumin and Ignatiev were pathologically ambitious. Each of them was trying to oust Beria and take over the office of Minister of the Interior and Chief of the KGB for himself. As Stalin at this time had considerable antipathies toward the Jews, which had never previously been the case, they used the fact that Vinogradov and most of the members of the council of Stalin's personal physicians were Jews. They hatched a very primitive but nonetheless mean and effective plot, by informing Stalin that Vinogradov and his "accomplices" had cultivated particularly dangerous "moulds" in order to obtain poisons from them with which they intended to slowly and unobtrusively but surely poison him (Stalin). Stalin, in his extremely morbid distrust, gave Ryumin and Ignatiev full power -- without any interference from Beria -- to arrest Vinogradov and his followers and to prepare a trial. This affair became known as "The Trial of the Moscow Doctors" 1953. Vinogradov and his team of docors ended up in Moscow's Lubyanka prison. The research work on KOMBUCHA came to an abrupt end. The Moscow examining magistrates and public prosecutors soon discovered new "crimes" and formulated them in the indictment: damaging the reputation of Soviet medicine and pharmacology by relapsing into pre-scientific nature healing. They had deliberately tried to use this to expose Soviet science to ridicule in the eyes of the world. Scientifically prepared preparations could not be seriously set aside in favor of pre-scientific so-called "nature products," without appearing backward and ridiculous. Vinogradov and the other members of the "council of personal physicians" were vindicated after Stalin's death, and Beria, Ryumin, and Ignatiev sentenced to death and executed for these machinations, but as far as I know, the research work on KOMBUCHA was not taken up again. The Soviet Research Committees justified the indictment in the following way: Soviet science refuses to slavishly imitate or exploit natural processes. Soviet science must think and investigate in an independent and creatively productive way. One should not stick to simple natural processes and copy them. This would be unworthy of a Soviet scientist. The aim of Soviet medicine is to create an irrefutable theory of the pathogenesis of cancer and to develop from it steps towards an effective therapy of this disease. Soviet medicine must not demean itself by descending to a state of quackery infatuated with nature cures. The former methods of healing by natural means is pre-scientific. One should not fall back into such a state. However, nobody was against experiments with KOMBUCHA going on -- quietly -- in prison hospitals and labor camp with prisoners who had cancer. These experiments did no harm in any way, but on the contrary only did good. A vast number of specialist books have been written on this subject. As witness to this, Alexander-Solzhenitzyn's works can be mentioned here, particularly "Cancer Ward," "The Right Hand," his autobiographies, et cetera. In them, he expounds in detail how he himself fell hopelessly ill in prison from stomach cancer with numerous metastases in the lungs, liver, bowel, et cetera, and how by a seeming miracle, he was completely cured by KOMBUCHA, which was made with birch leaf tea. He then describes in "Cancer Ward," how he was in a Moscow clinic for a check-up, lying in the same room as some high-up officials who were also suffering from cancer, and who would have given all they possessed in order to get hold of this "miracle cure." A note is necessary here: KOMBUCHA is made with birch leaf tea in those cases where the urinary system requires stimulation. The toxins bound by the glucoronic acid can thus be eliminated from the body particularly quickly and effectively. However, it must not be forgotten that the tea solution in which the KOMBUCHA culture is to be placed must always contain some black tea. Without black tea, the culture will not thrive, if it grows at all. It is a little known fact that Paracelsus fermented all the medicinal herbs one could think of with KOMBUCHA. These medicinal herbs fermented with Kombucha were particularly effective. In 1983 the media reported for the first time that the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was said to have cancer. Then, at regular intervals we heard continued reports of new metastases which had appeared and had to be removed from the bowel, bladder, and nose. He found it difficult to cope with the chemotherapy he had at first been given. Further metastases appeared. Famous doctors in the USA remembered the cancer therapy mentioned by Alexander N. Solzhenitzyn in his autobiography "Cancer Ward." He had been cured of cancer quickly, completely, and without problems in Soviet hard labor camp hospitals. References to the sinister "tea fungus," allegedly the cause of the cure, were followed up. A. N. Solzhenitzyn, who was living as an immigrant in the USA, was questioned on this matter. He was able to give important information. Some samples of the "Japanese tea fungus," also called "Kombucha," were procured at once from Japan. The treatment using the beverage was begun, and the President drinks a liter of it daily. Ronald Reagan's cancer and his metastases are hardly ever heard of now, if at all. He'll probably enjoy a happy and healthy life for many years yet.

    *To link to a related article by Gunther Frank, Visit: Article by Gunther Frank!Another article of interest can be found at fungi perfecti's MUSHROOM INFORMATION CENTER, hosted by the President, Paul Stamets:
    Kombucha: My Adventures with "The Blob"

  • AnnettePK

    The sugar content of Kombucha is considerably less than in a soda, sweetened tea, wine, etc.
    Kombucha absorbs pollutants and heavy metals from the person drinking it, so that is a healthful quality.
    Any food prepared in a container with lead and other heavy metals is going to be toxic, whether it's canned soup or kombucha or anything else.

  • Melissa

    This article is complete crap.

  • Irene Martin

    I’ve been drinking kombucha for about 3 years, and blend it with berries for a milkshake, can’t drink it without as I don’t like the taste. I never knew about the alcohol and gas due to fermentation. Just wondered if this would cause problems for anyone with liver problems. I’m having a problem with my digestive system at the moment, belching, heartburn, and wind. I’m eliminating certain foods and will not drink Kefir for a couple of weeks, to see if it will make any difference. It’s only in the last 6 months I’ve had this problem, after a stressful few months my gut has suffered, not sleeping and anxiety. Would be interested if anyone has had stomach issues with fermented foods. Don’t really want to give up my Kefir.

  • Thad Launderville

    I think something got confused in the alcohol section. I just learned about the British unit of alcohol and did this calculation, from the same reference, myself: 5.5g/L x 1 unit/8g alcohol = 0.69 units/L. 1 unit/10 ml alcohol x 1000ml/L x 1%/100 all cancels out, so you can go straight to 0.69% ABV from that. That's primary fermentation being referenced, not bottled.

    "The number of UK units of alcohol in a drink can be determined by multiplying the volume of the drink (in millilitres) by its percentage ABV, and dividing by 1000."

  • Sim

    I noticed that my wife and I both went to our friend who was a professional hairdresser after only 6 weeks instead of the normal 16 weeks. It was after we first started using the new Kombucha tea. Even the hairdresser noticed. My wife said her fingernails were really clear ie no white flakes allowing for the old nails to grow out, strong and great quality. The hairdresser said, "You were only just here what happened?" We both said,"Kombucha tea!"

  • JerryBerry

    Thanks Tom Rothsey for clearing up much of the bias here. I was going to mention that the sample where Candida came from was so very small, 32 batches, I can throw a rock and hit 32 people making kombucha in my apartment complex, and to top it off the contaminated samples were from the same home, probably the same batch in two different containers. This article is misleading.

    on WebMD

    "However, the FDA says kombucha is safe when properly prepared. If you’re making it at home, experts recommend using glass, stainless steel, or plastic containers. Keep everything sanitary, including the equipment and your hands."

  • DDX

    "Kombucha MAY contain heavy metals and fluoride"??? Sorry, but this sentence says next to nothing. It MAY rain tomorrow means exactly the same thing as saying that it may NOT rain tomorrow. In order to be meaningful, you've got to include a likelihood, i.e. "There is a 45% chance that your kombucha contains heavy metals or fluoride."

  • Generator in sudan

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  • Brunon Kowalski

    I've been drinking Kombucha for a 6 month now and frankly I feel no positive effects. Maybe even some negative. Time to quit and start to ferment some cucumbers.

  • Tom Rothsey

    The study you cite to indicate adverse effects of kombucha contains this quote:

    “However, all of these cases were very isolated and involved only a small number of individuals. Moreover, there is no substantial evidence to confirm the toxicity of any kombucha tea or the occurrence of illness by earlier studies (Vijayaraghavan and others 2000).”

    Moreover, cases of heavy metal poisoning appear to be the result of fermentation or storage in compromised ceramic vessels which contain heavy metals that are leached in the kombucha under acidification. All in all, a very sloppy article full of hysteria with very little in the way of facts to support the claims, but better than the old article you had, and have revised.

    Candida albicans has only ever been isolated from two samples, from the same household in Germany, yet the article you cite has this to say:

    “Thus, subjects with a healthy metabolism do not need to be advised against cultivating Kombucha.”

    On top of that, kombucha nearly always contains the yeast Zygosaccharomyces bailii, a confirmed antagonist of C. albicans, and sometimes contains Saccharomyces boulardii, also a confirmed Candida antagonist.

  • Amber Van Sweden

    FABULOUS article! Finally! It all makes sense to me now why I feel SO bad after drinking kombucha! I know so many people LOVE it & claim it has an abundance of health benefits, but just like sugar, gluten & so mnay other controversial foods, kombucha isn't for everyone! I NEVER drink alcoholic beverages & I swore I felt a buzz after drinking a couple bottles. I swear the feeling I felt after the first one was the same dizzy feeling I get when I eat sugar. I KNEW kombucha wasn't for me! I'm very grateful to read this article because it puts reason behind how I felt. Thank you for this information!

  • Bret Bouer

    I strongly disagree with this article. It is poorly founded and lacks evidence. She says in the article that the Kombucha scoby accumulates metals and toxins. That means that it purifies the water! The scoby that accumulates the toxins is not consumed and it is thrown away.

    As far as the sugar goes her claims are exaggerated. Read the label of most kombuchas and they have very little sugar.

    As far as the fluoride goes that comes from non-organic teas. This is why I make my own, I use organic green tea.

    She even sensationalizes the alcohol issue. I have drank 1 gallon of kombucha in a day and I have felt no effect from the alcohol. I don't consume alcohol at all so I have a low tolerance for alcohol. If it were in there I would have noticed.

    This article is very misleading. Kombucha is a health food/beverage that has proven the test of time. Anyone who says otherwise is simply creating a sensational article to drive traffic to their site to sell more of their product. I expected more from Donna Gates.

  • evZENy

    1) Candida itself is not an issue - it is naturally in the body. It's overgrowth is.
    2) The levels of alcohol in kombucha are lower than in boza - a traditional kids breakfast beverage. Laughable point.
    3) If the SCOBY is a biosorbent, then it is actually beneficial, as it will be adsorbing/absorbing the contaminants in the tea making it healthier! Shooting down your own argument. Fluoride comes from the tea and (in the case of USA) - the poisoned fluoridated water. Whatever you put in - that's what you will get. It can't generate Pb, Cr, etc. unless you add them with the ingredients!
    4) Has sugar? Yes, if you add too much. Make up you mind if the sugar was used to make lots of alcohol or stayed around as excess. Mainly acids are made, if you do analysis on the final liquid.

  • Raina

    I don't normally comment on articles but I have had this one sent to me a few times and I have to say it is a very vague fluff piece. Writing about how kombucha "might" or "may have" all the things listed in the article is frustrating to see.
    It is already known that people with compromised immune systems should avoid this. As with every single other food or product out there, it does not work for everybody. There is no point in us 'demonizing' one food, and often its not about the PRODUCT its about the BODY and person. There are so many variables.

    I wrote an article on my blog that lays out even more, including:
    Why alcohol is not a valid argument - every single fermented food contains trace amounts of alcohol, it's called 'healthy low alcohol' and its not a new thing. It may be felt by someone who is alcohol sensitive - but its not 'bad' for you.
    Why it doesn’t work for everyone (why would you keep drinking something that made you feel ill? this goes for pop or anything else too)
    Negative References made were caused by incorrect method of preparation, NOT the product/drink itself
    How there are too many variables in the argument!

    I can often appreciate valid arguments, its keeps the fire fueled and our interest up, there is passion and that's a good thing!

    Read more here in my educational blog about these issues:

  • Sarah Safford

    I've recently been diagnosed with acute tubular necrosis after a biopsy which followed a trip to the ER where they told me I had acute kidney failure. I'm not sure it has anything to do with the homemade Kombucha I had been drinking for the month before but I am suspicious. I am allergic to mold...could it be a reaction? In the ER they told me I was very dehydrated and maybe in that weakened state I was more vulnerable? The nephrologist who ordered the biopsy can't find any definitive causes but said this condition could be related to heavy metals. Is there any way to test the Kombucha to see if is somehow contaminated or contains hevay metals?

  • Melly

    This bothers me that this whole article about bashing kombucha is to promote your product.

  • danieltb

    One would think that the amount of heavy metal toxins in any given kombucha would have to depend on the tea used; according to the chart near the bottom of the "cleanest" teas to use would be Indian white tea and Sri Lankan green tea.

  • Viktro

    While reading through some of the posts that were relating to similar negative effects in regards to drinking kombucha while having candida albicans infections is that most were identical to the Jarisch Herxheimer Reaction. These symptoms actually occur when candida is Dying Off due to their release of mycotoxins which are known neurotoxins. It is not only a sign that you have a candida infection, but more importantly that the candida is being eradicated, or killed! The severity of the reaction is based upon the severity of the candida infection. If the reaction is too harsh, then you limit the amount of kombucha that is consumed. Over time when the reactions lessen in discomfort, you can gradually consume more in order to fully eradicate the candida infection. And as in everything else... moderation is key.

  • Nancy

    I have been making and drinking Kombucha for 21 years! Started in Poland and brought it to America. We drink alot of Kombucha and our family of have been very healthy. Drinking Kombucha while breastfeeding made me have tons of milk! Kombucha cleans the blood of toxins - I know because one time I had drunk a bit too much of an herbal tincture (made with grain alcohol and my head got quite dizzy - after drinking a cup of Kombucha, I was totally clear headed after 15 minutes. Kombucha cleanses our bodies from toxins. I dont give any credit to 2 batches from the same house coming up with candida - sorry very far fetched. I know in my research over the years that Kombucha is actually very good for getting rid of Candida. Also, I do not drink my Kombucha until a true fermentation has occurred - there has to be a good fizz before I start drinking it - that's when I know the sugar has been used up to ferment. In order to do that, either you have a warm house or a electric warming pad under the crock. I only make original Kombucha and never flavor it - that is the American way - to always flavor their drinks - totally unnecessary -and possibly detrimental (adding more sugar even natural and stopping the fermentation.

    I know that Solzenitzyn was healed of serious cancer in the gulag using Kombucha (young birch leaves were added when brewing the black tea) and Ronald Reagan's staff found Kombucha for him when he had cancer (on his nose). The history of Kombucha tells me alot more than these piddly tests done one 32 test cases with 2 from the same house having candida. Give me a break! As far as any alcohol in Kombucha - I am very sensitive to alcohol - very -and have never gotten a tiny little buzz from drinking quarts of Kombucha in a day.

    Don't drink it - don't drink anything you don't believe in - but find something healthy to drink instead if Kombucha scares you.

  • Jamie

    Jan - I completely appreciate your frustration about seeing so much conflicting health information online! As a society, we have become accustomed to seeing final, one-size-fits-all verdicts from supposed "authorities" (like the FDA/USDA) that it can feel very conflicting and suspicious when we see conflicting information on something online.

    The important thing to remember is that in real life, there are very few "one size fits all" situations when it comes to food! We are all bio-individual, and what our bodies need, want, and can effectively use - or will respond badly too - varies widely from person to person based on our individual histories, environments, and gut health!! Real Food of every kind also naturally varies significantly depending on when and where is was grown, how it was handled, etc.

    In many, many cases, there's won't be a single "right" or "wrong" answer. For many people kombucha is a healthy, life-giving beverage, and for some others it will be a hindrance. Rather than get suspicious or frustrated, we are all far better served by learning to listen to our own bodies and making confident choices about what is right FOR US, whether its the popular option or not. :)

  • kenny

    If you are concerned about the dangers of kombucha you might want to consider the tibetan culture Jun as it is a more robust culture, to combat the possible contamination by wild yeasts i periodically use pau d' arco and cats claw as a tea to brew it with, this sterilises the culture `and eradicates any wild yeast that may have turned up in the mix. jun also feeds on honey so you do not have to risk compromising your white blood cells with dangerous refined sugars.

  • Leanne

    Is water kefir the same?

  • ellen

    Do you feel the same about water kefir? I use sugar to make the kefir. Appreciate your response, thanks!

  • orin

    Scinia it is designed to be this way confusing,not all the information right front, so than you always keep trying mean keep buying and the problem never being solved... so i am there with you for me Kombucha helped with the addiction to a very sugary drinks and with my PMS and overall health i feel great. My point do what feel good for your body learn to be aware and listen to it, by that you'll know what work best, vegan, paleo, vegetarian, or whatever the next fab diet eat organic, fresh wholesome god giving food and you will be just fine.

  • Susan Wilson

    What about water kefir? I know you feed it sugar. Is it bad for you also?

  • David

    Sad that this article is riddled with indiscrepancies and half truths.
    Just some are:
    1/ It's referred to as a "tea Fungus", yet 'fungus' is a totally different organism to bacteria and yeast - and not present in a Kombucha culture at all.
    2/ The claim that "The tea fungus (or SCOBY) floating around in your kombucha is biosorbent" is a bad thing is potentially misleading. If true, it is actually probably a good thing as it means that the scoby (which isn't eaten) is absorbing contaminants out of the liquid and into the scoby, thus purifying the kombucha liquid that is consumed.
    Furthermore, any (metal/chemical) contaminates that may be present can only be there because they were in the ingredients used to start with so to say that "Kombucha tea fungus will absorb and sometimes even magnify pollutants" is both absurd and ignorant. You CANNOT 'magnify' pollutant levels in a closed system. The only accurate and helpful comment here is that you avoid potential contamination by using only good quality ingredients and glass containers.
    3/ The comments on alcohol just about made me fall of my chair laughing considering we live in an alcohol saturated society.
    4/ Footnote 14 to substantiate sugar levels is strangely missing.

    Oh, an Scinia, really weird that YOU drinking Kombucha made your husband's facial hair go gray?

  • bernadette murphy

    I believe for some people Kombucha would be beneficial but I have personally never tried it because I have an autoimmune disease and have struggled with candida for years and a naturopath had advised that it may not be a good thing for a person with my history to take. I have how ever recently got into other fermented foods and have been making my own sauerkraut and kimchee, i would be interested to hear your advice on lacto fermented vegetables and fruits for those with compromised immune systems and gut issues.

  • Sarah

    I had to stop as well, nausea, stomach cramping and loose stools. Did more harm than good. No bueno for me, but everyone's different.

  • Judy

    I have to agree with Donna on this one. I have Candida and drinking kombucha makes me miserable - emotionally and physically. And yes, there is alcohol in a lot of kombucha products. If the culture in the kombucha bottle is live, it's culturing and one of the by-products is alcohol.

  • MotorPsychGirl

    Yes, well, it hasn't been around for over 1,600 years for nothing. Unless you eat 100% organic, you are filling your body up with all sorts of nasty carcinogens every day. Bottom line, I agree with the first commenter...if you listen to your body and it tells you it is good, do it. Everyone has an opinion...listen to your insides.

  • Andrea

    I've been making my own Kombucha for months now. I love it, and it doesn't make me feel unwell. I think anything made at home can be contaminated, and only you know the quality of your water, sugar, and tea, as well as air quality and cleanliness. One should always listen to their body because everyone is different and responds differently according to their age, health, etc... The problem with all of the information that is coming out is really the marketing behind it. Everyone is an expert with the "truth," which we know is/has to be relative to the individual. It's effective for some, but not for all. We've lost the ability to be more humble with our healthy offerings...or it's in the small print. If you feel well and have a routine that works for you, take it all with a grain of salt, and recognize the marketing machine behind the information.

  • Serena

    I'm really glad I saw this article! Just yesterday my dad purchased some Kumbucha from a new health food store in town. He bought one for me and one for himself. It's all sort of new to us and his flavor had a slimy mass at the bottom. I looked it up on the Internet and we discovered it was the SCOBY. Not long after I ate a cup of yogurt and then got ready for bed. About an hour or so later I was having really bad cramps, gas, and bloating. I thought maybe I had just ate a bad cup of yogurt or something when I read this article it made sense. I've been on an anti-candida diet before too, so I know now I'll probably be avoiding this particular beverage in future. Thanks Bodu Ecology!

  • Jan

    What about kombucha tea that you buy in the store. synergy brand or GT's?

  • Jan

    I am starting to get feed up with all the information and books that come out everyday about health. It is looking like all of you are friends and promote each other's books even though they have different philosophies. I always liked your information it seemed like you know what your talking about. But now your telling us kombucha isn't good for you, but you sell the kits. If it has heavy metals in it why would you sell it? Then on the same page you recommend another new diet.
    Tell me who can we believe anymore? The only one that seems honest is Underground Wellness and he says it's getting crazy too.
    Totally confused as to what is good and what to eat!

  • Scinia

    Body Ecology had previously warned against kombucha and luckily i read it while i used to drink that fermented concoction. Too bad, i had consumed for at least 3-4 months before realizing its bad effects. The side effects were stomach cramping, dark circles below eyes and surprisingly it led to graying of my husband's facial hair. Hope people wake up to its hoax benefits. Thanks.

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Information and statements regarding dietary supplements/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is a result of years of practice and experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.

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