I think the best informative articles written are the ones that give you first-hand accounts of a personal experience. That's why I think this article is a valuable read for anyone who is health conscious and listens to media about healthy alternatives. I know I wish I had come across this before I began drinking kombuchas on a regular basis.
Is Kombucha Good for you?
To date, there are no studies other than word of mouth accounts that drinking Kombucha is good for your health. I like many of you believed that drinking kombucha would improve my intestinal health, therefore, improving my health as a whole, after all, this is what I read numerous accounts of on many health blogs.
My Personal Experience - Kombucha Made me Sick
About a month and a half ago I began drinking Kombuchas on a regular basis. I purchased the Kevita brand as well as the Synergy brand. I was drinking 8 ounces at least 5 times a week. A week or two into this I got what I thought was the flu. A dull headache, sick stomach, and daily diarrhea were some of my symptoms.
I never suspected my daily Kombucha to be the culprit, in fact, I upped the amount I was drinking believing it could only help me with my flu bug which was still here going on weeks later.
Many natural health gurus will claim that it wasn't the kombucha that was making me sick and that the die-off of all the bad bacteria was the culprit. That may or may not be true, but the bottom line is there needs to be more guidelines and information about how much is too much. When a grocery store drink has the ability to render you very sick for weeks on end perhaps the label needs to tell you to beware.
Figuring out the Culprit
With the holidays approaching and a house full of company, I attributed the lingering effects of the flu to be a symptom of being a bit run down. But, after Christmas ended and my company left my flu-like symptoms continued on.
The most pronounced symptom was diarrhea. I simply could not eat any fresh fruits or vegetables and had to keep my diet to bread, rice, and pasta. Even a diet as bland as this did not stop the daily trips to the bathroom. My normal diet consisted of salads and smoothies made with bananas, berries, nuts, and seeds. To say the least, I was really upset that I had to resort to eating foods I never would normally eat.
Along with persistent diarrhea, I had nausea, intestinal noise, headache, and felt overall lethargic. After going for 5 weeks of constant diarrhea I started to get worried. I explored the idea that I had picked up a parasite or that somehow I had gotten food poisoning. However, none of these types of things are known to cause diarrhea lasting this long.
Oddly on occasion, I would have a day that I felt a little better, but I still had diarrhea in the morning, I started to try to think about what I had eaten or done differently on those days to see if I could link my sickness to something. Finally, I made the connection.
I got up one morning and my husband said he was taking me out for the afternoon and that I should just eat whatever I want and to let happen whatever happens. After weeks of eating dry food, I decided to give it a try. Before we left I drank a kombucha because I thought it would be good for my stomach.
We left for our afternoon outing and stopped to get some lunch. I ordered a chicken sandwich and it tasted good to me. A short time after leaving the restaurant I started to feel sick. Normally I only had diarrhea first thing in the morning but today I would spend the rest of the afternoon running in and out of every bathroom I could find. Worried and feeling sick I was really getting upset because not only was I sick first thing in the morning, now I was having problems in the middle of the day. Then it hit me, what had I done this day that could have caused me to become so sick? I had drunk the kombucha that morning before I left.
I Started Researching Diarrhea Caused by Kombucha
I went online and low and behold kombucha can cause chronic diarrhea when you drink it often. There are claims of die-off and that it is a good thing, but those are just claims, there is no concrete evidence to support any of it. Whether I was, in fact, experiencing die-off or not really didn't matter, I was losing weight and feeling lousy.
I am sure there are other health enthusiasts like me that never really thought that a kombucha would pack the probiotic punch that it does. I was under the assumption that it was a milder form of probiotics and a healthy drink alternative. I have to say after what I have been through I am a bit afraid to drink it again.
There are no Studies to Support the Health Benefits of Kombucha
I am sorry to burst your bubble, but there are simply no studies done to support the benefits of kombucha. I like you had read all of the raving reviews from natural health bloggers and I believed that I was going to make myself so healthy by drinking this five to eight dollar drink as often as I could.
Some of the articles you can read about kombucha are not short of outright fabrication. Claims of hair growth, skin clearing, and even curing cancer, with absolutely no studies to back it up. That's right, in over 30 million medical citations in the PubMed database there is not a single human study for this so-called miracle drink.
We can compare that to something like curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. This superfood has 180 clinical trials published. Often times it is the manufactures of the food/supplement which will fund the studies.
Forbes magazine states, this product is expected to reach annual sales of $1.8 billion by 2020. It occupies around 1/3 of the functional beverage market in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods. It is estimated that the GT Kombucha company may make about $500 million dollars a year.
So, if kombucha is so f@$%#g good for you then why aren't they ponying up and paying for a human study at a university? This would not cost millions of dollars, it could be done for tens of thousands of dollars. This is a drop in the bucket for some of these companies if they truly believed in their product and it's health advantages.
Other companies producing products like Rhodiola Rosea supplements have produced studies to support their product and they don't make near the amount of money the kombucha manufacturers do.
So What are the so Called Benefits of Kombucha
1. Probiotics - Yes there are probiotics in the kombucha but the SCOBY, which is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Published in the science journal Food Microbiology, five different samples were tested and it was found that just one probiotic made up the vast majority of the content. Gluconacetobacter was around 90% of the total probiotic content in the samples tested. It is claimed that some brands on the market have more types of probiotics inside, but they are most likely adding those in after the fermentation process.
2. Weight Loss - You may read testimonials or reviews of kombucha being a good diet drink, but again without any human studies, there is no proof that it is any good for weight loss. I suppose if you are a soda drinker at 35-50 calories it's a lot less than if you drank a soda and it has less sodium.
3. Better skin - Some blogs actually say that it makes your skin's elasticity and tone better. There are claims of it clearing up acne, eczema, rashes, warts, and athlete's foot.
There is no way that there is any validation for any of this. Perhaps the B vitamins, if you are deficient in them, may do your skin some good, but you could simply take a daily vitamin for the same effect.
4. Faster Wound Healing - A several-year-old study was done in Iran and was found to be flawed and retracted. Apparently, this study was conducted on 24 rats and half were treated with an antibiotic ointment and half were treated with kombucha fungus. As it turns out there was no significant difference observed.
5. Antioxidants - Once again there are no concrete studies out there for GT's, Kevita, Lion Heart, and Health-Aide kombucha, it would be a drop in the bucket for one of these companies to pay up for a scientific claim to support that kombucha is rich in antioxidants, currently there are none.
6. Boosts Your Energy - Since this drink is made with tea leaves it's possible there's some caffeine in it which could give you a little boost of energy. How much caffeine no one knows. They provide details for calories, carbs, sugar, and some vitamins and minerals, but none of them list the mg of caffeine.
7. - Cancer Testimonials - Glucaric acid is a sugar which comes from D-glucose. There has been some research done that suggests that glucaric acid may reduce cancer cell proliferation, especially in those which are hormone-dependent, like prostate and breast cancer.
That is quite a claim and to be fair we could tout the same claim from eating broccoli apples, and a variety of many other glucaric acid food sources.
8. - Joint Health - Yet another unsupported claim. Apparently, one doctor claimed that kombucha was loaded with glucosamine. There are no supporting papers on finding glucosamine in kombucha.
9. - Detoxification - There are many claims of kombucha being a form of detoxification. There are no human studies supporting this claim.
There are Studies to Support Health Risks of Consuming Kombucha
The truth is there is research that does support numerous health issues from consuming kombucha.
With even as little as one serving a day some people suffer adverse reactions.
Side Effects of Kombucha
- Stomach aches and cramps
- Yeast infections
- Gas and bloating
- Abnormal bowel movements
- Metabolic acidosis
- Alcohol poisoning
- Unsafe for pregnant and nursing mothers
- Gas and Diarrhea
Why does kombucha cause gas and diarrhea? There are really two reasons. The first reason is carbonation. It is not artificially carbonated in the same way as a soda is, but it is the fermentation of the yeast and bacteria that make the drink lightly carbonated.
The second reason is caused by the probiotics. Probiotics make some people feel very sick, but for most, this side effect will dissipate in time if they consume it regularly.
Kombucha has the ability to mess with the enamel on your teeth. Aside from drinking a Pepsi or a Coke, kombucha is the next most lethal on your teeth. It is more acidic than apple cider vinegar.
Death is listed under the safety information for the drink on WebMD. Basically, a 59-year-old woman who was drinking 4 ounces of kombucha a day for 2 months was found unconscious by her neighbor and diagnosed severe metabolic acidosis. Her blood level ph was 6.9 instead of what is normal between 7.3 and 7.4. She suffered cardiac arrest and died.
A similar episode happened nine days later in the same town to a 48-year-old woman. She too had severe acidosis and suffered cardiac arrest, but was able to be resuscitated.
Kombucha may be vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO. Does that make it good for you?
Probiotics are supposed to be good for you, that may be true but nothing says that it needs to come from kombucha. There are many other natural food sources and no one has died from those.
Finally, spending $4 a day or more per bottle can cost you $1500 or more dollars per year.