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Kombucha Tea

Kombucha Tea Review

What is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea "com-boo-cha" is a popular health beverage made from the fermentation of sugared black tea and the Kombucha culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeasts. It has been widely used in Russia and central Asia and has become an increasingly popular complementary remedy across Europe and the USA. Kombuchu tea is reported to have many health properties including anti-ageing, anti-oxidant, immune boosting, general health benefits, aid longevity, chemo-preventive properties, and relief of conditions such as hypertension, rheumatism/arthritis, arteriosclerosis, gastro-intestinal, and liver disorders.

Who may benefit from Kombucha tea?

Research suggests that Kombucha tea may be of benefit for its liver protective effect, protection against and healing of gastric ulcers, protection against environmental pollutants, improved immune function, antimicrobial activity, and potent antioxidant activity. Current research has looked at the effects of kombucha tea in animals and therefore research is required to look at the effectiveness and safety of Kombucha tea in humans

Summary of Kombucha tea's Phyiological Effects:

  • Kombucha tea possesses potent antioxidant activity
  • Research has found it to have a liver protective effect possibly through glucuronic acid and glucaric acid
  • Kombuchu tea appears to provide protection against and aid healing of gastric ulcers
  • Possesses antimicrobial activity against a number of pathogens
  • It appears to have immune boosting properties
  • Provides protection against environmental pollutants


Kombucha tea Research

Kombucha Tea's antioxidant properties
Kombucha tea is known to possess potent antioxidant activity that has been demonstrated to reduce the amount of damage induced by oxidative stress (Banerjee et al., 2010; Bhattacharya et al., 2011a; Bhattacharya et al., 2011b; Dipti et al., 2003; Gharib 2007; Gharib 2008; Gharib 2009;Sai et al., 2000;). The fermentation process of Kombucha tea is known to produce a range of detoxifying substances, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidant substances that are not present in non-fermented teas. Research has found that the anti-oxidant substances found in kombucha tea appear to have a protective effect against organic peroxide (Bhattacharya et al., 2011a) and may protect against lipid peroxidation (Pauline et al., 2001) – protect against the oxidation of lipids by free radicals. This is important since all cells are surrounded by a cell membrane composed of a lipid bilayer that protects the cell and are the first part of the cell to be exposed to extracellular free radicals.

Kombucha tea detoxification properties and its kidney and liver protective effect
A number of studies have demonstrated that Kombucha tea protects against damage to liver cells (Bhattacharya et al., 2011a; Bhattacharya et al., 2011b; Murugesan et al., 2008), including paracetamol induced toxicity (Pauline et al., 2001), and may even repair kidney damage (Gharib 2009). In the research by Gharib (2009) Kombucha tea was able to improve Kidney damage, the researcher concluded that kombucha tea may help to repair some of the damage that is caused by environmental pollutants and “may be beneficial to patient suffering from renal impairment.”

Kombucha tea is believed to exert its protective effect through its antioxidant activity, which protects against oxidative stress, and the presence of key detoxifying substances found within kombucha tea. One of the key detoxifying substances found within kombucha tea appears to be glucuronic acid which plays a key role in the detoxifying processes that occurs mainly within the liver. The process is called glucuronidation and involves the addition of glucoronic acid to the substance that is to be detoxified (drug, pollutant etc). The process of glucuronidation results in the formation of glucuronide which is more water soluble than the original substance and can therefore be easily excreted. Kombucha tea also contains glucaric acid, that also works as a natural detoxifying agent, and acetic acid which plays a role in detoxification by conjugating with toxins.

Other health benefits of Kombucha tea
Research has also found a number of other potential health benefits that have been attributed to kombucha tea including antimicrobial activity against a number of pathogens (Sreeramulu et al., 2000; Cetojevic-Simin 2008), positive effects on immune health (Sai Ram et al., 2000; Dipti et al., 2003), possible protection against gastric ulsers (Banerjee et al., 2010), and potential life enhancing properties in animals (Hartmann et al., 2000).

Is Kombucha tea effective?

Research has found that Kombucha tea has a liver protective effect, protects against and aids the healing of gastric ulcers, provides protection against environmental pollutants, improves immune function, has antimicrobial activity, and possesses potent antioxidant activity. However, current research has been in animals and therefore further research in humans is required

How to take Kombucha Tea?

There is currently no research on an effective dose of kombucha tea in humans, and therefore at the present time there is not enough scientific research to be able to determine an appropriate dose of kombucha in humans. Any appropriate dose is likely to vary from person to person and will likely depend on factors including the users health status, age, and medical conditions. With this in mind it is recommended that you talk to your health/medical practitioner before taking kombucha tea.

If taking kombucha tea it is recommended that you start at lower than the recommended dose (on the product label) and gradually increase the dose over a period of weeks until you are able to take the recommended amount on the product label without side effects. If you are unsure of the dosage and amount of kombucha tea to take you should talk to your health/medical practitioner before taking kombucha tea.

Kombucha tea safety

The safety of Kombucha tea has been a contentious issue with a number of case reports that have raised doubts over safety (Srinivasan et al., 1997; Phan et al., 1998; Ernst 2000; SungHee Kole et al., 2009;). Studies in animals that have looked at the consumption of Kombucha have found it to be safe and free of harmful side effects (Hartmann et al., 2000; Vijayaraghavan et al., 2000; Dipti et al., 2003; Gharib 2009; Banerjee et al., 2010). Questions have been raised regarding gastrotoxicity of kombucha tea however research suggests it may be gastro-protective rather than harmful when prepared properly (Banerjee et al., 2010). It appears that the primary concern with regard to the safety of kombucha relates to the fermentation process, although further research is still required in humans. Consumers should be aware of the risks of unhygienic or improper preparation. Kombucha is now widely available commercially where production methods are standardized to ensure the correct preparation.

Kombucha Tea References

Bhattacharya S, Manna P, Gachhui R, Sil PC. (2011a) Protective effect of kombucha tea against tertiary butyl hydroperoxide induced cytotoxicity and cell death in murine hepatocytes. Indian J Exp Biol. 2011 Jul;49(7):511-24.

Bhattacharya S, Gachhui R, Sil PC. (2011b)Hepatoprotective properties of kombucha tea against TBHP-induced oxidative stress via suppression of mitochondria dependent apoptosis. Pathophysiology. 2011 Jun;18(3):221-34. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Banerjee D, Hassarajani SA, Maity B, Narayan G, Bandyopadhyay SK, Chattopadhyay S. (2010) Comparative healing property of kombucha tea and black tea against indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration in mice: possible mechanism of action. Food Funct. 2010 Dec;1(3):284-93. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Cetojevic-Simin DD, Bogdanovic GM, Cvetkovic DD, Velicanski AS. (2008) Antiproliferative and antimicrobial activity of traditional Kombucha and Satureja montana L. Kombucha. J BUON. 2008 Jul-Sep;13(3):395-401.

Dipti P, Yogesh B, Kain AK, Pauline T, Anju B, Sairam M, Singh B, Mongia SS, Kumar GI, Selvamurthy W. (2003) Lead induced oxidative stress: beneficial effects of Kombucha tea. Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Sep;16(3):276-82.

Ernst E. (2003) Kombucha: a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Apr;10(2):85-7.

Gharib OA. (2007) Does kombucha tea reduce the damage induced by radiation exposure? Egypt J Sci Applic. 2007;20(1):141–157.

Gharib OA, Gharib MA. (2008) Kombucha tea ameliorates trichloroethylene induced hepatic damages in rats via inhibition of oxidative stress and free radicals induction. Egypt J Sci Applic. 2008;21(2):481–498.

Gharib OA. (2009) Effects of Kombucha on oxidative stress induced nephrotoxicity in rats. Chin Med. 2009 Nov 27;4:23.

Hartmann AM, Burleson LE, Holmes AK, Geist CR. (2000) Effects of chronic kombucha ingestion on open-field behaviors, longevity, appetitive behaviors, and organs in c57-bl/6 mice: a pilot study. Nutrition. 2000 Sep;16(9):755-61.

Murugesan GS, Sathishkumar M, Jayabalan R, Binupriya AR, Swaminathan K, Yun SE. (2009) Hepatoprotective and curative properties of Kombucha tea against carbon tetrachloride-induced toxicity. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009 Apr;19(4):397-402.

Pauline T, Dipti P, Anju B, Kavimani S, Sharma SK, Kain AK, Sarada SK, Sairam M, Ilavazhagan G, Devendra K, Selvamurthy W. (2001). Studies on toxicity, anti-stress and hepato-protective properties of Kombucha tea. Biomed. Environ. Sci. 14: 207-213.

Phan TG, Estell J, Duggin G, Beer I, Smith D, Ferson MJ. (1998)Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. Med J Aust. 1998 Dec 7-21;169(11-12):644-6.

Sai Ram M, Anju BPT, Dipti P, Kain AK, Mongia SS, Sharma SK, Singh B, Singh R, Ilavazhagan G, Devendra Kumar, Selvamurthy W. (2000) Effect of Kombucha tea on chromate (VI)-induced oxidative stress in albino rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;71(1-2):235–240

Sreeramulu G, Zhu Y, Knol W. (2000) Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jun;48(6):2589-94.

Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D. (1997) Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? J Gen Intern Med. 1997 Oct;12(10):643-4.

SungHee Kole A, Jones HD, Christensen R, Gladstein J. (2009) A case of Kombucha tea toxicity. J Intensive Care Med. 2009 May-Jun;24(3):205-7.

Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea--Iowa, 1995. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1995 Dec 8;44(48):892-3, 899-900.

Vijayaraghavan R, Singh M, Rao PV, Bhattacharya R, Kumar P, Sugendran K, Kumar O, Pant SC, Singh R. (2000) Subacute (90 days) oral toxicity studies of Kombucha tea. Biomed Environ Sci. 2000 Dec;13(4):293-9.

Yapar K, Cavusoglu K, Oruc E, Yalcin E. (2010) Protective effect of kombucha mushroom (KM) tea on phenol-induced cytotoxicity in albino mice. J Environ Biol. 2010 Sep;31(5):615-21.