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Kombucha – Healthy Elixer Or Not?

by Kirsten Sanford, Nov 14 2008

I’ve watched over the past year as a drink called Kombucha has become more and more popular within my group of friends. Most of them drink it because the bottle tells a story that all but promises freedom from sickness of any kind. They also say that it makes them feel better.

From the GTS Kombucha website:

“In 1995, founder GT Dave’s mom, Laraine Dave, had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer with a trajectory of illness known to move quickly to the lymph and bones. When she was diagnosed, doctors held out little hope for her given the aggressive type of cancer and its advanced stage. But to the surprise of everyone, her cancerous cells were found to be dormant with no metastasis. Her physicians were baffled and asked what she was doing that others in her situation were perhaps not doing. The only thing she could think of was that she had been drinking homemade Kombucha every day for the last couple of years.”

Anecdotal evidence is never convincing to a skeptic, so I’ve remained skeptical about Kombucha’s health providing properties even though several of them profess its wonders.

First, what is Kombucha? It is a fermented, sweetened tea (either black or green is normally used) containing what’s technically known as a zoogleal mat of various symbiotic bacteria and yeast species. I prefer to call the mat “the octopus” in reference to the way it attacks your face when drinking straight from the bottle. Most people refer to it simply as a “mushroom”.

Research has identified the bacteria as belonging to the genus Acetobacter, which oxidize sugars or alcohols metabolizing acetic acid as a bi-product. These bacteria are used widely in the food industry, especially in the production of vinegars from wines and spirits, and have been ingested by humans for hundreds of years. So, if not healthful, they certainly aren’t known to be widely harmful to humans.

The yeast are from several different genera, including but not limited to Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Zygosaccharomyces bailii. Several of these species are used in either the brewing of beer or the fermentation of wine. All told, the combinations of bacterial and yeast species should have little negative effect on a healthy individual, and in fact more and more research suggests that ingestion of so-called pro-biotics might actually be beneficial.

Ok, so Kombucha has been around a while. Since 250 BC or so. It was first used by the Chinese, and made its way into Russia in the 1800’s. Since then it has grown in popularity, mostly as a home-brewed concoction. However, more recently it has become a commercially distributed product, which has allowed it to reach a wider segment of the population.

Most of the health benefits of Kombucha are not clinically supported in humans, but rather anecdotal. There has been limited conflicting research in mice and rats. While the fermented tea seems to have antioxidant and immunomodulatory activity in rats (likely due to the polyphenols present in the tea used to create the Kombucha), it has also been shown to increase the size of both the liver and spleen in mice. Significantly, the home-brewed variety has been linked with several health issues in people, ranging from bacterial infections to liver damage and to death. That said, Kombucha sold commercially is probably safer than homemade. However, due to processing differences, commercial Kombucha isn’t likely to have as wide a variety of bacterial and/or yeast species making up its zooglea.

In conclusion, the research and evidence that is available to date is not sufficient for the medical community to endorse the consumption of Kombucha for health related purposes. Until the proper studies are done, Kombucha will simply remain an interesting drink with a serious cult following.

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171 Responses to “Kombucha – Healthy Elixer Or Not?”

  1. Doubting Foo says:

    I can’t decide if I think the name is cool or if it sounds like some rare disease. “Ow! My Kombucha is acting up again!”

  2. My little pea brain latched onto the “fermented” part. :) Maybe that’s just the “wino” in me though.

  3. Patrik E says:

    “Her physicians were baffled and asked what she was doing that others in her situation were perhaps not doing. The only thing she could think of was that she had been drinking homemade Kombucha every day for the last couple of years.”

    By that logic, I conclude that Kombucha is just as likely to be the actual CAUSE for the cancer. =)

  4. BillDarryl says:

    Her physicians were baffled and asked what she was doing that others in her situation were perhaps not doing.

    This sentence so turns the anecdote hilarious.

    a – the picture of a “baffled” team of physicians, silently staring at MRI data with mouths agape, is priceless

    b – what doctor would ever ask their patient, “can you please make an assumption for me regarding everyone else with your disease and tell me what they’re doing or not doing? I mean, we’re friggin’ baffled here!”

  5. Question Mark says:

    The article/website states, after a diagnosis of breast cancer her doctors asked Laraine Dave what she was doing that caused the cancer to go dormant and she responded that she drank Kombucha. Well, she’d been drinking it for years before the diagnosis and she apparently still developed breast cancer. If it had properties to cause cancer cells to go dormant, wouldn’t it have prevented the cancer from developing? A nice anecdotal story but I think it’s a little short on facts. Cancers have been known to go into remission spontaneously and know one really knows why. It may be the treatment, the diet, or even the emotional state of the individual.

    Like I said, a nice story but I wouldn’t go so far as to attribute “magical” properties to what may well be a healthy drink.

    • Wikiman says:

      Glucaric acid has been known to detoxify the liver and in some studies has been used to reduce cancer cells in some rats and mice. Kombucha is consistent of such acids as well as other amino enzymes. Hence why the drink may have helped after the cells have formed. the acids are also found in some fruits and vegetables and are being studied for such reasons. its not magic, its always scientific. WIkipedia Kombucha instead of basis your judgement on these anecdotal stories. theres nothing saying its some sort of Panacea but the curious drink contains positive properties absolutely.

  6. Bill says:

    Hmmm…

    – Mysterious, miraculous properties ascribed to an ancient folk remedy. Check.
    – Modern medical science ‘baffled’. Check.
    – Strong anecdotal ‘evidence’ from people who’ve used it, but no clinical evidence from reputable double-blinded studies. Check.

    Gotta say that, so far, this stuff matches the “Ancient Miracle Cures that THEY Don’t Want You To Know About” profile. About the only thing missing is the cheesy cable-TV infomercial – and there may very well be one that I’ve been lucky enough to miss.

    If reputable, well-designed clinical analysis and trials confirm a benefit to this stuff, that’s one thing. For now, though, I’m skeptical.

    Duh.
    :)

  7. bak says:

    Have you tasted it, though? It’s like the Roquefort of tea. Or like a geuze, that sour Belgian beer.

    I’m certain that at this moment, someone is going, “Really? Awesome!” If that’s you, pick up a bottle and try it.

    No expectations that it’ll cure anything that ails me, but it certainly has a uniquely appealing taste.

    • cordialmudcake says:

      I eat pickles and chocolate cake together, so this stuff was right up my alley. The health benefits? No clue…it hasn’t miraculously cured my acne or menstrual pains. The taste, however, is pretty awesome!

  8. Max says:

    Maybe the Russians have done some studies. I don’t know about commercial products, but traditionally a family would grow its own “mushroom”, and neighbors would borrow some to grow their own. And *gasp* they made their own sauerkraut and cottage cheese too. However, I don’t recommend the cheap moonshine.

  9. Jeff says:

    “Kombucha will simply remain an interesting drink with a serious cult following.”

    Cult following? Sure. “Interesting drink”? Not so sure. What makes it any more interesting than Noni, Acai, Goji or any of the other anecdotal “cures”?

    • Anthony says:

      Noni, acai, and goji are all naturally occurring juices. Kombucha is a fermented brew that takes weeks to prepare, and has a “mother” mat colony that, like sourdough bread, seeds each successive generation. Sorry, but all of that certainly does qualify it as an “interesting drink.”

  10. Thanks Kirsten. I updated the Wiki article on this with some of your insights. As skeptics, it would be excellent if we can ensure that things like this have a skeptical voice in the internet communities and sites like Wikipedia.

  11. Itá all about marketing, remember how coca-cola started out? Hopefully the darn thing tastes any good so people won´t be conned into drinking some yucky stuff. I wouldn´t pay for this kombucha any more than I would pay for any other soft drink.

  12. I never trust a drink with that kind of name to it, but I would like to see the results of the testing of this product

  13. GWD says:

    Oh, those Kombucha mushroom people – sitting around all day. Who will believe you? You might as well let your mother pray.

    ……..sugar!

    (I’m not insane, it’s a lyrical reference.)

  14. Muero says:

    I believe the word is by-product, not bi-product.

  15. Max says:

    Tea mushroom, kvass, kefir, they’re all a heck of a lot better than the caffeinated sugar water you call soft drinks. Traditionally, tea mushroom was perhaps even cheaper since you’d make it yourself. And for your hippie vegan friends, it probably contains more bioavailable vitamin B than the grass juice they drink.

  16. ejdalise says:

    Couple of questions for Dr. Sanford.

    I did not see a personal conclusion/evaluation/condemnation/endorsement, or are you still reserving judgment?

    What do you tell your group of friends?

    Is there pressure from the friends to jump on the Kombucha train?

    Just wondering. I tend to dismiss the elixir just on the basis of it having been around some 2,258 years (and some odd months). . . I figure if it was really effective by now the “anecdotal” evidence would have solidified into something more concrete.

    Instead it sounds more like something that has been “rediscovered” by people who specifically look for those sorts of things (moving from one to another as each disappoints or gains enough popularity to no longer be “in”). Funny how aspirin, antibiotics, and other effective medications don’t “fall out of favor” and need rediscovering every few hundred years.

    Ah, who knows; perhaps I’m turning cynical in my old age . . . hey!! . . . maybe Kombucha could cure me, and revert me back to plain ole skepticism!

  17. littoralcell says:

    I’ve had two experiences with Kombucha. The first was when an appliance repair man was in utter disbelieve that I (as a physician) had never heard of this wonder elixer. He rattled off a list of its uses…… one of which was as a cleanser in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure that substance that works well in removing grease and grime from your kitchen is not something you want to put into your body.

    About a year later I got to try Kombucha while touring an Amish farm. The Amish farmer said repeatedly, “itsa canca fider”. I don’t know if it cures cancer but it sure tastes awful. A single sip transformed my face into a puckered grimace. Luckily, there were enough other people there to provide me cover while I put down my cup and moved away. Maybe I should have saved it for cleaning the oven at home.

    • Catherine says:

      Haha. Maybe that is what we need. Something that can clean the grease and grime from our insides. It’s perfect. It’s not poisonous but it has the same cleaning effect! That makes me want to drink it more.

    • Holly says:

      Kombucha tastes wonderful. It has a tiny bit of fizz and is very light tasting. It’s less than 30 calories a glass – much less than Coke or orange juice. The original flavor (e.g. bought in Europe) is fine – however there’s a brand made in the US (sold in Whole Foods) that adds various natural flavors – ginger, raspberry, etc. I can’t imagine it would work well for cleaning anything. But yes, if you’re used to sicking down soft drinks souped up with high fructose corn syrup that rot your teeth and go right on the pot belly I can imagine you would not like kombucha.

    • Alicia Jacobson says:

      Vinegar is an excellent cleaner and great for the body. I do not understand your comment.

  18. Max says:

    The inventor of Coca Cola claimed it could cure many diseases.

    It sure tastes awful to someone who’s not accustomed to 2 tablespoons of high fructose corn syrup per cup.

    The Mythbusters confirmed that Cola cleans chrome better than commercial chrome cleaner. (Alliteration not intended.)
    http://mythbustersresults.com/episode5

    • morgan says:

      Well coca cola had cocaine in it. And they used to believe it was a beneficial drug. If you like Kombucha, drink it. If not don’t. Im pretty sure we are all grown adults here and can make decisions on our own.

  19. Jeff said:

    “Cult following? Sure. “Interesting drink”? Not so sure. What makes it any more interesting than Noni, Acai, Goji or any of the other anecdotal “cures”?”

    As far as I know, the other drinks you mention are just the juice of some fruit or berry. How boring. Kombucha is more like beer or mead than a fruit juice, and it requires a starter like sourdough. Until recently, you couldn’t drink Kombucha unless you knew someone with a Kombucha baby. Not to mention the fact that the flavor is more complex than a fruit juice. That’s what makes it more interesting than all of these other anecdotal cures.

    • Tia says:

      Also unlike all of those juices, which come from far away places, and take much labor and distribution to come to your grocery store, kombucha is something that everyone with sugar, tea, a scoby (mother) and a big bottle can make, again and again and again. Which given the nature of it, is much more liberating to ones wallet and to other peoples food sources than things such as acai which some worry is taking away food from Brazil natives, who unlike Americans need that food to survive.

  20. Robyn Cummings says:

    This post is not meant to be an endorsement of kombucha, just my anecdote!

    Many years ago I brewed kombucha which was a suggested treatment for Candida and yes, it did have some positive affect against the disease as it is acidic!! so, good against candida, and also it is alcoholic! unless it has bean pasteurised to drive off the alcohol!
    the taste well it is an acquired taste, when their is enough BELIEF behind the motivation to consume!

    The real solution was to remove a food item from my diet, to which I was allergic.

    Rob

  21. Nina says:

    You misspelled ‘elixir’ in your headline…in a published piece, even the smallest error makes me skeptical of the integrity of the information being presented. Just sayin’…

    • non drinker says:

      Oh shut up! Christ, it’s the grammar police. You knew what the point being made was, didn’t you? Yeah, now we all know just how smart you are, congrats.

      • Kombucha drinker says:

        1) Non-drinker, why blame the Good Lord for your apparent issues with spelling? Nina is absolutely right.

        2) I doubt kombucha will cure cancer, but it very well may help to prevent it–because of its acidity and its live “friendly” bacteria. One’s immune system largely depends on proper digestion of necessary nutrients, and certain levels of acid and enzymes are essential in that process.

  22. Max says:

    Rob, it sounds like you had a food intolerance, not allergy. Allergy is when you break out in hives right after eating.
    If acidity and alcohol are good against candida, why isn’t beer prescribed? You know that all food mixes with strong stomach acid, and most alcohol is absorbed before reaching the large intestine.
    The probiotics in kombucha might be good against Candida.
    By the way, how were you diagnozed with Candida? Did they test your saliva for antibodies?

  23. Epicanis says:

    I think the trick is to actually getting health benefits is to dilute it several times so that it becomes “homeopathic”. (Then ideally drink it from a magnetic cup adorned with magical healing crystals, after stirring it seven times with a unicorn’s horn…)

    Actually, I’ve been seriously tempted to attempt making some myself, purely as an exotic fermented beverage (hey, I have to put my shiny new Microbiology degree to SOME kind of good use, don’t I?).

  24. Robyn Cummings says:

    Max,
    Yes, an intolerance is more correct and the food was tomato,
    took 2-3 days before symptoms showed in the gi tract and that wonderful part of the female anatomy that candida loves!
    Also have medical science background, so understand! as well as many years of drug therapy.
    Don’t know about the beer though, the kombucha could also have had a placebo effect, as I said this is anecdotal.
    Excluding the offending substance solved the problem, so no need for any alternate or chemical therapies.
    Rob

  25. [...] Skepticblog » Kombucha – Healthy Elixer Or Not [...]

  26. Scientist says:

    The Wikipedia website is a great resource. FYI, the alcohol is broken down. It is not like beer. I describe it to people as apple cider is to apple juice, this is to tea. If it is really vinegar like, it probably went too long and that is why it tastes bad, however, it should have a low pH. As far as I can tell, the only healthy thing it does is introduce good bacteria into your digestive system, hopefully allowing you to break down your food in a better way. For someone like me, who LOVES to drink Coke-Cola and other pop, it is a much healthier alternative. It is nice and fizzy, tastes good, has less sugar, etc etc etc. Brewing your own is dirt cheap. Black Tea and Cinnamon or clove is REALLY good, as is Red Tea or white tea and pear juice. MMmmmmm.

  27. Mad Pete says:

    Yeah, yeah, Kombucha cures cancer, and diet coke melts stainless steel

  28. Ashley Nugent says:

    Im going to try and make some just cause i want to have a bigger SPLEEN! lol

  29. mark a says:

    “Significantly, the home-brewed variety has been linked with several health issues in people, ranging from bacterial infections to liver damage and to death.”

    A rather strong claim to be made unsubstantiated i.e. without reference(s).

  30. Northnode says:

    Yes, the bigger liver and spleen sounds like good motivation…not!

  31. jen marie says:

    I am a doctor.
    I am baffled by the ignorance I am reading in front of me.
    Kombucha is extremely beneficial to the general health of most individuals. It is not for everyone. People with previous liver damage and pregnant/nursing women should avoid the drink. It is the acidity found in Kombucha that can urge the production of stomach acids that are able to control microorganisms in the GI tract. Yes folks, we ALL have microorganisms living in our bowels. Some have more than others. Kombucha also is loaded with enzymes that help us break down what we eat. I could go on and on. Before you blindly form a negative opinion, you may want to consider that there is a reason why it has a following.

    • Catherine says:

      Don’t be so baffled by ignorance. We are just normal people trying to figure out what is going on with this product. Thank you for enlightening.

  32. MadScientist says:

    @jen marie:

    What sort of doctor are you? Doctor of divine scriptures?

    If you’re going to claim kombucha has any benefit to the poor suckers conned into paying for it, please point out some substantiating evidence. Appeal to the sheeple is not substantiating evidence.

  33. Mr. Chris says:

    Hello…MadScientist above me, do you know how to read? The doctor did give the evidence. This is called common knowledge, like the microorganisms, acids and enzymes all which are proven to be healthy for humans and kombucha happens to contains. You don’t have to be a doctor to connect the dots.

  34. Helen says:

    I first learned about Kombucha at a Weston Price seminar where they taught how to make it at home. See http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/kvass.html on how to make it, and why it, as well as other fermented drinks are so good for you. They help detoxify the liver for one thing.

    I’ve tried home made Kombucha and it tastes similar to beer (it actually has a tiny bit of alcohol in it from the fermentation).

    I just tried GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha sold in Giant Food Stores Health Food section yesterday. Then I thought I’d see what I could learn on the web about it, and found this site. This stuff is truly awesome, so don’t knock it before you try it. It does not taste like beer, it is fizzy and a little sweet and a little sour, but not puckery sour, think bright tasting like Alka Seltzer, yet that doesn’t describe it either.

    The store clerk responsible for the Health food section came over and remarked that since she stocked GTS Organic Raw Kombucha, (http://www.gtskombucha.com/#) it has been flying off the shelves. She said that within 30 minutes, you can feel a definite positive change in your body. I looked at her with skepticism, and with absolute confidence, she offered to open up a bottle and give me a sample. I kid you not. I began to feel better within minutes, my mood improved. It felt like someone turned the lights on brighter in the store and cleared up my depression, allowing me to think more clearly.

    I bought a couple of bottles, and just drank my 2nd Kombucha a half hour ago. And it had the same amazing positive effect. I’m not a salesperson and I’m not into any of those other fad drinks. I’m just reporting what I’ve personally experienced yesterday and today. I don’t know of any supplement or non-addictive drug that can make a person feel this good and this quick. It isn’t a “high” in any way. It just that you feel “better”, it lifts up your mood and you become more “clear-minded”.

    The juice is fermented, which means it is full of essential nutrients such as active enzymes, viable probiotics (1 billion organisms of Lactobacillus Bacterium and 1 billion S. Boulardi), amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols and so its purpose is to allow your body to break down and digest better. I had the “multi-green” formula which has extra added nutrients such as blue-green algae,spirulina, and chlorella. It has no caffeine, it does have sugar, but is not sugary or sweet tasting and the nutrients and good bacteria haven’t been pasteurized out of it.

    Try the stuff, read the links above and then write something here about your experience, rather than just heckling each other, as I see far too many people doing here.

    Try it, You Might Like It!!!

  35. ejdalise says:

    What if I’m already “clear minded”? . . . as in I’ll wait to see if any well-run studies report anything beneficial to it before I buy it with money I could be spending on other stuff.

    Frankly, I’m not that curious, as I am not curious about any of the couple of thousand products found in various health stores. Giving one more import than another requires some means of differentiating between them. Otherwise, you should “Try it, you might like it” all of them.

  36. Eric says:

    It costs 3 dollars,

    Everyone I’ve met that has actually tried it has had nothing but great things to say about it. If you want empirical evidence, 3 dollars. You can collect your own.

    • Tia says:

      I drink kombucha, mostly because it tastes good and gives me a slight buzz (from the fizz and slight alcohol content I presume.) My thoughts on the health benefits are this. If one has health problems to begin with, they should probably ask themselves what is causing them (ie: if one is obese, one needs to balance the calories they intake/burn so they lose weight, if they are stressed they should check their job, family, finances, social structures that influence them, to see whats causing the stress.) To think that any wonder drug/drink/pill will cure ones problems, while they’re still doing things that are causing the problems is illogical. Perhaps taking some sort of medication in conjunction with ending the negative actions on their self would be beneficial, but to think that those drugs will allow them to keep going on in the way that got them into the problems they face now is irresponsible. Plus reassessing ones health status is free, and then if one decides to consume healthier foods they can spend the $3 on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, dairy, or meat in their whole forms, which traditional cultures have been using to fuel themselves and keep healthy since the beginning of time.

  37. ejdalise says:

    I could use the three bucks to buy some candy bars. I am pretty sure I would have nothing but great things to say about them, but it would have absolutely no bearing on the efficacy of said candy bars to improve my health or promote clarity of mind.

    Conversely, I could buy three lottery tickets. I would derive an immediate benefit from the escapist activity of anticipating the drawing of said numbers, and may even feel exhilaration at the prospect of winning some money. Of course, actually winning some money would make me feel even better, but the odds are so small as to be practically zero.

    One immediate benefit is that I will have learned something about the advisability of buying lottery tickets, and that gained wisdom can be applied in other areas of my life, such as when I am considering buying health drinks.

  38. Eric says:

    You could do all of those things with 3 dollars but I think if you are actually looking to find out if Kombucha works, which is, I assume at least part of the reason you are here you could actually try it for 3 dollars. And it might be helpful for you to know that they have done studies regarding candy bars and health, turns out they aren’t that good for you. In regards to post 18, claims are made about many products (usually with the intention to sell it), time itself is the true test of these claims, today many of us pop a pill our doctor gives us that just came on the market without thinking twice and then a few years later we find out it causes terrible side effects. Kombucha has been used for thousands of years and when properly brewed is very safe at the least, and at the best a very potent healthy drink. I would imagine if the FDA and drug companies could find a way to make some money off of it they’d get to work on some of those studies right away. Anyway I’m not trying to push this on any skeptics but can anyone find any research proving this product is harmful either? besides the instances where someone doesn’t follow directions on proper brewing. Much peace

  39. ejdalise says:

    The point I was trying to make, perhaps badly, is that there are a lot of products touted as beneficial. And not just products, but practices. Many of them have also been used by countless millions over countless years.

    All that means is that they are not overtly harmful or their proponents would have perished long ago. But longevity and widespread use is not in itself a solid testament to (insert item here) measuring up to the claims about it.

    My lotto analogy was aimed at demonstrating what I consider the flaw in your logic. As in: there are lotto winners; you should try a number combination and see if it is a winner; in fact you should try all of them, since they are only a dollar each.

    I am not putting down the wonderful elixir with the dubious sounding name. If anyone want to use it, I have no problem with that. But by the same token, I see nothing compelling in their claims to differentiate them from literally thousands of other products claiming specific benefits in something or other.

    Buried in my post was the question “how do I differentiate the good (effective) from the bad (ineffective)?”, and tied with that was condemnation of the “try it; it’s only 3 dollars” suggestion. If I were to follow that advice for all the products people believe in, I would quickly find myself in financial difficulties . . . hmmm . . . perhaps I would qualify for a bailout!!

    Seriously, you, or anyone else, personally vouching for it tells me nothing with regards to its actual effect or possible concerns. So I go back to well structured studies over a long period of time. No, they are not fool-proof, as we constantly find out things about products previously cleared for use (usually warnings with regards to interaction and moderation), but you still come in a distant second to them.

    • non drinker says:

      Is the name dubious because it isn’t an English word? Racist.

      • ejdalise says:

        As a person who was not born and raised with English as his native language I can categorically state it’s not dubious because it isn’t an English word or name.

        It’s dubious because it sounds like something nasty, as in the cat left a pile of kombucha right outside the litter box.

  40. Dave says:

    I drink commercial Kombucha pretty frequently. I usually get sick a few times during the fall and winter, but it hasn’t happened yet this year. I do understand that this could be do to a variety of other factors. I know it’s still untested and “I’ll believe it when I see it (tested)” but I enjoy drinking it.

    I’m not sure how I feel about getting my information from a blog like this, and especially the ridiculous comments that have been left by the “extremists” who seem to “know” whether it works or not.

    Anyway, there is an interesting LA Times article here which has a bit more information but focuses more on the safety issues: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/10/health/he-nutrition10

    Also, I read somewhere that the glucuronic acid is part of what’s in MSG (only natural, not manufactured), and that is the “high” you feel after drinking it. You’ll have to research this one on your own :-)

  41. Helen says:

    Hmmm, so there is a person above who doesn’t buy anything to eat, unless there is a study done first? Amusing. How does one get enough food to stay alive?

    So, this person doesn’t eat anything because it tastes good and he/she likes it, only because some pharmaceutical company paid researchers tell what is good for you. Don’t trust one’s own body, even if the research is already there to the point that it is common knowledge already, based on the nutrients and historical facts?

    Why do so many fall into arguing with someone who just argues for the sake of arguing? If you notice, that person has not provided any facts or information from anywhere, just re-iterates his/her personal objection and attacks based on his/her personal philosophy. I say, So what!!

    This kind of negativity spewing is just a “heckler”. Has anyone noticed how negative this blog has become since this person put my informative comment down? I tried to end it with a happy, positive “try it, you might like it” and lo and behold the attacks. People, don’t bother yourselves trying to convince someone who is here, not to educate and share, but only to rabble-rouse what others take time and energy to contribute.

    Informative links and information on the product itself, experience on the product or like products, make for a positive forum, otherwise, nothing is being accomplished, and the person is just getting his/her kicks off by sucking others into argument, and readers just get turned off to whole thing, …. which is, by the way, the heckler’s hidden purpose.

    Don’t fall for it!!!

    Let’s get back to providing information on the product itself, shall we??

  42. tina bo bina says:

    I love kombucha! After sitting here reading all of this, I just wish I had one right now. Kombucha gives me a calming affect. Beings I don’t drink alcolholic beverages (other than the kombucha), the low amount of alcohol must makes it’s presence known within me. I started drinking Kombucha about a year ago when I decided to start eating Raw. I gave up Raw, but I didn’t give up Kombucha!

  43. ejdalise says:

    Boy that one person must really be a jerk, expressing his skepticism with regards to claims made by health drink proponents. Asking for studies, for FSM sake!! Asking for a good reason to try kombucha as opposed to any of the other health drinks! And the ultimate gall, saying he has no problem with anyone using it, but he’d rather wait for clinical studies!!

    The nerve; I say we boot him out of the discussion, the negative jerk. Now, if we only had the name of this pariah . . . oh wait; he’s leaving of his own accord. Good riddance, I say!!

  44. mike says:

    ha, los of cynics. lots of skeptics – but funny none of the aforementioned seem to have any problem with believing a few “official” clinical studies. thats the golden ticket huh? take a look at our society and tell me what is mass produced, marketed, and then hopefully turned into massive profits? who’ at the top? coca-cola, mcdonalds, pepsi, um, who owns little debbie, nabisco?

    i think its important to realize that the FDA and those in charge probably don’t have your health and well-being in mind when depositing/writing checks. just a thought, but don’t believe everything you read ; )

  45. Sue says:

    My cousin learned of Kombucha at a health clinic called OHI in San Diego. She’s a big proponent of it. I was a skeptic until I tried it, but I have to admit, I really like it. It’s definitely an acquired taste and it does make me feel good. I’m not sure if that’s in my head or not, but these days that’s good enough for me.

  46. Adam says:

    Kombucha tea is good in my opinion. It makes me feel better in a number of ways (mild euphoria and increased energy, etc.), allows me to recover faster from my nights of debauchery (a glass of kombucha and some Yerba Mate tea work great for aiding hangovers), and is an acquired yet – if made properly – pleasant tasting beverage. If you’re not going to go drink it, don’t, and wait for your peer-review, official paper-published study to tell you what you already know – that it has certain benefits but is not a ‘miracle’ drug, just like every other medicine in existence.
    But to those who drink it, they already know the benefits, because they feel them, and they are their own study. ‘Placebo effect’ is irrelevant. Why is it that nothing is taken seriously until scientists tell you it should be?? Because of course scientists and the FDA never make mistakes, and that’s why once scientific studies are done and the FDA clears something, it’s conclusions are never changed and there’s never been any recalls of anything, ever, and so the subject should never be studied ever again.
    Listen to your body, it’s quite effective at communicating with you.
    Other than that, yum. I don’t need a scientist to tell me I shouldn’t eat 6 twinkies a day. Sheesh.

  47. Bill says:

    Adam –
    That’s not Kombucha you’re drinking. It’s Kool-Aid.

  48. Skeptics are Silly says:

    Wow. Amazing. It would seem that when skepticism takes over, common sense flies out the window. So let me get this clear: some of you will refuse to drink Kombucha because there are no scientific studies on it. So, what DO you drink, pray tell? My guess, based on the preferred palate of the American people, is that you probably drink soda. So, instead of spending $3 on a drink that contains ingredients widely known to be healthy when consumed in other contexts (tea, fruit, active cultures – or will you all start claiming now that yogurt is suspect?) – instead you will opt to spend that $3 on soda, for which price you’ll get about TWICE as much beverage! Yes, for the same price as a Kombucha, you get twice as much volume in water, high fructose corn syrup and caramel food coloring. Sweet. What a bargain, eh? You “skeptics” are so smart, you dazzle me with your brilliance. Especially those of you who won’t drink it because it has a funny name. WOW. That’s SOOOOO scientific.

    • Tia says:

      I don’t think that’s the point. The point is they’re not going to drink it religiously in order to get some sort of health benefit from it when there is no proof that there is a health benefit.

  49. semperskeptic says:

    Perhaps one should take a moment to read instead of working hard to present straw man arguments. The comments are not that one would not drink anything without scientific studies backing it. The comment relates to being hesitant to drink something claiming to affect physical and mental changes on those who consume it. Skeptic or not, if someone comes up to me all jazzed up and says “Try this, it’s really good for you! No, I mean it, try it now; I feel wonderful!!” I’m going to be a little cautious.

    Personally, I don’t drink pop, and I believe it will be a while before I even consider trying Kombucha. Based on the previous post it appears to have a number of negative side effects, least of which is the inability to make a reasoned and coherent argument.

    • Garrett says:

      Don’t drink it!

      “Perhaps one should take a moment to read”

      And maybe ask: What’s in kombucha? What’re the purported effects? Is there any evidence anecdotal or scientific, to support the purported effects.”

      The author got off to a small start by looking at a few of the possible constituents of kombucha. But didn’t look for any research regarding any of those, nor to any research about kombucha itself.

      Then he went on with the declaration “so-called pro-biotics might actually be beneficial.” – a weak claim for a strongly supported notion. The author then concludes with nonscience (pronounced “nonsense”) weasel words about the “medical community”.

      I’ll trust my intuition and research so I will drink it.

      I did find some more information on constituents of kombucha by typing a google search for `analysis kombucha` (no quotes). HTH, with a #1 result of:- http://www.happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kombucha.htm

  50. Ben says:

    I just re-acquired a Kombucha “mother” from my mother in law. And brewed my first successful batch in more than 10 years.

    Drinking it has the same pleasant effects I remember from before, as others note it can provide a calming and pleasant emotional state. Nothing dramatic, but noticeable. I like the taste and as someone who has always suffered from poor digestion I definately think this helps me. Yes, other acidic drinks can help too.

    I don’t believe that this is an elixir of life, will help to prevent the common cold, or cure cancer. I do enjoy the taste, feeling, digestive aid, and extra B vitamins that it provides. I can brew it at home very inexpensively, and it adds pleasure to my life.

    There’s nothing wrong with that.

  51. Daz says:

    The word elixer should be spelled elixir.

    • non drinker says:

      Wow! You’re smart too!!!!!

      • Lethe says:

        Daz, thanks for providing correct spelling.
        non-drinker, your admiration of Daz is appropriate. He is improving written communications. We don’t all speak/write cyber-gibberish.

  52. Daz says:

    Helen wrote: “The store clerk remarked that since she stocked [brand name] Kombucha, ([URL for that brand]) it has been flying off the shelves. She said that within 30 minutes, you can feel a definite positive change in your body. I looked at her with skepticism, and with absolute confidence, she offered to open up a bottle and give me a sample. I kid you not. I began to feel better within minutes, . . .”

    Helen, it’s *possible* that your positive reaction was due to the kombucha. It’s also possible that it was due to the power of suggestion. That’s why scientists don’t use anecdotal evidence as proof of anything. I’d also feel more comfortable with your post if you had not mentioned any brand name. (You said you were not a sales person, but you didn’t say you were an unbiased observer with nothing to gain from the sales of that brand, either.)

  53. Michael says:

    I brew my own Kombucha… have been for a few months, after having a ‘mother’ mushroom passed on to me.

    I don’t personally care about all the ‘miracle claims’ made for this drink. All I can say is… It tastes great (some people say it’s an acquired taste but I personally liked it from the beginning, though the smell is a little odd – somewhat sour) and I feel really good for an hour or two after drinking it. It does seem to help with digestion (for me anyway) and it contains some beneficial vitamins and enzymes.

    I could personally give a damn whether it’s been approved by the FDA or not. They’ve approved Coke, corn dogs, Twinkies, Pork Rinds and other crap food items too numerous to count.

    I make it myself, I control the conditions, and I know there’s nothing in it that will harm me, whatever the positive aspects of the drink may be. If a definitive study finds something harmful in it, I wil stop consuming it, but the FDA and other researchers seem more upset by the fact that people are consuming something without their stamp on it than they are with the slim chance that it could have harmful properties.

    In the meantime, I highly recommend it.

  54. Leigh says:

    I agree Michael.

    With all the foods that are on the ‘approved’ list,,,, even when research and testing have clearly shown that they are not safe, I will go with the old stuff.

    Kombucha is a great old world food. I am thankful that we are thinking for ourselves and not just eating and drinking what the media tells us to.

  55. Leigh says:

    Oh, and to add, when I drink kombucha, I feel much better. If anyone here has not tried it, you should try it for yourself. I would be surprised if you don’t notice a difference.

  56. Marty says:

    My MD was raised in the USSR and is familiar with Kombucha. When I asked her about it, she said: “Kombucha is just a drink..it’s just a drink.”

  57. Michael says:

    Marty, I think that’s what most Kombucha users believe as well… it’s just a drink. That’s what I believe. But many things that we consume affect our feelings and how our bodies perform, and Kombucha is something that makes a great majority of people who have tried it feel better. I have strong doubts that it ‘cures’ anything. But I like the effect it has on my, and it’s amazingly refreshing…

  58. devin says:

    I want to chime in here…I am skeptical of everything…I would even
    say that I can be surly at times…I don’t go for cheesy anything that promises to realign my chakras or fix my aura…And I’ve seen kambucha in the store and passed it up as just such a thing…
    So one day I bought one…With a full expectation of liking the taste or not and not anything else…BUT wow…The stuff has some amazing properties…I felt a lift…I felt great…I haven’t had a 12 pack yet…But I can see why it clears the shelves fast…I mean the fda hasn’t approved cocaine or weed for human consumption but no one can argue that they work…No one disputes their nifty effects…Try it twice…. What the hell…

  59. Alice says:

    I concur with the “drink it because it tastes good” comment. Since it has been around so long, most can agree it isn’t bad for you. It is a yummy, low calorie drink that is incredibly unique tasting and refreshing.

  60. Bill says:

    I drink it, and I feel good afterwards. That’s good enough for me.

    The trouble with vague claims like this is that we hear them over and over again as anecdotal “evidence” for any number of things. Remember the magnetic bracelet fad from several years back? Most of the commercials consisted of people saying “I wear it, and feel good afterwards.” Same thing with Kinoki Foot Pads. Or Enzyte, although “feeling good afterwards” takes on a whole different meaning there.

    If you try something new, expecting to feel good afterwards (or even wondering if you will), you have a very good chance of actually feeling good afterwards – whether the product/bracelet/foot pad you tried actually did anything or not. Once we’ve set ourselves up with the expectation of feeling better, our brains are quite efficient at confirming that expectation. This is why ‘feeling good’, *in and of itself*, can’t be used to judge the effectiveness of anything.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that feeling good is a bad thing. :) All I’m saying is that there needs to be more than vague, subjective stories of feeling good.

    Oh…and devin? You might want to re-think that argument about the fda and cocaine/weed. Not all of the effects from them are ‘nifty’.

  61. Colleen says:

    I adore kombucha – I’ve been drinking it for years. While I am googling the health facts on the drink right now, as well as reading some debbie downers post a bunch of nonsense on this blog entry, I thought I’d throw my two cents in. Basically, this is hands down one of the best hangover remedies I have ever, ever had.

    And that I know from experience.

    Otherwise, I hope it has the benefits it claims, but no skin off my nose if not. Way better than coca-cola, mate.

  62. melissa says:

    *first off i would like to say that throughout this blog i might use “improper grammar” and might even misspell a word or two, so please, PLEASE forgive me…i know it must be really difficult to understand what i’m saying if i spell elixir wrong…i’ll try really hard…

    i was recently turned onto Kombucha about a year ago. i haven’t tried making it myself yet but i really like gt dave’s “synergy”. they have lots of fruit juice infused flavors and personally think *most* of them taste great, especially the “triology”. they do cost kind of alot for a drink ($3) BUT i don’t mind spending that on something that makes me feel great and i believe is good for me. considering the lifestyle i once lived and how much money i’ve spent in the past on booze and cigarettes i feel pretty good about spending $3 on a synergy. i agree about kombucha being a hangover cure. i drank one before i went to bed one night after drinking half a bottle of liquor and had no hangover whatsoever in the morning. not that it matters or anyone should care, but that was about a year ago, and i no longer drink or smoke cigarettes. anyway, kombuchas really do give me extra energy and make me geel good. they help me with digestion and i believe they help control my appetite. i’ve also drank them when i had headaches and they seemed to help them go away faster.

    a friend of mine just gave me some of her “babies” yesterday so i could attempt to make my own. i have a feeling homemade kombucha probably won’t taste as good as GT Daves but who knows. i would like to start making it myself and save some money. so, basically i am writing this to ask, has anyone successfully made any that tasted similar to gt daves? and how did you go about it? i know there is plenty of information throughout the internet but i would like to get some personal experiences with making the stuff. so…any suggestions?

  63. Michael says:

    Melissa,

    I’ve actually never tasted the store-bought stuff, although I hear it’s quite good. I’ve only ever had homemade Kombucha. I find it very easy to make and haven’t had a ‘bad’ batch yet. The only thing you need to know is that each batch can come out a little differently than the last due to all sorts of factors. But, even though each of my batches has been slightly different, they’ve all been really good. I’m also experimenting with adding ginger to mine, which gives the final batch an almost ginger-ale-like taste.

    So just jump in and give it a try. See what you think, you might like it even more than GT Dave’s…

  64. caseifer says:

    The first time I tasted Kombucha it was from a friends first home made brew and was WAY to vinegary! Eww! The second time was a bottle from the grocery store and in my first sip was an “octopus” (a loogey). Whew! Yet (somehow) I kept on! There is a certain cleansing effect felt after drinking this brew. I enjoyed GT Dave’s for a long time because it was all I could get. Now I have acquired my own mother and I must say that it is MUCH better than the store bought. Especially because you can brew according to your own taste.

    I enjoy Kombucha for it’s mood enhancing effects. Although the financial motivation is not present to have this elixir evaluated (not to mention that it would be virtually impossible to cover the great variety of strains, as each is unique) with gold standard research, I believe that there are clues to why it makes us feel so good.

    First, Kombucha contains active enzymes (too often not present in the food we eat because living enzymes are killed when food is “preserved” for long shelf life i.e. pasteurization) that aid in digestion.

    Polyphenols act as antioxidants in the body.

    Probiotics help maintain balance in the gut flora.

    I think it is awesome that we are learning to listen to the wisdom of our own bodies rather than being limited to the pure logic of the scientific mind. I think Albert Einstein said it best: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

    The most comprehensive research I have come across is done by Michael R. Roussin. If you really care to know more about this fascinating beverage, I suggest his E-book, which can be found at http://www.kombucha-research.com/.

    • Lethe says:

      Tastes good? Mood enhancing? Has the DEA heard about this yet? Quick, slap a tax on it (like alcohol), so we can keep using it, or they may pop it onto the controlled substance roster.

  65. Irishka says:

    Hmmm. I would never expect such a big reaction on this topic. I thought nobody really knows what Kombucha is. I asked a couple of people in my office and only one person said that he knows the name, but he had no idea how Kombucha actually made.
    I have been drinking Kombucha since I was about 8 years old. I’m 27 now. I’m from Russia and it was very popular there. We grew our own “grib” (mushroom) at home and every member of our drank it every day. I moved to the US 4 years ago and couldn’t find it here. About 6 months ago I finally found it in the organic section of one of the local stores. I was soooo happy!
    Let me tell you… I had a lot of stomach problems before I was 8, my diet allowed me to eat chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes with water only. Everything else gave me stomachache. I had to go to bed and spend 30 min. on the left side (I have no idea why my doctor gave me that treatment, but it helped me at that point)after each meal. Then we got our Kombucha from the neighbors…. It solved all my stomach problems in about 2 months. I also got great immune system since then, when everybody was home with flu, I was at school. It also provides great metabolism. I eat pretty healthy, but tended to overeat sometimes, but I never had problems with my weight, it’s just keeps it balanced.
    My overhaul health condition became so much better and I’m so lucky to find this product and enjoy it a couple of times a week.
    I prefer to not overdo with any treatments and have it as a drink, not as a pill. For example, even if I like mango juice, I don’t drink it every day of my life, only when I want that flavor, craving for it. Same thing here, I LOVE the flavor… I know, that a lot of people don’t like it – don’t drink it then. It might not be for for you. Find something else, have kefir instead of yogurt, or make your own iced green tea with honey, instead of buying “Lipton” in the bottle. You have no idea if there is actual tea in it. Plus, don’t forget to read how to brew green tea. Don’t read the box, read the traditional recipes. Ok, I’m going away from the subject…
    So, I’ve been drinking Kombucha for 19 years and I think it’s just great. You can say anything you want against my comment, I don’t care. It works for me, and I think I had more experience with it than 99% of the people that wrote reviews in this blog.
    Na zdorov’e!

    • Lethe says:

      Irishka, you sound eminently sensible. To your good health, too! I’ve never tried this stuff, just doing a bit of personal research at this point, but overall, it sounds to me like a useful, healthful, drink. It’s got plenty of probiotics, definitely a good thing, along with some other elements that appear to have health-based benefits. Obviously not the elixir (!) of life, but not soda pop (ugh) either. Add this light to the sum of light in your diet, it will probably give you a slight edge up, (especially if you replace pop with it!).

  66. Rain Adkins says:

    A friend wants to give me a kombucha culture,
    and is convinced it’ll help various things that
    ail me. I’m still wading through all the claims
    and counterclaims, and haven’t yet made up my mind
    about it.

    I do have some concerns; for one thing, I’m a recovering
    alcoholic, and the 1.5% alcohol content of some
    “kombuchified” tea would be a problem. (Yes,
    even that little. The more usual 0.5% isn’t a problem–that’s roughly the amount in a loaf of bread or a ripe apple.
    But significantly over that, a recovering alkie can’t safely go;
    our bodies simply don’t work like other people’s, and I’m damned if I want to restart the craving machine now that it’s turned off.)

    Another claim some make is that kombucha is an
    “immune booster”. As someone with two nasty
    autoimmune disorders, I have to be very careful with anything like that. The person who supplied my friend’s culture
    says the effects vary widely with the tea used, but I’d wanna see research on WHICH immune cells are potentiated,
    if any, and by what version of the drink, if that actually makes any difference.

    PS–A tip to the owner of this blog: if you’re going to use the word “elixir” in your header, you might wanna check the spelling. The third vowel is an “i”, not an “e”.

    • Kombucha drinker says:

      Rain Adkins–

      Don’t mess with kombucha if you are an alcoholic.
      You can’t get drunk on the stuff, but it IS noticeably alcoholic and could open up the Pandora’s box for you.

      Just not worth the risk!!

      Good luck to you in your recovery!!

    • Lethe says:

      Rain, good for you, keep fighting the good fight. And I would also agree that if alcohol triggers your addiction, then stay away. You can get plenty of really good benefits (at least of probiotics) from just including a quality yogurt in your daily diet – DON’T go for the sugary ones, find one of the plain yogurts that is to your taste – I like the Greek ones, but that’ my personal taste – and if you like the ‘make it yourself’ angle, well, guess what, you can make yogurt yourself, too.

  67. Carol says:

    Drinking super-sweetened tea likely will energize you. I was having trouble getting to sleep after an evening of drinking kombucha when it finally dawned on me that sugary caffeine will do that, fermented or not. It has no alcoholic effect on me. I like kombucha made with jasmine and black tea with brown sugar. I have no idea if it helps healthwise. It does seem like natural soda pop with more complex flavor. I was hoping it would help reverse my tendency to pick up all manner of foot fungus, but I see no change. The culture can get pretty freaky looking. Mine developed a milky white solid protuberance that I couldn’t cut with my finger nail. Another one got kind of black on top, so I harvested a lighter part and started a new jar. You should be able to make your own starter from the store-bought kind. Tip: I found the fermentation process happens much faster if I put it under the sink where it’s dark and a little warm.

  68. Janini says:

    I’ve been drinking one GT Dave’s kombucha a day for about a year now. I’ve tried other kombucha brands as well, seems to be a growing market. There is a lot of variation between commercial kombuchas. This may account for the differing responses reported. The Wonderdrink and High Country both seem to have a strong caffeine jolt. I know this because I am very sensitive to caffeine. The GT Dave’s kombucha gives me a faintly intoxicated and very relaxed feeling for about an hour after drinking. It doesn’t give me the negative side effects of alcohol (I’m very sensitive to alcohol) and, unlike alcohol, I actually feel better, later. I’m just now trying to brew my own, so I can control the caffeine levels and save the $3 per day. I find that drinking kombucha everyday allows me to tolerate eating dairy foods since, you guessed it, I’m also very sensitive to lactose and casein! Good rule of thumb: If you consume it and it makes you feel ill (alcohol, drugs, white sugar, whatever) it’s probably not good for your body–and vice versa.

    • foodie says:

      You should stop eating everything all at once. People like you are ridiculous, “sensitive” to everything. You just want attention.

      • jasmin says:

        foodie: you’ve got to be kidding! maybe you are just lucky and are insensitive but leave people that are sensitive alone. how have you any idea what Janini is feeling, really.

    • Tia says:

      What’s with the constant advertising for GT Dave’s?

  69. Janet says:

    First and foremost, I want to express my concern over comment #67, which originally inspired me to leave my own comment. As I know from previous attempts at making sauerkraut, etc., allowing fermentation to occur at too high of a temperature can allow the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. So, placing something in a warm, dark place merely to speed fermentation is a dangerous idea as one could potentially acquire harmful additions to one’s culture, and brew, just to save a little time. Additionally, the description of a milky-white protuberance and black discoloration suggests to me that the culture has possibly become contaminated, in which case I would not recommend harvesting any part of it. Rather, I would recommend ditching the whole thing, brew, culture, and all, and starting fresh with a new culture after sterilizing all of the equipment. It is likely that practices such as described, and even recommended, in comment #67 are what is leading to stories of people getting sick, or even dying, from consuming (most likely contaminated) Kombucha.

    A short time ago, I told a family friend that I had recently become interested in learning how to improve my health solely through dietary/nutritional means — ingesting foods which contain proper nutrients, and are beneficial to proper digestion and absorption of those nutrients — rather than by utilizing pharmaceuticals or supplements. I am as skeptical of supplements as I am of pharmaceuticals, since I believe they are both pushed by similar multimillion-dollar industries that place profits above true health benefits for their consumers. The friend referenced a number of things for me to research, including Kombucha.

    I initially thought it was going to be a tea drink or soup made with seaweed, as I knew from my interests in international cuisine that “kombu” is the Japanese name of a type of edible kelp which is used in making the broth for miso soup, and “cha” is Japanese for tea. I was interested, however, to learn that it was a fermented beverage made with tea, sugar, and probiotic yeast and bacteria. This really excited me because I had recently developed an interest in brewing my own (healthier-than-store-bought) ginger ale soda, which also utilizes sugar and yeast to create the soda “fizz”, and I thought ginger-flavored Kombucha could possibly be like an even healthier “ginger ale.”

    Previous comments have mentioned the alcohol content of Kombucha. As alcohol is a byproduct of fermentation, that is no surprise. The commercially produced Kombucha, however, has an alcohol content of around 0.5% — about the same as a “non-alcoholic” beer, or a glass of orange juice! The alcohol content of homebrewed Kombucha apparently ranges from 0.5%-1.5%, so don’t count on getting loopy from it.

    Previous comments have mentioned the sour flavor of Kombucha. I admit that I have not yet tasted Kombucha, commercial or homebrewed. However, from what I have read, an overly sour Kombucha is a sign that it has been fermented for too long. Many homebrewers of Kombucha apparently test the pH of their brew to determine when to stop the fermentation process. From reading people’s descriptions of Kombucha, I rather imagine the flavor is very similar to Belgian “Lambic” — a beer in which the fermentation is brought about through exposure to natural yeasts and bacteria found only in a specific area of Belgium, and is usually flavored with fruit syrup (the raspberry is my personal favorite!)

    Previous comments have debated the health benefits of Kombucha. Scientific analysis has shown that Kombucha contains beneficial amino acids, B-vitamins, enzymes, and probiotic bacteria, which scientific studies have shown to reduce depression and fatigue, and improve digestion and health of the GI tract. So, the fact that people claim to feel better after drinking it is supported by actual scientific evidence, even if not found through actual clinical trials of Kombucha consumption. Scientific studies also suggest detoxification and pH-normalizing properties based on organic acids found in Kombucha. It seems plausible that claims of cancer remission and such could result from the body’s improved ability to fight off illness, infection, etc., due to overall improvement in general health through detoxification, improved digestion and absorption (combined with proper diet,) improved energy and mood, etc.

    I will definitely try Kombucha, and if I like it I will probably homebrew it as well, as it contains many nutritious elements I would like to add to my diet to improve overall wellness, without “pill-popping” of any kind. I hope this information is helpful to someone.

  70. Sara says:

    I got to try it when I went to visit my sister who is a crazy hippy flexitarian (means she only eats meat when she wants to, LOL). She is always on the lookout for something new and beneficial. She made a homebrew and it tasted OK (although I strongly recommend using a cheesecloth to strain – not good taking a sip and having a bit of that “mushroom” come up and brush your lip when not expected). A little sweet, a little fizzy, mostly like iced tea. I think I’ll try it again.

    I agree 1000% with Michael that the FDA is not the final word in food safety. They have certainly approved less than healthy items in the past, and tend to focus more on newly created, commercially prepared foods than traditional old-world foods. After all – it’s the government, people. Sometimes government workers are not the sharpest marbles in the bag. I say trust your friends and your body.

    Lastly I am cracking up at so many people that are complaining about the large number of skeptics commenting on a blog called SkepticBlog. Hilarious.

    Have a great day and be good to yourselves.

  71. some_cynic says:

    So, I was out in Raleigh staying at a friend’s house and I grabbed a GT Dave’s from the fridge. I was a little confused at first when I tasted it.

    I noticed positive effects within about 20 minutes of drinking it the first time with no suggestion about its benefits. I was not reading the label, etc.

    I tried it again about 15 minutes ago and got the same result. If you’re so worried about getting duped that you won’t try something *once* to decide if you enjoy it, you’re a waste of life.

    Anecdotal or not, there’s something good about it. You can all eat your words when you get your precious double-blind study.

    NEW TOPIC:
    Is there sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that pooping is good for you? I’m reserving judgement…

  72. SemperSkeptic says:

    A waste of life, eh?

    I’ll reiterate what was said by many. I’m not adverse to trying stuff, but by the same token I’m not going to run out and try everything touted as beneficial.

    But I am glad so many people find it a positive thing in their lives. Still, just as religion, the fact so many people claim benefit from it does not mean it’s something I have an interest in. Why that seems to raise the hackles of both religious folks and drinkers of this elixir is something that mystifies me.

    As for the new topic; sarcasm aside, I would say pooping is bad for you. But don’t take my word for it; go without for just a month, and you’ll see how much better you feel.

  73. I Question Everything says:

    I discovered Kombucha today at my local grocer’s. I was only looking at the words,’raw’ and ‘organic’ on the grape juice bottle. As I was waiting for a friend, I was thankfully outside as I shook the bottle (I knew nothing about this stuff) “Oops, OK, Now, how did it taste? It smelled like a wine vinegar, more on the wine side- a sparkling wine…something for the family to drink for the upcoming holiday meal, Hmm… it’s good,but that stuff floating will have to go…”
    I happened to be feeling poorly at the moment( a chronic mild nausea and headache had been plaguing me for days), but by the time I finished half of the 16 oz bottle at home, I felt very very fine, thank you! It’s 5 hours later and I’m still without previous malady.
    It’s true, I do question everything (and people too), but I’m finding out who and what is not acceptable for this life and liberty—and kombucha gets a thumbs up.

    • Lethe says:

      If you were sick enough to be nauseaus and headachy for several days, the likelihood that anything in kombucha would ‘fix what ails you’ in just an hour or two is extremely unlikely – it’s what they call the placebo effect, I believe.

  74. blizz says:

    I drink G.T.s Trilogy which is 95% Kombucha + organic raspberry ginger and lemon juice, no sugar – as a hangover cure, one of my friends recommended it. I agree with the previous comment, it makes you feel better right away. People have too much faith in science, the method is flawed and so are many of the people and reasons for doing it. You just have to try it for yourself, if it works for you great! If not then don’t drink it, also helps if you like the taste of vinegar.

  75. Chris says:

    I read these comments because I just got into the Kombucha thing and I developed cystitis which turned into severe kidney infection. I was afraid that drinking the tea was killing off the healthy bacteria needed. This could be a coincidence, but I felt so ill that I am afraid now to drink any more, in case this does turn out to be the cause. Anybody else had a similar experience?

    • pat says:

      reply to Chris: April 20 post: re: cystitis
      I have always been prone to cystitis. After having a hysterectomy, even more so (I read this is common). The doc said to take an antibiotic pill immediately following coitus. I’ve done that for a few years now, and never got cystitis. A friend raved to me about Kombucha. I drank half a bottle of store-bought green variety on Saturday. I had taken the cipro antibiotic pill that morning. Late that night I awoke with a bladder infection. Coincidence? The only variable was the Kombucha. And while it did make me feel fine in that I craved no junk food all day, not even my coffee addiction – I would never drink it under those circumstances again.

  76. sofla says:

    This is the first blog I have ever read. Now I know where to go when my 14 year old is not around to regale me with her sarcastic wit. I just tried some store bought Kombucha. I do feel a bit relaxed. Perhaps it’s the alcohol (since I don’t drink)?

  77. susan marcero says:

    WHEN THE STORE RAISED THE PRICE TO 4.00 I DECIDED TO TRY MAKING MY OWN AND BOUGHT A MUSHROOM ON EBAY FROM “NATES NATURELS”…
    WELL NATE HAS IT TOGETHER BECAUSE THIS STUFF IS GREAT!
    THE KEFIR IS GREAT TOO AND I DO NOT CRAVE DIET COKE ANYMORE SO I’M GOOD…
    I EVEN REFUSED CHOCOLATE TODAY FROM A FRIEND . SHE WAS SURPRISED AND I SAID IT MUST BE THE KOMBUCHA TEA. MY SUGAR HAS BEEN VERY GOOD LATELY TOO AND I’M DIABETIC SO THIS IS GREAT ALSO. I CAME ON THE SITE BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY WITH THE DRINK THAT I WANTED SOME FEEDBACK.

  78. spellcheck says:

    E L I X E R

    Ima try me summa dis here snake oil, and come to my owm conclusion.

  79. Le Ann says:

    Nasty! I just tried some that my doctor friend brewed up. Disgusting! So acidic. It almost hurts going down. It can’t be good for you. The thing growing on top looks like a pancreas and it smells like something a desperate wino would drink. I’m not touching it again with a ten foot pole!

    • Kinich_Ahau says:

      Kombucha is a tricky beverage.
      The stuff I’ve tried (I have yet to brew my own, but I’m getting a “baby” as they’re colloquially referred to as) is a bit vinegary, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s got plenty of fizz, like a soft drink and a hint of sweetness with a light tea flavor to smooth the whole thing out.

      I don’t know what your friend did, but I’d advise a shorter brewing time (or adding more unbrewed tea and letting it sit for a day or two.

  80. Kinich_Ahau says:

    I’ve personally been following kombucha for months, after reading a post where someone was giving it away on Livejournal since they had too many of the “babies”. The babies are the layers of the kombucha zoogleal mat that are used or given to people to make their own

    I had my first bottle a few weeks ago, without suggestion or any evidence about what it did, aside from the fact it was brewed, made from tea and was supposedly good for you. I was picked up very quickly. I felt good, I felt energetic.
    Anecdotal? Perhaps. Oh, and it helped my digestion (read: gas) too.

    What I’m saying is, sure it’s probably good for you. A wonder-cure? Doubtful. Is it healthy? Sure. It won’t keep you from getting seriously ill, and if it tastes good and is good for you, why not drink it?

    I have no issue with those who won’t try it, or don’t want to. But why not? I’m not telling you to believe the hype,or anything anyone tells you. The best experiences are positive ones you perceive.

  81. Doug says:

    Hi there, just wanted to say that it really helps my digestion. I used to have troubles with stomach and intestines for years. The old cultures ( bad pun there) have used fermentation for a long time to keep themselves healthy. I get it from the store after someone gave me some homebrew and I thought it was an incredible tasting drink. Like all homebrews, they all taste different probably. This one was made from green tea and tasted like sparkling cider, delicious. I want to now make ginger beer which is fermented and am presently making homemade saurkraut using salt and fermentation. Nobody lives forever but healthy grub and a happy mind sure makes this ole life better.

  82. Karen says:

    Never tried Kombucha. I’ve been offerred, but I have multiple food allergies and intolerances, so I’m hesitant to try new foods.

    Reading about the “lift” or “high” people seem to be getting from the drink, I’d just like to add this thought: On occassion I feel a slight “high” from eating papaya. I asked my nutritionist about it, and he said that papaya has a great deal of enzymes, and that perhaps the enzymes clean up my rather pitiful GI tract (I’m prone to nausea and acid reflux).

    When it’s in season I continue to eat papaya, because I like the taste and because it seems to be good for my stomach. This would certainly not make me jump to the conclusion that papaya is a miracle cure for cancer – DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE’S PLENTY OF WEBSITES AND ALTERNATIVE HEALTH FOLKS THAT DO MAKE SUCH CLAIMS.

    Bottom line – enzymes, nutrients, and probiotics are important for health, and we should get them from various whole foods (i.e. not in cans).

    But getting the hopeless and gullible to by a product by suggesting that it will cure all your ailments ALL ON ITS OWN is irrisponsible and unethical

    • Pasteur says:

      to *86
      @D: Your point is great, and make a lot of sense.
      I have an uncle (brother of my granfather) wiht leukemia, and he starts to drink KT. He got better, even he looks much better.

      where he lives ther is not commercial KT, so he has to brew his own.
      And then he gets tired of that, and by feeling good, he stoped drinking.

      By 6 or 8 months later, he was bad, really bad, again. One year later or mor, he starts drinking again, and get better again.

      This is not scientific evidence, call it anecdotal. But is not a friend of a friend, is my uncle. I see by myself.

      And I believe to my eyes, and to my uncle’s skin color.

      I would like to all the skeptics eat junk food, drink coke, and get cured only with medical aproved cures like drugs, and all other people really scientific and courius people try with raw organic food, KT, kefir, fresh air, stretching, yoga, and all that you find healthy and makes you feel good.

      And who would pay to investigate Kombucha benefits?

    • Lethe says:

      How come with all the miracle cancer cures out there, people still die from it?

  83. PuzzleMage says:

    Seems to me the topic boils down to 2 questions.

    1) Will it harm you? Probably not. Lots of people have drunk it for a long time. There might be exceptions. Peanuts are great sources of protein. For some people, they’re deadly.

    2) Will it cure what ails you? The responses to this appear to come in two varieties.

    —A) It makes me feel great! You should try it!

    —B) There’s no clinical studies proving any medical effect.

    For A, I’d have to say, lots of things that make people feel good are not necessarily good for people. Alcohol is a great example. My parent’s generation said ‘If it feels good, do it.’ Many of them discovered that even if it does feel good, it may have some negative side effects.

    For B, It’s worth noting that many things have been proved healthy long after plenty of people had been doing them for ages. The fact that studies haven’t been done does not prove that there are no health benefits.

    On the other hand, reliable studies are the gold standards for skeptics. If you don’t like skeptics, why are you on skepticblog? McDonalds and Coca-Cola have been cleared by the FDA as not being poisonous, but they have not been found to cure medical conditions (other than, perhaps, starvation, dehydration, or deficiencies of fat or sugar. There’s always something.)

    The general consensus seems to be, it’s a drink that provides a subjective feeling of health, has in some cases been associated with a medical condition improvement, and the taste is appreciated by some people more than others. The only curative property that’s been listed often enough to take note of is alleviating hangovers, and for that alone, I’m surprised it’s not more popular than it is. People with hangovers will try ANYTHING, including more of what made you so miserable in the 1st place.

    I’m sure some of you are college students, could any of you set up a class project to test a small sample of volunteers? I bet if you came up with any effect, someone would create a bigger study and maybe we could have a discussion that wasn’t based on subjective anecdotes.

  84. PuzzleMage says:

    Oops, I forgot to add under B that while there are no clinical studies on Kombucha, there apparently have been studies on some of it’s probiotics, microorganisms, etc. These are proven to be beneficial, but that’s only indirect evidence – I’d still like to see what could be proved about it. There are too many things that say ‘This cured me! You should try it!’ for me to try them all.

    While it’s true that FDA approval and double-blind studies (not the same thing, those) are not 100% assurance of safety and effective medical effect, they’re at least better than anecdotal evidence.

  85. claudia says:

    Ok, for all you sceptics who think the euphoria is all due to the power of suggestion or whatever, let me tell you my experience. Yes, experience, because I trust that more than the FDA or the pharmaceutical companies. PuzzleMage, perhaps you should take some time to look into what the FDA HAS passed before you trust them too much…

    I had a roommate 15 years ago who used to brew kombucha, and the whole idea of it disgusted me. I did not believe in any health claims, or stories, as they all sounded like urban legends to me. Back then, the only way to drink it was through homebrew and I was young enough to have no health problems and no interest in any kind of diet or health fad.

    So, last year, when I was getting ready for a 2 hour drive back home, I stopped by a local grocery store for a cold drink to have on my way back. I didn’t want to drink plain water, and I usually don’t drink juice or soda because of the high sugar content (lots of diabetes in my family), so I grabbed a drink that looked good, some strawberry thing that had very low sugar content.

    My first sip was a shock – that sour taste! Not unpleasant, but still not what I expected. I remembered the smell and thought is this kombucha? My first actual taste! Whatever, I was thirsty and this was cold.

    I felt immediately euphoric, energized for the trip home. Also, I have been having digestion problems, and I could feel it felt good in my guts, etc.

    To me, it’s a great energy drink. I get a buzz from it similar to drinking Monster Energy drink (lo-carb of course). Not surprising because it also contains b vitamins, except kombucha also has probiotics, enzymes, prophenols, and no fake chemicals.

    There has been scientific studies on the glucaric acid kombucha contains, which helps the liver remove toxins more efficiently.

    The best kind, in my opinion, is GT Dave’s, any flavor, but especially plain, and also the herbal formulas are great. I have since started a culture grown from a bottle of his stuff (don’t tell him), and although I don’t think my tea is as good as his, it’s much cheaper and it helps me get through my workday.

    Lastly, no matter what, we are ultimately responsible for our own health. We are all unique and some things are not going to work for some people, but will be great on others. The more you educate yourself on health matters and the more you understand your own body, the more likely you will be able to maintain your health, and the less likely you will fall for silly claims- either from fad diets,health “gurus”, the FDA, or drug-mad doctors.

  86. D says:

    I wanted to address the cancer fighting thing. I’m not a doctor, I don’t have sources, I’m not promoting this idea, I just am surprised nobody mentioned it yet is all. I know about it because my aunt and uncle are very into the idea, and I’ve done a ton of research recently because I find the idea interesting. True? I’m not sure. Interesting? Yes.

    I’m pretty sure the notion that Kombucha will help with cancer is based on the acid/alkaline theory. The idea is that your body’s natural pH is slightly alkaline. A properly functioning body can correctly regulate itself no matter what you’re eating. But many holistic (and regular) doctors are touting the idea that if you give your body food in an acid/alkaline ratio that closely matches the pH of your body anyway, you’re freeing up a bunch of resources, which can be then be devoted to things like fighting off cancer (and curing acne, allergies, etc… I’ve seen a lot of maladies listed on various sites). Foods aren’t classified based on their pH , its based on the PH of the food once it is broken down in your stomach… so oranges are alkaline, meat is acidic, and so on. You can find various tables online and a lot of them are conflicting–for example, honey is listed on some as alkaline and some as acidic.

    Anyway, this is related to Kombucha in that it’s listed as a high alkaline food (remember–I’m talking about the pH after your stomach breaks it down). Just about all of what the American diet contains breaks down into an acid (most meat, dairy, grain, sugar) so drinking Kombucha would help out your acid/alkaline ratio, therefore giving your body less work to do and enabling it to work on other problems. The more Kombucha you drink, the more alkaline that ratio. This might help explain why there’s mixed results on the cancer thing–it’s not just the Kombucha, it’s the rest of the person’s diet too.

    Again, I’m not promoting this idea. I’m just regurgitating what I’ve read online. Some of it is from credible sources, some isn’t. Most of this isn’t supported by scientific studies, but a lot of you have mentioned that studies cost money and if there isn’t a profitable reason to conduct one, it doesn’t get done. Lack of studies doesn’t make something not credible, but it doesn’t make it credible either.

    Just my two cents on the mystery of why they’re calling this stuff a “cancer fighter”.

    • Lethe says:

      Hmmm. The acid/alkaline dichotomy sounds similar to the “hot/cold” dichotomy of foods found in Chinese medicine.
      ????!

  87. semperskeptic says:

    This is a true story, and it’s worthwhile because it happened to me, and contrary to whatever else is known about the universe, what happens to me trumps all known science.

    First of all let me say I am a reasonably healthy individual, both in body and of mind. Rather old, but that’s just the nature of things.

    Anyway, I came to this site because I hoped it would provide an escape from the inane that surrounds me. For a while I reveled in the reasoned arguments and lively discussion this site provides. Then I came across this thread. Within days I plunged in the depth of despair; how could this happen here, where I sought refuge from this very thing. Was there no place one can escape wackaloos? And why were they allowed to roam unchallenged and unanswered?

    I was becoming skeptical of the integrity of this site, as it slowly was turning into an Oprah-like vehicle for disseminating huey.

    They I tried re-reading it all, ready to challenge the very depth of baseless claims (hard to do when there is no base). And it hit me!! It’s entertainment! Suddenly I began to feel better. A bounce returned to my step (or maybe it’s a limp, I’m not sure), a smile graces my lips, and my hair … well, I’m still going bald, but I’ll take it one step at a time.

    So to all the skeptics out there, don’t close your mind to the mindless tripe for there be benefits to it all. Sure, it might make you despair for the future of mankind, but in the short run it will give you a good laugh. Really, that’s what life is all about.

    • Lethe says:

      “Suddenly I began to feel better. A bounce returned to my step….”
      Are you sure you haven’t been sneaking a few hits off the kombucha jar?

  88. Pasteur says:

    to *86
    @D: Your point is great, and make a lot of sense.
    I have an uncle (brother of my granfather) wiht leukemia, and he starts to drink KT. He got better, even he looks much better.

    where he lives ther is not commercial KT, so he has to brew his own.
    And then he gets tired of that, and by feeling good, he stoped drinking.

    By 6 or 8 months later, he was bad, really bad, again. One year later or mor, he starts drinking again, and get better again.

    This is not scientific evidence, call it anecdotal. But is not a friend of a friend, is my uncle. I see by myself.

    And I believe to my eyes, and to my uncle’s skin color.

    I would like to all the skeptics eat junk food, drink coke, and get cured only with medical aproved cures like drugs, and all other people really scientific and courius people try with raw organic food, KT, kefir, fresh air, stretching, yoga, and all that you find healthy and makes you feel good.

    And who would pay to investigate Kombucha benefits?

  89. Ian says:

    I’ve been making my own K for about 5 years now. I drink it every day for the following reasons:

    1) It tastes good. (If it tastes vinegary, then it’s been brewed longer) The taste varies wildly depending on the point in the fermentation process at which you drink it. Goes from sweet to puckering. I drink mine after about 6 days or so and the fullness of flavor is comparable to a light white wine – from initial sparkly zing on the tongue, to deep fruity after-taste.

    2) I feel good. Anecdotal blah blah blah…

    3) In the time I’ve been drinking it, I’ve never been ill or sick. Not a sniffle. My partner works in a hospital, and last winter alone she brought home 2 bouts of flu that had her floored for a few days each. Not that that’s proof that K’s in any way responsible – but I don’t know anyone as healthy as me. I don’t excercise or go to the gym and I sit at my computer all day (and night sometimes!)

    4) It’s cheap to make – I make 16 litres at a time – takes 26 tea bags, 1.5kg sugar and a bit of power to boil 6l of water. Around $3 for 16 litres. Oh and about 20 mins a week for making and decanting.

    5) I get to look interesting and knowledgeable about a little-known topic when in social company lol.

    6) It tastes REALLY good if made properly.

  90. Steveo says:

    I just tried my first Kombucha today. I was in the “health food” section of my neighborhood grocery store (I live outside Kansas City, MO) and was looking for some tea to drink. GT Dave’s Kombucha was on special (70 cents off!), so I bought a bottle.

    Impressions: yes, tastes a little vinegar-y and has a unique scent. I had to add a bit of vanilla sugar syrup to make it more drinkable (my palate might not be as sophistimicated as others posting here).

    I didn’t notice any initial “lift” or “energy” or anything like that, nor did I notice any near-term health benefits related to digestion. I didn’t notice anything bad either.

    As I didn’t really like the way it tasted out of the bottle, I probably won’t buy it again. $3 for a bottle is pricey compared to $3 for a bunch of high-quality teabags that I can drink throughout the week. I’m glad I tried it, but I think I’ll just stick with some good organic tea. Your mileage may vary.

  91. Sandra says:

    I bought my first bottle of Kombucha when looking for something to give me a “lift” after getting only 3.5 hrs of sleep, needing to be “on” for a sales job and drinking too much caffeine to drink any more. Knowing nothing about the product, I thought it was “spoiled” because it was clearly fermented and tasted vinegary, so returned it to Whole Foods the next day. The manager explained the whole concept to me, replaced my bottle and gave me a free one. Good move because I’ve faithfully purchased since.

    After 5 days of a daily bottle, I saw friends I hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks. The first comment was, “What are you doing for your skin; it looks beautiful!” I’m 57 so if someone says my skin looks beautiful, I’m going to keep drinking the stuff whether or not there is scientific evidence.

    I don’t really feel an immediate “lift”. I feel more balanced, more “evened out”. I rarely overeat now. While I rarely drink to point of being drunk, (well, since my 20’s anyway), I find myself not really wanting much alcohol at all. My fingernails are stronger and I have a little more energy, nothing dramatic but noticeable, without being edgy or jumpy like I am with caffeine. In fact, I no longer find myself wanting caffeine.

    So…for now, it’s in the plus column for me though I think I’ll try a homebrew soon due to the expense.

  92. AngelHeart says:

    I tried Synergy brand kombucha a while back. I had forgotten about it until I read several of these posts. I tried the Synergy kombucha in a health food store in my neighborhood. A Store Employee and one other person were in the store with me. After drinking half the bottle I felt a buzz as if I had a glass or two of wine…I felt pretty good. I said “I have a nice buzz going here.” As soon as I said this the other person in the store decided to buy some also. I am looking into how I can make my own. Also; I strongly suspect I have low stomach acid and one of the recommendations for low stomach acid is probiotics which are found in kombucha. Remedy low stomach acid…build intestinal flora and get a buzz at the same time? Sounds good to me!

    Some of the posts here are ridiculus. Lighten Up! Have a few glasses of kombucha. It may help ! ;)

  93. ryk says:

    We’ve been brewing it at home for a while now, and I too feel better after I drink a bit of it. This could be the small amount of alcohol in it, but I love the way it tastes. I will continue to drink it in moderation unless it is proven to have some kind of detrimental effect. There are certainly worse things one can do to their body.

  94. Gina says:

    I read Bethany Frankle’s “Naturally Thin” book and she drinks Kombucha regularly…so, along with a friend, we decided to see what all the hype was about. My first reaction was “OMG!! how horrible..”..I do not like carbonated beverages and this is the “mother” of carbonation..smells like vinegar and has this stringy bacteria floating around in it…and I dont even eat left overs…I had bought several, so the next day tried a different flavor over ice with a straw..hmmm..not too bad. Ok, try again the next day…hmm, that was kinda decent and conquered my thirst..then..(well you get the picture). I am totally hooked..or culted on Kombucha?? It appears to have done the following for me: 1. curbs my app! for this I am very thankful. I can guzzle one of these early am…and I then eat only about 200 cals at lunch and make it all the way to dinner w/o a bag of wavy lays!?? 2. Digestion..absolutely my GI/Digestive tract are..well, on track! has made a huge difference in this arena for me. 3. I feel a little giddy about 30 min. into the bottle?? ETOH?? maybe?
    4. I just feel better?? I dont have the foggiest idea? I have googled and wiki’d and searched for a decent reason to stop this drink..but so far, not gonna give it up..oh, and PS..my friend is totally hooked also..we have been cult followers for about 3 months!

  95. pat labendz says:

    okay so i have been brewing my own kombucha and buying it somewhat regularly for about 5 years now. About a month ago i began experiencing very easy bruising . i got my blood tested and was diagnosed with itp a rare autoimmune disease in which my SPLEEN has been producing whiteblood cells that have been destroying my own platelets. now im on a high dose of steroids to try to suppress my immune system. I live in the woods off the grid in northern california and never thought to google kombucha or relate it to my illness until tonight. i had no idea about the spleen effect on mice. im not going to point my finger at it but i will say that im gonna take a big break from it now in light of my health issues.

  96. annie says:

    I have been ill since Nov 08, and no Dr could figure out the cause – in June 09 I was finally diagnosed with an autoimmune disease related to my thyroid. I started drinking the Kombucha bottled drink 2 weeks ago, and I am feeling very good – it has lowered my blood pressure, helped with GI issues, and I am hoping it will help to improve my immune system. I am doing research on it now, and found this page, and thought I would add my positive experience with it. I also have learned of the potential negative side, so I will look out for any symptoms called out. Education and research is what everyone should do to make their own decision on what to eat or drink.

  97. Ricardo says:

    Well, let me explain something about Kombucha. What bone heads believe that if a product have been around over two thousand years and still have several healthy claims wouldn’t have also several, way more than convincing double blinded clinical evidence of its veracity?
    Is there still idiots in this world that believes on FDA words about heath. There are better people to believe, way better than that, like lawyers, car salesman, snake oil salesman, politicians… Just to name a few. FDA is the most corrupted, biased, liars of this great country called America. Anything FDA says is to protect the profit of multi billion dollars national empire, mafia pharmaceutical companies, who is not interested to see anyone healthy. Can you understand? If you are healthy they loose money. The only…only thing they want to see is you on a prescription drug for the rest of your life. OH sorry I lied, they want to see you on several prescription drugs for the rest of your life.
    Now before you discredit Kombucha tea, kefir, green tea, do yourself a favor, drink as much aspartame, eat tons of MSG, drink one gallon of soda a day, eat as much processed food with ingredients from hell as you can, eat tons of white flour, don’t forget to put extra white sugar on it, eat as much donuts too.
    After all these foods have been doubled blinded clinically studied, right, hahaha. Of course I am being sarcastic, I am not recommending these foods, before someone go ahead and do it I just want to prove a point. If there is anyone smart on this site you will know what I am talking about. Tchau, in Portuguese means good bye. Take care.

  98. toast says:

    There is proof that Komboocha has health benefits. It starts with the pieces and ends in the sum of all parts. First it is loaded with the tanins that are found in black tea(you could just drink black tea). Tanins have been proven to reduce the risks of heart disease. (most people drink red wine for this) Second it has acidic properties that help flush latent acid from your liver, effectively alkalizing your body. (lemon water also does this) They have evidence(more than evolution, but less than cigaretts causing cancer) that alkalizing the body slows down and in some cases stops all together the replicaion of cancer cells.

    Having said that I don’t know that it is any more beneficial than several other things out there. But I can say that there is a long history of using fermented drinks to promote overall body health. And since alcohol is poisoinous to the body (stripping it of water and minerals) it is better to drink than a glass of red wine.

    I don’t see how it is any better than drinking organic black tea with lots of lemon. But I can say that they have proven that fermenting or cooking or drying food changes the benefits so there is a chance that they will find out something about it is more beneficial because of the culture.

    My 2 cents.

  99. Kombucha thoughts says:

    i drank GT’s multi-green Kombucha for the first time about 2 hours ago. before i drank it, i was feeling a bit like i had a UTI coming on. so while at the market i grabbed one (i really don’t even know why). anyway, i instantly felt better (i kid you not). i have no idea if this stuff is good for you, but it also gave me a little high. i will definitely drink it again, but i probably won’t open it up while driving. for one, it fizzed up and secondly, i’m not accustomed to the “buzz” it gives you.

    i’ve been poking around online trying to figure out what this stuff is and so i’ve enjoyed the posts here.

  100. Celia says:

    I found it a little sad to read Kombucha which is cheap and easy to make is being sold for profit in the USA. It should be easily attainable to grow your own at home and add whatever flavours you like.
    I have been making my own Kombucha on and off for five years and add organic green and black tea, nettle, gota kola, chamomile and whatever else i feel like with organic raw sugar. Best kept in ceramic urn with tap at the bottom. Not plastics or metal… it’s not a good idea to store food or drink in either of these anyway.

    Kombucha can be a great alcohol substitute, containing far less alcohol than wine.

    Personally find it gives me an energy boost, but have seen many people clearly benifitting from drinking it, including elderly people on the island of Bali, Indonesia.

    Yes, if you leave it long enough it gets acidic…..and yes, vinegar is one of the best cleaning agents there is!

    Why would sceptical Kirsten Sanford drink it straight from the vessel causing the mushroom to act like an ‘octopus’ ???
    – that’s asking for it, and is poor hygiene.

    Don’t wait for science to tell you it all ….. our current understanding of health and nutrition is so rudimenty it may take along time!
    Yes science has managed to locate a number of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids etc… but there are hundreds if not thousands of phytochemicals in our food we have yet to locate and understand. These phyto chemcals help us absorb other nutrients and heal cells in the body.
    Fortified foods and vitamin pills engineered by food scientists can never come close to replicating the benefits of unprocessed whole foods – because thay do not yet understand the complicated constituents of nutrition.

    … and what can a couple of tests on mice tell us?
    These are after all preliminery tests, which may or may not show any effects in humans as rodents have a very different constitution from us. Indeed vinegar, which is good for us may produce the same results as the Kombucha trial in the mice.
    However, if increased liver or spleen size in mice worries you, than look at Jeffrey Smith’s book ‘Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods’. It will make you go organic overnight, if not move to Europe, Japan or any without a corrupted food saftey body.

    Like all good things Kombucha should be in moderation too.
    (Organic orange juice is good for us, but a litre a day for an extended period is not, it’s too acidic).

  101. Art Onion says:

    I’ve been drinking Kombucha for about a week now. The first two days I felt dizzy in a funny way and my piss stinks of death.
    But now I’m okay. Does it work? Who knows!
    Tomorrow I’ll try Kombucha+Tequila!

  102. Hammerdart says:

    Always fascinating to hear skeptical people tell stories, claim, reason and respond to others’ inquiries without ever providing a single reference to the sources of their own logic.

  103. me, myself, and I says:

    I was checking out this site to see if indeed drinking kombucha might end up killing me. Atleast after all these post I think I might live. I’ve been drinking it due to problems with UTI’s I often have. I think the acidity helps in that department. Plus the B-vitamins do give a noticeable boost. I don’t know if it’s a cure all–but atleast I feel better than when on my usual addiction of diet dr.pepper or redbull.

  104. keith says:

    Been brewing regularly for a few weeks- I find it so delicious that the pleasure of drinking it gives me a ‘high’. An uninformed palate might find it vinegary- but a discerning re-tasting would discover a precise balance of sweet and sour, light and crisply effervescent- highly refreshing. Best savoured like a fine wine. I find it better tasting than champagne- reminiscent of cider but unique. I brew with regular ‘English’ tea in teabags, (Tetley brand ‘One-cup’ is as fine as any) 6oz white sugar and a tablespoon of cider vinegar to encourage the process (in a batch of about 1 and a 1/2 to 2 litres- Amount of teabags for this volume; 12). My brew turns sparkly in 4 or 5 days at time of writing- tail end of our Scottish summer.
    It could be a matter of what you’re used to, but for me it surpasses carbonated soft drinks. Coke doesn’t come close.
    I would not take more than a three quarter full, small wine glass of kombucha at one time and it must be savoured- This is my instinctive feeling and practice. I take 3 such amounts daily. Digestion feels smoother: I am less prone to indigestion than I was. My hair condition and complexion are excellent for a man nearing 50- but that is mainly down to good diet, exercise and genetics. They might however have become even better lately- but I will not swear to definite health benefits after only six weeks. Never-the-less, I would drink this brew with great relish for its flavour alone.

  105. raka says:

    [I’ve watched over the past year as a drink...]
    Are you the health police, and what makes you think anyone cares?

    [In conclusion, the research and evidence that is available to date is not sufficient for the medical community to endorse the consumption of Kombucha for...]
    Some conclusion based on absolutely no evidence which you can find. How is it that with evidence you can reach a conclusion and without any evidence you still reach a conclusion?

    And what makes you think anyone cares if the “Medical community” endorses anything but their own drugs? Do we need them to endorse apples and vinegar too?

    Since the author clearly hasn’t trailed KT for any length of time considered meaningful and since a born skeptic is basically skeptical, at what point does this whole diatribe have to do with anything? The only thing that is clear is that those skeptical of any product claims to benefit health are still skeptical. Thus the never ending line of the health police trying to protect some poor dumb souls from themselves.

    Just replace the word Kombucha with any other health product and it’s the same nonsense we’ve heard since almighty God chose the FDA to control our health.

    Bottom line is if you like KT and it does you good, drink it. If you don’t like it, don’t. But spare me the rhetoric that “you”/”we” have done due diligence by “studying” the product and all it’s constituents and determined that it cannot possibly do you any good. Finally “you”/”we” have determined that only a bunch of fools would spend hard-earned cash on it. I mean after all you have lot’s of other important things to spend your hard earned money on. I’m not buying any of that mold drink, I’m too smart for that!

    Martha, dammit, who took the last Ho-ho and where’s the freakin Ben and Jerry’s?!!!!

  106. Dan says:

    So, let’s review what we have so far…some are enthusiastically for it. As a rule, this group has tried the product. Some are enthusiastically against it. Some being so enthusiastic as to not have tried it. From the first group, we get anecdotal evidence. From the second, the highly-damning state of lack-of-evidence (as defined, apparently, by a double-blind study). How one can construct a double-blind study of t his stuff is beyond me! Unique is the first adjective that came to my mind. (Pipe cleaner was the second; but, that’s beside the point.)

    Some won’t drink it till the FDA endorses it; others (apparently) won’t drink it if the FDA endorses it. I like the personal (or, nothing beyond second-hand) anecdotals, personally. I don’t mind the studies; but, don’t forget, scientific studies are anecdotal, too; just with as much humanity removed as possible. Scientists call this a good thing. I call it silly. My friends at Jackson Labs (the “mice factory”) are working on “personalized medicine” – they feel it should be very individualized. The pharms put warnings on their labels saying what the side affects may be — sometimes, they can be polar oppisite reactions…I guess they feel the individual differences can be felt, too.

    Maybe this stuff will slow or stop cancer in you; doesn’t mean it will for me. Maybe I’ll start growing again, and finally be 6 feet tall. Doubt it. But, as a few people have mentioned, personal experience is better than a study. Try it at different times of the day; try it when sick and when well. Take notes if it makes you feel better. If you can’t stand the taste, discontinue. If you love it, then don’t worry ’bout the health benefits (if any).

    This stuff gives my wife a buzz, and does put a little extra red in her cheeks. Maybe I’m too much of a lush, cause I don’t feel a thing. But, I like it. It makes me feel “clean.” No, it’s not placebo affect, that wasn’t what was advertised, so I wasn’t “prepped” for it. (I was expecting to feel loopy, since I could see my wife’s reaction.) To my fellow skeptics (yeah, I’m one, too), put your skepticism on the line and try it. Those of you with pre-conceived notions will assuredly find them confirmed. (Both directions.) Those who are open minded, and are willing to take the ride…please chime in! Tell me how you feel.

    Peace, Love & Eternal Grooviness…

  107. Susan says:

    My two cents: I stumbled upon K at Whole Foods. A lady was loading her cart with as much K as she could put in it a year or two ago. I couldn’t help but ask her about it. She said it was great, and extolled the virtues. I thought it was expensive and passed. However, last week, I ran across K again at Whole Foods. They had GT Dave’s on sale and was prominently displayed, so I bought a couple of bottles remembering the lady and her cart, and, wow! Love it! I love the buzz it provides. I feel cleansed, like toxins are expelled. But here’s what happened last night: Haven’t read anything about this. I had a K later in the evening. Woke up at 4 a.m., got up and had no joint pain. None. I’ve been treating an arthritic knee and dealing with the pain of that. The only thing I’d done different was drink the Kombucha. Plus, it felt so good when I went to the bathroom! Yay! Toxins begone! For the pain absence alone, I’ll drink one a day. When I went back to bed, I’m calculating what one a day will cost me. I buy meds that cost that much to ease the pain. To have the pain go away, I’ll definitely pay that much. I bought a case of the Strawberry, and will buy another case or two. That’s what led me to my search today. Before I buy a lot more, I wanted to see what other people were saying about it besides GT Dave’s website. I’ll buy more and continue to assess how I feel.

  108. Bonnie says:

    I think the Kombucha tea made from SEAWEED is probably the good one for you. Seaweed will counteract quite a bit and did you know I put iodine on a skin tag that was getting big and it fell off and never grew back!?! This one sounds like weak alcohol for partiers who don’t eat their fruits and veggies. My husband got one from a friend yesterday, and my sister had one for a few months. He likes to brew beer and is a beeraholic I think (we just married)so maybe this will help him get energy from the liver punishment that will undoubtibly (sp?) ensue. He has psorisis arthritis and is only 36. Maybe I might get 20 years outta him that would be nice. I think the lactic acid and yeasts will screw me up so I am scared to try it when he makes it, but I will try a bit. I doubt I should take it because I believe my liver was damaged from being overmedicated on heparin when I was pregnant with my 16 year old son. I almost bled to death. Let people damage their spleens and livers and smoke their pot. You’re still a gonna die! Tahahahaha! And it’s not that important. Just enjoy and love and drink whatever poison you want.

  109. Binger says:

    I personally feel that Kombucha is an amazing health drink, but people should know the truth about GT’s sugar content–they say 2 grams, but all bottles I have seen tested w/ laboratory grade equipment says between 4-6 grams. If you have to watch your sugar intake be careful! (And brew your own or switch companies to make sure you know what you’re getting!)

  110. nan says:

    Cult following? Hmmm, healthy or not Kombucha a generally low calorie, natural and tasty alternative to Soda and Beer if you want a fizzy refreshing drink

  111. 123456789 says:

    About 20 years ago, we had this “tea mushroom” and so did our neighbors, and some of our friends. The whole idea was: free home-made lemonade, no one would ever suggest that it was good for your health. We did get rid of it, and so did our neighbors, and our friends, sooner or later.

  112. motormind says:

    I remember drinking it a few years ago. I actually thought it was pretty tasty: a bit sour, but refreshingly so. I didn’t drink enough of it to sense any health benefits, but maybe I will start trying to brew my own.

  113. Gus says:

    I tried kombucha a few years ago and it gave me a stomach ache. Maybe this was because it was so acidic I dont know, anyone els felt this affect? Then i have been trying it a few diferent times recently and it definetly gives me a boost in energy which i would except calling a buzz. I also have been feeling a little ansey lately like i have more toxins in my system, like when i used to take herbal remedies to kill of unfriendly candida yeasts because i thought maybe i had that problem. Has anyone els felt this way from Kombucha? I like the initial feeling kombucha gives me and i believe that the bioactive chemicals in it are actualy doing what they have proven to do. I meen how could they not unless somehow the low of physics dont apply when taking kombucha. Its like saying that putting extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesnt trap more heat when thats what its physical properties demand based on the laws of physics.

  114. Lethe says:

    Okay, got to the end of the comments, and combined with other resesarch, I’ve decided to give this stuff a try. Overall, it appears that basically, in moderation, it couldn’t hurt, and it could help.
    Thanks to all for your advice/input/healthy skepticism. Love me some internet!!!!

  115. Andy says:

    After reading through all of the posts here, I will refuse to try Kombucha, as it is plainly obvious that it drastically harms one’s sense of humor.

  116. Loren says:

    I just tried GT’s Multi-Green Kombucha last night because a co-worker suggested it. She’s been taking a bottle a day for the last two weeks and says she feels energized and I’ve observed that she is in great spirits everyday, that was not the case two weeks prior to her taking it. I have to admit, after one bottle I feel very clear headed…power of suggestion? Maybe. But I usually don’t feel this energized or clear headed after drinking Margaritas the night before, so we’ll see.

  117. Claidheamh mor says:

    I make kombucha and drink it.
    A small amount. I don’t like it when it’s gone very sour and vinegary. Mine’s pretty good.

    I also don’t like:
    GT’s anecdotal story. Hate that shit.
    Gooby health nut soyhead vegan freakazoids. (Like vegan food, hate nutty vegans.)

    Can’t tell if a half glass every one or two days has health benefits or not.
    If it causes someone harm, it’s probably because some dumb broad drank it morning, noon and night.

    Agree that someone who misspells in an article loses credibility. Double for attacking someone who points it out, as if literacy and excellence were a bad thing. Got enough of people excusing their own incompetence by attacking virtues; don’t need any more,

  118. Pampelmousse says:

    Kombucha was all the rage about 20 years ago here in Japan. Everyone seemed to want it. Women kept it like a family treasure in their closets and talked to it as if it were a pet. Like all fads, it came and went. Now no one seems to have it–or want it. Here it is called tea mushroom, kocha kinoko. Where does the name kombucha come from? Could it be that someone who came to Japan during the kocha kinoko craze got it mixed up with the kelp tea which is spelled either konbucha or kombucha? In Japan the people who promoted kocha kinoko made a lot of money. Perhaps the same motive is behind the fad now in the US.

  119. Danny says:

    Ha ha, here in my local grocery store in NYC can of soda = $1, Kombucha = $5 , I think I’m stop drinking Kombucha and start with sodas… So it’s here for hundreds of years and you’re still suspicious ? Good.

  120. Dottie says:

    I brew my own, started with a piece of my daughter’s mother (mushroom) and I love it! To me? It’s so much better than soda: no chemicals or artificial ingredients. I use organic black and white tea, water and sugar. That’s it! One gallon of yumminess within 7 – 10 days. It tastes more like a hard cider beverage than beer. Great on a warm day or when you just want something other than a beer or a glass of wine!

    • No chemicals? But then you said water and sugar. Which is it?

      • Max says:

        “No chemicals or artificial ingredients” was probably redundant.

        Do you also point out that Arabs can’t be anti-semitic because they’re Semites, and that biologically, tomato is a fruit not a vegetable?

  121. A says:

    My anecdotal evidence is this.

    When I drink Kombucha regularly, my nails get thick and shiny and strong. When I don’t, they’re thing and break easily. It may not be a panacea, but there is a positive effect for me.

  122. fresh healthy vending scam says:

    Fresh Healthry Vending Workplace Wellness Programs.The epidemic of obesity among children and adults is placing the need for more accessible healthy choices. Linking this surge in weight gain to vending machines has prompted a market for health vending choices.

  123. Dr Payne says:

    I love kombucha. I do not believe it is a miracle cure all, but I do think it can be beneficia. The Lacto Fermentation process produces potentially beneficial bacteria (aka those things in pro-biotic caps) that help the internal flora of our gut. Like eating Yogurt. Eating fermented foods (that have not been pasteurized to kill everything) such as kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, Kimchi etc introduce more of these helpful bacteria into our system. Having a healthy gut flora can really help keep you healthy, but i suspect it is not a miracle cure for everythig. These fermented foods have a tart acidic tast that is not a normal part of the Western flavor Palate, so it can be an acquired taste. I also feel that the nationally produced Kool-Aid flavored Kombucha probably does not provide nearly the amount of healthy flora that you would want.

  124. cj says:

    After reading many comments, I have decided to share a little. Kombucha is an interesting product, not because of the unbelievable claims, but because of the things you don’t read about without extensive research and dedication to experimentation. I have brewed kombucha for many years. It is something I came across that excited my curiosity. I have made many discoveries. Discoveries that are unbelievable, and not documented anywhere else. That aside, there are some things everyone should know about kombucha.
    1. Any kombucha that is bottled in or capped with plastic or metal should be avoided.
    Why? Kombucha is very acidic, and has a tendency to leach out toxins from the containers used during brewing and storage. I have noticed that all commercial kombucha are bottled or capped in ways that I find extremely unacceptable. Note: this does not apply to kombucha that has been pasteurized. Anything that comes in contact with kombucha that is still alive will become part of the drink. These living organisms devour and use anything available during there life cycle, and my concern is that during the kombucha’s life cycle exposure to foreign things like plastic / metal / ceramic/ any other non-glass product will become part of and transform the beverage. I believe that if kombucha is made and stored properly that there should be no cause for concern.
    2. No one under any circumstances should drink kombucha that is brewed with or mixed with anything other than black tea (once again does not included pasteurized products).
    Why? For the thousands of years that kombucha has been around it has been brewed this way, although today the trend is to mix it with any and everything. The truth is unlike the black tea, mixing herbal teas, vitiams, and other things with kombucha may not be safe. Know that black tea and white sugar are safe, because this method has not harmed anyone over many centuries. If we think about this it might make sense. Kombucha is a living thing, it uses whatever it comes in contact with as a food source, it does no discriminate, and once it has used something as a source of nourishment, that food source is forever transformed into something different. While almost all scientific studies are done on kombucha brewed with black tea and sugar, there is little known about what happens or what is produced if anything other than that is used.
    3. Promoting commercial kombucha for the reasons stated before may be harmful?
    Why? Commercial brewers are concerned with taste, so they add weird stuff, which may cause a healthy drink to become who knows what. Commercial brewers are concerned with cost, so they use cheep bottling methods that could result in nasty stuff like plastics ending up in the beverage.
    I know that these are not the common concerns, but they are important.
    I have read all about the concerns with home brewed Kombucha. Brewing kombucha at home is safe only if the person brewing it is competent, knowledgeable, and committed to maintaining clean practices. Here on the world wide wed I have read all kinds of things that appall me – keeping kombucha in a garage, cabinet, using anything other than black tea and sugar, using anything other than glass (not lead glass or colored glass), and the list could continue, but I think this is enough for now.
    Bottom line: don’t trust kombucha if you don’t trust the people or practices that are evident in brewing or bottling.

  125. df says:

    i bought GT’s original (no extra sugar) at the store and it was suprisingly very sweet. I had a couple of sips and awhile later could feel the start of a terrible yeast infection. I now think I’m getting a UTI. I deal with candida overgrowth and would not advise anyone dealing with problems to go near kombucha…well, the store bought kind anyway which will be very sweet. I think it’s because it wasn’t fermented long enough. I’m so glad I did not drink the whole bottle because I’d be in a much more terrible physical condition right now. I’ve eaten a chocolate cake and sweets recently have not had a reaction to it like I did to kombucha.

    Maybe when my body is a lot better, I will maybe try home brewed, well fermented kombucha. It’s just not for me right now.