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Kombucha Healing Capabilities

Updated on September 15, 2013

Kombucha Fundamentals

Kombucha is a fermented tea, which means it contains beneficial yeast and bacteria which symbiotically process sugars and alcohols into organic acids, enzymes, and vitamins. At least one strain of yeast and one strain of bacteria must be present in kombucha. The most common yeast strain is Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the most common bacteria strain is Gluconacetobacter xylinus. However, many kombucha brands include several strains of various yeasts and bacteria to further enhance the beneficial effects.

The only ingredients necessary for kombucha are water, tea leaves, sugar, and culture. The culture itself looks like a pancake or mushroom, and is usually tan in color. The tea utilized must be actual Camellia sinensis, rather than herbal teas, as this provides the necessary nutrients for the cultures to thrive.

To ensure consumption safety and viability of cultures, kombucha must be prepared carefully, with care taken to prevent contaminants. As long as the proper steps are followed, kombucha is an excellent beverage that possesses exceptional nutritional benefits.

The Benefits of Probiotics

The most important part of kombucha is the probiotic content, in the form of various yeast and bacteria strains. The average kombucha tea contains several billion individual microorganisms. Probiotics are very important because they assimilate into the digestive system, where they push out bad bacteria and help absorb nutrients. As importantly, they directly support the immune system. 70% of immune cells reside in the gastrointestinal system, which is where probiotics take root. Furthermore, there are ten times as many bacteria microorganisms as human cells in the body, testifying to the extreme importance of having healthy probiotics in the diet.

Several animal and human studies have demonstrated the healing effects of probiotics for many types of conditions. For example, a 2006 study discussed the usefulness of probiotic supplementation for preventing stress-related intestinal problems. In 2012, an MIT research team fed mice probiotic-enriched yogurt, and found those mice were all-around healthier than mice on a regular diet. They had richer fur, better weight, and increased fertility, among other physiological changes.

A 2010 study in humans found that children receiving probiotic yogurt had 24% fewer gastrointestinal infections than non-yogurt eating children over a three-month period. Two recent 2008 studies demonstrated how probiotics can even help induce cancer cell death and improve the effectiveness of vaccines.

The evidence is clear - the consumption of good bacteria is critical for optimal human health. While most studies deal with individual strains or yogurt-derived probiotics, kombucha contains very powerful bacterial varieties which are arguably even more powerful than traditional strains. What studies have found about probiotics in general, humans have reported from the consumption of kombucha and all kinds of cultured foods, like tempeh, pickles, and fermented cabbage.

Interaction of Probiotics with Intestines


The Science on Kombucha

While the research on kombucha is not as extensive as that of other cultured foods or unfermented tea, there are still many resources. A July 2000 study in Food Research International reviewed previous studies and testimony, and reported on kombucha's anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, digestion-improving, and immune-enhancing properties.

Kombucha contains numerous anti-microbial compounds which further enhance its potent immune boosting properties. A 1998 study in Food Science and Technology found that a kombucha sample exerted anti-microbial effects against five different Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms, including salmonella and staphylococcus. The study also found that acetic acid, one of the chief acids produced by the probiotic bacteria in kombucha, was responsible for these effects.

While acetic acid was long thought to be the only chemical that contributed to kombucha's anti-microbial capabilities, a 2000 study in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggested there was something more. Not only did the study find that kombucha was effective against fourteen bacterial strains, but by testing neutral-pH, denatured kombucha, it was shown that compounds other than acetic acid must be responsible for some of the anti-microbial abilities.

Another 2009 animal study published in Chinese Medicine found that kombucha was significantly effective at mitigating the oxidative degradation of lipids and oxidative stress related to the kidneys. Specifically, kombucha protects the lipids in cell membranes, thus preventing cell damage, and may repair damage from several types of environmental pollutants. The study suggested that kombucha could be an effective treatment for kidney toxicity.

A 2007 study in Food Chemistry shed more light on the chemical constituents of kombucha, identifying the concentrations of various tea catechins and polyphenols as well as organic acids. It also compared kombuchas made with different types of teas, including black and green tea, along with tea manufacture waste. The study determined that a maximum concentration of acetic acid can be reached in green tea, whereas more glucuronic acid can be achieved with black tea. Since different kombuchas have different nutritional profiles, it is best to drink several types. Furthermore, green tea kombuchas, like unfermented counterparts, contain more tea polyphenols than black.

There are many benefits to drinking kombucha, and the featured video does an excellent job of clearly explaining those advantages. When consumed regularly, this health drink can contribute to a wide variety of healing effects, including detoxification.

All benefits stem from the individual and synergistic effects of kombucha's constituents. For example, acetic acid is responsible for the antimicrobial properties, whereas glucuronic acid assists with liver detoxification.

Kombucha Experiences

While many scientific studies indicate the potential of kombucha and probiotics in general, what really matters is how kombucha affects humans. Unfortunately, no clinical studies have actually been carried out on humans, so the only way to understand kombucha's health effects is through the cellular and animal studies, as well as the experiential evidence. People have testified that kombucha is effective against all kinds of conditions, including

The science and results make it clear - kombucha does have beneficial properties when consumed properly. While the ideal diet for any one individual varies, the evidence suggests that liberal kombucha consumption can improve most people's lives.


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