Exploring the Adverse Effects and Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Have you ever had Kombucha tea? Most people either love the drink or hate it for its unique taste and acclaimed health benefits. 

While there are some health benefits of Kombucha tea, there are a plethora of articles boasting the inaccurate “cure-all” effects of the drink. In actuality, there are only a few research studies on Kombucha tea, many of which also highlight the potential adverse effects.

Here is what you need to know about the negative effects and health benefits of Kombucha tea:

What is Kombucha tea?

Kombucha is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. It originates from East Asia and has been consumed for thousands of years.

Sometimes referred to as Kombucha mushroom tea, it’s actually not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. The drink is made by adding the bacteria and yeast to sugar and tea, and allowing it to ferment. The resulting tea contains Vitamin B, vinegar, and many other chemical compounds. It also contains acetic acid, traces of alcohol, and CO2 that make the beverage carbonated. 

What are the health benefits of Kombucha tea?

The prospective health benefits of Kombucha have been touted for years and has caused an increased interest in the tea. That being said, only a few studies have shown that the tea has probiotic and antimicrobial properties.

Based on research, here are a few health benefits of Kombucha tea:

  • Kombucha is made from green tea, which contains polyphenols and antioxidants that can reduce the risk of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Similar to the effects of coffee, green tea can boost your brain function as well as improve performance, productivity, memory, focus, and alertness. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases GABA activity, a neurotransmitter that helps you relax without making you tired and reduces anxiety. 
  • Like other fermented foods, the drink contains some species of lactic acid bacteria which often have a probiotic function.
  • Kombucha contains acetic acid, which is known to kill many potentially harmful bacteria.
  • Rat studies showed that Kombucha can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, improve liver and kidney function, improve HDL cholesterol, and reduce LDL cholesterol.
  • Some test-tube studies showed that the high concentration of polyphenols and antioxidants in Kombucha can prevent the spread of cancerous cells. However, Kombucha’s anticancer effects in people have not been confirmed.
  • The tea is low in calories, and thanks to its living cultures, the tea typically does not contain any harmful additives. 

Want to learn more about surprising foods with health benefits? Check out our blog, 11 Foods to Help Boost Your Memory.

What are the myths of Kombucha tea?

As stated above, there are some known health benefits of Kombucha tea as reported by a few studies. However, as with any fermented and carbonated beverage, this sweet and sour drink should only be enjoyed in moderation. Many of the touted health benefits of Kombucha tea are not proven; and most if not all studies are only tested on rats and not humans.

For example, while antioxidants help protect the body against free radicals (one of the many touted health benefits of Kombucha tea), the only studies on the profound effects of Kombucha’s antioxidants are on rats.

The claims that Kombucha tea can prevent serious health conditions are only claims and not backed by science. The few valid medical studies conducted on Kombucha are limited, and there are some risks to consider. 

Some of the adverse effects reported include infections, allergic reactions, and stomach upset. Kombucha tea is often brewed at home in non-sterile conditions, making contamination more likely. Some tea that is brewed from improperly manufactured ceramic pots can even cause lead poisoning.

ERNM March Offer Checklist Healthiest Foods Beverages