The Kombucha culture is a mix of a variety of yeasts (similar to those used in beer) and bacteria (similar to those used in yogurt) and a gelatinous cake called the symbiot. This culture acts like a veritable biochemical factory, transforming simple sugars into a multitude of highly beneficial substances.
Kombucha contains several types of enzymes and good bacteria:
- organic acids
- vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12
- amino acids
- antioxidants and polyphenols and typically less than .5 % alcohol.
It is not unusual to come across sedimentation or a floating gelatinous substance. The presence of these substances is actually a good sign that the drink is raw and ready to drink.
“It is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.”
The Origins of Kombucha
The origins of Kombucha are speculative at best. It is thought to have originated in the Far East, probably China, and has been consumed there for at least 2000 years.
In ancient Japanese texts Kombucha is mentioned the first time in 414 AD when emperor Inkyo was troubled with internal digestive problems and summoned his doctor, Dr Kombu, who introduced it to the imperial court and according to old scrolls has given the beverage its name.
Many health claims about kombucha are not yet proven due to the lack of research studies. But, it has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and anti-fungal properties in lab tests.
There is also a lot of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years.
Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It’s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things.
.Calming effect: Kombucha tea contains certain acids that can calm your body and mind. Regular consumption of the tea can help you overcome stress, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional problems.
.Detoxifying: One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. Detoxification helps in cleansing the liver and aides in cancer prevention. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer.
.Cancer prevention: Kombucha has also been proven beneficial for preventing cancer. A study published in Cancer Letters found that consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
.Weight loss: Data from a study in 2005 showed evidence that kombucha can improve metabolism and limit fat accumulation. Although more studies and research needs to be conducted before the results can be confirmed, other weight loss studies have adequately proven the acetic acid and polyphenols can lead to weight loss.
.Prevents arthritis: Kombucha contains glucosamines, a strong preventive treatment for all forms of arthritis. The Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, while associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.
.Aids digestion and maintains good gut health: Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.
.Instant energy: Kombucha’s ability to invigorate people has been credited to the formation of iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process. It also contains some caffeine and b-vitamins, which can energize the body.
.Boosts immunity: Kombucha is rich in anti-oxidants which works wonders for boosting your immunity and energy levels.
The downside of this wonderful beverage is that kombucha’s probiotics do not survive the pasteurization process, and drinking it unpasteurized, if it was not produced in sanitary conditions, may pose a food safety threat, especially for those who are pregnant or have compromised immune systems.
Some of the reported side effects of excessive and/or contaminated kombucha consumption include stomach upset, acidosis, allergic reactions to the molds that can develop during fermentation, and toxicity from heavy metals from home-brewing in ceramic pots. The best way to consume the drink would be to brew it at home yourself.