Kombucha has become the new hip drink within the past year or so, taking over the shelves of supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. It has spiked in popularity because of its high content of probiotics and antioxidants and its supposed health benefits, such as its ability to help with indigestion, arthritis, and even cancer (source). The owner of one of the biggest Kombucha suppliers, Synergy drinks claims that Kombucha stopped his mother’s breast cancer from spreading throughout her body and saved her life.
The fermented tea, filled with sugar, bacteria and yeast, which you can often see floating at the bottom of the bottle, tastes slightly tart and vinegary, and has a very low alcohol content of about 0.5%. You can buy Kombucha at your local grocery store or even ferment it yourself. Over the summer I actually began buying Kombucha from a local brewery near my house and it was quite delicious. The process of making the tea is really interesting to watch, and creates this weird blob-like, gross-looking substance like this that is really weird (I totally understand why she’s making that face). But with all of the hype surrounding this drink and its sudden rise in the market, I wondered if the health benefits that people believe Kombucha to have are true.
According to this article from the Washington Post, the health benefits that are associated with the consumption of this beverage have no actual scientific basis. There have been no research studies on people and very few on animals. However, the drink is known to have many probiotics, which we do know are good for your health and immune system. But the probiotics are only present in unpasteurized Kombucha, and if unpasteurized Kombucha isn’t made in very clean places there could be very negative health consequences because of leftover harmful bacteria.
And according to WebMD, the health benefits are really only based on personal testimonials and those few studies on animals as indicated in the Washington Post article. Because there have been no experiments conducted, we cannot say that Kombucha is the cause of these health benefits, as there may be some other confounding variables involved. So, I’m not saying that we should stop consuming this tasty drink, but I am saying that until we have more evidence, don’t drink this tea thinking that it will definitely cure your cancer or boost that immune system, because we just don’t know.