Kombucha tea

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 10-31-94 6(3): 14

German researchers tested the efficacy of a commercial Kombucha tea preparation (made from a medicinal fungus) in a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Fifty-eight patients suffering from such conditions as colitis, ulcerative colitis, enteritis of unknown origin, mild constipation, recurrent pancreatitis, post-cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal), and medication-induced flora imbalance. The great majority of patients reported improvement in eight separate subjective criteria. There was no control group.

Comment: Kombucha tea, a fermented product, is such a fad in North America today that there are lengthy discussions of it on Internet newsgroups. This clinical trial is weak from a scientific point of view, because it lacks a control group. This is especially important in gastrointestinal problems, because they tend to go away on their own. Furthermore it tested a proprietary product, raising questions about who funded the study; the author’s credentials are as a “medical journalist,” rather than scientific or medical, and in the U.S. that often indicates that the article is marketing “fluff.” The actual clinical work was supervised by physician, however, at a German center for natural healing.

Some notes of caution on Kombucha appear in an article in the November-December 1994 issue of New Age magazine. Paul Stametz, a mushroom expert in Olympia, Washington, warns that the fungal drink has antibiotic properties, and should not be used internally on a routine basis. He also says it is easily contaminated by airborne fungi; he notes that he found a sample contaminated with an Aspergillis mold, some of which are highly poisonous. Kathi Head, ND, states in the article that she has heard of a few examples where Kombucha aggravated existing cases of gout and candida infections. Andrew Weil, MD, cautions about the long-term use of kombucha as a pick-me-up, citing its antibiotic properties as possible sources of difficulty.


Kömer VH, “Erfolgreiche Therapie bei gastrointestinalen Erkrankungen mit altem Natur- und Volksheilmittel,” Erfahrungkheilkunde, September, 1994, p 509-512.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner 

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