The Benefits of Kombucha

The benefits of kombucha digestion immune support detoxification weightloss

There are many benefits of Kombucha – an age-old fermented tea drink that has been around (in various forms) for centuries in many different cultures.

Kombucha contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.

Practically speaking, it is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to become a nutrient-rich, low-sugar beverage. The fermentation process takes 7-12 days depending on temperature and the strength of the SCOBY and the over 90% of the sugar is used up in this process. This process is similar to what would happen in sourdough bread or milk/water kefir.

Is Kombucha Healthy?

Kombucha is wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. It isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it helps the body function well by supporting:

  • liver detoxification
  • improved pancreas function
  • increased energy
  • better digestion
  • improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
  • kills Candida (yeast)
  • helps nutrient assimilation
  • weight loss

Improving Digestion

The research is still out on the specific way Kombucha affects digestion, but we do know that kombucha contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their benefits.

Harvard Medical School explains that a healthy gut will have 100 trillion + microorganisms from 500 different identified species. In this sense, we truly are more bacterial than human. There has been a lot of emerging research on the dangers of an overly sanitary environment and how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and products is literally changing the structure of our gut.

Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.

Natural Detoxification and Liver Support

The liver is one of the body’s main detoxification organs. Kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.

As Kombucha also supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion, it helps the body assimilate food more easily and provides quick and easy energy without caffeine.

Giving the Immune System a Boost

Kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system. Again, there is no magic pill or silver bullet when it comes to immune function- it is best to support the body in its natural immune process.

It contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) that has amazing antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.

The Downside of Kombucha Consumption

There is emerging research on the benefits of Kombucha and it is something I consume daily, but there are also some cautions and downsides to be aware of.

Those with any diagnosed medical condition should absolutely check with a doctor before consuming this or any other type of supplement. Some people experience pain and bloating, most likely from changes in gut bacteria and there is some evidence that if kombucha is not made correctly, it can be dangerous.

The most logical concern I’ve seen with Kombucha is its potential to cause dental problems. Since it is high in natural acids (but still lower than most sodas) it can be harmful to the teeth. OraWellness wrote a great article on the specific way kombucha affects teeth and how to consume it without harming your teeth.

In short, if you drink Kombucha, drink it all in one sitting, don’t sip it throughout the day and swish with clean water (don’t brush) right after. I personally still think the benefits outweigh the potential dental harm (and I’ve seen my own cavities reverse even while consuming kombucha) but it is something to be aware of and take steps to mitigate.

Where to Get Kombucha

Kombucha has gained popularity in the US recently and is now available in many stores. There are dozens of really good brands and if you choose to buy it, just look for an organic variety without a large amount of sugar.

I personally prefer homemade kombucha. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

I’ve found that I seem to do best when I consume Kombucha daily but also consume other foods and drinks that are rich in other sources of probiotics such as water kefir, sauerkraut, beet kvass, or homemade ginger ale.

Sources:
R. Jayabalan, P. Subathradevi, S. Marimuthu, M. Sathishkumar, K. Swaminathan, Changes in free-radical scavenging ability of kombucha tea during fermentation, Food Chemistry, Volume 109, Issue 1, 1 July 2008, Pages 227-234, ISSN 0308-8146, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814607012940.
Sheng-Che Chu, Chinshuh Chen, Effects of origins and fermentation time on the antioxidant activities of kombucha, Food Chemistry, Volume 98, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 502-507, ISSN 0308-8146, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605005364.
P. Semjonovs, I. Denina and R. Linde, 2014. Evaluation of Physiological Effects of Acetic Acid Bacteria and Yeast Fermented Non-alchocolic Beverage Consumption in Rat Model. Journal of Medical Sciences, 14: 147-152.
C. Dufresne, E. Farnworth, Tea, Kombucha, and health: a review, Food Research International, Volume 33, Issue 6, July 2000, Pages 409-421, ISSN 0963-9969, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000673.
Determination of D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone from brewed kombucha broth by high-performance capillary electrophoresis.

Do you make your Kombucha? Have you experienced any benefits from taking it? Share with me below!

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Reader Interactions

Reader Comments

    • It has a lot of sugar so I can’t use it because I am sugar free acording to my Dr. Sugar is the worst thing you can put in your body

        • My husband is on a special diet for his gut and not allowed to have ANY sugar, honey, maple syrup, and quite a few different fruits that are high in sugar like grapes and bananas. But the doctor said to drink kombucha. I agree. From what I understand, the beneficial bacteria feeds on the sugar to the point that there isn’t sugar (or very little) by the time you consume it.

    • I be my kombucha in a crock (lead free) with a spigot. The spigot makes it super easy to bottle. Two of my favorite recipes are to use candied ginger when bottling. It takes just like ginger-ale. I also add chia seeds when bottling…be careful though they seem to increase the fermentation so they do bubble over more than most.

      From what I have read you can use just about any tea that you would like, except Earl Grey (it contains bergamot and will kill scabby).

        • It’s called “scoby” and it’s not dangerous but very healthy. It looks like a mushroom but it hosts a colony of bacteria and yeast to make the Kombucha. The bacteria eats up all the sugar. Unless you were just being sarcastic and knew the other commenter misspelled scoby? lol

  1. How much/often Kombucha do you recommend while pregnant? I’m assuming that properly made kombucha doesn’t have caffeine or the folate blocking risks of regular black/green teas? I crave it so much, and I drank it a lot early on, but now i’m a little bit wary.

    • If brewed with traditional black tea it will have caffeine. Fermentation doesn’t lessen the caffeine amount. It is less then what a plain cup of tea would have but it’s still there. I brew my own and drink it but not during pregnancy mainly because I can’t handle it with my heartburn. Personally I think some of the claims are over stated here.

    • It’s safe during pregnancy it has antioxidants and folate which is needed for a healthy pregnancy. I took this before I was prego. I also like Braggs Apple cider vinegar they use Apple’s you might like that better. They guarantee the accuracy of the process and are reputable.

    • Hey lovely, I read another article about kombucha (recently purchased the drink and wanted to read up on it before I drank) but I think it said you should consult your Dr. first only because there isn’t a lot on research on it and expecting mommies.

  2. I drink the Gts brand and i buy the one with spirulina and algae in it i feel great drinking it. My question is is it safe for my 3 year old to drink it also? He loves it.

    • I watched a video on utube the other day and there was a mother talking to her 4 year old daughter as the little one ate a “scoby” fresh from the jar and has done it many times. No problem!

  3. What are the concerns of drinking this during pregnancy? Considering there are no other issues.
    Thanks, this is a really informative article and I might get my hubby onboard with it too!

  4. I have been making my own brew for a couple of months now. Could you give me some ideas on how you like to drink it? I really like it and my kids do to but I want to be able to switch it up now and again so we don’t get bored of it and stop drinking it. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    • i will take the scoby out and muddle some black berries and sage and let it sit for 2-3 days, then strain it and bottle it. I also like to take a large chunk of fresh ginger smash it a little and let it sit for 2-3 days. I recently made a green tea batch and when i bottled it i added a little honey, capped and shook it up until the honey dissolved. Pretty tasty

  5. I just wanted to add a note for anyone who suffers with yeast issues… When I started drinking Kombucha, my yeast infection, which I didnt realize I even had, flared up BADLY. However, I kept drinking it as I read somewhere that this reaction was positive as it was cleansing my system. Since then the infections have disappeared so I would really recommend Kombucha esp if you have yeast issues – just push through the initial reaction!

  6. I maintain 4 mothers in my kombucha farm, all started from a bottle of GTs many years ago. I drink 12-14 oz a day and I think it tastes better than any commercial brand. Simple and inexpensive to make.

  7. Great article Katie! I have heard conflicting info regarding kombuchas effect on candida. I am 10 months post partum, have been under a lot of stress in the past couple of months (a move, my 10 month old and 3 yr old getting whooping cough, and travel), and I am realizing I definitely have yeast issues. Stubborn toenail fungus, flakey scalp, itching all over my body, etc. Can you point me to some specific info on how it works against candida, despite the yeast and sugar it contains? I am doing the Primal Defense probiotic, eating about a half cup of fermented veggies a day, and /or drinking the fermented pickle juice, and drinking 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar on the days I remember. I know stress can aggravate fungus infections and adrenal fatigue has been an on and off issue for me for 7 yrs. Thank you in advance and thank you for all you do!!!

    • Your symptoms remind me of my symptoms before I self diagnosed my
      Thyroid condition (hypothyroidism). Have you had a thyroid panel blood
      test?

      I really enjoy coming to this website, thanks.

      (This is my first comment)

  8. Hi everyone! Just wondering if anyone has ever added co2 to their homemade kombucha? I have not have any luck getting bubbles with a second fermentation. Would love any knowledge that you can be passed on 🙂

    • When I bottle mine for the second stage fermentation, I add 1 teaspoon of sugar to my 1 litter flip top container. Wait 2-4 days, depending on temp in your home, and it comes out like champagne. But because your adding sugar you’ll start to form a mini scoby, I just filter as I pour so the little guy doesn’t get into my glass.

    • I used to have that problem as well in the second ferment. What fixed it for me was, after taking the SCOBY out, I stirred up the whole batch to get the sediment (yeast) distributed evenly throughout. I then bottled and after 3 days of second ferment with different flavours (I bottle the first ferment and the second ferment is done in individual bottles each individually flavoured) my Kombucha becomes super bubbly, so much so that some times its like opening a bottle of champagne. Hope this helps you out.

  9. I just finished making my first batch of kombucha a couple of days ago and I love it! I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I think I was a little intimidated by the process, but knowing how beneficial kombucha is, (thanks to you Wellness Mama!), I decided to take the plunge. My second batch is fermenting now. I just hope I did it correctly and that it turns out as well as the first batch did. I want that SCOBY to keep on going!

  10. Can this be done with herbal tea? no only can i not have caffeine, but i just plain dislike black and green teas i prefer mint or licorice teas, but any higher quality herbal tea is good 🙂

  11. I have undergone extensive testing with a functional doctor for various issues I’ve been experiencing. When he heard I made and drank kombucha (have been for 3 years now), he said to go of it immediately as it was affecting my health based on tests. Said it was the worst thing anyone can drink. I was surprised and shocked, but since I went off, I do feel better and am functioning better. I did love it though.

    • hi Kathy,

      I am interested in the tests your doc ran. I know this is about 6 months old – hope you can help!

      I have made and drank kombucha for years – at least 10 – but have been experiencing bloating lately
      and wonder about the kombucha.
      thanks,
      Kathy

  12. I’ve been making it for several months, drinking about 16 oz daily. I make mine with plain oolong tea. I tried adding various fruits, ginger, etc. but it turned nasty in that 2nd ferment. Now to each 16 oz bottle I add 1 tsp organic cane sugar, 1 1/2 tsp chia seed and 1/2 heaping tsp berry powder by Pure Synergy. It is the perfect fizzy brew every time. It has helped my digestion and colon issues tremendously. That & fermented foods daily.

  13. I brew my own and currently have my scobys in a hotel to start back up after my pregnancy. It’s too hard my heartburn and it made me feel weird when I became pregnant. I listened to my body and stopped it. I don’t think it’s dangerous as some people claim but nor do I think it’s as miraculous or as beneficial as this article claims. Many people have noticed weight gain due to the sugar as there is quite a bit left
    depending on how you brew and most people don’t brew it to the point that most would be consumed. The claim that 90% is consumed is highly misleading as you would need to test each batch to know this. There is a fb group Kombucha Nation that may be of interest to those interested in brewing their own.

  14. I’m looking on MRH website and they have so many types of black tea..which should I buy to make a good kombucha? What do u use?

  15. Thanks for a great article! I’ve tried making our own and we completely over fermented it and Carla got super sick (eeek!). BUT you’ve inspired us to try it out again! e + c

  16. I’ve been brewing my own kombucha for about 7 months now and drinking it daily. I know you said you drink kombucha when you are pregnant, but do you also still drink small amounts of coffee? Since I have no idea how much caffeine is in my kombucha I’m not sure if I can still swing a small cup of coffee during pregnancy in addition to the kombucha. Just wondering what your take was on that.

  17. Can you use coconut sugar for at home brews? I am trying to stay as paleo as possible to help with candida issues. If not, what about sugar in the raw? Thanks!

    • Yes you can!
      I have been using organic coconut sugar in my brews. It turns the color darker (more like caramel-like) but it tastes good.
      A tip: because coconut sugar takes longer to dissolve, I had been told to pre-dissolve in hot water first before adding to my jar (of course waiting for it to cool down: don’t want to hurt, burn, or cook my scoby)!
      I hope this helps!??

  18. Ok, so I just started making kombucha and let my first batch ferment a little longer than a week. It’s been slightly cool in the house anyway. I separated out a second brew with cherry juice and ginger and it is growing stuff. Not sure if it is a baby scoby or something nasty. Not sure if I sure just filter it out or throw the whole thing out. Is this normal? I’m also a little concerned with some of the comments above about the doctor saying it was the worst thing anyone could drink. Since I am new to all this I don’t know how to determine if what I’m growing is beneficial or evil bacteria. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  19. So, I am very new to this and I may have messed up my scoby. I was told to use apple cider vinegar for my starter when I poured out my starter by mistake. I used the raw kind with the mother because this is what I drink. I am noticing my second brew has a lot of stuff growing in it. I looked through the different recipe options and saw that it was suppose to be pasteurized. Can I just pour everything out and start over with distilled vinegar and tea? Can my scoby be saved?

    • You can try to save it of course! The bacteria in ACV may have over run it but it may just take a few batches before it gets back to normal. Even when I’ve used white vinegar (my hotel was severely neglected & my starter dried up) it took awhile before my flavor & carbonation was back how I liked it. Your scoby takes on the yeast & bacteria in your environment anyway and that’s why no two people’s are the same. Mine tastes different then the person’s KT I obtained my mother from.
      your yeast & bacteria ratios may get off and that may need tweaking each batch. Even different amounts of tea (I can’t recall but I think its less) can allow yeast to overgrow-thats the brown stringy stuff.
      Scobys are very resilient! There is 2 FB groups i recommend, kombucha nation & wild fermentation. Hopefully it’s ok to post a link, this explains how to rehab your Scoby.
      http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance/

  20. The new growths are baby scobies
    Do not worry about them. Every time I add ginger or fruit or fruit juice, and even on my tea bags, there is always a new formation of scobies.
    I always use tongs and remove/detach them safely and use them for more brews. They will get bigger as they are used and fed sugars. With regular kombucha making, you will soon have many scobies available which you can use, give away to others, and/or hibernate them u till further use.
    It takes a little getting used to the visual side of fermentation. Even brownish spots are nothing to fret about as they usually are just yeast formation.
    Don’t throw away your baby scoby or your kombucha batch!!
    Hope this helped!
    And there are thousands and thousands of people worldwide that can vouch for the benefits of fermented foods and beverages (and I am one of them) so don’t listen to “some doctor”! God knoes many of them are just as clueless as the average Joe especially when it comes to alternative medicine and science! 🙂

  21. Hello Katie, I’ve been making my own kombucha since November. My husband and I enjoy it every morning. Is it safe for children? I’ve let my 7 year old taste it and she liked it a lot, but I’m wondering if it’s safe for her to have a small glass with us every morning? Thanks and I’ve pretty much been glued to your blog since I discovered it!

  22. Hi????
    Is it ok to drink kombucha while nursing? I just started drinking it and feel great! But I noticed my nursed 8 month old spitting up today and he never does ????. I know it detoxes your body so are the toxins coming out in my breast milk??

  23. Just finished brewing a batch of ‘koffeebucha’ – kombucha made with coffee. It fermented quickly but I have to say I wasn’t too crazy about the taste. .Somehow the two flavours don’t go together for me although I know there are other people who like it and it contains the same amount of probiotics.

    It seems that it, since it sugar that the scoby is interested in, almost anything can be ‘buched’. I think regular black tea tastes the best.

  24. I believe I am ADD. Have difficulty staying focused. I make my own Kombucha and try to drink it daily. It decreased my appetite and lose the craving for coffee.

  25. An interesting read! I’ve drank kombucha everyday for around 2 years, and continued to drink everyday throughout my pregnancy. Although the woman in my family have a history of horrific sickness throughout pregnancy- I have never felt better. Not a single ailment throughout my whole 9 months, and full of energy everyday- still swimming and having 2 walks a day into my 39weeks+. I cannot recommend this life changing elixir enough !!!

  26. Just a side note: morning sickness is actually a very good thing! It means you’re body is ridding itself of toxins and generally speaking women with morning sickness have healthier babies. Be careful of introducing too many new bacteria into your gut flora during pregnancy though – even good bacteria can travel to the heart and cause dangerous complications – rare but it can happen. Ask you MD’s first and most likely they will tell you to eat yogurt during pregnancy if you want some good probiotics. Kombucha is good for developed GI systems but babies are still evolving and therefore it’s prudent to layoff the Kombucha until after pregnancy and after you’re done with breastfeeding too.

    • Moms with morning sickness is from ridding themselves of toxins & they have healthier babies?! Please show me the scientific evidence of this, seriously.
      Many midwives recommend continuing
      KT during pregnancy and as the baby receives its nutrients through blood in utero it’s not affecting it’s gut. And breastmilk is made from blood- so again what mom eats/drinks isn’t going into baby’s stomach. Yogurt in particular is recommended for pregnant women as it’s been shown that regular consumption during pregnancy lowers your chance of a positive strep B test.

      Listen to your body, I quit KT during pregnancy because it increased my heartburn. But I know women who’ve used it to prevent their morning sickness. KT isn’t the miracle elixir some claim but neither is it a dangerous drink as others claim.

  27. HI, I HAVE MS, MY DR SAID THIS TEA WILL HELP BOOST MY IMMUNE SYSTEM AND GIVE ME MORE ENERGY. DO U KNOW ANY ONE ELSE WHO HAS MS THAT THIS TEA HAS HELPED?

    • My bff from Jr. High and I both have MS! We were both busy with our lives, that we lost track of each other for awhile, but we both surprised that we both ended up with MS….she had been making her own kombucha for a long while, and told me how to make it. Neither one of us suffered, but have felt much BETTER! Only my experience, but I plan to keep making and drinking it!

  28. Maybe someone can offer advice:

    For almost a year I attempted very diligently to brew kombucha that had CARBONATION (fizz) like what is present in the Synergy brand.

    I had no success. What did I do wrong????

    • If you’ve not found your answer Google ‘kombucha balancing act’, you should find a webpage with a chart that explains what you need to do to re-balance your KT.

  29. I was given a baby scoby in a small mason jar mixed with some kombucha tea to start a batch. It has been about three weeks and I haven’t used it yet. It is sitting in my fridge. How long do baby scobies last? Can I still use it?

    • First take it out of the fridge, scobys shouldn’t be refrigerated as it can damage the bacteria & yeast eventually. It’s probably just fine though for that short of time. They will store forever at room temp as long as they’re fed and not allowed to dry out. I’ve not been making it for almost 2 years. I have thrown away about 4 gallons of scobys as they just keep growing! I have neglected mine for 6 months even and they had almost no tea left, I have three 1 gallon jars, I disposed of the top ones which had dried out and carried on. Since I didn’t have starter tea I bought a store bought gt to use in one and then pasteurized white vinegar in the other two for starter. Don’t ever use apple cider or un pasteurized as it can lead to ‘vinegar eels’. The starters purpose is to make the fresh tea acidic enough to prevent mold as it ferments. Unpasteurized vinegar would also add cultures you don’t want in your KT. Best group for learning about fermenting is ‘Wild Fermentation’ on FB which is based on Sandor Felix’s book of the same name. He is the undisputed expert and many people who’ve learned directly from him and or with decades of experience (and worldwide too) are on there.

  30. How do you feel about homemade kombucha while pregnant? My husband just bought a home brew kit but I’m worries that it may not be safe while pregnant. I’m reading a lot of conflicting opinions. Thank you in advance! 🙂

  31. Is it ok to drink kombucha while pregnant or breast feeding? I’ve read that since it detoxes your body that the toxins get in the breast milk and that’s bad for the nursing child.

  32. I’ve read that kombucha is actually bad for candida overgrowth, as the yeast present in the kombucha can have an adverse affect on a body already fighting candida yeast overgrowth. Most articles I’ve read agree on this point, though some do say that cultured foods containing lactic acid bacteria does help kill off candida. Just from what I’ve been reading it sounds like there are a lot of varying opinions on the subject, as if everyone one knows candida is there, and some have done research on it, but nobody actually agreed on the results.

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