Is Kombucha Safe to Drink?
A fermented drink made with sugar, tea, yeast and bacteria, kombucha is a slightly fizzy concoction purported to boost energy and improve health. Before you try a batch, however, learn the potential risks that go alongside kombucha benefits, along with specific warnings from health professionals.
What Is Kombucha?
Sometimes called mushroom tea, kombucha is actually a colony of yeast and bacteria. The drink is made by adding this colony to tea and sugar, and waiting for fermentation to take place. The resulting fluid contains B vitamins, vinegar and several other chemical compounds.
Kombucha's etymology is uncertain and its exact geographic origin is unknown. Historically, the beverage has been locally- or home-brewed; however, about two decades ago, kombucha became commercially available in North American retail stores.
What Does it Do?
Supporters claim kombucha tea provides a mental boost, while stimulating the immune system, helping to prevent disease and improving digestion and liver function. That said, there are no scientific studies to back up any of these health claims.
There are, however, a number of definitive reports of adverse effects, including infections, stomach upset and allergic reactions. Some types of kombucha tea also contain higher-than-expected levels of alcohol. Recently, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) warned several kombucha makers to reduce the amount of alcohol in their products or be forced to relabel to avoid substantial fines.
Should I Drink Kombucha?
The FDA states that kombucha can be safe for human consumption when safely prepared. According to experts, however, the beverage is often brewed in private residences under nonsterile conditions. Likewise, if ceramic pots are used in the production, lead poisoning may be a concern, since the acids in the tea could potentially strip lead from the glaze.
As of now, there is no clear evidence that kombucha delivers on any of its health claims. There are, however, numerous reports of negative reactions. With this in mind, the vast majority of health experts recommend that people avoid kombucha tea at least until more research becomes available. If you do choose to drink kombucha tea, be sure to tell you doctor to avoid any potential reactions with prescribed medications.