This information describes the common uses of Kombucha, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Champagne of Life, Manchurian mushroom, Tea Fungus, Kargasok Tea, Haipao, Combucha, Spumonto, Tschambucco

How It Works

Kombucha tea has not been shown to treat cancer or AIDS in humans.

Kombucha is made using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) that grows inside a semi-permeable membrane. Kombucha tea is prepared by fermenting sweetened black tea with kombucha for 7 to 10 days. The resulting tea is slightly carbonated and acidic, and has been used to treat a wide variety of symptoms and diseases. Kombucha tea has high levels of caffeine, sugar, and B vitamins which may account for some of its purported benefits. Kombucha has been shown to have wide antibiotic and antioxidant effects in animals, but few benefits have been shown in humans.

Contamination associated with fermentation of kombucha tea has resulted in serious adverse effects.

Purported Uses

  • To treat atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
    Scientific evidence is lacking to back this claim.
  • To treat cancer
    Animal studies have shown that kombucha has antioxidant effects, but human studies are lacking.
  • To treat diabetes
    No scientific evidence supports this use in humans.
  • To treat AIDS
    This claim is not backed by research.
  • To lower blood pressure
    No scientific evidence supports this use in humans.
  • To stimulate the immune system
    Animal studies demonstrate immune-stimulating activity, but there is no evidence to support this use in humans.

Patient Warnings

  • Growing kombucha in unsanitary conditions has resulted in contaminated products.
  • Lead poisoning has been associated with kombucha tea brewed in glazed ceramic pots.

Do Not Take If

You have a suppressed immune system: Contaminated kombucha beverages can activate the immune system.

You are taking drugs that are sensitive to stomach pH levels: Kombucha may reduce the absorption of these drugs.

Side Effects

  • Stomach problems
  • Yeast infections
  • Anthrax contamination
  • Allergic reaction
  • Jaundice
  • Head and neck pain
  • Impairment of liver function
  • Muscle inflammation