Kombucha Tea Scientific Information

“There is now enough scientific information as well as anecdotal information now on the Internet to assuredly say Kombucha Tea is worth trying for its potential health benefits.”

A Scientific Health Review

The following information has been extracted from the web site of Gaia Research of Zaire “‘Kombucha Green Tea Symbioses – A Scientific Health Literature Review”.

The beneficial properties of Kombucha have been rather well documented for a full scientific century mainly by German medical research and found it to be helpful in cases of digestive disturbances, constipation, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, gall bladder problems, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol, high blood pressure, angina, gout, gouty eczema, arthritis, rheumatism, atherosclerosis, irritability, anxiety, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, tiredness.

Approaching mid 1900’s the Director of the “Academy of Chemists” at Braunschweig recorded that it invigorates the entire glandular system, highly recommended for gout, rheumatism, furunculosis, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and aging problems; that by harmonizing and balancing metabolism, unwanted fat deposits removed or prevented; and that damaging deposits of uric acid and cholesterol are converted into more soluble forms, more easily excreted via the kidneys and intestines. (Irion H, Lehrgang fur Drogistenfachschule, Rudolf Muller Publ., Vol 2, 1944) As German medical researchers turned increasingly to synthetic pharmaceuticals, Soviet researchers discovered that Kombucha produces Vitamin C, besides many other valuable health substances (References are in Russian and being meaningless to most readers, are provided in abbreviated form) (Kasevnik L, Bjull Exp Biol i Med, 3(1), 1937); (Berezova M, Gigiena I Sanitaria (7), 1943) Russian scientists demonstrated a distinct antibiotic effect aside from that of the acids (Sakarjan G, Trudy Erevanskogo Zooveterinarnogo Instituta, [hereafter TEZI] 10, 1949), bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal efficacy against pneumococcae, conjunctivitis and xerophtalmia (Naumova E, Konferencija: Kazan’sches Staatliches Medizinisches Institut, 1949), against tonsillitis and enterocolitis (Sakaran G, TEZI, 11, 1949), and against anaerobic dysentery and colibacillosis (Tinditnik V, Terapeveticeskii Arhiv 23(1), 1950).

Russian research continued to establish efficacy in wound healing (Markarjan G, Dissertation) TEZI, 1953) and infectious wounds (Matinjan A, TEZI, 16, 1953) and various intestinal diseases (Nurazjan A, Diss, TEZI, 1954) intestinal typhus (Porickij E, Trudy XI Nausn Konf Slusat, Voenno Morskoi Med Akad, 1954), infantile stomatitis (Rusina N, Studenskaja Naucnaja Konferencija, Posvjascennaja, Jubileju Instituta Har’kovsij, 1955), toxic dyspepsia (Adzjan T, Tezisy Dokladov na P-oj Respublicanskoj Konferencii Detskih Vracej Armenii Min Zdrav Arm, 1957), pediatric dysentery (Mihajlova A, Iz detskoj kliniceskoj boltnicy No l, Omska, 1957), paratyphus and brucellosis (Sakaran G, Trudy Erevanskogo Zooveterinarnogo Instituta 21, 1957), high cholesterol and blood pressure (Joirisi N, Saxelmcip’o Gamoc’emloba, Staatsverlag, Georgien, 1957), and infantile toxic dysentery and healing of infected wounds (Danielova L, Gitoutyan Glaxavor Varcoutyan Hratarakcoutyon, 1959). As a feed additive for chickens, it increased growth by 15%. (Sakaran G, Investija Akad Nauk Armjanskoi SSSR, 12(15), 1959)

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By the 1960’s Kombucha research fell victim to the cold war, with the Russians withholding details of their research, with many known documents still remaining classified and the only available literature thereafter being mainly German, but not before professor Barbancik published the first book fully devoted to the subject, translated as “The Tea Mushroom and Its Therapeutic Properties”. After covering earlier data from Russian hospital settings, in particular efficacy in tonsillitis, gastroenteritis, inflammatory internal diseases, stomach catarrh due to deficient acid production, intestinal inflammations, dysentery, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and sclerosis, Prof Barbancik records later observing fast healing after tonsillitis, lacunar, follicular and catarrhal angina and clearing of associated nasal and even intestinal catarrh following gargling. Barbancik mentions success in healing of sub-acidic gastritis and chronic gastroenteritis and also surprisingly good results in dysentery patients. Arteriosclerosis and hypertrophy with sclerosis were also improved and blood cholesterol levels decreased. Prof Babancik emphasized strongly that the possibility of a carcinogenic action lacks any foundation from a scientific- medical point of view. (Barbancik G, “Cajniyi Grib I ego Lecebnye Svojstva’, Omskoe Oblastnoe Kniznoe Izdatel’stvo, 1960)

A definitive Kombucha literature compilation in German followed. (Stadelman E, Zentralbl Bakteriol Parasitenkde, Infektionskrankh und Hygiene, 1 (180), 1961) More recently, Dr. R Sklenar M.D. reported therapeutic success with the tea fungus with which he successfully treated gout, rheumatic conditions, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, dysbacteria, constipation, impotence, non-specific draining, obesity, furunculosis, kidney stones, cholesterol and cancers, concluding: “An outstanding natural remedy which acts detoxifying in every regard and which dissolves microorganisms as well as cholesterol.” (Sklenar R, M.D., Erfahrungssheilkunde, Zeitscrift fur die tagliche Praxis, XIII, 3, 1964) The medicinal properties and health benefits of Kombucha relatively recently again became the topic for a dissertation for a degree, (Schmidt I, “Der Teepilz-morphologische, physiologische und therapeutische Untersuchungen”, Dissertation, 1979). The Germanic people especially have publicly maintained a keen health interest in Kombucha, as witnessed by the trend of just a half-decade of common references in the popular press:

Refs 1986-1989: (Fasching R, “Krebsheilen mit dem Teepilz Kombucha”, Diagnosen, 8, 1986); (Korner H, “Die Heilkraft des Pilzes Kombucha”, Raum & Zeit, 20, 1986); (Korner H, “Kombucha – wertwolles Geschenk der Natur”, Naturheilpraxis, 39, 1986); (Carstens V, “Hilfe aus der Natur – mein Mittel gegen Krebs”, Quick 43, 1987); (Funke R, “Der Teepilz Kombucha”, Natur& Heilen, 64, 1987); (Koerner H, “Der Teepilz Kombucha”, Der Naturatz, 108, 1987); (Fasching R, “Pilz gegen Pilz”, Diagnosen, 8, 1988); (Horstkorte C, “Zaubertrank aus China-Pilz hilft auch bei Sex Problemen”, Bild der frau, 2, 1988); (Kaminski A, “Aertze: Pilz heilt Frauenleiden, Bild der frau, 2, 1988); (Abele J, “Teepilz Kombucha bei Diabetes?”, Ner Naturarzt, 110(12), 1988); (Brucker M, “Antwort auf Leseranfrage ‘Wundermittel Kombucha'”, Natur i Heilen, 65, 1988); (Frank R, “Zuckerproblem beim Kombucha-Tee”, Natur & Heilen, 65, 1988); (Frank G, Heilkrafte der Natur aus einen Pilz – Der Teepilz Kombucha, Birkenfeld, 1988); (Goetz G, “Kombucha – der Wunderpilz, der Millionen Gesuntheid schenkt”, Das Neue, 3(14), 1988); (Mann U, “Verbluffend – ein Pilz kuriert den Darm”, Bild und Funk, 35, 1988); (Koerner H, “Kombucha – Zubereitung wurde von Sportmedizern getestet”, Natura-med, 10, 1989); Zimmermann W, “Wogegen hilft der Kombucha-Pilz?” (Expertenanfrage, Fortchritte der Medizin, 107, 1989).

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Specific to the Kombucha ferment are various metabolic by-products, including acetic, ascorbic, butyric, glucuronic, hyaluronic, lactic, usinic and chondroitin sulfate acids, glucosamines, heparin, beta-glucans (cell-wall only), B-vitamins, including B-12 and also antibiotic substances. (Mayser P, Mycoses, 38(7-8), 1995); (Hauser S, Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax, 79(9), 1990); (Sreeramula G et al, J Agric Food Chem, 48(6), 2000) Kombucha has become increasingly regarded as a dietary aid to preventing many illnesses and improving existing conditions. Within biological cancer therapy, Kombucha is said to be highly prized in Germany, where it plays a role in correcting and revitalizing negatively deranged bowel flora. although acidic, it does not cause stomach acidity but rather facilitates and promotes the digestion. Here follows a brief breakdown of some of the more unique health promoting constituents of Kombucha.

Acetic acid (as in the popular folk remedy – Apple Cider Vinegar) is capable of conjugation with toxins, making them more soluble for subsequent elimination from the body. (Dutton G, Glucuronidation of Drugs and Other Compounds, CRC Press, 1980) Similarly, glucuronic acid is one of the few agents that can detoxify petroleum-based products. Physiologically, in the liver, glucuronic acid binds up toxins, both environmental and metabolic via UDP-glucuronyltransferase and brings them to the excretory system, so the concentrations of glucuronic acid could explain some of the speculative curative effects attributed to kombucha. (Blanc P, “Characterization Of The Tea Fungus Metabolites”, Biotechnology Letters, 18 (3), 1995) Recent epidemiological studies promote the notion that high intake of food rich in Phytochemicals protects against degenerative diseases such as coronary heart diseases and cancer. Potential toxins in Phytochemicals are also detoxified in mammalian tissues by conjugation with glucuronic acid, yielding less active glucuronide conjugates. (Andlauer W, et al, JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 24(5), 2000)

Glucuronic acid could also partly scientifically explain much of the cancer successes attributed to Kombucha against cancer. (Kohler V, “Glukuronsaure macht Kebspatiente Mut”, Arzlichte Praxis, 24/33, 1981); (Kohler V & Kohler J, in Sofortheilung des Waldes, Vol. 1 (Editor, Kaegelmann), Windeke-Rosbach, 1985) Dr. R Sklenar M.D. developed a biologic cancer therapy in which Kombucha held an important place for the sanitation and balancing of the intestinal flora and achieved success with cancer in the early stages of detection. Sklenar reported that: “Kombucha effects an outstanding detoxification of the organism. Through enjoying this beverage there is, additionally, a noticeable invigoration of the entire glandular system and enhancement of the metabolism. For cancer patients, this detoxification process that is triggered by the ingestion of glucuronic acid is good news indeed, for many medical specialists feel that there is a direct link between the overall toxicity of the body and the potential for the onset of tumors and other malignant growths”. (R, M.D., Krebsdiagnose aus dem Blut und die Behandlung von Krebs und Prakanzerosen mit der Kombucha und Kolipraparaten, R Fasching, 1983).

Mainstream cancer research is complex and expensive. A decade following Kohler’s and Sklenar’s, pioneering research, one Hauser, noting Sklenar’s first-hand long-term clinical experience based claims for Kombucha to be a prophylactic and therapeutic agent in countless diseases such as rheumatism, intestinal disorders, aging and cancer, critiqued Dr Sklenar’s use of Kombucha infusion in biological cancer therapy, claiming that based on ‘case histories without solid medical data’, there is ‘so far no evidence’ to support the claim that Kombucha offers ‘effective biological treatment for cancer’. (Hauser S, Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax, 79(9), 1990) Hauser was correct, but in fairness to Sklenar, the latter was not attempting to assemble evidence of the un-affordable standard required to make Kombucha a cancer drug. Interestingly, a decade later, proprietary glucuronide analogs had been developed and Ohio State University researchers triumphantly reported that their long-term safety and chemo-preventive potency had been established against mammary tumor development and growth. Specifically, tumor latency was longer, tumor incidence was decreased, and tumor multiplicity was also markedly decreased. The study concluded that glucuronide was ‘clearly effective’. (Abou-Issa H, et al, Anticancer Res, 19(2A), 1999)

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Another by-product of Kombucha glucuronic acid is the glucosamines. In the body, glucosamines and related chondroitin sulfate are associated with cartilage, collagen and the fluid, which lubricate the joints. These two agents have shown substantial benefit in the treatment of osteoarthritis. (Deal C, Moskowitz R, Rheum Dis Clin North Am, 25(2), 1999); (McAlindon T, JAMA 283(11), 2000). In rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, hyaluronic acid and its two subcomponents, D-glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, play a role in protecting articular tissues from oxidative damage. (Sato H, et al, Arthritis Rheum, 31(1), 1988) Both the size and concentration of hyaluronic acid in synovial fluid are diminished in osteoarthritis. Glucosamines increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid functions physiologically to aid preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain (McCarty M, et al, Med Hypotheses 54(5), 2000), with relief comparable to NSAIDs and advantage over glucocorticoids. (Hochberg M, Semin Arthritis Rheum, 30(2 Suppl 1) 2000) Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, whilst associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.

Butyric acid, also found in Kombucha, protects human cellular membranes and combined with glucuronic acid, strengthens the walls of the gut and so protects against parasites, including yeast infections such as candida. (Mann U, “Verbluffend – ein Pilz Kuriert den Darm”, Bild und Funk, 35, 1988) The antibacterial properties are considered to be due to the presence of the Usinic acid. (Steiger K & Steinegger E, “On The Tea Fungus”, Pharmaceutica Acta Helvetiae. 32 (4), 1957); (Stadelman E, “Der Teepilz Und Seine Antibiotische Wirkung”, Zentralbl Bakt Parasit Inf Hyg, 180 (5), 1961); (Hauser S, “Dr. Sklenar’s Kombucha Mushroom Infusion – A Biological Cancer Therapy”, Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax, 79, 1990) Unfractioned heparin, beyond its established anticoagulant activity, also exhibits a broad spectrum of immuno-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties which specifically aids in the healing of an ulcerated mucosa. Heparin may represent a safe therapeutic option for inflammatory bowel disease, in particular for severe steroid-resistant ulcerative colitis. (Papa A, Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 14(11) 2000)

Beta glucan is only significantly available from the well-pressed or very finely shredded mass, which develops during Kombucha production. Dr Ted Johnson, PhD, Professor of Biology at St Olaf College, has suggested that since most of the beneficial compounds remain inside the cells of the mass, these could be compared to medicinal capsules waiting to be broken down in the intestines to detoxify and strengthen our bodies. (Personal communication: Dr Johnson, with Norbert Hoffmann, St Olaf College, Northfield, MN, 2 June, 1979) Beta-glucan, a cell-wall component, is a completely orally safe, potent free radical scavenger, insulin stimulator and non-specific simulator of the human immune response, in particular macrophages, which play a pivotal role in the initiation and maintenance of the immune response. When macrophages (including phagocytes), which are the front line of defense, are activated, a myriad of immunological reactions occur against challenging stimuli such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, endo-toxins and foreign debris, including the up-regulation of cytokines, bone marrow production, monocytes, neutrophils, natural killer cells. (Luzio N, et al, Int J Cancer, 24; 1979); (Di Renzo L, et al, Eur J Immunol, 21, 1991); (Muto S et al, J Clin Immunol, 13, 1993); (Thornton B, et al, J Immunol, 156(3), 1996); (Williams D, et al, Clin Immunother, 5(5), 1996) Beta-glucans can also have topical applications.

Green tea and to a lesser extent, black tea, provides all the components and growth factors required by the Kombucha culture additional to sugar, including the important stimulant components, caffeine and theophylline, which belong to the purine groups required by the micro-organisms as a source of nitrogen for building nucleic acids, and which green tea reportedly provides more than twice that of black tea, and which phenomenon explains the 25% diminishing caffeine levels in Kombucha as fermentation proceeds, rendering it more suitable than tea in pregnancy. Green tea also contains vitamin-C, whereas black tea does not. In symbiotic exchange, Kombucha produces B-spectrum vitamins and additional vitamin-C, just a few reasons why green tea is superior to black for Kombucha production. (Such G, Prokai-Szabo E, Presentation Bulgar Biol Soc, 1961) Dr H Golz determined that the Kombucha symbioses requires the purin from the tea for its metabolism, during which uric acid, which is generally difficult to dissolve and which leads to gout, is turned into an aqueous solution, more easily discharged from the body via the bladder. (Golz H, “Kombucha Ein altes Teeheilmittel schenkt neue Gesuntheit, Ariston, Munchen, 1992

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