Kombucha — Russian Roulette for CFS/FM/IBS

Readers have asked about this privately, I thought it would be good to give a fuller answer:

From A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus [2014]

  • “Currently kombucha is alternately praised as “the ultimate health drink” or damned as “unsafe medicinal tea” (Blanc 1996; Hartmann and others 2000). “
  • “Similarly to milk-derived kefir, the exact microbial composition of kombucha cannot be given because it varies. “
  • “He isolated an Acetobacter sp. (NRRL B-2357) and 2 yeasts (NRRL YB-4810, NRRL YB-4882) from a kombucha sample”
  • “The predominant acetic acid bacteria found in the tea fungus are A. xyliumA. pasteurianusA. aceti, and Gluconobacter oxydans (Liu and others 1996). “
  • “In addition to acetic acid bacteria there are many yeast species in kombucha. A broad spectrum of yeasts has been reported including species of Saccharomyces, Saccharomycodes, Schizosaccharomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Brettanomyces/Dekkera, Candida, Torulospora, Koleckera, Pichia, Mycotorula, and Mycoderma.”

In short, every Kombucha brand is likely to contain different combination of bacteria and yeast. In addition to the above, the following are reported from studies cited above:

  1. Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  2. Saccharomyces bisporus
  3. Saccharomycoides ludwigii
  4. Schizosaccharomyces pombe
  5. Zygosaccharomyces sp.
  6. Zygosaccharomyces rouxii
  7. Zygosaccharomyces bailii
  8. Brettanomyces intermedius,
  9. Brettanomyces bruxellensis,
  10. B. claussenii
  11. Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis
  12. Candida famata,
  13. Candida guilliermondii
  14. Candida obutsa
  15. Candida famata.
  16. Candida stellata
  17. Candida guilliermondi
  18. Candida colleculosa
  19. Candida kefyr
  20. Candida krusei
  21. Torulaspora delbrueckii
  22. Mycotorula
  23. Mycoderma
  24. Pichia
  25. Pichia membranefaciens
  26. Kloeckera apiculata
  27. Kluyveromyces africanus

As expected, there have been no clinical studies with CFS/FM/IBS.

“On the basis of these data it was concluded that the largely undetermined benefits do not outweigh the documented risks of kombucha. It can therefore not be recommended for therapeutic use.” [2003]

Bottom Line

Not recommended. This is no evidence of benefit to any autoimmune or related conditions.  Each individual batch from a supplier may contain different bacteria and fungal combinations. “Fermented food” is not miracle food, especially when you may be dealing with overgrowth of one or more of the bacteria that happens to be in the fermented food.

For clarity:

  • One batch from one brand may very well help some
  • Another batch from a different brand may result in candida issues or worst

If the Kombucha does not list all of the fungi and bacteria (by species at least, strain preferred), you have no idea of what you are actually taking.