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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (
Subject:         Re: Kombucha - Fermented foods in general
Date: December 1, 2008 at 7:35 am PST

In Reply to: Kombucha - Fermented foods in general posted by Nick on November 30, 2008 at 10:57 pm:

Hi Nick,

First, as I have said here many times...

"My position is that there should be some good evidence for anything we do, whether it is a food, a diet, a herb, a medicine, a supplement, a treatment, or anything. We should also be aware of the potential harm and/or side effects.

Good evidence, means peer reviewed published studies in mainstream scientific journals.

Anyone can came out and make virtually any claim they want. The *burden of proof *is not really on us to disprove every one of them and all their claims but the real *burden of proof *is on them to substantiate their products, diets and their claims. And with more than short term unpublished data or anecdotal info. Often times, if these companies or people get shut down for one product or diet, they just rearrange a few things and come right back out with a new product or diet making the same extra-ordinary claims.

in addition, extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary proof.

The burden is on them, not me."

So, my question to you (or them) is, where is the evidence for the use of these products?


Now, in regard to Kombucha,


there are case reports, which suggest that Kombucha preparations can cause such problems as nausea, jaundice, shortness of breath, throat tightness, headache, dizziness, liver inflammation, and even unconsciousness.4,5,6 It isn't clear whether the cause of these symptoms is an unusual reaction to a generally nontoxic substance, or a response to unusual toxins that developed in a particular batch of Kombucha.

In addition, there is one case report of severe lead poisoning caused by regular use of Kombucha brewed in a ceramic bowl.7 When brewed or stored in some ceramics, the risk of lead poisoning results because Kombucha tea is acidic. Many ceramic glazes contain a low level of lead that would not make the pottery dangerous for ordinary use; but if an acidic solution like Kombucha is steeped in them for a long time, a dangerous amount of lead may leech into the solution.

There is also one report of Kombucha becoming infected with anthrax and passing along the infection to an individual who rubbed it on his skin to alleviate pain.8 Apparently, anthrax from nearby cows got into the Kombucha mixture and grew.

4. Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D. Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? J Gen Intern Med. 1997;12:643-644.

5. [No authors listed]. Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea—Iowa, 1995. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. 1996;275:96-98.

6. Perron AD, Patterson JA, Yanofsky NN. Kombucha "mushroom" hepatotoxicity. Ann Emerg Med. 1995;26:660-661.

7. Phan TG, Estell J, Duggin G, et al. Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. Med J Aust. 1998;169:644-646.

8. Sadjadi J. Cutaneous anthrax associated with the Kombucha "mushroom" in Iran [letter]. JAMA. 1998;280:1567-1568.

9. Vijayaraghavan R, Singh M, Rao PV, et al. Subacute (90 days) oral toxicity studies of Kombucha tea. Biomed Environ Sci. 2000;13:293-299.

I wouldn't touch it, nor would I recommend it use.

In regard to fermented foods...

Fermented foods have been used by many cultures because it was a way of preserving food. Today, in areas where they do not have access to more modern methods (ie, refrigeration), fermented foods are still popular.

However, in some of these areas where the intake of fermented foods is high and where salt is a common ingredient in the fermented foods, they also have higher rates of stomach cancer, from the salt.

I do not think fermented foods are required or necessary in a healthy diet. However, if someone wanted to include a small amount in their diet, I do not see a problem with it.

In Health

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