Last update April 24, 2024

Kombucha

High Risk

Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use safer alternative or interrupt breastfeeding 3 to 7 T ½ (elimination half-lives). Read the Comment.

Kombucha is a beverage of probable Manchurian origin obtained from tea fermented by a symbiosis of various acid-acetic and lactic acid bacteria and yeasts (Saccharomyces) that inhibit the growth of contaminating bacteria and cause the formation of a polymeric cellulose film. The microbiological and chemical composition of this beverage is complex and more research is needed to understand its behavior and properties well (Villarreal 2018). It contains proteins and amino acids, sucrose, glucose, fructose, polyphenols, ethanol (alcohol), acetic acid, glucuronic acid, minerals, and Vitamins B and C. (Junior 2022, Mousavi 2020)

At the date of last update we found no published data on its excretion in breast milk.

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, probiotic, antitumor, antiobesity, antidiabetic, antihypertensive and hypocholesterolemic properties are attributed to it. (Costa 2023, Atkinson 2023, Mendelson 2023, Díez 2022, Júnior 2022, Martínez 2020, Jakubczyk 2020)

There is hardly any evidence and even less of good quality on any of these therapeutic properties attributed to it and practically none is scientifically proven with randomized clinical trials, in humans, and devoid of conflict of interest. (Júnior 2022, Prados 2022, Díez 2022, Maldita 2020, Dimidi 2019, Kapp 2019, Martini 2018, Caorsi 2017, Jayabalan 2014, Ernst 2003, Majchrowicz 1995, Hauser 1990)

Having a very acidic pH (2.8 - 3.7) and a low fluoride concentration (<0.46 ppm), it has very erosive properties on tooth enamel.(Pierce 2023, Lind 2023)

Although in healthy individuals moderate consumption of properly prepared and stored kombucha carries no health risks, liver damage, metabolic acidosis, anthrax skin infection and even death have occurred in association with its consumption (Mirzai 2019, Gedela 2016, SungHee 2009, Derk 2004, Srinivasan 1997, CDC 1995, Crit Path AIDS 1994), usually due to over-consumption, or preparations with too much acidity or alcohol due to over-fermentation, or contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or stored in non-glass or stainless steel vessels or consumed by people with immune deficits.

Processing with poor hygiene favors contamination with Salmonella or Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (Brewer 2021). Storage in ceramic earthenware pots favors lead poisoning. (Phan 1998)
The degree of acidity, the amount of alcohol and glucose, the type and amount of bacteria and the possible beneficial or toxic effects of kombucha vary greatly according to the mode of manufacture, domestic-homemade or commercial (Ohwofasa 2024), being safer in commercial manufacture, controlled (hygiene, fermentation time, refrigerated storage and transport, acidity, alcohol, ...), than in homemade preparations.

Its alcohol content can reach between 0.5º and 5.5º. (Maldita 2020, Liu 2019, Nal 2019, Martinez 2017)

The scarcity of literature, its alcohol content and the potential toxicity of uncontrolled homemade preparations, added to the lack of precise therapeutic indications make it an expendable product, especially during breastfeeding (Martini 2018, Ernst 2003). Some commercial preparations that carry no, or only minimal traces of alcohol, might be acceptable during breastfeeding.

Since kombucha recipes may vary by region, it is recommended to follow the FDA and or CDC Model Food Code guidelines to ensure safe kombucha production. (Anantachoke 2023, CDC 2022, Nummer 2013) and not to exceed a daily consumption of 100 ml. (Batista 2022)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Kombucha is also known as


Kombucha in other languages or writings:

Group

Kombucha belongs to this group or family:

Tradenames

Main tradenames from several countries containing Kombucha in its composition:

References

  1. Ohwofasa A, Dhami M, Winefield C, On SLW. Elevated abundance of Komagataeibacter results in a lower pH in kombucha production; insights from microbiomic and chemical analyses. Curr Res Food Sci. 2024 Feb 18;8:100694. Consulted on April 24, 2024 Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. Costa MAC, Vilela DLS, Fraiz GM, Lopes IL, Coelho AIM, Castro LCV, Martin JGP. Effect of kombucha intake on the gut microbiota and obesity-related comorbidities: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023;63(19):3851-3866. Abstract
  3. Lind E, Mähönen H, Latonen RM, Lassila L, Pöllänen M, Loimaranta V, Laine M. Erosive potential of ice tea beverages and kombuchas. Acta Odontol Scand. 2023 Aug;81(6):491-498. Abstract
  4. Atkinson FS, Cohen M, Lau K, Brand-Miller JC. Glycemic index and insulin index after a standard carbohydrate meal consumed with live kombucha: A randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Front Nutr. 2023 Feb 17;10:1036717. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  5. Anantachoke N, Duangrat R, Sutthiphatkul T, Ochaikul D, Mangmool S. Kombucha Beverages Produced from Fruits, Vegetables, and Plants: A Review on Their Pharmacological Activities and Health Benefits. Foods. 2023 Apr 27;12(9). pii: 1818. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  6. Mendelson C, Sparkes S, Merenstein DJ, Christensen C, Sharma V, Desale S, Auchtung JM, Kok CR, Hallen-Adams HE, Hutkins R. Kombucha tea as an anti-hyperglycemic agent in humans with diabetes - a randomized controlled pilot investigation. Front Nutr. 2023 Aug 1;10:1190248. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  7. Pierce S, Amini A, Tantbirojn D, Versluis A, Dehghan M, Almoazen H. Millennial drinks: acidity, fluoride content, and enamel softening. Gen Dent. 2023 Jul-Aug;71(4):36-43. Abstract
  8. Júnior JCDS, Meireles Mafaldo Í, de Lima Brito I, Tribuzy de Magalhães Cordeiro AM. Kombucha: Formulation, chemical composition, and therapeutic potentialities. Curr Res Food Sci. 2022 Feb 4;5:360-365. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  9. Batista P, Penas MR, Pintado M, Oliveira-Silva P. Kombucha: Perceptions and Future Prospects. Foods. 2022 Jul 4;11(13). pii: 1977. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  10. Prados-Bo A, Rabassa M, Bosch M, Casino G. Online information in Spanish on probiotics, yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, fibre and prebiotics: an analysis of the quality of information and the certainty of the evidence supporting health claims. BMJ Open. 2022 Aug 3;12(8):e063316. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  11. Diez-Ozaeta I, Astiazaran OJ. Recent advances in Kombucha tea: Microbial consortium, chemical parameters, health implications and biocellulose production. Int J Food Microbiol. 2022 Sep 16;377:109783. Abstract
  12. Brewer SS, Lowe CA, Beuchat LR, Ortega YR. Survival of Salmonella and Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli and Changes in Indigenous Microbiota during Fermentation of Home-Brewed Kombucha. J Food Prot. 2021 Aug 1;84(8):1366-1373. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  13. Jakubczyk K, Kałduńska J, Kochman J, Janda K. Chemical Profile and Antioxidant Activity of the Kombucha Beverage Derived from White, Green, Black and Red Tea. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 May 22;9(5). pii: E447. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  14. Maldita ciencia. La kombucha y sus supuestas propiedades beneficiosas: no hay evidencias científicas de que las tenga, puede contener alcohol y, si no se elabora adecuadamente, puede resultar perjudicial. Maldita.es 2020 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  15. Martínez-Leal J, Ponce-García N, Escalante-Aburto A. Recent Evidence of the Beneficial Effects Associated with Glucuronic Acid Contained in Kombucha Beverages. Curr Nutr Rep. 2020 Sep;9(3):163-170. Abstract
  16. Mousavi SM, Hashemi SA, Zarei M, Gholami A, Lai CW, Chiang WH, Omidifar N, Bahrani S, Mazraedoost S. Recent Progress in Chemical Composition, Production, and Pharmaceutical Effects of Kombucha Beverage: A Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Nov 18;2020:4397543. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  17. Liu Y, Chan M, Blake E, Sy H, Brown PN. Determination of Ethanol Content in Kombucha Products by Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detection: A Multilaboratory Study. J AOAC Int. 2019 May 1;102(3):878-882. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  18. [No authors listed] Determination of Ethanol in Kombucha, Juices, and Alcohol-Free Beer by Enzytec(TM) Liquid Ethanol: Single-Laboratory Validation, First Action 2017.07. J AOAC Int. 2019 Jan 1;102(1):316-318. No abstract available. Abstract
  19. Dimidi E, Cox SR, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 5;11(8). pii: E1806. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  20. Kapp JM, Sumner W. Kombucha: a systematic review of the empirical evidence of human health benefit. Ann Epidemiol. 2019 Feb;30:66-70. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  21. Mirzai S, Rifai AO, Webb S, Rifai K, Reiner A. Probable Clostridium septicum pneumocephalus in a user of natural remedies with newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus type 1. IDCases. 2019 Jun 25;17:e00581. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  22. Martínez Leal J, , Lucía Valenzuela Suárez L, Jayabalanb R, Huerta Orosa J, Escalante-Aburto A. A review on health benefits of kombucha nutritional compounds and metabolites. Journal of Food, 2018. 16, 1, 390–399. Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  23. Martini N. Potion or Poison? Kombucha. J Prim Health Care. 2018 Mar;10(1):93-94. Abstract
  24. Villarreal-Soto SA, Beaufort S, Bouajila J, Souchard JP, Taillandier P. Understanding Kombucha Tea Fermentation: A Review. J Food Sci. 2018 Mar;83(3):580-588. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  25. Caorsi, Laura. La kombucha y los siete milagritos. Consumer. 2017 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  26. Gedela M, Potu KC, Gali VL, Alyamany K, Jha LK. A Case of Hepatotoxicity Related to Kombucha Tea Consumption. S D Med. 2016 Abstract
  27. Jayabalan R, Malbaša RV, Lončar ES, Vitas JS, Sathishkumar M. A Review on Kombucha Tea-Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2014 Jul;13(4):538-550. Abstract
  28. Nummer BA. Kombucha brewing under the Food and Drug Administration model Food Code: risk analysis and processing guidance. J Environ Health. 2013 Nov;76(4):8-11. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  29. SungHee Kole A, Jones HD, Christensen R, Gladstein J. A case of Kombucha tea toxicity. J Intensive Care Med. 2009 Abstract
  30. Derk CT, Sandorfi N, Curtis MT. A case of anti-Jo1 myositis with pleural effusions and pericardial tamponade developing after exposure to a fermented Kombucha beverage. Clin Rheumatol. 2004 Abstract
  31. Ernst E. Kombucha: a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Abstract
  32. Phan TG, Estell J, Duggin G, Beer I, Smith D, Ferson MJ. Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. Med J Aust. 1998 Dec 7-21;169(11-12):644-6. Abstract
  33. Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D. Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? J Gen Intern Med. 1997 Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  34. Majchrowicz M. Kombucha: a dubious "cure". GMHC Treat Issues. 1995 Abstract
  35. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).. Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea--Iowa, 1995. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1995 Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  36. [No authors listed] Kombucha--toxicity alert. Crit Path AIDS Proj. 1994 Abstract
  37. Hauser SP. [Dr. Sklenar's Kombucha mushroom infusion--a biological cancer therapy. Documentation No. 18]. Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax. 1990 Abstract

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