Kombucha has been around for over 2000 years, the ancient Chinese called it the ‘immortal health elixir’ and drank it to improve their health and to fight against diseases. But what exactly is kombucha? I had heard about the health benefit claims and seen it on the shelves in my local Wholefoods but until just over a month ago it was an enigma. I decided to find out more about it, then to try it and see how it affected me- I was surprised by the results and now recommend it to my health coaching clients.
What is it?
When looking at the basic description of kombucha it sounds unappetizing, I imagined something that was ‘good for me’ but tastes disgusting; reminding me of Mary Poppins and childhood days of being force fed cod liver oil! So here’s the description but don’t be put off and read to the end: It is a fermented sweetened tea producing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, abbreviated to SCOBY a.k.a ‘mother’ ( due to its ability to reproduce) which looks like a large flat , wet mushroom. The mixture is made up of green, white or black tea that has been sweetened with honey or evaporated cane sugar and left in a cool place away from direct sunlight to ferment. The beneficial yeast turns the sugar in to alcohol and then the good bacteria ferments the alcohol in to organic acids. These organic acids blunt blood sugar response and therefore, it has a low glycemic index (G.I.) and is non inflammatory. This process produces active enzymes, amino acids and poly-phenol anti-oxidants and, also, increases the probiotic content of the drink. it contains high concentrations of B vitamins ( 20-25% daily intake in 80z) . A variety of fruit juices are then added to create a more pleasing taste to the pleasantly fizzy liquid.
A bit of history:
Kombucha’s fame spread from China to Russia and then across Europe before arriving in USA in the 1990s. The Nobel Prize winning Russian author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn drank kombucha each day after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, he attributed his recovery to the miraculous drink. In 1987, Ronald Reagan used kombucha to help him stop the spread of his cancer. At the beginning of the twentieth century German and Russian scientists researched the health benefits and cancer curing properties of kombucha. Unfortunately, research was halted in the 1940s due to the Second World War.
There was a resurgence in interest in the 1990s for kombucha as a cancer cure and health panacea. There have been no major studies in the US, as it is not profitable for the drug companies; you can make kombucha at home for about $1.50 per gallon! However, the earlier European research is now available in English if you want to read the scientific stuff!
This is where it gets exciting! For most people today, our digestive systems are over worked, not functioning properly and this leads to chronic illness ( diabetes, heart disease, ADHD etc), my biggest task when first seeing a new client is how to improve their digestive health to benefit their over all wellness and create the outstanding life we all deserve. It all starts with a small step- kombucha can help with this.
- Digestive health: The probiotic bacteria wards off parasites and pathogens ( especially candida which causes inflammation all over the body). Kombucha fills the gut with healthy bacteria and this improves our immunity to illness.
- Cleansing: The properties in kombucha help to detoxify our bodies which reduces the load on the pancreas, liver and kidneys; this , in turn, helps the body to destroy cancer cells , glucaric acid has potent anti- cancer activity.
- Joint health: glucosamines in kombucha lubricate joints and make them more flexible, which is beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism sufferers. It has the added bonus of improving collagen which improves and reduces wrinkles!!
- Energising: the immune boosting properties lead to increased energy and elevated mood.
Effects I noticed:
First of all, I was amazed at how delicious the kombucha tasted- fruity and fizzy – not like a medicine at all!! My body reacted quickly to the enzymes and probiotics; within 20 minutes I felt energized, euphoric but very clear headed ( a bit like I could conquer the world- rather extreme I know but oh my, did it feel good!) I went to my early morning yoga class with a sparkle in my eyes!
The second time I drank kombucha was about 7pm after eating my raw cacao chia pudding! I had so much energy and positivity I wrote a blog post before I went to bed, even my husband was amazed!
I would recommend anyone trying kombucha, especially if you need to turn to caffeine to wake you up in the morning or for a pick me up mid afternoon- kombucha will provide this with all the other added health benefits, as well as not putting pressure on your adrenals, as the coffee would do. It is a lovely refreshing substitute for a glass of wine or a gin and tonic, too. Be aware that Kombucha is acidic and some experts say that it should be drunk in moderation and recommend not more than 8 oz a day if drinking every day.
For more information and details on how to brew your own kombucha at home try the following websites: