Kombucha mushrooms are not actually mushrooms. They are colonies of fungi and yeast that combine into a form that resembles a mushroom, hence the name. The most common way to take kombucha mushroom is to combine it with sugar, then add it to tea and allow the mixture to ferment. After fermentation you drink the tea in order to reap the health benefits of the kombucha mushroom.
Kombucha Tea Breakdown
According to the Mayo Clinic, kombucha tea contains vinegar, vitamin B compounds, ethyl alcohol (in trace amounts) and other chemicals that stimulate the immune system, digestive systems and liver function.
Improved Liver Function
A study published in the April 2009 edition of J Microbiol Biotechnol titled “Hepatoprotective and curative properties of kombucha tea against carbon tetrachloride-induced toxicity“, details the drinking of kombucha tea’s positive effect on liver function. This study conducted in India, was performed on albino rats. The rats were suffering from CC14 induced toxicity. After ingesting kombucha tea, the rats showed significant reversal of CC14 induced toxicity. This indicates that kombucha tea may have the ability to improve liver function in humans although human trials are necessary to prove this statement.
Antioxidant and Immunomodulating Properties
A study published in Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Sept;16(3) 276-82, titled “Lead induced oxidative stress: beneficial effects of Kombucha tea“ details a study done on Sprauge Dawley rats suffering from lead poisoning. The rats were given kombucha tea orally. These rats showed a marked decrease in DNA damage and lead induced immunosuppression caused by lead poisoning. The results of this study indicate that kombucha tea contains antioxidant properties and can improve immune system functions.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns against the use of kombucha mushroom tea due to the fact that in 1995 several people became severely sick within 15 hours of drinking kombucha tea. The CDC states that there is no way to determine if it was the kombucha fungi or the fermenting conditions that caused this illness. The Mayo Clinic states that the occasional drinking of kombucha tea should be regarded as safe but it should not be taken on a daily basis.
Kombucha tea is brewed at home. As the kombucha mushroom starts to ferment it grows another smaller mushroom on top of the original one. This smaller mushroom is what is used to create new cultures. Acquiring kombucha mushroom starter from an unreliable source can be dangerous. Unsterile conditions, poor sanitation, and the use of ceramic containers that contain lead can lead to health problems. Know the source from which the kombucha tea starter comes from. Due to the acidity of kombucha tea, it should never be brewed or fermented in a ceramic container. Only sterile glass containers such as glass canning jars should be used.
J Microbiol Biotechnol “Hepatoprotective and curative properties of kombucha tea against carbon tetrachloride-induced toxicity”
Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Sept;16(3) 276-82, “Lead induced oxidative stress: beneficial effects of Kombucha tea“
Mayo Clinic: “Kombucha Tea: What are the health benefits?”
CDC Article: “Unexplained Severe Illness Possibly Associated with Consumption of Kombucha Mushroom