Kombucha is part of Gwyneth Paltrow‘s dietary regimen. Kirsten Dunst, Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, Halle Berry, Meg Ryan, Anna Paquin, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon have all be said to be drinking the modern version of this ancient elixir because of purported health benefits that include: speeding up metabolism, cleansing “toxins” from the bloodstream, reducing cholesterol levels, fighting wrinkles, and boosting the immune system. This fermented form of sweetened black tea is also said to be useful in kicking addictions to alcohol and coffee. If you look on the Internet, there are many home recipes for making Kombucha but it is also manufactured and distributed by companies, for example, SynergyDrinks.com.
We conducted a search of kombucha in in medical journals at www.pubmed.gov and found 40 articles on kombucha tea. Many of the studies orginated in China or India and consisted of testing the effects of kombucha tea on rats or mice or human cancer cells in test tubes. Some beneficial effects were seen but one study concluded that “Comparable effects and mechanisms in humans remain uncertain, as do health safety issues, because serious health problems and fatalities have been reported and attributed to drinking kombucha.” Most of the reports of human consumption of kombucha tea are case reports of toxicity, in some cases, life-threatening. The greatest danger from kombucha seems to arise in “home brew” versions that have become contaminated because of improper preparation.
Because folk medicines and herbal remedies, including Kombucha tea, are considered neither a food nor a drug, they are not routinely evaluated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), drinking this tea in quantities typically consumed (approximately 4 oz daily) may not cause adverse effects in healthy persons; however, the potential health risks are unknown for those with preexisting health problems or those who drink excessive quantities of the tea.