All about kombucha: its benefits, uses and side effects Kombucha

Have you ever tasted Kombucha? If you’ve not, then you are missing out on an energetic beverage that is essential for the healthy functioning of your body. So what is kombucha? Kombucha is a beverage extracted from dried or ground kombu, which is an edible kelp that belongs to the Laminariaceae family.

This refreshing drink can also be extracted as a result of the fermentation of sugared tea using a symbiotic culture of acetic fungi and bacteria. The culture used for the fermentation process is referred to as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).

The microbial constituents of SCOBY cultures can differ from each other however, the yeast usually contains fungus such as Saccharomyces (a probiotic fungus). The bacterial content is made up of Gluconacetobacter xylinus, which supports the oxidization of yeast-produced alcohols into acetic acid and other acids.

Apart from acetic acid, kombucha contains other acids such as usnic acid, ethanol, lactic acid, glycerol, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, amino acids and organic acids. It also contains active enzymes, polyphenols, B-vitamins and vitamin C. Kombucha tea is a better alternative tonic to several caffeinated and sugary drinks.

Kombucha is slightly acidic and filled with electrolytes. It is distinguished by its floating cellulosic pellicle layer as well as its sour liquid broth that has a similar taste like a sparkling apple cider. White sugar and black tea are the main finest substrates used for preparing this refreshing beverage, however, the green tea or hibiscus flower can be used as well.
Kombucha is regarded as a non-alcoholic drink because the alcohol converts into an acetic acid during the fermentation process. This amazing drink is originally from Manchuria, which is a large geographic zone in the Northeast Asia. Kombucha is known by other names such as manchurian fungus tea, kargasok tea, wunderpilz, Japanese tea fungus, tschambucco, cajnij, teeschwamm, spumonto, Indonesian tea fungus, kwassan tea, teekwass, combucha, haipao or fungus japonicus.
The Chinese people refer to kombucha as chájūn (茶菌), hóngchágū 红茶菇, cháméijūn 茶黴菌, hóngchájùn 红茶菌, Vietnamese call it giam tra (giấm trà), the Japanese call it kombucha, kōcha kinoko 紅茶キノコ, konbucha or kelp tea (昆布茶?), Koreans refer to it as hongchabeoseotcha (홍차버섯차), while the Russians refer to it as chainyy grib чайный гриб, grib, tea kvass or chainyy kvas чайный квас. These varying kombucha names by various countries are literally interpreted as tea mushroom or tea fungus.

Benefits of Kombucha

Several sources have claimed that kombucha is notable for its high medicinal and health benefits although some of these claims have not been scientifically proven.
According to Dufresne and Farnworth (2000), some reported benefits of kombucha as a result of the information gathered from the consumers include; (a) reduces the cholesterol level (b) detoxifies the blood (c) relieves arthritis and rheumatism (d) reduces the onset of atherosclerosis by regeneration of cell walls (e) alleviates body inflammation (f) minimizes the onset of blood pressure (g) prevents gout symptoms (h) aids liver functionality (i) balances the intestinal flora (j) supports the intestinal system (k) reduces obesity (l) heals hemorrhoids (m) boosts appetite (n) minimizes kidney calcification (o) prevents and cures bladder infection (p) protects against diabetes (q) reduces menopausal hot flashes and menstrual disorders (r) stimulates the glandular system (s) boosts the immune system (t) alleviates asthma and bronchitis (u) promotes the body's resistance to cancer attacks (v) calms the nervous system (w) reduces stress (x) alleviates headaches (y) improves eyesight (z) improves the nail, hair and skin health.

Body Detoxifier
According to Rani et al., (2015), kombucha is highly beneficial due to its tendency to detox the body. The tea is an excellent constituent of essential bacterial acids and enzymes required for detoxifying the body system. Body detoxification is integral for aiding the healthy functioning of the pancreas and for reducing the load on the liver.
Drinking kombucha lessens the burden on your liver while facilitating the healthy functioning of your entire body system. The detoxifying effects of kombucha are attributed to its high constituent of glucuronic acid, which binds to body toxins thereby facilitating their excretion through the kidneys, intestines and anus.
Anti-stress and Hepato-protective Properties
Pauline et al., (2001) evaluated the toxicity, anti-stress and hepato-protective properties of Kombucha tea. Three different doses of kombucha tea (normal dose, 5 and 10 times the dose) were fed orally for a period of 15 days. Afterwards, the experimental animals were sacrificed and various histological and biochemical parameters were examined.
The anti-stress activity was measured by (a) exposing the animals to cold and hypoxia after which the malondialdehyde levels were estimated (b) the animals were put under restraint stress with the faecal output recorded. Hepatotoxicity was induced by subjecting the animals to an acute dose of paracetamol (1 gm/kg) orally and determining the plasma levels. The results show that kombucha tea contains anti-stress and hepato-protective properties.
Energy Booster
Being an excellent source of B-vitamins, kombucha can serve as an energy booster. The enzymes released from this beverage is essential for boosting the body’s metabolism and functionality.
Textile Production
Dried kombucha culture transforms into a leather textile known as a microbial cellulose. This microbial cellulose can be shaped into various forms for producing clothes. Growing the kombucha culture with various broth mediums such as green tea, coffee and black tea yields different colours of textile. Kombucha culture can also be used for producing artificial leather.

How to Prepare kombucha

~ Boil a litre of clean water then stir in a ⅓ cup of sucrose.
~ Add ½ cup of tea leaves and cover for 5 minutes.
~ Filter the tea leaves and allow to cool down.
~ Add ¼ cup of kombucha culture (tea fungus) into the sugared tea broth.
~ Allow to ferment while the container is covered with a soft cloth, towel or paper towel to keep away insects such as Drosophila fruit flies.
~ Within few days, a new tender culture will begin to float on the surface of the tea with a thin clear gel-like membrane formed.
~ Once the newly formed tea fungus appears on top of the old mother tea fungus, the tea will start oozing out a fermentation smell.
~ You will also observe some gas bubbles formed from the carbonic acid while fermenting.
~ After 2 weeks, a new tea fungus will develop above the tea in the form of a disc that measures approximately 2 centimetres thick. The tea disc covers the entire surface of the tea container.
~ Scoop out the newly formed tea fungus and place in a container with a little amount of the fermented tea.
~ Filter the kombucha beverage and store in an airtight bottle or container.
Side effects of Kombucha
Certain adverse conditions such as renal problems, allergic reactions and stomach upset have been recorded as a result of kombucha tea consumption. However, this is greatly attributed to the poor sanitary fermentation procedures and the environment of preparation. Furthermore, unhealthy kombucha cultures that are incapable of acidifying the brew can also cause adverse effects.
It is noteworthy that these adverse conditions can be improved by reducing the quantity of kombucha tea consumed or by cessation.

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This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1] Dufresne C. and Farnworth E. (2000) Tea, kombucha, and health: a review, Food Research International 33(6): pp.409-421.
2] Jayabalan, R., Marimuthu, S. and Swaminathan, K. (2007) Changes in content of organic acids and tea polyphenols during kombucha tea fermentation, Food. Chem., 102, pp.392-398.
3] Pauline, T., Dipti, P., Anju, B., Kavimani, S., Sharma, S. K., Kain, A. K., Sarada, S. K. S., Sairam, M., Ilavazhagan, G., Kumar, D., and Selvamurthy, W. (2001), Studies on toxicity; anti-stress and hepatoprotective properties of kombucha tea. Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 14(3), 207–213.
4] Rani, B., Singh, U., Panwar, P. and Maheshwari, R. K. (2015), Incredibility of Revitalizing Kambucha Tea for Fascinating Hilarity & Vivacious Demeanor, International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Life Sciences, 3(1): pp.296–301.
5] Semjonovs, P., Denina, I. and Linde, R. (2014), Evaluation of Physiological Effects of Acetic Acid Bacteria and Yeast Fermented Non-alchocolic Beverage Consumption in Rat Model, Journal of Medical Sciences, 14: 147-152.
6] Sreeramulu, G., Zhu, Y., and Knol, W. (2000), Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 48, pp.2589–2594.
7] Vijayaraghavan, R., M. Singh, P.V. Rao, R. Bhattacharya, P. Kumar, K. Sugendran, O. Kumar, S. C. Pant and R. Singh, (2000), Subacute (90 days) oral toxicity studies of Kombucha tea. Biomed. Environ. Sci., 13, 293-299.


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