Kombucha – New Age Super Food Fad or Traditional Healer?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from a Scoby (mushroom), black tea and sugar. It is purported to have many healing and health giving qualities. Kombucha has been used in Asian countries for hundreds of years. It is a massive powerhouse of probiotics and works wonders with intestinal gas and flatulence. From anecdotal and personal experience I can attest to Kombucha assisting and alleviating the following symptoms:
I would never suggest that a person stop taking their medicine or going to the doctor - I have fibromyalgia, hyperthyroidism and degenerative arthritis - I frequent my doctor.
I use Kombucha as an adjunct to modern medicine, other alternative therapies and a very healthy diet.
Others with similar conditions may need to sleep every afternoon, rest often and are often tired and listless.
I was also like that before drinking Kombucha at least twice daily. Now I am more energetic. I can do simple jobs with ease and my recovery time is better. I can think clearly for extended periods of time and I can actually remember what I have researched without constantly checking my notes.
One of the more positive aspects is feeling good inside myself (perhaps because of the dopamine building amino acid - tyramine that is in Kombucha). Many others find find themselves much calmer and relaxed after drinking Kombucha. It seems to be one of the life enhancing qualities of Kombucha!
I first started brewing Kombucha because my son left some at my house when he went to work on Kangaroo Island. After weeks of it sitting there and just being topped up occasionally with a cup of sweet black tea I decided to use it myself.
I accessed Dr Google for more information and started brewing my first batches. I was only interested in the pro-biotic qualities to begin with. Having lived with a low immune system and fibromyalgia for the last two years I had taken a lot of antibiotics.
I am a vegetarian bordering on vegan and couldn’t bring myself to consume large amounts of yoghurt.
I have been drinking my homemade Kombucha for about 6 months. In that time I have come down a dress size without any dieting or exercise. I have noticed that I can do a lot more physical activities than I could a year ago. I can hang the washing out now without hurting and 6 months ago I could not do that.
Is my new found energy and mobility because of Kombucha? I think so – I think that the Kombucha is slowly helping my body to heal itself. I can do more, I feel more alert and I have less localised pain. Kombucha has not cured me – but I believe it has helped!
The first batch of Kombucha tasted more like apple cider vinegar and I only consumed small amounts.
This is probably a good thing because I did not go into a healing crisis. After a while I learned about making a second ferment. Oh wow! The nicest soft drinks I have ever tasted – at a fraction of the price and full of Kombucha goodness.
There is some sugar content in the drink - but nowhere near as much as soft drink. The Scoby and fermentation process use up a lot of the sugar.
You can add whatever fruit or fruit juice you want to the second ferment, including herbs and spices. There is also a low alcohol content – it varies but seems to hover between 0.5 - 1.5 %. It is said to be at its highest alcohol content when it just starts to get fizzy on the second ferment. Natural fruit juices and ripe fruits also have slight alcohol content, depending on the fruit and level of ripeness.
Lemons are a favourite at our house. I add the juice of 2-3 lemons and the cut up rind. Leave overnight in a glass jar with 1/2 cup sugar. Remove rind, strain and bottle the next day.
I have read many articles reciting anecdotal evidence about the health benefits of Kombucha. There are claims of pain relief, more energy, bowel movement regulation, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal.
There is also scientific evidence (I actually bought a copy of the research!) to show that Kombucha has analgesic (pain killer), antibiotic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. This is because of the variety of amino acids that it contains.
Many of these amino acids are building blocks for proteins (great for us vegetarians) and vitamins. One specific amino acid is tryamine – it is used in many weight loss products because of its ability to influence weight loss. Research suggests that dopamine is a natural appetite suppressant. It is also a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. Tryamine is produced in the body after excessive exercise and is said to be the cause of the ‘Runner’s High”.
After extensive research I have come to the conclusion that there are so many variables in Kombucha that it is difficult to attribute many of the benefits of Kombucha to any one component.
It contains elements that assist the Gluceronic acid (made by the liver to bind to toxic chemicals and remove them from our bodies) to carry out wastes and help us to detox. One of these is gluconic (in addition to gluceronic) acid. Gluconic acid is a very effective chelater - it pulls heavy metals and other toxins from the body.
Most Kombucha enthusiasts believe that Kombucha helps the body to heal itself by balancing our hormones, detoxifying our bodies and providing us with important nutrients and vitamins.
As a bit of a health nerd (since researching how to recover from Fibro) I have learned that detoxifying the body is the most important step to getting well.
A liver that has been bombarded with chemicals from our food and water over our life-times is naturally tired and dysfunctional. In such a state it is difficult to absorb nutrients and our bodies can become deficient in vitamins and minerals – even though we are eating well.
Interestingly, I have a friend staying with me from Papua New Guinea – she immediately recognised it as a “mushroom”. She told me that they use it in her village for health and healing. The people in the village use the Kombucha as a healing wash and the mushroom to place and tie over wounds.
You can buy Kombucha from the shop for about $4.00 for a small bottle. You can make it yourself for about $1.00 for 4 liters. When you make your own Kombucha you are in charge of the ingredients and the flavours.
You can make the second ferment to suit your health and dietary needs. Here is a link to a simple recipe for making Kombucha tea and how to give it a second ferment to make Kombucha Soda.