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Common Name(s): Champagne of life, Combucha tea, Dr. Sklenar's kombucha mushroom infusion, Fungus Japonicus, Kargasok tea, Kombucha mushroom, Kombucha tea, Kwassan, Manchurian fungus, Manchurian tea, Pellicle, Spumonto, Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), T'chai from the sea, Teekwass, Tschambucco, Yeast/Bacteria fungal symbiont, Zoogleal mat

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 22, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Evidence does not support pharmacological claims for kombucha teas; case reports of severe toxicity exist. Some experts believe that the tea fulfills US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria of a fraudulent product, including reference to non-US medical studies, an appeal to personal vanity, ancient origins, and alleged cures for a wide variety of ailments. Some of these claims include curing cancer, rheumatism, and intestinal disorders, as well as reversing the effects of aging. Clinical data are lacking to support use of kombucha for any indication.


There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for kombucha.


Use in immune-suppressed patients is not advised. Due to potential health risks in individuals with preexisting conditions, use is contraindicated particularly in those with significant renal, pulmonary, or liver disease. Kombucha is also contraindicated in women who are pregnant or lactating.


Kombucha is contraindicated in women who are pregnant or lactating.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Cases of nausea and allergic responses have been reported.


Information is limited. Rare case reports of severe toxicity exist.


Kombucha is not a fungus or a mushroom, but rather a cellulose pellicle or mat fermented in a black tea and sugar mix.Jayabalan 2014 The pellicle is sometimes referred to as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).Nummer 2013, Velicanski 2014 The bacterial portion generally contains Gluconacetobacter xylinus (formerly known as Acetobacter xylinum), which ferments the ethanol produced by the yeast component. Kombucha tea is the resultant sour-tasting fermented liquid broth, described as resembling sparkling apple cider. Black or green tea, as well as other beverages, teas (including fruit-based teas), Jerusalem artichoke, milk, and whey, have been used as substrates in the preparation of kombucha.Jayabalan 2014, Marsh 2014, Sreeramulu 2000

Kombucha should not be confused with the seaweed konbu (Japanese). See Seaweed monograph.


Kombucha tea has grown rapidly in popularity and has been touted as a "miracle cure" for a wide variety of illnesses, ranging from memory loss to premenstrual syndrome.Forster 1995

The name "kombucha" is derived from the Japanese terms "kombu" (seaweed) and "cha" (tea). In Western countries, the product is typically propagated in black tea. Growing spores are floated on the surface of brewed, sweetened black tea, with the mycelium doubling in mass approximately every week. The mass is then divided, and the new portion is propagated on new tea media. In this manner, kombucha mycelium can be propagated at a rapid rate for commercial distribution.Marin 1995

As the growth matures, it ferments the beverage slightly and is then consumed for its purported medicinal properties. Consumption of fermented teas has long been popular in Eastern cultures, and the use of this particular mycelial growth may date back several centuries.

Despite extravagant claims of its pharmacologic activity, some experts believe that the tea fulfills US FDA criteria of a fraudulent product, including reference to non-US medical studies, an appeal to personal vanity, ancient origins, and alleged cures for a wide variety of ailments.Forster 1995 Some of these claims include curing cancer, rheumatism, and intestinal disorders, as well as reversing the effects of aging.


The major bacteria in kombucha are most commonly from the genus Gluconacetobacter, with Acetobacter being the minor or trace bacterium.Marsh 2014 Other bacteria such as Lactobacillus may also be present.Marsh 2014, Vīna 2014

Zygosaccharomyces is the likely yeast, with others such as Candida and Pichia possibly present.Greenwalt 2000 Standardization issues exist, and the many kombucha teas should be referred to in the plural rather than as kombucha tea (singular).Jarrell 2000

The bacteria and yeast together are embedded in a cellulose pellicle, and although symbiosis between the yeast and bacteria has not been proven, a close association is evident. Greenwalt 2000, Jarrell 2000 The yeast produces ethanol from the sugar, which the bacteria ferments to produce acetic acid, thereby increasing the acidity of the liquid broth. Similarly, the acetic acid appears to stimulate production of ethanol by the yeast, and both ethanol and acetic acid inhibit the growth of other microorganisms.Dufresne 2000, Greenwalt 2000, Sreeramulu 2000

Carbon dioxide, acids (gluconic, glucuronic, acetic, and lactic), phenolic compounds (catechin and isorhamnetin), fructose, sucrose, glucose, minerals, and vitamins (B and C) are also found in kombucha teas.Bhattacharya 2016, Dufresne 2000, Jayabalan 2014, Kallel 2012 With time, the sugar content decreases, and acidity increases to a pH of approximately 2.5.Greenwalt 2000

Uses and Pharmacology

As the base liquid is generally green or black tea, some of the purported uses may be attributed to the teas themselves.Dufresne 2000 See the Green Tea monograph. In an in vitro study evaluating kombucha tea activity against Vibrio cholerae, the basic mechanism of antibacterial activity of the kombucha polyphenolic fraction may have involved bacterial membrane permeabilization and morphological changes, possibly due to generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species.Bhattacharya 2018

Antimicrobial activity

In vitro data

In vitro, kombucha teas have demonstrated antimicrobial activity against bacterial and fungal species, including some human pathogens.Battikh 2013, Greenwalt 2000, Kapp 2019, Sreeramulu 2000 Antimicrobial activity has been demonstrated even after thermal denaturationSreeramulu 2000; however, clinical studies are lacking.

Antioxidant activity

Animal and in vitro data

Several animal and in vitro studies report that kombucha teas have antioxidant properties.Bellassoued 2015, Gaggia 2018


Animal data

Limited studies in rodents have demonstrated a protective effect against radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations.Cavusoglu 2010, Yapar 2010

Clinical data

Results of systematic reviews did not support the use of kombucha teas for cancer prevention or for cancer treatment due to the lack of human studies to support claims. There is a potential risk of serious adverse events.Ernst 2003, Kapp 2019

Gastric ulceration

Animal data

Indomethacin-induced gastric ulcers were healed (histological assessment) in rodents administered kombucha teas. Despite the acidity of kombucha tea, reduced gastric acid secretion was described.Banerjee 2010

Clinical data

There is very limited clinical evidence regarding the effectiveness of fermented foods such as kombucha teas in GI health and disease.Dimidi 2019

Liver disease

Animal data

Studies in rats have demonstrated decreased liver enzymes and improved creatinine and urea indices with consumption of kombucha teas for up to 30 days. Protection against acetaminophen-, carbon tetrachloride-, and radiation-induced injury has been demonstrated. Antioxidant properties may be responsible for the observed effects.Bhattacharya 2013, Bhattacharya 2011, Bhattacharya 2011, Gharib 2009, Jayabalan 2008, Murugesan 2009, Pauline 2001, Rashid 2013, Sai Ram 2000, Wang 2014 Studies in mice have also suggested that kombucha teas protect hepatocytes from lipid toxicity by influencing lipid metabolism and reducing inflammation and fibrosis, which contributes to liver restoration in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.Lee 2019 This might be attributed to changes in the intestinal microbiota after consuming kombucha tea, as was observed in a study of mice with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.Jung 2018

Metabolic syndrome

Due to the presence of phenolic compounds, inhibition of pancreatic alpha-amylase has been postulated, sufficient to cause a net decrease in the absorption of glucose.Kallel 2012

Animal data

In mice and rats, limited studies have shown that kombucha teas improve lipid profiles and indices of diabetes (glycosylated hemoglobin [HbA1c] and plasma insulin), and well as increase antioxidant capacity and cardiac markers.Aloulou 2012, Lobo 2014, Srihari 2013, Yang 2009

Toxin binding

Animal data

Glucuronic acid (found in kombucha teas) has been shown to bind to toxins.Dufresne 2000, Jayabalan 2014 A study in rats with silica dust–induced pulmonary lesions showed improvements with kombucha administration.Fu 2013

Wound healing

Animal data

Studies in rodents have shown that intraperitoneal administration of kombucha teas decreased inflammation and adhesions in induced peritoneal wounds.Maghsoudi 2009 Topical application of the kombucha pellicle resulted in wound healing in rats at a similar rate to that of nitrofurazone ointment.Barati 2013

Clinical data

There are no clinical data to support the use of kombucha in wound healing, despite the suggested use of the pellicle in burns and as a temporary skin substitute.Dufresne 2000


There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for kombucha.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Kombucha is contraindicated in women who are pregnant or lactating.Jayabalan 2014, Kapp 2019


Case reports are lacking. Based on chemical studies, inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme may be possible.(Hrnjez 2014)

Disulfiram: Disulfiram may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of kombucha. A disulfiram-like reaction may occur. Avoid combination.(Altun 2006, Antabuse June 2016, Bakish 1986, Ellis 1979, Heath 1992, Ho 2007, Jang 2021, Jones 1949, Koff 1971, Mukherjee 2020, Tayyareci 2009)

Adverse Reactions

Cases of nausea and allergic responses have been reported.Dufresne 2000 Because the final pH of kombucha teas is very acidic (pH 2.5), consumption with water is advised. Low pH is also associated with the leaching of heavy metals from brewing containers. Symptomatic lead poisoning has been associated with brewing kombucha in certain lead-glazed ceramic pots.Greenwalt 2000, Kapp 2019

Use in immune-suppressed individuals or those with renal, pulmonary, or liver disease is not advised.Jayabalan 2014, Kapp 2019


Rare case reports of severe metabolic acidosis, cardiomyopathy, and hepatotoxicity exist.Derk 2004, Kapp 2019, Kovacevic 2014, SungHee Kole 2009 Use is considered contraindicated in individuals with liver disease.Kapp 2019 Teas produced under sterile conditions are likely to be safe for consumption, and a food code process for their production has been published.Greenwalt 2000, Nummer 2013 Studies in rodents have been conducted. In a 90-day study in which kombucha tea was given to rats, no hematological, biochemical, or histological changes were evident.Vijayaraghavan 2000 Another study found no evidence of harm to nerve tissue in rats, while the internal organs of rats (but not mice) showed lesions in a 12-week study.Greenwalt 2000, Zhu 2014



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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