Should you get on board the kombucha train?

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Touted as a probiotic, a hepatic, a cancer cure, an acne remedy, an energy booster and a whole lot more, devotees claim kombucha, a fermented effervescent tea, is a miracle drink.

Others, however, are unimpressed.

“There has been no clinical research done on kombucha that proves any health benefit whatsoever,” said registered dietitian Robin Barrie Kaiden. “There are claims that it helps digestion, the liver, prevents cancer and improves the immune system, but there’s no definite evidence, good or bad.”

Jessica Childs founded Kombucha Brooklyn “after falling in love with the flavor and effects,” she said. “A large number of people experience relief from stomach ailments as a result of drinking kombucha. Other effects that can be correlated with specific compounds in kombucha are a reduction in bad cholesterol, a limiting effect on blood sugar spikes and a calming of acne vulgaris.”

But Kaiden remains unimpressed with such claims and warns that its acidity could have a detrimental effect. “Anyone with a sensitive stomach or colitis could be in trouble [drinking this],” said the nutrition counselor. And as for B-vitamins, Kaiden thinks it’s a poor source.

“If you need B-vitamins, take a supplement,” she said. “If you need a healthy drink, drink water.”

Though Childs acknowledges that “kombucha is not a cure-all,” she does say that “the body is a complex system and kombucha offers nutrients and support to that system.”

The skinny on kombucha

Kombucha contains yeasts and bacteria that produce natural acids after fermentation, including butyric acid, which is linked to preventing colon cancer; gluconic acid, which is thought to benefit anemia; lactic acid, which aids brain function; and oxalic acid, which is found naturally in rhubarb, but can be toxic in high concentration. This fall, Kombucha Brooklyn will publish “Kombucha!: The Amazing Probiotic Tea that Cleanses, Heals, Energizes, and Detoxifies.”


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