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Kombucha is a type of yeast, although it is sometimes described incorrectly as a mushroom. Kombucha tea is made by fermenting kombucha and bacteria with black tea, sugar, and other ingredients. People use kombucha tea as medicine, but there is no scientific evidence that it is an effective treatment for any condition.
Kombucha tea is used for memory loss, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), joint pain (rheumatism), aging, loss of appetite, AIDS, cancer, high blood pressure, constipation, arthritis, and hair regrowth. It is also used for increasing white cell (T-cell) counts, boosting the immune system, and strengthening the metabolism.
Some people apply kombucha tea directly to the skin for pain.
How does it work?
Kombucha tea contains alcohol, vinegar, B vitamins, caffeine, sugar, and other substances. However, there isn't enough evidence to know how kombucha tea might work for medicinal uses.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Memory loss.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Joint pain (rheumatism).
- Loss of appetite.
- High blood pressure.
- Increasing white cell (T-cell) counts.
- Strengthening the immune system and metabolism.
- Hair growth.
- Pain, when applied to the skin.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Kombucha tea is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for most adults when taken by mouth. It can cause side effects including stomach problems, yeast infections, allergic reactions, yellow skin (jaundice), nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, and death.
Kombucha tea, especially batches made at home where it's hard to maintain a germ-free environment, can become contaminated with fungus (Aspergillus) and bacteria (including anthrax). In Iran, 20 people got anthrax infections from taking kombucha tea. This tea is LIKELY UNSAFE in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, who are more likely to get infections, as well as when it is prepared in a lead-glazed ceramic pot. Lead poisoning has been reported following ingestion of kombucha tea.
Alcoholism: Kombucha tea contains alcohol. Avoid it if you have a drinking problem.
Diabetes: Kombucha tea might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use kombucha tea.
Diarrhea: Kombucha tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in kombucha tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Kombucha tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in kombucha tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.
Surgery: Since kombucha tea seems to affect blood glucose levels, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood glucose control during and after surgery. Stop using kombucha tea at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Weak immune system: Don't use kombucha tea if you have a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or other causes. Kombucha tea can support the growth of bacteria and fungus that can cause serious infections.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Kombucha tea might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking kombucha tea along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTabs, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.
Disulfiram (Antabuse)Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Kombucha tea contains alcohol. The body breaks down alcohol to get rid of it. Disulfiram (Antabuse) decreases the break-down of alcohol. Taking kombucha tea along with disulfiram (Antabuse) can cause a pounding headache, vomiting, flushing, and other unpleasant reactions. Don't drink any alcohol if you are taking disulfiram (Antabuse).
The appropriate dose of kombucha tea depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for kombucha tea. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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