Is Kombucha Tea Good for You?

Is Kombucha Tea Good for You?
3.18 (63.52%) 159 votes

Case reports of people ending up in a coma after drinking kombucha tea.


Tea is healthy; mushrooms are healthy. What if you put them together? Kombucha tea, a fizzy fermented drink—complete with chunks of slimy fungus.

Now, if you base your nutrition knowledge on the kinds of books you find in health food stores, bestsellers like Kombucha—Miracle Fungus will tell you that already by the Tsin dynasty, it was known and honored as a beverage with magical powers, enabling people to live forever. Given the fact that you don’t tend to meet many people from the Tsin dynasty these days, not only may kombucha not give you eternal life—it apparently won’t even grant you a measly 2,000 years. Never believe anything you read in health food stores.

But what does the science say? Kombucha tea—harmful, just harmless, or helpful? Kombucha tea can be harmful. Published last year in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, kombucha “may pose serious health risks. Consumption of this tea should be discouraged, as it may be associated with life-threatening lactic acidosis.”

This is just the latest in a series of case reports of people ending up in a coma because their blood turned to acid after drinking kombucha. How does it do that? We have no idea. Maybe it’s a magical fungus after all.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Tea is healthy; mushrooms are healthy. What if you put them together? Kombucha tea, a fizzy fermented drink—complete with chunks of slimy fungus.

Now, if you base your nutrition knowledge on the kinds of books you find in health food stores, bestsellers like Kombucha—Miracle Fungus will tell you that already by the Tsin dynasty, it was known and honored as a beverage with magical powers, enabling people to live forever. Given the fact that you don’t tend to meet many people from the Tsin dynasty these days, not only may kombucha not give you eternal life—it apparently won’t even grant you a measly 2,000 years. Never believe anything you read in health food stores.

But what does the science say? Kombucha tea—harmful, just harmless, or helpful? Kombucha tea can be harmful. Published last year in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, kombucha “may pose serious health risks. Consumption of this tea should be discouraged, as it may be associated with life-threatening lactic acidosis.”

This is just the latest in a series of case reports of people ending up in a coma because their blood turned to acid after drinking kombucha. How does it do that? We have no idea. Maybe it’s a magical fungus after all.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more on tea, check out these videos:
Is There Too Much Aluminum in Tea?
How Much Hibiscus Tea is Too Much?
Better Than Green Tea?

And check out my other videos on tea

For further context, also see my associated blog posts: Eating To Extend Our the first month; and Soy milk: shake it up!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

111 responses to “Is Kombucha Tea Good for You?

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  1. Hi Good Doctor…i read the link
    …Ok It seems some people’s body can’t handle the Therapeutic Kombucha…but the scientific studies I sent you above(link below) seem to indicate a larger truth that IT won’t harm you and be beneficial . i find it odd that your nicely presented report is biased and not balanced..from meeting you in Montreal I found you objective but what I get from your link and the non inclusion of the scientific studies as noble as the one you refer to
    is that you are into shock news rather than balancing the reporting of the studies you select…PLS correct your unbalanced report on Kombucha if you want to be helpfull rather than an alarmist…

    1. Kombucha may indeed reduce the organ damage of irradiated rats, but not sure the relevance (unless you have a pet rat and your friendly neighborhood nuclear plant melts down?). As a physician I’m kind of a rather limited veterinarian–I only know about one species! But I’m not saying there aren’t benefits to kombucha consumption, I’m just saying that if you look at a systematic review of the clinical evidence the benefits may not outweigh the risks. In fact, why tolerate any significant risks in our diet? That’s why I have a low tolerance for recommending against the consumption of foods shown to have serious adverse effects.

      1. I think it’s a little much to state that, based on 3 adverse reports (with no data about those cases at all) that there is too much risk in drinking kombucha. Maybe the issue lies in proper preparation. There are also rumors stating that lavender and tea tree oil lead to hormonal issues in boys, but that was based on 3 kids as well and wasn’t a study at all. Furthermore, I have heard that reports on PubMed can simply be paid for and put there. So we need to look at “evidence” there with an open, yet questioning, mind. I’d love to hear what you think about my points. Thank you.

      2. “I’m just saying that if you look at a systematic review of the clinical evidence the benefits may not outweigh the risks”

        Couldn’t you say this about nearly any food? Our ENTIRE diet is LOADED with significant risks. Remember when people were getting salmonella from spinach? 33 deaths from Listeria in Cantaloupes last year? Processed foods and soda which harden arteries and kill you slowly?

        ” In fact, why tolerate any significant risks in our diet? That’s why I have a low tolerance for recommending against the consumption of foods shown to have serious adverse effects.”

        Doc,I do NOT want to tolerate risks in my diet. However, as a health professional I would prefer if your public health education program was more focused on the mainstream, rather than the minority. We have so many other problems!

        1. Hi Jen. The salmonella on spinach was caused by fecal waste from the meat industry spraying the excrement around and contaminating veg fields. Not sure what the relevance here is. Unless you smear poop on all your food there are no risks in eating a standard portion of spinach.

      3. Okay, inquiring minds have to know…why do you pan kombucha based on a few exceptional cases when so many people regularly consume it without issue, and in fact benefit from it, I being one of them…but you praise vinegar and did a whole series on it…which is what you end up with if you let kombucha brew too long??? I really respect your work, but this is so sensational and out of line. People die from drinking too much water, so the rest of us should limit or stop drinking it?

      4. Millions of people have been drinking Kombucha if it was so dangerous we would have heard something about it. Maybe those few we’re taking overconsumption like a gallon a day? Or they were allergic? For millions of people Kombucha seems to work ok.

  2. So the paper displayed here says ‘A Case Of Kombucha Tea Toxicity’. Was this literally one case? Or are there others? I can’t find much info aside from various references mentioning a single ‘rare case of myositis’ – this does not in anyway imply some kind of serious risk here. We do not know what else was going on with this ‘single case’ – did this person have other health issues? Was they on certain medication (known to cause lactic acidosis)? There can be a number of causes:

    An awful lot of people drink Kombucha (some on a daily basis). This sounds like a statistical anomaly.

    1. This was just a case report (which means by definition just one patient is described), but as I noted above, a systematic review concluded the benefits may not outweigh the risks. This was just one of the latest cases. It’s certainly an extremely rare consequence of kombucha consumption, but just like with medications, even though side effects can be rare, one still has to balance the benefits and risks. So I’d much rather see people drink (green or white) tea straight, which has more proven benefits and fewer reported risks.

      1. I find your position a bit funny given the way perscription drugs are perscribed at the massive number of lawsuits concerning them. Heck the bulk ogf my health issues were caused by the use of antibiotics. Fosomax was a difinant contributing factior in my moms death…didn’t know it until years later when the link was found between that drug and heart issues, which my mother never had until she started taking fosomax. My neighbors mom started haveing issues after taking fosomax, her dr. told her she was haveing panic attactks. Hah! nope it was the fosomax. The drug side effects are rediculous! Talk about the benefit not outwaying the risk. Far more risks to drugs than consuming kombucha. I love what Kombuchas has done for me! Crazy how easily dr. poo poo natural remedies and go nuts over the limited number of side effects but the industry won’t hardly admit to the side effects of drugs and especially the possibility that there are issues with immunizations…Hum interesting that the gov’t has the immunization injury fund…I wonder why that is!

        1. Dr. Greger greatly prefers high micronutrient vegan nutrition for disease prevention and reversal. He’s not at all a big fan of drugs. He recognizes the danger of using poison to suppress symptoms instead of using evidence-based nutrition to remove the cause. Your comment reads like you’re a kombucha believing fundamentalist and facts be damned.
          It’s as though someone showed you the statistics of deaths an extreme sport and you responded with “Why don’t you talk about dueling. Virtually 50% of the players die every time!”

          1. Vegan… not particularly conducive to disease prevention. Given methylation nutrition levels, bioavailability. Aldehydes are produced and dealt with as a bi-product to metabolism. Our ability to alter our ph outside the digestive system is limited. With bile release and its associated processes being the most powerful. Poor hygiene with many things can cause ill health..there are guidelines and rules etc. Kombucha didn’t kill.. an accident or spoilage did! After fermenting since aged 8, i would trust my brew more than one served in plastic and bottled anyday. Anaerobic will increase the alcohol levels. Great scalp clarifier

  3. Thanks for comments Doctor..Granted …Foods have risks..and if you Got AIDS you need to be careful about what you drink…carefully made Kombucha is a health drink that is therapeutic and needs to be consumed with the understanding of possible side effects…The Kombucha I drink has been very helpful for me as my digestive system not so great…but caution in consumption quantity at start if Novice is needed especially if you have AIDS…as outlined in you toxicity study link above.

  4. What about the beneficial pro-biotic organisms and EGCG in kombucha? If someone is able to balance their pH by consuming more alkaline foods, wouldn’t its consumption be justified?

  5. I am greatly enjoying your website and all of your videos and information. Thank you for all of the work you are doing. Is there a better alternative for the kombucha? My wife loves it, but If I could offer her a more healthful replacement, that would be excellent. 

  6. I make and drink kombucha on a daily basis and give away the scobies to friends to start their own batches.  I think this article and doctor are ridiculous to suggest it is harmful.  As usual, anything rich in life and probiotics, are deemed harmful by the medical association, who would rather dispense drugs than actually give something helpful to a person.  BUT, Do no harm…. what a crock of ****

    1. In the words of Jeff Novick

      “While Kombucha tea is widely promoted to have miraculous medicinal
      properties, there is no evidence that Kombucha tea is effective for any
      of the reasons it is promoted for.

      What is being sold as Kombucha today is a colony of numerous species
      of fungi and bacteria living together, which permeate the tea. The
      precise composition of any sample of Kombucha depends to a great extent
      on what was floating around in your kitchen when you grew it or the
      kitchen (room) where it was grown.

      The most common microorganisms found in Kombucha tea include species
      of Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Saccharomyces, Candida, Torula,
      Acetobacter, and Pichia. However, some analyzed specimens have been
      found to contain completely different organisms, and there is no
      guarantee that they will be harmless.

      In addition, there are case reports, which suggest that Kombucha
      preparations can cause such problems as nausea, jaundice, shortness of
      breath, throat tightness, headache, dizziness, liver inflammation, and
      even unconsciousness.

      Mayser P, Fromme S, Leitzmann C, et al. The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’. Mycoses. 1995;38:289-295.

      Food and Drug Administration. FDA cautions consumers on “Kombucha
      Mushroom Tea” {News release}. Washington, DC: US Department of Health
      and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration,
      March 23, 1995

      CDC. Anticholinergic poisoning associated with an herbal tea — New York City, 1994. MMWR 1995;44:193-5.

      Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D. Probable gastrointestinal
      toxicity of Kombucha tea: is this beverage healthy or harmful? J Gen
      Intern Med. 1997;12:643-644.

      Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of
      Kombucha tea—Iowa, 1995. From the Centers for Disease Control and
      Prevention. JAMA. 1996;275:96-98.

      Perron AD, Patterson JA, Yanofsky NN. Kombucha “mushroom” hepatotoxicity. Ann Emerg Med. 1995;26:660-66

      Sadjadi J. Cutaneous anthrax associated with the Kombucha “mushroom” in Iran [letter]. JAMA. 1998;280:1567-1568.

    2. What a ridiculous statement on your part…. To lump Dr. Gregor with the medical community as a whole shows only your ignorance. Please resist the urge to share future responses unless you are truly informed and not just looking to throw ridiculous jabs because something doesn’t agree with your ideas.

  7. Doctor G, I love your site, but I read that Kombucha naturally produces B12 (among other things). Is this true, because I’m ready to send a sample of my own brew to get it tested. If true, this is fantastic news!

    Also, the animal tests don’t mean anything to me…I’m not a rat, pig, rabbit or dog and all those tests proved it to be unsafe. As an example; there are a number of toxic things my dog can’t eat, but onions and almonds are safe for humans. :)

      1. I’ve seen several varieties having multiple thousand percent daily value of b12.

        Mineral and water soluble vitamin content in the Kombucha drink, 2001
        Vitamin B12 0.84 mg ml^-1

        Understanding Kombucha Tea Fermentation: A Review, 2018
        “Kombucha is a traditional fermented tea whose consumption has increased in the recent years due to its multiple functional properties such as anti‐inflammatory potential and antioxidant activity. The microbiological composition of this beverage is quite complex and still more research is needed in order to fully understand its behavior.”

        A review on health benefits of kombucha nutritional compounds and metabolites, 2018
        “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,1994), the daily consumption of 4 oz. of kombucha does not present arisk for the consumer’s health.” This is probably all one would need to meet the daily recommended value of B12 anyway.

        Also interesting were the rationalizations of the anecdotal toxicity stories. The two acidosis cases were more due to HIV and acute kidney failure, the others due to “excessive consumption of kombucha beverage.” Lead poisoning was due to the container. Kidney failure was due to unhygienic conditions.

        It seems to me that fermented foods have been a staple in many cultures (pun intended), and they may be a missing link in a vegan diet. From my understanding B12 can also be found in relatively high quantities in tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut.

        Vitamin B12 Contents in Some Korean Fermented Foods and Edible Seaweeds, 2008
        “Soybean-fermented foods, Kimchi, laver and sea lettuce are recommendable as good sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians or Korean elderly on grain and vegetable based diet.”

        Can you PLEASE update your information pertaining to B12 in foods and Kombucha. I would be extremely interested to hear your updated response.

      2. Ha! Ha! I clicked on the link for the safest source of B12 and I see a woman picking something out of a chicken’s butt. So glad I read the transcript to understand you are not recommending picking something out of a bird’s butt.

        Ha! Ha!


    1. Because something has antimicrobial properties does not necessarily mean it is healthy for you, as we can see with alcohol. The study Dr. Greger presented is independent of this antimicrobial property so it shouldn’t matter as there is no dispute.

  8. What about water kefir ? i have been making my own kefir with water kefir grains since i turned vegan to help get the probiotic i used to get in my yogurt. i don’t see any serious studies about it; have you come across any ?

    thanks for all your great work !

  9. This is fun learning at its best. I am still attempting to learn about vitamins, with a bit of fence-sitting about giving them up. Made easier, for the nonce, by me not having the money for them, after taking them for 35 years. I am totally NOT on the fence about eating a plant diet!

    This one may be more heartening. I learned to make some pretty good kombucha tea a few years ago. Mmm, cold, fizzy, tasty, they said it was good for me, what’s not to like? Especially when I am *not* one of those health food fanatics – there’s always one in every online board – who drink quarts of kombucha daily or, I sh*t you not, the broad on Marie Oser’s soy board who described her diet of soy this for breakfast, soy milk that, soy theotherthing for lunch, soy yogurt, soy this for dinner…. barf. Nut.

    But maybe I can relax and stop making it. Making it was waaay cheaper than the $4 (I sh*t you not) pints in the health food stores. [Spoken in a Dr. Greger voice] Not making it would be… even cheaper.

    Still makes one long for ca. 1967 Mad Magazine’s ideal business street. The health food store’s sign said: “We don’t overcharge for stuff just because it’s good for you!”

      1. Guess you’re right on that point. I still don’t think you’ve given a complete picture of the potential benefit’s / risks of Kombucha. There is a lot of other research out there yet you’ve only quoted ONE study. What about the high levels of antioxidants in Kombucha:
        Also the “Potential use of d-glucaric acid derivatives (found in Kombucha) in cancer prevention” :

        Also this paper quoted “Research conducted in Russia at the beginning of the century and testimony indicate that Kombucha can improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote digestive functions, stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammatory problems, and can have many other benefits.”

        I’m not saying that there aren’t health risks which is why proper standards are necessary to make sure Kombucha is prepared properly. Similar to Vodka, which can make you blind if it isn’t prepared properly.

  10. A short while ago I saw a video presentation from NutritionFacts site that included a chart for fruits, vegetables and grains for acid vs alkaline content. I have been unable to find this in my search of the site. Can you please help me to locate it? Thank you.

  11. I was very sorry to have missed your lecture at St. Clair Hospital. I was waitlisted but after viewing this little snippet, I am glad that I didn’t go. I feel that you have a responsibility as a doctor to present information in a meaningful way. This is prejudicial and presented in a cutesy tongue in cheek manner that is disappointing. I think that if you find this information to be possibly life saving, then you should present it in a way that people can understand and not in an alarmist way. Sorry, not a fan of this video. I am disappointed! This is important information, not a joke.

    1. In some way, I agree with you. This video is not balanced, although I’m not a kombucha drinker. Scrolling down the comments, there are many studies that people have put forward. That said, I attended Dr. Greger’s lecture two years ago, and it was quite good. It certainly helped educate an audience of people diagnosed with various forms of cancer, and those supporting them.

  12. Comparing Kombucha with Raw Homemade Vinegar:

    I was wondering if this could cause a similar problem with making your own vinegar. I know from other nutritionfacts videos that vinegar is good for you. If I made my own vinegar, which uses a similar process as kombucha making, and even has a “mother/scoby” like the one in kombucha….would the vinegar have the same health risks as kombucha? Or is there something different with vinegar that causes it to be safe, even when making it at home?

  13. Love your site, admire you greatly, but one day you will ferment and then drink your kombucha conclusion. We can all prepare a food badly and get sick from it, but considering the thousands of years and millions of folks who drink kombucha, its benefits do outweigh the very small risk so far reported. At a minimum you could have just asked people to be careful as to how it is prepared. As to the rest of your site, I raise my kombucha glass to you!


    Excerpt from above link:
    While an under-fermented probiotic may harbor pathogens or fail to develop the beneficial nutrients, an over-fermented probiotic (higher in acetic acid) may overburden the stomach’s digestive juices. Here’s why. The acidic pH aids the stomach’s digestive juices and helps break down food and relieve stagnation. Acetic Acid from Kombucha and Lactic Acid from kefir are all weak acids. When ingested, they react with minerals such as Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium in the body tissue and blood, to form alkalies. This reaction is termed Alkaline-forming foods. That is how an acetic kombucha tea actually helps alkalize the body. However you have to be very careful in not over doing this. An excess will rob your body of ionic minerals. A cup or two is fine, but large amounts of these acids are not a good idea. How much is too much? It is a relative term. For a normal healthy adult the amount is thought to be 4-8 fluid ounces daily. (see Drug interactions). This amount appears to be comparable to another popular folk remedy – Apple-Cider Vinegar. The most often repeated recommended dosage for ACV is one spoonful daily. The reason is that typically ACV is 5 % acetic acid – almost 5 times that of Kombucha Tea. There are other differences but our focus here is on the acetic acid. Kombucha tea is far less leeching (a common AMA complaint) and kombucha, because it is alkaline forming, will not create acidosis in a healthy individual. If it does it is far more indicative of a deeper more serious disorder.

    1. hate to tell you brother but probiotic foods will just make you “flatuate” more…. saurkraut, pickles, kimchi, but kombucha doesnt really do that too bad

        1. Had a similar problem after being on antibiotics. On advice from a friend i went to the farmers market. I got the most “dirty” fruits and vegetables I could find. Basicly anything just pulled out of the ground. I brought them home and blended them up, unwashed of course. I had diarrhea for one day and since then I’ve been fine.

  15. I also think it’s a bit much to label Kombucha as Harmful. Did the case study mention why THIS person had this reaction, and why not every single person who drinks Kombucha ends up in a coma?

  16. I wonder if there is more evidence you could share about ‘more harmful than helpful” for WHOM?

    I am finding kombucha helpful to my digestion. I drink water too, and hibiscus and green tea. But am I at risk for acidosis or toxicity? Isn’t kombucha just another fermented product we hear such good things about? I feel we need more info on this. Was that case review subject drinking homemade ‘booch? Gallon a day? Had pre-existing poor health?

    Is that case sufficient to stop drinking something I seem to find beneficial??

  17. Current evidence on physiological activity and expected health effects of kombucha fermented beverage:

    “It is shown that KT can efficiently act in health prophylaxis and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, antioxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of depressed immunity. The recent experimental studies on the consumption of KT suggest that it is suitable for prevention against broad-spectrum metabolic and infective disorders. This makes KT attractive as a fermented functional beverage for health prophylaxis.”

    Effect of Kombucha, a fermented black tea in attenuating oxidative stress mediated tissue damage in alloxan induced diabetic rats.:
    Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.


    The findings revealed that kombucha tea administration induced attractive curative effects on diabetic rats, particularly in terms of liver-kidney functions. Kombucha tea can, therefore, be considered as a potential strong candidate for future application as a functional supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes.”

    1. Thanks for sharing. We’ll look into the studies you so nicely listed and update the information on Kombucha as necessary. One question though to your studies, have you found any conducted on humans? Looks like all of these were conducted on mice or in a petri dish. Human trials are the gold standard! Stay tuned for more on Kombucha. I appreciate your comments.

  18. Never believe what you read in a health food store?, that might have been true 30 years ago ( maybe) but how can you make such a blanket statement now, maybe we are supposed to believe the big PHARMA companies, tha t makes more sense, we should be getting away from the stigma of “hippy” health food stores” not being scientifically sound, the FDA sure knows better, not. You are taking us back 50 years by that comment. Also, while I’m on my soapbox, kombucha tea could be harmful, but so can other substances that could be contaminated, not just because of it being kombucha. From other comments, you are an objective person but from this article you are definitely close minded and someone I would NEVER look to for advice, you are just trying to give something that can be beneficial a bad name because someone obviously got a bad batch ( kind of the same thing that happened to L-tryptophan when it was banned and bastardized for years because there was one bad batch that was contaminated. And how about those sprouts that were contaminated, do you recommend people Never eat SPROUT, because of a bad batch! Stop trying to shock the public and scare them, it’s unbecoming and unnecessary, positive comments are much more helpful. I just realized this was dr. Gregor, VERY disappointed, I’ve heard you speak and thought highly of you at the time, but to make the comments you did based on a few cases is WRONG. Hope you take heed from us and stick to what you KNOW to be true, a plant based diet is beneficial and can be life changing, but to hear you make these comments is VERY disconcerting.

    1. Hi Jill. Thanks for your comment. We’ll update the research on kombucha as more is available. I think the reason why Dr. Greger reported on this case study was for those who drinks tons of kombucha this may warrant caution. I agree that so many foods could be contaminated and perhaps a kombucha every now and then is not the worst thing to consume, nonetheless, Dr. Greger felt the need to report on it.

      1. Then that is how Dr. G should have worded his warning …” for those who drinks tons of kombucha this may warrant caution.” He didn’t say anything about dose just … “Consumption of this tea should be discouraged” as if any at all would be harmful.

      2. Good point, plus he says that vinegar is good… or at least two tsp a day… kombucha becomes vinegar… it is often recommended people drink adequate amounts of water if drinking kombucha…. cheers, a lot of positives cited by way of gut benefits, immune system, digestion, b vitamins…. also agree, pls look into water kefir…. thnx

    2. I worked in a health food store. Not one person in there followed a plant based diet. Some, tried to explain that nutritional yeast is as bad as msg. Wish it has umami factors, but does not cross the blood brain barrier. I also worked with a lot of people who consumed processed foods, oils, and salt, like that was the only food available. Even trying to say they were a nutritionist. I watched him eat potato chips every day.
      Gregor has AMAZING info that is well researched.

  19. will you look into kefir? Is there a good site that you would recommend in learning how to effectively read research? I know that a lot of learning goes into the concepts presented, but it would be nice to have some idea as to how to navigate them to even find what to look up and define. Thanks for the empowerment, Doc!

  20. Kombucha, ok I’ve been brewing my own with Pu-erg yellow tea, after reading this piece, it sounds like I should have my tea analyzed! In looking at the article you based this clip on and doing a new search, it seems like there is more out there now! Care to take a second look? I am not immune compromised and having trouble with the concept of giving up my Kombucha tea!

  21. sarcastic , nonfactual , insulting to my intelligence . Have heard much boasting of Dr. Greger I would hope this to not be representative of your contributions “complete with bits of slimy fungus” like the mother in vinegar? “live a measly 2000 years” lacing the lack of fact with sarcastic attacks on chinese folklore from a couple of millennia past not to mention what was lost in translation….Yes I am unimpressed . I would welcome a contact to have my Kombucha tested at a reasonable cost . I don’t advocate drinking it like sodas good sense & moderation being the key to most if not all things in life , I am sure there are persons allergic or intolerant . Anyone who would care to partake should start with a ounce before a meal , not guzzling a 16 ozer on a empty stomach for refreshment on a hot day! Treat your body as your temple love , kindness , gently nourished , respected & protected

  22. I find this so amusing after seeing that the video was put out by an MD and the article that was written were both by MD’s. This all makes sense to me now.

  23. I would like to see some updated information on kombucha with respect to its probiotic and antioxidant properties. I’m genuinely curious if the case of lactic acidosis mentioned in the study was from improperly prepared kombucha. I would also like to see more information on fermented foods in general and some recommendations on what foods we SHOULD be eating to get probiotics on a vegan diet. Thanks!

  24. I do like the taste of Kombucha and it helps with my craving for fizzy drinks. This article sent me to my fridge to have another look at the kombucha labels. I made the assumption, based on what I have read that Kombucha contains probiotics but alas the type I use does not. What it does contain is green tea, a live scoby and 5.3 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. Nowhere on the bottle does it say that my excellent tasting drink contains probiotics or will in any way benefit anything but my tastebuds. Apparently, according to Summer Bock, the fermentationist, the sugar added initially used in the brew remains in the drink although the molecule is broken apart.

    1. Hi Casey, the study cited in this video was a case of a 22 y/o male who had been recently diagnosed HIV positive. He was found to have lactic acidosis after drinking Kombucha tea. The CDC cases you linked were of women in there 40’s and 50’s. In any case there have clearly been cases of adverse affects after drinking Kombucha. As far as the question of why acidosis…Kombucha is fermented in much the same was that vinegar is which is also acidic. While vinegar contain aectic acid Kombucha contains acetic as well as other acids such as gluconic acid which are all produced in the fermentation process.

  25. Dr. Greger: please provide an update on this topic. As someone who eats a plant based diet and drinks Kombucha regularly (for pleasure, not for health benefits) I would like to better understand the possible side effects of Kombucha. Thanks!

  26. With all due respect. It’s not a fungus. Its a yeast/bacteria fermented drink. I would be skeptical of any book or article which refers to it as such as superficially researched and presented. Please use peer reviewed, thorough research. Otherwise you will be spreading even more misinformation, which is all too common.

    The amount of lactic acid varies.

    “Food Microbiology
    Volume 38, April 2014, Pages 171–178
    Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples”

  27. I have to say I find this a very one sided review, disappointing for someone who markets themselves as such an expert…one case and drinking a huge amount of Kombucha (1000mls) ..the quality of which we are unsure (unpasteurized) …So this is one case and by no means the rule ! many people do report numerous benefits …the probiotic qualities, amongst others are very encouraging and I certainly drink Kombucha regularly in small amounts ( less cup a day) and feel all the better for it…Cheers

  28. Well, good job! You know you have struck a chord when you get such dramatic responses. I would, however, suggest people not react and take in the info. What you do with it is your business. Some people act as if it is a carnal sin to speak ill of Kombucha. Debate is healthy, but taking offense is just stupid and unproductive. Thanks Dr. Greger!

  29. Dr Greger,

    Long time fan boy here. As a clinician/physician I am recommending your videos on a daily basis to my patients. Love the book How Not to Die, planning to re-read it again soon.

    Regarding kombucha: I do not have any personal love for it, but the “systematic review” included a pretty small pool of data. I think you might have overstated your case a bit. I concur that there is not proof it offers any benefit, and why accept any possible risk for no proven benefit. But the risk is pretty flimsy, I would put forward that per ounce consumed, infected drinking water causes the same 3 issues (liver toxicity, cutaneous anthrax, metabolic acidosis) at a comparable infinitesimally small rate. The acidosis case study was in a patient with HIV, and that is pretty likely to have played a role given that kombucha has active cultures of god knows what. But that is less of an issue for the immuno-competent. I would also put forward that home-brew kombucha, and non-commercial products run a higher risk of adverse effects.

    A little bit on the side of alarmist click-bait. I think it would be fair to say that before drinking kombucha, be aware its miracle cure still cannot be proven, and in rare cases it has shown to cause harm. Drinking it is by no means significantly risky, but if you are looking to remove that last 0.1% of risk from your diet, upgrade to a green/white tea.

    1. Hi bcswan,

      I am no expert on kombucha, although I have enjoyed it before, but I read the synopsis of your articles and the one Dr. Greger cited. When making kombucha, you can use a variety of yeasts or bacteria just like anything that is fermented such as yogurt or alcohol. In the video, Dr. Greger mentions kombucha being fermented with mushrooms which is something I have never heard of. Also, The article cited for the video is speaking of one case of a man dying from lactic acidosis. We can’t know if the kombucha caused it because he had HIV and according to the below source, which I have used for school, AIDS can cause lactic acidosis. Maybe there was something funky in the mushrooms. Who knows?

      The bottom line is, there is not been much research on it so don’t bet on it to cure anything you have. If you do choose to drink it, find a reputable source and preferably don’t make it home because that is where fermentation can go wrong.

    1. The only source he cites refers to a patient newly diagnosed with HIV; not currently receiving antiretrovirals. The tea was unpasteurized and shared with another male, who did not get sick. I don’t believe the health claims about kombucha are to believed, but no panic is warranted.

  30. It’s amazing how people can’t leave emotions out of the science sometimes here.

    All this video is saying is, based on the evidence the risks outweigh the proven benefits. That’s it.

    As Dr Greger mentioned, compared to green or white tea consumed straight, there are studies that can show there are proven benefits but not on Kombucha.

    Even some people are here saying that you “can die from drinking to much water”
    You can also die from drinking to much gasoline but making unfounded statements like that it crazy!

    The K.I.S.S method may some it up…
    Keep it simple stupid.

    Whole food plant based and clean drinking water never harmed anyone

    Thanks Dr Greger, love your work!

    1. Perhaps but unlike Dr. G’s other vids, this cites one report- of a guy infected with HIV who drank it and had issues. IOW, they didn’t “put it to the test!”

  31. I would like to know more about your stand on kefir, and I´m not the only one. Other 2 people at least asked about it and there was no answer. Could you please answer our question?It´s Kombucha related, since it´s also a very consumed probiotic. Please distinguish between water and milk Kefir. Thanks in advance.

  32. Can you make another video on Kombucha, since your last was done in 2011? More people drink kombucha now than ever (I believe). So there might be more information out there about it now.

    Is there any distinction between home-brewed and store-bought?

    Thanks :)

      1. Yes, agree! I would love to see an update. I’ve been drinking a small amount daily and feel it’s helped my digestion. Obviously, this is quite a volatile topic, especially in the “health/crunchy” crowd (myself, being a fellow crunchster). I would appreciate some more up to date info and perhaps a more considerate viewpoint on it’s safety v. potential risks. I.e. potentially risky for people with ________ conditions/issues, while potentially beneficial for otherwise healthy people with an emphasis on listening to your body. I’ve been following Dr. Greger since the first year was launched and I can truly say the information I’ve found here has been invaluable to me as I’ve worked toward a healthier lifestyle and healing by body, my gut in particular. I appreciate all the time and energy that goes into keeping on top of the abundance of studies released annually. Just seems perhaps this particular video was a bit narrow in focus with not enough additional info to assuage the many MANY kombucha drinkers as to its real world application. Thanks!

  33. Oldie but not a goodie from the good Dr. G. Fortunately he’s gotten better with time- like many fermented products.

    The sole source in this video is a case study of an HIV-infected patient who drank kombucha. Perhaps we could “put it to THE TEST” next time before opining…?


  34. Has anyone made a connection between amount drank in a time period? That kid drake 1 liter in a few hours while studying. Im not an expert but drinking a whole liter of anything with alcohol in it probably wont go well. A whole liter of vodka in a few hours would be enough to hospitalize me, maybe its the same with the booch?

  35. Dear Dr. Greger,

    Your book and cite are both awesomely informative. I am somewhat addicted to Kombucha, and I appreciate this video. However, are there other studies? Is this the only one? What about homemade v. store bought Kombucha? Do the people who end up in the hospital after drinking Kombucha have any pre-existing conditions?


  36. I thought this was hilarious, and it certainly had the desired effect of informing me, about the risk of something that i have been increasingly consuming, without thought. It gives one pause to consider the ingredients, the controls, and the potential cost. A responsible and informed perspective as always, and props to you for taking the heat from the masses – – how quickly they turn lol, fermented foods, and bacteria.. may carry risk.. Makes sense to me… Peace!

  37. Based on going though all the information of the site about probiotics, three questions that came up repeatedly and really need an urgent answer for someone on a whole food plant based diet:

    1. If one is getting prebiotics through food, should one not worry about getting probiotics?
    2. If one does recommend getting probiotics, then what are good and safe source of probiotics? The information on the site suggests that Kombucha, Kimchi and Probiotic supplements are not good/safe sources, so will be very helpful to know which ones of the remaining sources are safe and how effective each one is.
    3. Dr. Greger what is your source of probiotics?

  38. How about kombucha made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast as opposed to kombucha mushroom? Thank your for your time.

  39. I truly enjoy nutritionfacts but this sort of clickbaity pure misinformation videos are making it hard to trust the process behind the videos and therefore, to be honest, credibility does suffer a bit. As others have pointed out this case study is just plain silly and does not deserve to be featured like this. Since there’s no financial incentive to do these types of videos why not just stick to unbiased, real results? I assume that’s what the people who take time to watch these videos want.

      1. Yes. Please do update with some substantial research. This video is honestly ridiculous and completely out of sync with everything else Dr. Greger puts out. This seems merely anecdotal, which Dr. Greger in all other things seems logical enough to not take at face value and instead delve into the real why’s of it. I’d suspect since millions of people drink kombucha that there is something much more specific going on here. Whether it be in the kombucha directly (doubtful) or be a reaction based on something in the kombucha and a predisposition these few people had within something within their body chemistry..or like some of the other crazy reports..that they simply did something weird with it or drank an obscene amount. In any case, I’d love for some real and statistical and corroborated science to explain this. Especially since this (kombucha being harmful and discouraged) was even mentioned in passing in his book. Don’t get me wrong. I love love love Dr. Greger and his book and this site and promote him everywhere. This video (and putting it in the book) was just disappointing.

  40. Maybe it’s time to update this. There’s a lot of debate and some updated research.

    From the many years of comments, clearly there’s debate and lack of research. I personally have been home brewing for over a year with no adverse effects. It’s a fun hobby and I don’t plan to stop with what I’ve read so far. But I wish there was more research. If it’s really dangerous I would like to know.

  41. Wait a second, is kombucha dangerous because of the acid, or because of the mushrooms? Cause most, if not all, kombucha nowadays does not contain mushrooms, just fermented juice and black tea.

  42. ormat: AbstractSend to
    Adv Food Nutr Res. 2019;87:147-185. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2018.09.001. Epub 2018 Dec 7.
    Microbial Ecology of Fermented Vegetables and Non-Alcoholic Drinks and Current Knowledge on Their Impact on Human Health.
    Lavefve L1, Marasini D2, Carbonero F3.
    Author information
    Fermented foods are currently experiencing a re-discovery, largely driven by numerous health benefits claims. While fermented dairy, beer, and wine (and other alcoholic fermented beverages) have been the subject of intensive research, other plant-based fermented foods that are in some case widely consumed (kimchi/sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha) have received less scientific attention. In this chapter, the current knowledge on the microbiology and potential health benefits of such plant-based fermented foods are presented. Kimchi is the most studied, characterized by primarily acidic fermentation by lactic acid bacteria. Anti-obesity and anti-hypertension properties have been reported for kimchi and other pickled vegetables. Kombucha is the most popular non-alcoholic fermented drink. Kombucha’s microbiology is remarkable as it involves all fermenters described in known fermented foods: lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. While kombucha is often hyped as a “super-food,” only antioxidant and antimicrobial properties toward foodborne pathogens are well established; and it is unknown if these properties incur beneficial impact, even in vitro or in animal models. The mode of action that has been studied and demonstrated the most is the probiotic one. However, it can be expected that fermentation metabolites may be prebiotic, or influence host health directly. To conclude, plant-based fermented foods and drinks are usually safe products; few negative reports can be found, but more research, especially human dietary intervention studies, are warranted to substantiate any health claim.

    © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Fermented vegetables; Gut microbiota; Kimchi; Kombucha; Microbial successions

  43. I am not sure how your recommendation against kombucha consumption follows from the cited report. Kombucha and similar fermented foods and drinks are consumed in quantity across the globe by millions of people. When I introduced my South American wife to kombucha several years ago, it turned out that it was nothing new to her. She observed that her father had made the very same drink for her as a child in South America in the 1970’s and 80’s, only that they called it “yogur de te” (“tea yogurt”).

    In my own home, we have been drinking home-brewed kombucha for years. Wouldn’t you think that given (1) the rarity of reports of adverse effects from kombucha consumption; (2) the global prevalence and widespread consumption of the drink; (3) our knowledge of the benefits of its constituent parts (green and black tea, a variety of probiotic organisms, vinegar properties, etc.); and (4) our knowledge of the safety of fermented foods in general (e.g., that fermentation tends to stifle the growth of harmful bacteria, which is why you can ferment foods, even meats and fish, for years and then consume them uncooked) your conclusion should be the opposite? I.e., the most obvious, evidence-based conclusion is this: “Given (1-4), kombucha consumption is likely health promoting in moderation.”

  44. I have never been so sick as when I tried kombucha last year. I picked one up at the store (one of the big national brands) because everyone goes on about how good it is for you. I couldn’t even finish half of it, it tasted horrid. That evening and for the next two days I had cold sweats, a massive headache, extreme lightheadedness, and terrible gut pain. Three days later it finally subsided. Never, ever again. I don’t think it’s particularly wise to be drinking rotten tea anymore.

  45. I would love to hear an update on this. I eat WFPB and just a couple of months ago started having a bit of kombucha with dinner — a splash of the kombucha in water, tea, or plain selzer. I use storebought kombucha. Would love to know whether the risk is due to storebought vs homemade, type of ingredients, amount consumed, underlying conditions, etc. I saw that the CDC report referenced earlier in the comments was about two women in their 40s, one of whom only had 4 oz daily, but they both were drinking homemade kombucha.

  46. I would love to see an expansion or update on this video. I was quite disappointed in it, as well as the same short summary in How Not to Die, given how much research, thought and evidence is presented on myriad other topics. I would understand if it was recommending caution, but one case report is hardly convincing proof that kombucha should be considered harmful.

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