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Kombucha

What is it?

Kombucha is called a mushroom, when, in fact, it is a collection of yeast and bacteria often grown in black tea. The "mushroom" itself is never eaten; instead, the liquid portion is drunk. It is claimed to be a detoxifier and used for weight loss and to stimulate the immune system. It has also been used for bronchitis, asthma, arthritis, increase energy, and to restore hair loss.

Other names for Kombucha include: Cembuya orientalis, Champagne of Live, Champignon de Longue Vie, Combucha, Dr. Sklenar's Kombucha Mushroom Infusion, Fungojapon, Fungojapon Kombucha, Fungus Japonicus, Gelum Oral-Rd, Indo-Japanese Tea Fungus, Kargasok Tea, Kombucha Mushroom, Kombucha Tea, Kwassan, Manchurian Mushroom, Miracle Fungus, Mo-Gu, Olinka, Pinchia Fermentans, Spumonto, T'chai From the Sea, Tea Fungus, Tea Kvass, Teakwass, Tee Kwass, Tschambucco, Volga Spring, Wolga-Qualle, and Wolga Jellyfish.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Kombucha you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Kombucha. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Warnings:

  • Before taking Kombucha, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Heart and liver problems have been associated with the use of Kombucha (2-4)
  • Do not take Kombucha if you have a decreased immune system (7)
  • The tea that is made can produce many organisms that might cause problems including yeast, bacteria, and in a few cases, anthrax (1,5,6)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Irritability and restlessness may occur due to the caffeine content of the tea (1)
  • Throwing up and upset stomach have been reported with the use of Kombucha (2)

References:

1. Monson N: Kombucha tea: A controversy brews among patients and physicians. Alt Complement Therp 1995; Sept-Oct: 281-283.

2. Srinivasan R, Smolinske S, Greenbaum D: Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea. J Gen intern Med 1997; 12:643-644.

3. Anon: Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea - Iowa, 1995. JAMA 1996; 275:96-98.

4. Perron D, Patterson JA, Yanofsky NN: Kombucha mushroom toxicity. Ann Emerg Med 1995; 26:660-661.

5. Sadjadi J: Cutaneus anthrax associated with the Kombucha mushroom in Iran. JAMA 1998; 280:1587-1588.

6. Downton J: Cure du jour. The latest alternative therapy comes with no hard data on either its much-touted benefits or its potential risks. The Advocate 1995; Feb 21: 36-37.

7. Mayser P, Fromme S, Leitzmann C et al: The yeast spectrum of the "tea fungus Kombucha." Mycoses 1995; 38(7-8): 289-295.


Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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