Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that’s historically been used as a health drink, originating in Japan about about 415 AD. Variations of Kombucha are used regularly in China, Japan, Russia, and Eastern Europe. The name Kombucha (roughly translated) means, “The Tea of Immortality.” If you’re interested in improving your overall health, read on to learn about some intriguing health benefits of kombucha.
Kombucha Aids Digestion
Fermented foods of any type, including kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt with active cultures, and Korean pickled vegetables (kimchi) are probiotic in nature. Consuming foods of this type can help to balance the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.
Your body contains both helpful and harmful bacteria. However, if you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics or spend decades consuming a diet of processed foods, there’s probably been extensive damage to the gut flora that enables your digestive system to break down the food you eat into the useful nutrients that keep the body healthy and immune system functioning as it should.
Studies have shown that a single course of antibiotics for 1 week can still have an impact on the level of healthy gut flora more than 2 years after the pills were taken.
As this information as become more widespread, many people have become more interested in adding probiotics to their diet to restore the balance of their gut flora and improve digestion and nutrition.
Kombucha Can Help Prevent and Heal Leaky Gut
Kombucha has been shown to be helpful in the prevention and healing of leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut happens when some medications, and foods, such as gluten in grains like wheat and rye, affect the permeability of the small intestine. The small intestine is where 90% of your digestion takes place, with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients being removed from your food and then transported to all the parts of the body that need those nutrients.
But when the small intestine becomes more permeable (think holes!), it can leak, meaning small particles of food can get into your abdominal cavity and the nutrients won’t be transported where they’re supposed to go.
Leaky gut has been linked with a host of autoimmune disorders, in which the body starts to attack itself. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and various thyroid conditions are just a few of the autoimmune disorders that many people suffer from, with no cure at present.
Kombucha has been linked to improved intestinal permeability, and thus less gut leakage and improved overall health.
Kombucha May Heal Stomach Ulcers
Kombucha is mild and soothing, so may reduce stomach inflammation that can result in ulcers, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), in which the stomach acid churns so much, it may double back on itself and up going into the esophagus.
Kombucha May Help With Arthritis
Because kombucha helps reduce inflammation in the body, it may also relieve arthritis pain as part of what an anti-inflammatory diet. Kombucha contains glucosamine, which has been used for centuries to improve bone and joint health, helping with hyaluronic acid production, which keeps your joints lubricated and working smoothly. It also boosts collagen, which is the building block of tendons and even your skin, keeping it firm, supple and strong.
Kombucha May Boost Mental Health
Many people who struggle with mental health issues such as depression can benefit from improving their gut health. Consuming more probiotics including kombucha can be an important part of a natural treatment plan for depression.
There are many more health claims in relation to kombucha, but these are the main ones that have been supported by modern research.
How to Make Your Own Homemade Kombucha
If you’re considering trying some kombucha out for yourself bottled kombucha is available in many supermarkets now. However, these come with a big price. It’s so much more economical to do it yourself at home. The reason it is so expensive is not the actual ingredients, but the fermentation process that results in a healthful drink rich in useful bacteria known as probiotics.
Another thing to think about is if you follow the Gaps or SCD protocols, commercial kombucha contains more sugar than the DIY version. If you’ve heard about the health benefits of kombucha and have been looking at bottled kombucha tea in the health food stores or supermarkets, you’ve probably been put off by the high price per bottle.
Why not go ahead and just make some kombucha yourself for a fraction of the cost of buying it already prepared and know what you’re getting in it?
Here are some simple instructions to make your own kombucha at home.
Kombucha requires a bacterial starter in the same way that yogurt does if you are going to make it at home. It’s commonly called a scoby. Do your research, it’s very important to get a high quality brand because contaminated starters can cause illness (yikes!)
The Kombucha Growing Kit and The Kombucha Starter Kit both cost less than $50 online and are organic as well. You might also be able to find a starter locally.
The starter kits typically are combination of bacteria and yeast. The yeast is necessary for fermentation. Having the yeast already in it takes the guesswork out of the kombucha-making process.
To make 1 quart, you will need:
- A large glass jar such as a mason jar
- An unbleached coffee filter for the mouth of the jar
- A rubber band or canning ring to hold the coffee filter over the mouth of the jar to avoid any contaminants getting in
- 2 to 3 cups of filtered water (not tap water) distilled water will also work well
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoon loose tea leaves, green or black
- A metal tea ball for placing the leaves in
- Your kombucha starter
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- A wooden spoon for stirring
A Basic Kombucha Recipe
Start with water hot enough to steep the tea. Add it to the jar. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Note that the bacteria and yeast will feed on the sugar, so add the full amount, this is one time you don’t have to worry about sugar content.
Add the tea ball to the hot water. Steep until desired darkness. The longer the tea sits, the stronger the flavor will be.
Allow the tea to cool to around 68F to 85F. It needs to be warm, but not too hot, in order to start off the fermentation process. Water that’s too hot wil kill off the bacteria and yeast, so beware.
Add the starter according to the package instructions. If you are beginning with a dehydrated starter, follow the instructions for activating it first, then add it to your kombucha recipe. Make sure you have already removed the metal tea ball from the water so it does not come into contact with the starter.
Add the vinegar and stir well.
Cover the mouth of the jar with the filter and secure it with the rubber band or the ball jar ring.
Store it in a cool, dark place ranging in temperature from 68F to 85F for 7 to 10 days. Note that the longer the tea ferments, the less sweet and more vinegar-like it will taste. It will develop a “bloom” that looks like a mushroom. Use this for your next starter.
Can You Get Drunk on Kombucha?
I’ve been living alcohol free for decades and this was an area of concern for me. Our local health food store was kind enough to explain the kombucha products to me and which ones were labeled for legal drinking age.
To be considered a soft drink, kombucha must contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. While companies test every batch of kombucha before they’re shipped, the alcohol content may increase if the kombucha isn’t refrigerated.
So should you drink kombucha if you’re sober? I’ve had some commercial kombucha myself and never felt triggered to go back and get more, or make a habit out of it in the house. But that’s just my experience. As always, to thine own self be true. The general consensus seems to be that you’re not going to drink bottles and bottles of it. It would be like trying to over indulge in vinegar.
Kombucha does contain a little caffeine, so you might feel something akin to consuming too much a venti sized drink.
If you’re making your own kombucha at home, you can shorten the brew cycle which will reduce the intensity or mix it with some water to further dilute it. Alternatively, you might want to try water kefir for the probiotic benefits.
There are many potential health benefits of kombucha. However, it is important to remember that research is ongoing and not all benefits have been proven in studies with human participants.
Disclaimer: This blog post should not be construed as medical advice. I’m not a doctor, counselor, coach, aromatherapy professional, or a yoga teacher. I’m just a sober mom who graduated from the School of Hard Knocks and has suffered with the debilitating neurological condition dystonia since 2010 and ulcerative colitis since 2018 and am sharing what I’ve learned on my healing journey.