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Kombucha tea

Grow Your Own Probiotics: Kombucha Tea (Part 2)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 by: Patty Donovan
Tags: Kombucha tea, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) I hope by now many of you have tried kefir. Another fermented beverage which contributes to health is a fermented tea called Kombucha. Many believe the name comes from the Japanese seaweed called Kombu + cha (tea), however, there is no relationship between seaweed and Kombucha. In Japan, Kombucha refers to a seaweed soup, not to the tea. The Japanese call the fermented tea beverage kōcha-kinoko, literally, black-tea mushroom. Another story claims the tea was named after a Korean physician named Kombu who is said to have cured a Japanese emperor with this tea. Kombucha Tea or KT for short is known by many other names also, such as mushroom tea, Manchurian mushroom and fungus tea.

Kombucha is a living beverage made from tea, sugar and the culture colony called a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. Kefir grains are actually SCOBYs too although not referred to as such. Although both the fermented tea as well as the solid colony comprises the SCOBY, when I refer to SCOBY in this article, I will be talking about the solid colony used to initiate the fermentation.

Unlike kefir, discussed in the previous article, KT is primarily an acetic acid, not lactic acid ferment although it often contains some lactic acid. There is one commercial brand that is a lactic acid ferment, but unless your SCOBY is derived from this ferment, you will most likely have an acetic acid (vinegar) ferment. The first recorded use of Kombucha Tea was in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty in China. It was known as the Tea of Immortality. Russia's use of a beverage referred to as Tea Kvass made from a "Japanese Mushroom" dates back to the 4th century. From Russia it spread to Prussia, Poland, Denmark and Germany, but use in Europe died out during World War 2. Dr. Rudolph Skelnar revived its popularity when he used it in his clinical practice to treat things as varied as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic disorder.

Kombucha is claimed to be "adaptogenic". This is a term used by herbalists to describe herbs and other natural substances which increase the body's resistance to all types of stressors such as physical, emotional and environmental. What sets these substances apart is their ability to balance hormones, the immune system and help the body maintain homeostasis. In other words, it is believed that Kombucha tea will work differently in every individual who consumes it. Because of this, KT is claimed to cure everything from arthritis to cancer. Although I do believe it is an extremely healthful beverage, I don't believe KT in and of itself is a "cure". KT is extremely helpful to cancer patients because it does support and enhance the immune system. Kombucha is said to be helpful in controlling blood sugar in diabetics, easing pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, clearing skin conditions. The list is endless.

It is also said to help a person lose weight if drunk before meals and gain weight if drunk during meals. There is one caveat if you want to lose weight or are diabetic. KT that has been traditionally fermented about 8 days still has a fair amount of sugar. If you continue fermenting up to 3 weeks, nearly all the sugar will be gone, but the organic acids remain.

Along with drinking the tea, there are a huge variety of external uses, from a hair rinse to a general household cleaner when fermented to vinegar. You can dehydrate the SCOBYs and give them to your dogs as chew toys. It does smell like old wet shoe leather or a locker room when drying though. You can puree the extra SCOBYs in your blender and mix it into the soil of acid loving plants. I have a container vegetable garden. The farmers around here told me you could not grow celery. Since I'd already bought the seeds, I read up on it and the missing link appeared to be acidic soil. I ground up SCOBYs and fed them to my celery about every 2 months. This past weekend I harvested a lot of bright green delicious celery.

Making Kombucha is quite simple. You place tea (must contain at least some real tea, Camellia Sinensis), sugar and a SCOBY in a suitably sized container, cover with a cloth and let it go for at least 7 days. By 7 days, most of the beneficial acids are present. All the different elements are produced at varying times. Many recommend doing a "continuous ferment" which is a large container of KT that you add tea and sugar to as needed. Doing a continuous ferment assures you get the greatest variety of beneficial products. The resulting beverage is a cross between a sparkling apple cider and champagne. The longer you let it ferment, the more sour it becomes, eventually becoming Kombucha vinegar. Kombucha produces a multitude of organic acids as well as amino acids, enzymes and some B vitamins and vitamin C. These acids and enzymes are what make Kombucha such a healing beverage. The most common beneficial compounds found in KT are listed below along with their action in the body. Of course, you also get all the benefits of the probiotic microorganisms themselves. The Kombucha culture is a "biochemical powerhouse".

Acetic Acid: Acts as a preservative and inhibits growth of harmful organisms.

Lactic Acid: Essential for digestion. Believed to help balance acids/alkali in the body and possibly prevent cancer by helping regulate blood pH levels.

Gluconic Acid: Breaks down to caprylic acid which is a potent anti-fungal and can immensely help those suffering from Candidiasis. Gluconic acid also works in the liver, possibly as part of a detoxification pathway and why it is believed Kombucha can help the body detoxify from heavy metals and biotoxins.

Malic Acid: Has a role in helping the liver detoxify the body.

Usnic Acid: Has antibiotic, especially antiviral properties.

Oxalic Acid: Encourages intercellular production of energy. Many, if not most consumers of KT report increased energy after drinking a glass.

Butyric Acid: Protects cellular membranes throughout the body. Butyric and gluconic acid together strengthen the gut wall and are believed to combat Candida albicans overgrowth.

There are many more organic acids and other trace substances in Kombucha. A fairly detailed listing of all possible contents can be found here: (http://www.happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_ko...) .
Please note that not every batch of KT will contain all listed organisms and acids. If you begin researching Kombucha, you will consistently find 2 things on the internet mentioned over and over which have been proven to be false.

Myth 1: Kombucha tea is so healing and detoxifying because it contains Glucuronic Acid. It has been proven that what was initially believed to be this acid is something else. Yes, KT definitely can help the body detoxify but not because it contains glucuronic acid.

Myth 2: Kombucha tea contains a lot of B vitamins. According to Michael Roussin, the amount of B vitamins in KT can barely be measured.

For more myths and facts about Kombucha, I highly suggest going to his site. He is probably the premier modern researcher of Kombucha and does an excellent job separating fact from fiction. It is listed below in the Kombucha research link. I would also recommend joining this yahoo Kombucha group if for no other reason than to access its archives, (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/origina...) . This group maintains a file of how KT has helped people and also other uses for both KT and the SCOBYs. You can ask and many people will send you a SCOBY for the cost of postage and there is a fair possibility that you can find someone locally with one. I hope I have once again piqued your interest on how you can help your body heal with living fermented foods.

Sources:

(http://www.seedsofhealth.co.uk/fermenting/ko...)

(http://happyherbalist.com)

(http://www.kombucha-research.com/)

About the author

Patty Donovan was in a wheelchair and could only walk around her house with a cane. She was on over 20 medications. When told to "take the morphine, get in the wheelchair and learn to live with it" by a neurosurgeon, she knew her life had to change. She is now almost a fanatic when it comes to healing through the use of "whole foods" and and natural remedies. Since that time, she has spent countless hours researching nutrtion and alternative health. After spending 30 years in the allopathic health care industry in both pharmacy and as an RN, she brings a unique perspective to Natural News readers. Since committing to this new life style, she no longer uses even a cane, has gotten off over 20 medications, lost over 50lbs and returned to work.

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