What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a “mushroom” consisting of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast which when allowed to ferment in sweetened tea yields an effervescent drink credited with numerous health and healing benefits. Kombucha can be produced at home or bought ready-made. Of varying composition, finished Kombucha will contain compounds such as active enzymes, amino acids, polyphenols, acetic acid, B-vitamins, glucuronic acid and lactic acid.
Kombucha research, health, disease and cancer
The following kombucha information is preponderantly based on the very informative Kombucha book by Günther W. Frank listed under Books.
When first learning about the touted miracle benefits of Kombucha, Frank was skeptical but intrigued. In the course of his subsequent research, he learned astounding things about Kombucha, including the fact that there is a rich scientific literature available on the subject. While much of the Kombucha research has been done in Russia including in clinical settings, German Professor Dr. Eduard Stadelmann published a bibliography as early as 1960 which already comprised 260 publications about kombucha.
As early as 1928, L. Mollenda reported that kombucha showed success with kidney stones, bladder stones and gallstones.
In 1961, Valentin Köhl MD published a paper titled “Glucuronsäure macht Krebspatienten Mut” [roughly: Glucuronic acid gives hope to cancer patients].
The following effects were observed:
- Metastases and weight loss were brought to a halt, sometimes weight gain was achieved;
- the need for painkillers was reduced;
- the patient’s general condition improved;
- coughing was reduced;
- the immune system was strengthened (increased production of immune cells) without confinement to bed;
- the patient’s oxidative metabolism was improved;
- after kombucha consumption, urine tests revealed considerable trace amounts of environmental toxins such a lead, mercury, benzene, cesium etc. in patients who had never drunk kombucha before, with the drink itself being free of these contaminants (the same observation was made by Dr.med. Erich Rebholz in 1998);
- kombucha produces the good L-(+)-lactic acid which is virtually never found in the tissues of cancer patients;
- venous blood measurements showed that kombucha shifts the blood ph towards the neutral point (making it less alkaline).
Also noted was
- kombucha contains proteolytic enzymes;
- apart from kombucha, glucuronic acid is also found in the human body as well as in seaweed, mushrooms, resins, gum arabic, Viscum (mistletoe), and nearly all mucilaginous substances.
In 1996, Iranian physician Dr Soraya Shantiay MD published a report “Kombucha inhibits malignant cell growth”.
Dr Josef Issels MD (1907 – 1998) prescribed Kombucha as part of his total anti-cancer program and wrote that he “had a good impression”.
Dr Veronica Carstens MD (1923 – 2012), wife of the former German president Karl Carstens, recommended Kombucha to all cancer patients and wrote (in 1987) that it detoxifies, enhances metabolism (and thus the immune system) and that its vitamins, lactic acid and glucuronic acid were considered the active ingredients.
According to a PhD thesis by Harald Müller-Kehrmann (1990), kombucha activates macrophages. Isolating and testing in vitro a number of immunomodulators on human cell culture systems to determine the anti-tumor effect of various fungi, Müller-Kehrmann found that kombucha extract showed increased macrophage activation (of 60 extracts tested, a total of 6 showed an immuno-stimulating effect).
A very recent (2013) research study out of India looked at “Downregulation of signalling molecules involved in angiogenesis of prostate cancer cell line (PC-3) by kombucha (lyophilized)”. The scientists arrived at the conclusion that “Kombucha remarkably inhibits the angiogenesis through the alterations in the expression of angiogenic stimulators. Our study demonstrates that kombucha significantly decreases the survival of prostate cancer cells by downregulating the expression of angiogenesis stimulators. These findings suggest that kombucha may be useful for the prostate cancer treatment/prevention.” (See www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221052391200044X)
Research in Russia: kombucha and cancer
In 1951, the USSR Academy of Sciences and the central oncological research institute Moscow decided to thoroughly analyse statistical data regarding cancer incidence in the various regions of Russia. They found that the districts of Ssolikamsk and Beresniki in Western Ural had virtually no cases of cancer and the few that existed were newcomers to the area. In the course of their investigations, the researchers discovered that the inhabitants of these regions apparently had consumed kombucha for hundreds of years. Even more impressive was the fact that these two regions were particularly environmentally challenged and had a high level of alcohol consumption.
In the original version of his book Cancer Ward which he self-published, as well as in the self-published editions of some of his other books, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn relates how he was terminally ill with stomach cancer with numerous metastases in his lung, liver, bowel etc. but was miraculously healed thanks to a tea mushroom infused in birch leaf tea (the subsequent German [and likely English] editions proceeded to strongly shorten and edit the original text). The diuretic birch leaf tea probably was used to stimulate the kidneys to allow the toxins bound by glucuronic acid to be eliminated in a particularly quick and efficient manner (although some black tea must always be used or the kombucha mushroom will not thrive).
Do not mix kombucha with oral antibiotics, anecdotal evidence suggests that taken in tandem they could cause stomach pain of longer duration.