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By Julene Tripp Weaver


Kombucha or Manchurian Mushroom, what is it anyway? Some of you by now have probably heard of this strange fungus that people are growing "babies" of and drinking the fermented beverage as a health tonic. The beverage tastes like a fermented cider which can either taste slightly sweet, or slightly vinegary depending on the batch.

It is called Manchurian Mushroom by some because people in the east have been drinking the fermented beverage for generations. It is reported to go back as far as 221 BC to ancient China and was referred to as the Remedy for Immortality." It spread through the east from Korea, China and India through Russia and into Eastern Europe. In rural hamlets of Siberia or the Ukraine, Tibet or Spain there are pockets of people who live to be well over one hundred, they never get cancer, and they have Kombucha in their back closet and drink it daily.

It is reported to have multiple health benefits, some of these include: eliminates candida, helps bronchitis, asthma, coughs, allergies, insomnia, colitis & nervous stomachs, digestion, eases menopause discomfort and hot-flashes, and helps to heal diseases. Some people are convinced it is beneficial for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Norman Baker of Laurel Farms in Los Angeles believes Kombucha tea may help people living with HIV/AIDS. He has written "The tea... contains something called Usnic acid which can partly inactivate viruses." In New York, people with AIDS began using Kombucha and what has been reported so far is an increase of energy. Charles Steinberg, an M.D. who works with primarily HIV-positive and AIDS patients has about a dozen of his patients using it on their own. He says "some credit it with making them feel stronger, more alert, and more energetic."

Dr. Jeffrey Gates, who studies the medicinal properties of food at Cornell University, has analyzed Kombucha tea and said that the hope it offered for better health should be tempered. He said, "the tea appears to work primarily in the gastrointestinal track and because it is high in certain acids, it may make it easier for the body to absorb vitamin C and certain B complexes."

Warnings: The Food and Drug Administration are looking into it now but they have had no reports of adverse reactions. What Kombucha is not is a mushroom, it is "several yeasts living symbiotically with several bacteria that produce a powerful antibiotic," according to research done 15 years ago by Paul Stamets, a mycologist (researcher of mushrooms) in Olympic, WA. Stamets warns about the fact that it is an antibiotic. Perhaps it is an antibiotic, but it is a natural one as opposed to a synthetic pill form and the dosage is low compared to what would be in a typical antibiotic capsule.

Another warning is the fact eastern bodies and western bodies are different and eastern bodies have had generations to adapt to it, while western bodies have not. Hanna Kroeger, a healer I studied with, has stated that in the western body Kombucha can take hold and actually begin to grow in our intestines after 3 weeks. Something to think about, if you have handled one of the Kombucha babies you will notice it is quite strong, this growing in the intestines is a scary thought. Hanna's suggestion was to eat asparagus which inhibits the growth of fungus, and she has a remedy if it gets worse and cannot be self treated. The prescribed dosage is 4 oz per day in the morning on an empty stomach. It might be advantageous to drink less while monitoring for intestinal upset.

Another warning in the literature is that it could become contaminated and that could be dangerous. So in the preparation and handling of the Kombucha care must be taken, it is a process requiring patience and nurturing.

It is not recommended pregnant or lactating women drink Kombucha tea. This is probably because of the low alcohol content (0.5 %) from the fermentation process.

The really great thing about this Kombucha beverage is it can be used totally safely externally. So if you have any type of skin rash, itch, yeast or unknown origin problems, try the liquid in your bath water or use it in the shower like you would use a skin freshener. There have been reports of skin problems clearing from topical use.

A handout on the recipe guidelines is available through the Babes office. It is a process that takes ambition and patience to start.


"A Magic Mushroom Or a Toxic Fad?" By Molly O'Neill. New York Times, Wednesday, December 28, 1994.

"Kombucha A Fermented Beverage With Real 'Zing' In It!" By Tom Valentine. Search For Health, July/August 1993 (A bimonthly magazine in Naples, FL)

"Trends: Taking the Fungal-Tea Plunge," By Rick Marin with Nina Archer Biddle. Newsweek, January 9, 1995.

"The Kombucha Tea Mushroom and AIDS," By Betsy Pryor. Whole Life Times, May, 1994 (Malibu-based alternative journal).

"Fungus Among Us," By Stuart Timmons. New Age Journal, November/December, 1994.

"Reborn on the 4th of July" By Paul Serchia. Positive Living, August, 1994 (a magazine published by AIDS Project Los Angeles).

Tea Fungus Kombucha, The Natural Remedy and its Significance in Cases of Cancer and other Metabolic Diseases, By Rosina Fasching. Publishing House W. Ennsthaller, Austria, 1985, 3rd edition 1991.

Kombucha, Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy From the Far East, Its Correct Preparation and Use, By Gunther W. Frank. Publishing House W. Ennsthaller, Austria .

(both detail scientific research done on the Kombucha in Germany and the Soviet Union).

Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is not meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive sense of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider (Dr., Nautropath, Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.