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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
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
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
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,
"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
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.