the American Cancer Society on Kombucha Tea

I have to preface The American Cancer Society article with my own experience. I have edited and and tried to temper my feelings and opinions and tried to keep it short and to the point. If you choose to read through thank you for your indulgence and your opinions are welcomed. Or you can just skip the next paragraph and read their articles in their entirety.

 IMHO kombucha, like essiac tea and some other alternatives should not be dismissed simply because someone says so.. They should be discussed and available.  My mother died of cancer in 1972. I would have liked her to of had that opportunity. More importantly she wanted that opportunity! The doctors at that time would not even tell her she had cancer! Telling us even not to tell her! She had to sneak read her own medical chart and look up the terms herself and was she mad when she found out they were lying to her! The they would not give her any more pain medication that Tylenol #3 and told me not to give more than the prescription allowed or they would not allow us to refill the prescription. I guess they feared she would become a drug addict - before she died from the cancer (they gave her only a year to year. She died two years later in sheer agony. She specifically asked her doctors about laetrile, a popular alternative cancer treatment being done in Mexico. Her doctor told her not to waste her money. Saying "the best treatments are in America".   The best thing about kombucha and essiac and other treatments  is that it so dam cheap, actually enjoyable, taste good and makes most people at least feel better. The American cancer Society denies there existence. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) still cling to morphine as only only thing to control pain - where it is acknowledged it fails and makes one constipated and nausea and addicted - yet claiming medical marijuana is evil. Despite the evidence it relieves a degree of pain, creates a appetite, does not create constipation or nausea and returns a moderate amount of quality of life and dignity to one who is dying. Simply give it to one who is in need of help and they (the patient) will tell you what is working or not. T he ACS still is investigation medical marijuana after 20 years as needs more research, as well as essiac tea and Chinese Herbal formulas (Xiao Chai Hu tang/  sho-saiko-to) although other groups like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is presently under Phase II (FDA approved) clinical trials for liver cancer. The AMA who arrogantly made my mother suffer have changed their policy about informing patients of their conditions (but not about informing patients about choices) and fully oppose even trying medical marijuana. Doctors who are sympathetic and wish to help are threatened with jail and loss of their federal license. (President Clinton who participated in recreational use of marijuana (but not inhaling) banned medical use of it!) The tobacco companies who lied to my mother and the doctors at that time are still in business and are now one of the largest contributors to the American Cancer Society.


- Ed Kasper and family



reprinted from the American Cancer Society's Guide to Complementary and Alternative Methods.

presented in its entirety from


[I added the numbers in RED for my remarks at  the end of the article]


Kombucha Tea Other common name(s): Manchurian Tea, Kargasok Tea  Scientific/medical name(s): None

Kombucha tea is made from the flat, pancake-like culture known as the Kombucha mushroom. It is actually not a mushroom but is called one because of its appearance. The culture or mushroom sac used in Kombucha tea consists of several species of yeast and bacteria including Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Bacterium xylinum, Bacterium gluconicum, Bacterium xylinoides, Bacterium katogenum, Pichia fermentans, and Torula sp. After the tea is made, it becomes highly acidic and contains alcohol, ethyl acetate, acetic acid, and lactate.

There is no scientific evidence that Kombucha tea is effective in treating cancer or any other disease. No data exist showing that it helps promote good health or prevents any ailments. There have been some serious side effects reported with the consumption of Kombucha tea 1
see also Department of Food Science Cornell University

How is it promoted for use?
Kombucha tea is promoted as a cure-all for a wide variety of conditions including baldness, insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer. Supporters assert that Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and reverse the aging process. Kombucha tea is said to contain antioxidants, compounds that block the action of activated oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that can damage cells. For people with cancer, proponents claim the tea can detoxify (cleanse) the body and enhance the immune system thereby improving the body's defenses, especially in the early stages of cancer. After the body is cleansed, the tea is said to help repair and balance the body, and fight off disease. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

What does it involve?
Kombucha tea is made by steeping the mushroom culture in tea and sugar for about a week. During this process, the original mushroom floats in the tea and produces a "baby" mushroom on its surface. These new mushrooms can be passed along to other people for starting their own cultures or be kept to make new batches of the tea when the original mushroom goes bad (turns dark brown).

In order to increase the detoxifying abilities of the tea, people are told to remove chemicals from their diets and eat only fresh fruits and vegetables. They are also told to avoid caffeine, soft drinks, alcohol, hormone-fed meat, fertilized or sprayed foods, preservatives, artificial coloring and flavoring, and to quit smoking.

[seems like good advice - ed]

Kombucha mushroom cultures can be obtained from commercial manufacturers in the United States; however, many people have obtained Kombucha mushrooms from friends because they are easily passed along.

What is the history behind it?
Kombucha tea originated in East Asia and was introduced into Germany at the turn of the century. Since the early 19th century, Kombucha tea has been promoted as an immunity-boosting tea, which could strengthen the body against many ailments. It has become prevalent in the United States because it can be grown and harvested at home. It is especially popular among people with HIV and the elderly due to its immunity-boosting and anti-aging claims.

What is the evidence?
There is no scientific evidence to support any of the claims made for Kombucha tea. There have been reports of some serious complications associated with the tea.3 In April 1995, two women who had been consuming the tea daily for two months, were hospitalized with severe acidosis--an abnormal increase in the acidity in the body fluids. Both had high levels of lactic acid upon hospitalization. One woman died of cardiac arrest two days after admission. The second woman also suffered a heart attack but was stabilized and eventually released. The mushrooms used by both women came from the same "parent" mushroom. While no direct link to Kombucha tea was proven in this case, the FDA has warned consumers to use caution when making and drinking the tea 4.

Are there any possible problems or complications?
Kombucha tea is highly acidic. Deaths have been reported from acidosis linked with the tea.5 Drinking excessive amounts of the tea is not recommended 6.Several experts warn that since home-brewing facilities vary significantly, the tea could become contaminated with harmful bacteria which could be especially detrimental to people with HIV or other immune disorders. Because the acid in the tea could absorb harmful toxins, it should not be brewed in ceramic, lead crystal, or painted containers. Since the potential health risks of Kombucha tea are unknown, anyone with a preexisting medical condition should consult a physician before consuming the tea.7 Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not use this tea. 8

Boik J. Cancer & Natural Medicine: A Textbook of Basic Science and Clinical Research. Princeton, Minn: Oregon Medical Press; 1996.

Cassileth B. The Alternative Medicine Handbook. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co;1998.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of Kombucha tea-Iowa, 1995. JAMA 1996;275:96-98.

Spaulding-Albright N. A review of some herbal and related products commonly used in cancer patients. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997;97:S208-215.

US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Talk Paper: FDA cautions consumers on "Kombucha mushroom tea." Rockville, Md: National Press Office; March 23, 1995. Talk Paper T95-15.


Note: This information was reprinted from the American Cancer Society's Guide to Complementary and Alternative Methods. Copyright(c)2000, American Cancer Society. This information may not cover all possible claims, uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions, is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with your doctor who is familiar with your medical needs.


[JAMA,1996;275:95-6; MMWR 1995;44:892+]

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report on the death of one Iowa woman and the hospitalization of another we noted in the May-June issue.  The CDCP report included a survey of a nonrandom sample of 24 persons who regularly drank Kombucha tea.   Twenty of 21 respondents had obtained their "mushrooms" from friends or relatives, and 15 had given one to their friends.  This finding confirms that most quackery is spread by word-of-mouth.  Nearly a fourth reported having discarded batches of tea because of concerns about the appearance or taste of the tea, or because of visible mold growth.  A randomized survey found that 3.8% (CI=1.4-8.4%) had a household member who had tried the tea.

NOTE: The Centers for Disease Control doesn't report unconfirmed information

the following from the web

T95-15 Brad Stone
March 23, 1995 (202) 205-4144

FDA has been receiving inquiries about "Kombucha mushroom tea" -- a product which has been mentioned in media reports lately for many uses, from inducing a general state of well being to treating diseases such as AIDS and cancer. FDA has not approved this product as a treatment for any medical condition. The following information can be used to answer questions: kombucha mushroom tea, also known as "Manchurian tea" or "Kargasok tea," is not actually derived from a mushroom, but from the fermentation of various yeasts and bacteria. A starter
culture is added to a mixture of black tea and sugar, and the resulting mix is allowed to ferment for a week or more. The product contains considerable quantities of acids commonly found in some foods such as vinegar, and smaller quantities of ethyl alcohol. Because the acid could leach harmful quantities of lead and other toxic elements from certain types of containers -- some ceramic and painted containers and lead crystal -- such containers should not be used for storing Kombucha tea.

Page 2, T95-15, KOMBUCHA MUSHROOM TEA The unconventional nature of the process used to make Kombucha tea has led to questions as to whether the product could  become contaminated with potentially harmful microorganisms, such as the mold Aspergillus. Such contamination could produce serious adverse effects in immune-compromised individuals.
FDA studies have found no evidence of contamination in Kombucha products fermented under sterile conditions. FDA and state of California inspections of the facilities of a major Kombucha tea supplier also found that its product was being manufactured under sanitary conditions.
However, the agency still has concerns that home-brewed versions of this tea manufactured under non-sterile conditions may be prone to microbiological contamination. FDA will continue
to monitor the situation and encourages consumers to consult appropriate health professionals for the treatment of serious diseases.


My mother died of Lung Cancer in 1972. It was, from what I remembered a horrible death. For 3 long years the doctors and American Cancer Society told her there was nothing to do - period. Hell, at that time the doctors wouldn't even tell her she had cancer! They strictly regulated morphine and refused to giver her "too much" for fear of what -!! Severely nauseas and vomiting from the chemotherapy which caused her hair to fall out she asked for marijuana to which all the doctors said would do her no good (that is a lie) On laetrile - which had some reports of success coming out of Mexico the doctors said "don't waste your money". No one ever told my family about essiac tea either, never knew about it.  I want to believe that the ACS does some good and I do believe there are a good many good doctors out there. But this arrogance is criminal!

Below in the highlighted area are the authors intentionally miss state the facts. This is a deliberate attempt to discredit  alternatives and any folk remedy.  My personal responses to these are at the end of the article.  Please do forgive my sarcasm. It is well worth your efforts to investigate all claims  - as it is foolish to believe all claims! The article is correct when they state there is no scientific proof that kombucha can do anything. Just because kombucha has helped someone that does not mean it will help you. Its just plain common sense. Good food good health - that makes sense.

I am also in agreement with this article that people in a compromised health condition should monitor what they do - and to seek competent medical  and while their at it legal advice (now that was maybe too sarcastic) . I also believe that Pregnant and Nursing Mothers should not drink kombucha or that children under the age of 2 should drink kombucha - no facts on my side just my humble opinion and what makes sense to me.

my comments about this article

* highly acidic *  the recommended fermenting time is 8-14 days where the tea becomes more acetic. The longer the fermenting time the more acetic. A 20-30 day ferment (unless at cooler temperatures) produces a most undrinkable sour tea as the acetic acid is about 2% (less than half of FDA approved Food grade vinegar at 4-5%)People that make their own vinegar from wine will age their ferment for months. While the pH of kombucha tea is properly at 3.0 or slightly lower to 2.8 (vinegar is 2.0) kombucha tea is actually an alkaline forming food - which means brings one acetic body more into a healthier alkaline state. This may be simply proven by pH test strips (dripped in your urine) and monitored as one drinks kombucha tea over a 30-60 day period and see your own body go from an unhealthy acetic state (below 7.0) to a more healthy alkaline state.

 ** contains alcohol ** kombucha tea is a fermented probiotic. (pro=in favor of, biotic=life) The highest percentage that this aerobic ferment produces is 1%. The tea where at its proper drinking taste (8-14 days) contains less than 1/2 of 1% alcohol by volume. Which is what one may find in a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Even if attempted to produce an alcoholic beverage the bacteria, yeasts and sugar in kombucha in their aerobic (with oxygen or opposed to anaerobic (without oxygen) ferment as in beer and wine would limit the production to less than 3%. and would be a process that is not used to produce kombucha tea.

1. There have been some serious side effects reported with the consumption of Kombucha tea. 1 well what are they ?  Wouldn't you like to know what these are. I would. 

Many people have reported - even wrote books on their success in treating cancer using kombucha see list below however these written reports (not counting the numerous plain folks who have said it helps) are not considered "scientific" by American Cancer Society.   Fair enough then the ACS should not accept blind statements that "some serious side effects reported "

2. when the original mushroom goes bad (turns dark brown).2 Simply ignorance.  Not true, as the kombucha ages it turns darker. They continue to produce until they quite simple stop producing. They do not "go bad" Sounds like a disciplinary problem - bad, bad kombucha. Really, What does a bad kombucha do?

 I never received a reply to my query's, maybe they will answer yours.

3.There have been reports of some serious complications associated with the tea.3  they repeat the "seriousness" yet  the following statement is that the investigation revealed "NO DIRECT CONNECTION" . Is there a connection or not, and the answer according to the FDA "...there is no connection with any death to drinking kombucha tea..."

4. So why the hysteria ?  Oh the FDA said one should be careful when preparing kombucha for consumption 4- shouldn't that same consideration be given to all the food we eat. We should wash the fruit we buy from the store and do remember those warnings about the chicken, meat, eggs,  one buys from reputable stores - there have been direct deaths related to eating raw (unwashed) green onions ! But never one to kombucha tea!

5. Deaths have been reported from acidosis linked with the tea. This is a lie period. If that had any truth there would be warning labels on Vinegar and at every salad bar. Not to mention kefir, sauerkraut and prepared foods. Pickles causing miscarriage !

both the Center for Disease Control and the FDA investigated the "mysterious illnesses" after it was called to their attention by the press releases. Both found that each of the two women had medical conditions that were not mysterious at all and were totally unrelated to their consumption of Kombucha tea. However to this day you will still see Internet warnings about drinking Kombucha tea that reference this incident.


 In ACID & ALKALINE by Herman Aihara ISBN -918860-44-X the implication is that kombucha -although an acid food is actually an ALKALINE FORMING food (due to its chemical reaction with our stomach juices)

6   Drinking excessive amounts of the tea is not recommended. What is excessive? The suggested dosage is 4-8 ounces is that from those who achieved good health or cured their cancer! Dr Sklenar, a German Physician gained respect and gratitude in his treatment of cancer with the normal dosage of one liter per day of kombucha tea brewed 8-14 days. (see list below). A more recent American Physician (Dr Robert Barefoot) also wrote about the benefits of kombucha tea in his books (Calcium Factor)

this is the best one a real twister ...

7  Since the potential health risks of Kombucha tea are unknown, anyone with a preexisting medical condition should consult a physician before consuming the tea. The entire article up to this point is about the "potential risk factor" trying to persuade  you not to drink the tea. then the authors conclusion is  that the risk is unknown so better to ask your doctor !


8. This is simply based upon the concern that babies (under the age of 2) have not developed their own immune system as yet, relying upon the protection passed along by their mother. Kombucha Tea (or other intervention) which acts as an immunity agent may not allow the baby an opportunity to develop its own system relying instead upon the kombucha. The standard protocol in alternative therapies such as Traditional Chinese Medicine is not to intervene unless specific action is called for. Another concern when breast-feeding is that any acetic acid (vinegar) may pass through and sour the milk. I do caution on drinking kombucha tea on these occasions. Yet I hav been told by a great many mothers that my fears (cautions) were never any problems.



Department of Food Science Cornell University

C.J. Greenwalt, R.A. Ledford, and K.H. Steinkraus

Determination and characterization of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha
Ithaca, New York 14853

"The anti-microbial activity observed in the fermented samples containing 33 g/L total acid (7 g/L acetic acid) was significant against the tested gram positive and gram negative pathogenic organisms. Candida albicans was not inhibited by Kombucha. Tea, at drinkable levels, demonstrated no anti-microbial properties. The contribution of tea itself to the anti-microbial activity of Kombucha proved to be insignificant in the tested organisms, even at the highest levels tested. As a result, the anti-microbial activity of Kombucha was from the acetic acid composition...

...Kombucha may be a healthful beverage in view of its anti-microbial activity against a range of pathogenic bacteria. This may promote immunity and general well being. It is recommended that Kombucha be consumed at 33 g/L total acid, 7 g/L acetic acid, to obtain these beneficial attributes."

Note on Candida: ferment your KT as long as possible so that there is relatively little sugar remaining. Also consume it on an empty stomach as your digestion will absorb the glucose quicker than the Candida can make use of it. - ed


Favorable Books on Kombucha:


"Tea Fungus Kombucha. The Natural Remedy its Significance in Cases of CANCER and other Metabolic Diseases"  by Rosina Fasching.

Reports on Therapeutic Success and Cases from the Medical Practice. Interesting section with color photographs on Iris Diagnosis.

"Kombucha Miracle Fungus" by Harald W. Tietze. Harald goes into the health advantages of brewing kombucha using certain herbs including PAW PAW for cancer

"Kombucha - Healthy Beverage  and Natural Remedy from the Far East"   by Günther W. Frank. A very thorough research on kombucha.  Includes research into the reported success of kombucha treating severe disorders. 

presented by

Ed Kasper L.Ac, Acupuncturist & Herbalist

417 Laurent St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060



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