Andrew Weil blasts KOMBUCHA, is he right?

I love Kombucha! I drink it as much as I can and when my wallet will allow. Let’s face it, it isn’t the cheapest, but if you compare it to a Starbuck’s or Peet’s drink then it could actually save you money and it’s way better for you… or is it?

I recently stumbled upon a blurb from Andrew Weil that said he does NOT drink and won’t for myriad reasons. Here’s what he said…

“I don’t recommend kombucha tea at all. I know of no scientific studies backing up the health claims made for it. Beyond that, there’s evidence that kombucha tea may have some antibiotic activity. If so, by drinking the tea you could be unnecessarily taking antibiotics, which could encourage development of resistant strains of bacteria…

There have also been reports in the medical literature of adverse reactions including nausea, vomiting and headaches among those who drink more than four ounces of kombucha tea daily. Allergic reactions, jaundice and head and neck pain have also been reported. I would particularly caution pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly, children and anyone with a compromised immune system against drinking kombucha tea.”

What Dr Weil says could make sense from a Chinese medicine perspective and here’s why… In Chinese Medicine or in the practice of acupuncture, we treat each ‘body’ individually, no two people are the same! For example, if three people have hypertension, the needle placement (acupuncture) and herbal prescription could be and most times is completely different.

So, with that in mind, since kombucha is a remedy for detoxification (liver), if you will… and three people drink it, they could have completely different experiences. A very common phenomenon in Chinese medicine is a stagnated liver; stress, insomnia, headaches, nausea, PMS, allergies, tight shoulders (exactly what Dr Weil mentions above). If someone with an extremely stagnated liver drank kombucha those properties of the kombucha would be trying to heal the liver, so it might kick things up a bit while it’s trying to harmonize and balance. It sounds counterintuitive, but this process is a positive thing and points to what we sometimes call a ‘healing crisis’. It’s true these symptoms are undesirable and uncomfortable and if they are happening, there certainly is a deeper imbalance present, the individual should investigate a more appropriate treatment like acupuncture and herbal medicine to get things balanced faster and without the discomfort. So, we could actually treat this healing crisis as a gathering of information and diagnosis.

What is your experience with kombucha? Like it? Love it? Hate it?

In Health,

Christina Martin

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine

Tao to Wellness