The Fascination of Kombucha
© Günther W. Frank
This is an article published in the American magazine “The American raum & zeit” (Mount Vernon/USA) Volume 2, Number 5, 1991, pages 51-56.
Nowadays we experience a return to healing measures that are close to nature; also remedies and foods of a natural origin – away from industrial packaged products. This may be one of the reasons for the great attractiveness and fascination of the healthful beverage called Kombucha. Communalities of yeasts and bacteria have been used by people, and applied for their well-being, since ancient times in all the world for the creation of health-promoting fermented drinks and foodstuffs.
We read already in the Bible (Ruth 2:14) that the land-owner Boas invited the Moabite Ruth, who later became his wife, during her gleaning of grains: “Come over here and eat some bread and dip your morsel into the vinegar-drink! And she sat down beside the reapers; and he reached her parched corn and she ate and was sufficed and left.” This biblical report from around 1000 B.C. not only gives us a hint of their exemplary nutritional habits, although they were modest by our perspective, we see from it also that, even at that time, people prepared beverages with microorganisms of lactic acid and how they served the people for strength and refreshment during the hard work of harvesting.
An ancient, pure relative of these related symbioses of bacteria and yeasts is the tea-fungus called Kombucha. It comes from the area of East Asia and came into Germany via Russia, around the turn of the century. This ancient house-remedy is used more and more also in other countries against all possible defects. The mushroom consists of a gelatinoid and tough mushroom-web membrane in the form of a flat disk. It lives in a nutrient solution of tea and sugar, in which it constantly multiplies through germinating. The fungal disc at first spreads over the entire surface of the tea and then thickens. When one treats the mushroom correctly, it thrives, germinates, and will accompany its owner for life.
During the fermentation and oxidation processes, the mushroom effects diverse complicated reactions in the tea-setting, either one after the other or side by side (these are assimilation- and dissimilation-processes). The tea-mushroom feeds on the sugar and, in exchange, produces other valuable substances which change into the drink: glucuron-acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, antibiotic substances, and other products. The tea-mushroom is, therefore, a real, tiny biochemical factory.
Kombucha – Remedy for Everything?
There is a treasure of extensive experience regarding the Kombucha mushroom. Besides its use as a refreshing drink, one can read in nearly all reports also of its usage as a remedy. In the reports of oldest and modern times, a large number of diseases are quoted, for which Kombucha-tea is used and praised. The palette reaches from the most harmless indisposition up to the most serious diseases.
The German weekly magazin FOCUS published an article on Kombucha and Günther W. Frank. (FOCUS No. 34, August 21, 1995, page 128). The following pictures are from this article. The header says that these persons are Kombucha fans.
Numerous doctors and scientists have concerned themselves with the effects of the Kombucha-beverage as a home remedy. Many scientific works are at hand concerning Kombucha. They speak of its therapeutic effectiveness as based on glucon-acid, glucuron-acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, as well as the life-supporting vitamins C and the B-group. As has been proven especially by Russian researchers, many of its components have antibiotic and detoxifying characteristics, and they play a decisive role for the biochemical processes in the body.
In contrast to the many pharmaca with unpleasant side effects, the active substances of the Kombucha address themselves to the whole body system; through its friendly metabolistic properties, it can reestablish a normal condition in the cellular membranes without any side-effects and thus promote one’s well-being. Let us use these natural powers for maintaining our vitality, activity, as well as our mental and physical capacities!
An Extensive World-Literature
Already Bacinskaja (1914) noted that the drink is effective for the stomach-intestinal activity. The authoress recommended that one drink a small glass of it before every meal and to increase the portions gradually.
Professor S. Bazarewski brought forth a report in the “Correspondence for the Association of Nature Researchers in Riga, 1915, that among the Latvian population of the Baltic Russian Provinces of Livland and Kurland, they had a folk-remedy by name of “Brinum-Ssene” Verbally translated, it means “Wonder-mushroom”. The Latvian population ascribed to this mushroom “a wonderful healing power for many diseases”, according to Bazarewski. Some people asked by Bazarewski insisted that it helps for headaches, but others assured him that “this mushroom is useful for all diseases.
Good for Constipation
Prof. B. Lindner(1917-1918) reported that the remedy is mostly used as regulator of the intestinal activities. Also Hemorrhoids were cured.
Privy Councilor Prof. Dr. Rudolf Kobert (1917-18) recollects that an “unfailing remedy against joint rheumatism” was made with this mushroom.
Also Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Henneberg (1926) reports that a drink made with tea-mushroom was prepared, called “Teakwass” in Russia, being used in all those areas as a “remedy against all sorts of diseases, especially against constipation.”
According to Dr. Madaus in the “Biologic Healing Arts” (1927), the mushroom, and its metabolic products, has excellent influence on the regeneration of the cellular walls and is, therefore, an excellent remedy for arteriosclerosis.
General Improvement of One’s Overall Condition
H. Waldeck (1927) tells of a chemist he met during W.W.I in Russia-Poland, 1915, with whom he had his quarters, and who cooked for him a “Wonderdrink” against his severe constipation. The chemist entrusted to Waldeck that he always keeps this “Russian secret home remedy” at hand, it being “said that it is good for all kinds of ailments” and “because of its naturally formed acid, it successfully counters aging problems, thus, contributing to life extension.”
Prof. Br. Lakowitz (1928) confirms Waldeck’s statement that digestive disturbances are quickly removed by the mushroom-tea. Strong headaches and nervous disturbances also are removed experientially. Lakowitz comes to the conclusion: “An extensive spreading of the mushroom-tea for the production of such Tee-Kwasses, as a remedy against digestive disturbances is desirable for all types of people.”
In the “White Flag” (1928) is reported: ‘The refreshing taste of this tea-beverage is generally pleasing, and its effect is … a very good one. The taste of the fermented tea is very pleasant, being reminiscent of light, sparkling wine or sweet Most (pear juice). The effect of the tea usually shows up very fast. Most of all, it works blood-cleansing and detoxifying and is said … to give excellent services for facial skin rashes. Further, according to doctor’s orders and evaluations, it is very effective for constant headaches, pain in the limbs, gout, rheumatism, and other aging problems. The general effect of the mushroom-tea shows already in a few weeks through an improved general condition and in one’s raised performance capacity, which may be connected with the mushroom’s high vitamin and hormone effect, which are also emphasized by doctors.
Further, the mushroom stimulates the metabolism … excellently and, thereby, helps in clearing out the body, i.e. the elimination of all types of disease toxins.
Favorable Effect in Arterioclerosis
Dr. Maxim Bing (1928) recommends the Kombucha mushroom as a “very effective remedy for Arteriosclerosis, gout, and intestinal deficiency.” “A favorable effect in the sense of lowering blood pressure, cessation of anxiety, of irritability and pains, headaches, dizziness, etc. in arteriosclerosis” occurs from the use of fresh, good cultures. “Intestinal sluggishness and its accompanying effects also can be quickly removed. It gives especially favorable results in calcification of the kidneys and the capillaries of the brain.”
Dr. Siegwart Hermann (1929) describes experiments with cats who had been poisoned with Vigantol (an anti-rickets Vitamin B-preparation). He noted a positive influence in their cholesterol level when the animals received Kombucha extracts. This is interesting because in cases of human arteriosclerosis there is also a raised cholesterol level. Hermann’s resume based on these experiments is: “The observations by doctors at the sickbed, as also the animal experiments, showed that folk-wisdom quoted effects have been observed in general.”
The Glururonic Acid
In my opinion, there are factors speaking for the good effects of the mushroom for gout, rheum, arthritis, etc. as being explainable by the accumulated toxins of the body being made water-soluble and kidney-manageable through their conjugation with the Glucuronic acid in the beverage, and thus being eliminated through the urine. This conjugation is a form of bio-transformation; by it, both endogenic and body-foreign substances become bound with Glucuronic acid into Glucuronoids, also named “paired Glucuronic acid.’
In 1961, Dr. med. Valentin Köhler stimulated a discussion on the therapeutic usage of Glucuronic acid through his article titled, “Glucuronic Acid Gives Courage to Cancer-Patients in the periodical “Medical Practice”. Glucuronic acid is one of the products that are produced during the fermentation process in the Kombucha-tea. Dr. Köhler reported at that time about encouraging results in treating cancer patients with Glucuronic acid. The maximally long effect of Glucuronic acid is able to bring about an increase in the body’s own defenses and, possibly, also of the Interferon-production.
The detoxifying function of Glucuronic acid goes hand-in-hand with an improvement in the general condition and In the oxidative metabolism.
Dr. Köhler also noted surprising successes in the treatment of sick trees. Various Institutions were doing scientific tests for resolving the problem of dying trees. By combining nutritious substances, trace-elements, and heavy metals ions a building process was activated or accelerated. The capacity of the Glucuronic acid to enter into combination with both foreign and endogenic toxic substances, effects protection for the plant cell. Over 200 substances can be made harmless by this way, including those which are contained in acidic and radioactive rain, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrites, ozone. According to Br. Köhler’s research, the protective activity connected with Glucuronic acid preserves also the genetics of the plant from growth disturbances or promotes their restoration in the further course of its growth. The insights arising from Dr. Köhler’s examinations can be transferred onto all human cells. When the processes of growth and decomposition in the human metabolism are maintained on an optimal level through adding small dosages of Glucuronic acid, as contained in the Kombucha beverage, it presents a combination of scientific data and a product of nature which is currently still much preferred by the laity. Here is a possible aid for a humanity that is more and more threatened through toxic environmental substances. By Glucronic acid, the “disturbance products in the human body are disintegrated into end-products, eliminated and, thereby, made harmless. This detoxifying function of Glucuronic acid benefits the variety of cellular functions.
This shows up as increased endogenic capacity towards the toxic and environmental stresses batting us from many sides, as a revival. of damaged body cells, and a restoration and firming up of our well-being. When many people say that they use Kombucha not to necessarily heal a particular disease, but they drink it as a beverage for supporting their well-being, we have in this a contact point where scientific insights and folk-wisdom can go hand in hand.
The Normalization of Intestinal Functions
Dr. L. Mollenda (1928) reports that the Kombucha beverage is especially effective for disturbances of the digestive organs, by practically normalizing their functions. Moreover, the drink has proven itself as helpful for gout, rheumatism, and diverse stages of arteriosclerosis. About additional areas of application he writes: “In the case of angina, especially when there is a coating of the tonsils, the drink should not merely be used for gargling but for drinking, and that, for the destruction of bacteria which reach the stomach through food and drink. Such gargling in angina brings fast recovery, and in pains of gout and arteriosclerosis, surprising successes are reached even in serious cases. … Even though the beverage is acidic, it does not cause any acidic condition in the stomach; it facilitates and noticeably promotes the digestion even of difficult to digest foods. Equially favorable successes after taking Kombucha beverage have also been reached for gouty eczema and for stones in kidneys, urine, and gall.”
Dr. E. Arauner (1929) reports of diverse medical reports and evaluations and reaches the following conclusion: “In summary, one can say that the Kombucha mushroom or its extract, has proven itself as excellently prophylactic against diabetes, but especially against aging problems, such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure with its consequences such as dizziness, gout, hemorrhoids; for the very least it is a pleasant laxative.” Dr. Arauner reports that in his home-country the tea-mushroom has been in usage for centuries by Asian people because of its surprising healing successes, being a most effective, natural home-remedy for tiredness, fatigue, nervousness, beginning aging problems, arteriosclerosis, intestinal lassitude, gout and rheumatism, hemorrhoids, and diabetes.
Arauner adds to this, that not only professors, doctors and biologists have confirmed the surprising healing successes but also those who have imbibed the mushroom-tea report about “entirely excellent effects on the general body functions.’
Recommendable for Mental Stress
Hans Irion, who was then the Director of the State-recognized Academy for Chemists in Braunschweig says in his “Course for Druggist Specialty Schools” (1944, Vol. 2, pg. 405): “By the intake of the drink described as Teakwass, there happens a remarkable invigoration of the body’s entire glandular system and a promotion of the metabolisms. Teakwass is recommended as an excellent prophylactic for gout and rheumatism, furunkulosis, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, nervousness, intestinal lassitude, and aging problems. It is also very highly recommended for sports-people and those who do strenuous mental work. Through the promotion of the metabolism, undue fat deposits in the body are avoided or removed. With the drink, also microorganisms reach the body which transform damaging deposits, such as uric acid, cholesterol, etc. into easily soluble forms, thus removing them. Foul intestinal bacteria are suppressed.”
“Detoxifying in Every Regard….”
The first description having mushroom-tea as it’s theme in bookform appeared in 1954. This booklet of 54 pages is written in the Russian language and carries the title “The Tea-Mushroom and its Therapeutic Properties”. The author, G.F.Barbancik refers in his introduction to the first application of the mushroom-tea decoction (in 1949) as a healing remedy at the therapeutic clinic of the Omsker Hospital for water laborers. He reports of successful therapy for tonsillitis, diverse internal diseases, especially those of inflammatory nature, stomach catarrh due to deficient acid production, intestinal inflammations, dysentery, arteriosclerosis, high blood-pressure, scleroses, etc.
The med. doctor, Dr. Rudolf Sklenar of Lich, Oberhessen, reported in 1964 in the periodical “Experiential Healing Science” about his methods of diagnosis and therapy successes: “An outstanding natural remedy is the mushroom beverage named Combucha, which acts detoxifying in every regard and which dissolves microorganisms as well as cholesterol.” Dr. Sklenar had developed a biologic cancer therapy in which Combucha, as well as other biologic remedies such as Coli-preparations, held an important place for the sanitization of the intestinal flora.
In a small publication of 8 pages, titled “Cancer Diagnosis Based on Blood and the Treatment of Cancer, Pre-cancerous Conditions, and other Metabolic Diseases with Kombucha and Coli-Preparations”, Dr. Sklenar reports that vitamins, lactic acids and glucuronic acid are effective. “They destroy harmful microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) and dissolve waste matter and toxic deposits (uric acid, cholesterol, etc.) “. Kombucha effects “an outstanding detoxification of the organism”. Through enjoying this beverage there is, additionally, a “noticeable invigoration of the entire glandular system and enhancement of the metabolism.”
Dr. Sklenar reports that he was able to treat successfully with the mushroom-tea: gout, rheum, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, dysbacteria, constipation, impotence, nonspecific draining, obesity, furunculosis, kidney stones, cholesterol, cancer and especially its early stages, etc.
Dr. Veronika Carstens (1987), wife of the former German President, recommends Kombucha in a series titled, “Help from Nature-My Remedies Against Cancer”, with the words: “Kombucha detoxifies the organism and enhances the metabolism; this Improves the defense capacity.”
The Natural Healing specialist A.J.Lodewijkx (Homepage: http://www.ngab.nl) of Ermelo, Netherlands, writes about Kombucha in his very recommendable book “Life Without Cancer” (obtainable in the Dutch and German languages): “The Kombucha mushroom has strongly antiseptic properties. The tea purifies the glandular system and promotes elimination; uric acid Is neutralized and eliminated through Kombucha tea. Therefore, this tea is an excellent remedy against gout, rheum, arthritis, kidney stones, intestinal dysbacteria, but especially cancer and its early stages because the Kombucha mushroom exerts a mighty influence on the disease-causing endobionts. As we have seen, it is these endobionts which eliminate the red corpuscles when the pH changes unfavorably. In all metabolic diseases and cancer, Kombucha is a unique beverage for the detoxification of the body. Kombucha removes the metabolic dross and normalizes thereby the blood pH.”
Gottfried Mueller, founder of the world-wide “Salem Children’s and Youth Villages” praises the Kombucha tea-mushroom this way: “A gift from heaven, especially for health emergencies” (in “Salem-Help” 15, Nr. 3, August 1987, page 2).