Kombucha is bad. Is Beer Better?

Via Rusty Ralston
on Mar 31, 2010
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We at Elephant really love Dr. Andrew Weil, and he has been interviewed and featured many places on Elephant Journal, including this fantastic video.

In fact, I had a great time shooting the above photo of him last year, in Denver. Some of us also love Kombucha (although I personally think it tastes wretched and I would not inflict it on my worst enemies, but I digress). It’s a product exploding at local health food stores and chains like Whole Foods, so what does the Dr. have to say about it?

Well, I read with interest when Dr. Weil answered the following question about the alleged miracle drink, Kombucha.

QUESTION: Cured by Kombucha?
What are the benefits of kombucha tea? Do you recommend it?

ANSWER (by Dr. Weil) Excerpt: “I don’t recommend kombucha tea at all. I know of no scientific studies backing up the health claims made for it… ”

You can read the rest of this interesting answer here.

So what is your experience? Do you feel you’ve been taken along with a fad, or is there other information out there that proves that kombucha is good for your overall wellness? Do we think it is better for us because it tastes bad?

Possibly it’s better to drink a Guinness a day (Guinness for health, as they say), or maybe a local brew that has all those vitamins, minerals, and proven heart-attack preventing benefits??

As for me, I’ll stick with a local IPA or a glass of wine!



Image: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr



About Rusty Ralston

Rusty Ralston is a professional photographer specializing in music, fashion, lifestyle, and travel photography. He is available for shoots anywhere, preferably sunny islands.


22 Responses to “Kombucha is bad. Is Beer Better?”

  1. Adam says:

    If you're going to go the beer route, dark beer is best. And a good, robust, dark beer is actually better than red wine. For whatever reason, your body absorbs more of the good stuff when consumed with beer than wine. And yes, this is backed by studies.

  2. Lindsey says:

    Well, Dr. Dude’s idiotic denial of the time-tested health benefits of tea (i.e. the entire herbalist concept) resulted in my disinterest in clicking through to his full answer. Rock on, Kombucha…

  3. My husband is a homebrewer. He has a book that is fascinating; “Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers.” It talks about the history of beer, why mainstream beer is “dead” (literally dead, not live, not beneficial) and why homebrewed beer is good for you. I agree beer is good if you drink the right kinds. The history of beer is very interesting too, how mainstream beer came to be the way it is, why Budlight is so watery tasting (it has to do with war and women), the benefits of yeast and honey, etc. Great topic!

  4. Lindsey says:

    From Search for Health Magazine: "Health benefit-wise there are no scientific proven benefits to kombucha according to places like the Mayo clinic, but in the natural healing circles, kombucha is best known for its digestion and immune system benefits amongst other healing benefits." I'd venture to say that Dr. Weil is a Western-trained doc, not a naturopath. Of course his opinion is unsupportive. His answer is not interesting, but predictable. On the flip, here's some supportive scientific data from Gaia Research Institute: http://www.gaiaresearch.co.za/kombucha.html

  5. Mrs. Borden says:

    Good grief, use your common sense! Eat whole, eat live, listen to what your body tells you. There is no miracle food that is going to save you!

  6. It seems “Dr. Dude” is very much in favor of tea. http://www.lime.com/radio/ask_dr_weil_with_dr_andrew_weil/audio/10767/get_the_low_down_on_tea_from_dr_weil

    Also, sidenote, he is a practitioner of integrative medicine – which combines eastern and western practices.

    What he knows about a fine stout or porter, I do not know!

  7. Dana says:

    I read Dr. Weil’s answer and everything he said is unsubstantiated. If he is going to make such claims, especially as a doctor, he needs to back them up with actual research. Anything in excess can cause imbalance and dis-ease in the body. And consuming products that are not supportive of an individual’s unique constitution can also create imbalance. I agree that too many people just jump on the bandwagon with every new fad and not everything is going to work the same way for everyone. I personally was grateful for kombucha when I returned from India and everything I ate here upset my stomach. It gave me relief when almost nothing else did. I can’t say I know much about Dr. Weil, but I can say I don’t have much respect for his unsubstantiated answer. Is he so egotistical that he thinks people will just take his word without evidence?

  8. David Michael says:

    Dr. Weil lost me a while back when he came out in favor of giving fluoride to children. He's very charismatic and generally right on but he does offer strong opinions that are not always thoroughly researched.

  9. steve says:

    Yeah lets give poison to the children. Takes a real ignorant bone-head to say something like that. Someone should slap the beard of his face for that.

  10. sdaniels_57 says:

    I tried it once. The lable said "approximately 0.5% ethanol". Bullshit. I've had 3.2 beer with less of a kick. No redeeming qualities to this brew. Never again…

  11. […] Kombucha is bad. Beer is better? (Elephant) […]

  12. letsriot says:

    "I know of no scientific studies backing up the health claims made for it… ”

    YOU DON'T KNOW OF ANY SCIENTIFIC STUDIES BACKING UP IT'S NUMEROUS HEALTH BENEFITS BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T READ THE PILES OF MEDICAL RESEARCH CONDUCTED ON IT. You don't recommended it because you are TOO LAZY to CRACK OPEN A BOOK and do a little reading! The statement you SHOULD have made, would be something to the effect of:

    ""Well, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to kombucha. I really don't have any idea what that stuff is at all. The only thing that I can tell you is you shouldn't go near it. Why, you ask? Well, because I'm a doctor and I say so. Here, let me write you out a prescription for some more pills. They cost a fortune but don't worry, your insurance pays for it and I keep the money all the same. I like money.""


    A. Is too lazy to look for any.
    B. Is simply lying.
    D. HAS read the research and understands that there IS PROOF, but doesn't want to be criticized by their "peers".

    There have been numerous scientific and medical studies done on kombucha which prove that it is beneficial to your health.

    Read: Kombucha for your health and healing ISBN 1-85860-049-9. You can probably check it out from the library for free. I did. It actually lists and cites numerous amounts of research that has been done so you can go look it up. There are about 10 pages of Bibliography in the back that cite hundreds of articles/studies done by numerous physicians and scientists. It also lists the content (acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that makes up kombucha and explains exactly what they do for your body and how.

    I'm sorry but it makes me completely ENRAGED that a "medical professional" like "Dr. Andy" would abuse his Doctor/Patient trust by making such a bold claim about something that he has done absolutely NO research on and is completely ignorant of. People who are SICK or DYING could greatly benefit… and he just DOESN'T GIVE A DAMN. He can make more money by selling them handfuls of pills AFTER they get sick. A total sociopath with no regard for human life or suffering.

    How does a person grow to become such a fat, evil bastard?

    A better question to ask would be "how could anyone be dumb enough to believe this fool".

    An even better question to ask would be "Why isn't our society putting lying, greedy, incompetent "doctors" like this guy IN PRISON. How can our society be so weak as to allow "people" like this guy to get away with murder?

    I'm sorry, but I see his squinty little eyes and greasy little smirk and can't help but wonder how many lives he's ruined with his incompetence. I hope he reincarnates as one of his misdiagnosed patients — and then as a few of their loved ones…

  13. Reality Czech says:

    "Squinty little eyes," "greasy little smirk," "fat, evil bastard," "slap the beard of[f] his face…" Wow, tough crowd! Clearly yoga is doing you a world of good.

  14. Reality Czech says:

    Let me echo what Randall Smith said just above: What a hostile thread. Let me also note that my own previous comment to the same effect, which simply quoted a few of this thread's more over-the-top insults ("squinty little eyes"? "greasy little smirk"? really?), was deleted, presumably by this site's moderator or the post's author. To say here what I said there: Wow. And let me add that I'm now wondering how many other similar comments were deleted, while truly brutal language about assault or imprisonment was allowed to remain. How long will this comment remain? Hard to say. But as a longtime practitioner of yoga, I will say that I am shocked at this tone, and shocked that this publication (which I love) tolerates it, while censoring those who object to it. Can't we try to be better than this?

  15. Mark Finney says:

    Kombucha is great stuff. Forget the health benefits … I just like the taste.

  16. Kombucha 4 Life says:

    At first I was surprised at Dr. Weil for stating that there were no studies done on kombucha. A simple google search reveals many studies from the mid-1900s onwards ( http://www.gaiaresearch.co.za/kombucha.html ). Then I saw his "vitamin packs" button on his website. It turns out that he is selling vitamin pills at $90 for a 30-day supply. It turns out he is a profiteer whose opinion should be seen as heavily biased in favor of his own products.

    What reason could he have for telling people that kombucha, a delicious beverage that is easy to homebrew safely for pennies on the dollar, has no health benefits? Obviously because he wants people's health to be dependent upon products that he himself sells.

  17. Jen K. says:

    I'd advise Dr. Weil and Elephant Journal to watch Dr. Perlmutter's video here: http://www.drperlmutter.com/kombucha-fuss/ Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is a good source of probiotics. There is plenty of research on the benefit of fermented foods out there. Also, it has extremely low residual sugar; less than orange juice, definitely less than sodas. We are not talking about homebrewed kombucha but about commercially available kombucha which is brewed in commercial kitchens under the watchful eyes of the respective health departments. Homemade anything can be dangerous depending upon sanitation, food handling procedures, etc. There are also many methods of making commercial kombucha, slow-brewed single batch, continuous brew, etc. Which is he talking about? Some are cold-pressed, some are centrifuged, some are made with organic non-gmo ingredients, some are raw, some are pasteurized. Honestly, I don't think he knows, nor do I think he has ever tasted or analyzed authentic, raw, single batch, slow brewed kombucha TEA. .

  18. 3Queens says:

    I feel like the factual reason Kombucha (or sour kraut, Kim-chee, beer, tempeh) Is good for you is because it is a fermented food. Fermented foods have known health benefits.

  19. Leanne says:

    My Komucha tastes lovely! Just like any brewing its in the technique and the slightest variation such as the ratio of ingredients and temperature quality of ingredients and brewing time will change the taste considerably. A lot of doctors have advised against Komucha but I really have little faith in their knowledge as they have not studied it thoroughly enough. I came to learn about Komucha when gifted Kefir grains which cured my IBS, it tastes good and the feeling I have after drinking it makes me feel good that's all I need to know. Plus beer aggravates my IBS because of the hops I believe but perhaps not everyone will have this sensitivity, although the long time beer drinkers tummies might be giving us a clue.

  20. common sense says:

    probiotics!!! that's why kombucha supports digestion, gut flora, and immune

  21. Tauna says:

    I personally disagree that there are no health benefits to this ancient fermented beverage – if it is brewed and cultivated properly. That’s really beside the point though… I absolutely love elephant journal, however this is not the place I go for my health care advice. I just wanted to say to the author that if it tastes bad you haven’t had a well-tended batch. I make it, several of my friends make it and a great local shop in Atlanta makes it (Ancient Awakenings) and it is absolutely delicious, refreshing and from my own experience, beneficial. The magic is in the care given at every stage of the process. I do agree that in the commercial sphere the quality of the product is more likely to deteriorate. Homemade and local is the way to go with this elixir.

  22. catherine argyros says:

    my kombucha is delicious. Everyone loves it…. and it makes me feel wonderful, as well as improving my skin. keep brewing!