Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix

This post is dedicated to everyone who has battled Candida and who wants to do everything possible to avoid making Kombucha warningthings worse. Although Candida in small quantities is a beneficial yeast our body requires for balance, the high sugar content of the Standard American Diet (SAD) often feeds Candida so that it grows like crazy and overtakes the digestive system and other body systems. (See The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for more info.) Please visit my Series on Candida for more information on Candida. Today, let’s address why Kombucha feeds Candida and should be avoided at all costs by anyone who suffers from or is prone to Candida overgrowth. Kombucha has become a popular drink in the US, but many myths exist about its health benefits. For Kombucha proponents, let me say that I recognize the health benefits of Kombucha, but believe its high fungal content is detrimental for most people in the US due to their dietary habits. I know this is not a popular opinion, but it’s one that physiological and chemical data supports. The belief that Kombucha actually helps kill Candida is wrong. The top three reasons Kombucha feeds Candida and does not control it are:

Definition of SCOBY:

Kombucha is brewed using a starter culture called a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Did you catch that last word? YEAST? Kombucha is a culture specifically designed to promote the growth of yeast. Anyone trying to control yeasts and Candida in their system should therefore avoid it.

Low acidity:

Most fermented foods have a high acidity that kills yeast. Kombucha never achieves this level of acidity. Similar to vinegar, Kombucha has an acidity level and fungal content that strongly increases the growth of Candida and other biological yeasts. If you put yeast in a petri dish and add Kombucha, the yeasts grow at an amazing rate. The same thing happens in your body. Enough said. A study at Cornell University confirmed that Kombucha stimulates the growth of Candida, but decreases the growth of other infective organisms. Again, Kombucha does have some beneficial properties, but only for people whose diets are not high in sugar or who do not have pre-existing Candida overgrowth.

Excessive use of fruit juice for flavoring:

In the US, most people can’t tolerate the taste of pure Kombucha and therefore dilute it with high levels of fruit juice. The sugars in the fruit juice (fructose, especially) provide plenty of “food” for Candida to thrive on. Per the previous points, plain Kombucha feeds Candida enough that adding fruit juice merely adds fuel to the fire. Having said all that, let me say that how you feel is the best measure of whether or not Kombucha is a good idea for you. Most people I’ve worked with find that their Candida symptoms and issues greatly decrease or even disappear once they remove Kombucha from the equation. If you love Kombucha, I recommend substituting coconut water kefir for it. Coconut Water Kefir is very easy to brew and provides high levels of antifungal probiotics. It is a much better option than Kombucha. Ok … what’s your opinion? We may have to agree to disagree, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!!!

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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36 Responses to Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix

  1. Robin says:

    I started drinking kombucha a few months ago,a few times a week. At first it helped my digestion.I have leaky gut. BUT….I also have a huge problem with candida overgrowth. I have not had sugar in years. I do not drink alcohol. I do not eat any yeast. I limit my fruit. My armpits started itching soon after the kombucha…my daughter’s too. Mine were so red and irritated they hurt like heck. It soon went away. I was told it was the yeast leaving my body. I was only drinking it a few times a week…GT’s brand. I didn’t drink it for a while…then drank some…BOOM…itchy crotch the very next morning! No more kombucha for me. We were going to make our own. Not now!I did find I was feeling like I NEEDED the kombucha….craving it. Now that makes sense.

  2. Ash says:

    I was so relieved to find this information. I started introducing kombucha and other ferments onto my diet approximately three weeks ago and have developed a horribly miserable yeast infection. I suspected it as the culprit immediately. My question is, what about milk kefir? I’m addicted to the stuff! I’ve noticed extreme digestive benefits and I really hope that I can continue to have it in my diet. Thanks!

  3. Michael says:

    I have been of excellent health my whole life. Then I brewed and drank a batch of kombucha and have aged ten years in a week. My skin is peeling, my wrinkles have deepened, and under my eyes is red and swollen. Needless to say, the doctor gave me some cream, which completely misses the point. If this doesn’t heal, then I will live to deeply regret ever drinking the stuff.

  4. Meg says:

    Thanks for sharing. Sadly, this will be another difficult thing to give up while trying to correct and heal yeast infections once and for all. On the vinegar front, this is something I had been using as home remedy. ACV and tea tree oil mixed with water, using a tampon to soak in the mixture and leave in for two hours. Also baths with white vinegar yogurt and tea tree oil. I haven’t been doing that for the last 6 weeks as I started Accupuncture and herbs to treat, but now am wondering if my self treatment really set me back? How concerned should I be on what I was doing to my body? Another thing I was trying was using my garlic intravaginally. Thoughts on that one? Any other tips to get rid of yeast infections for life? Thanks so much!

  5. Liz says:

    My vaginal area itches and I suspect a yeast infection. For the past month I have been drinking a lot of Kombucha, which I know contains yeast. This website confirms it for me. I need to quit Kombucha, which is good because it’s been getting expensive and highly addicting.

  6. Gabriela says:

    I have a very terrible fungal infection around my vaginal area which has made my life miserable the last 4 weeks. I eat very healthy and have started to make 2 containers with 2 gallons of Kombucha at home. I flavor with fresh fruits. But I started to think that my newfound hobby is responsible for my health problem. I don’t care what any university has to say to this. I know what I am going through and I only started this Kombucha as a new addition to our healthy living and making yogurt at home. And I see that I bought a 10 lb. sugar bag to feed all these yeasts. We measured the sugar content of the Kombucha tea and it is only 5 % in the end product. But I suddenly knew that these yeasts are feeding my yeasts and now you confirm my suspicions. I will have to end my “hobby” once and for all.

    • Chris says:

      Yes, I had to end the same hobby. I drank it everynight thinking it was good for me, meanwhile I had this nagging itchy spot on the back of my neck that came and left for months as I fought it with all sorts of things. I stopped the kombucha and it went away and has stayed away for 7 months now.

  7. Shannon says:

    Hello!
    I find this very interesting ! And puzzling. I have suffered from chronic yeast infections since I was a teenager (poor diet, antibiotics etc). Also i have had issues with constipation, which would usually lead to a yeast infection, this would happen every month. I removed gluten from my diet 2 years ago and this relieved many symptoms! Far less bloated, less irritation in my bowels and generally felt better. Although i would still get constipated about a week before my period and then a YI to follow. I started drinking kombucha daily about 4 months ago and I have NEVER felt better. I haven’t had a yeast infection since and my digestion has never been better. I’m confused though as I have been reading that kombucha should have the opposite effect. I am 100% certain that the kombucha was the cure as it was the only thing I changed…

  8. Adam says:

    I experienced a bad candida flare up on my tongue and googled to see if there was a relationship; resulting in me finding this article and a few others. I started brewing kombucha at home and personally believe that a normally healthy scoby can support other yeast colonies as well, since I’ve never had a candida thrush until I started home brewing and drinking kombucha several times a week for a few months. Now I stopped drinking the kombucha but the thrush won’t go away. It is very annoying and I am going to get some meds for it to go away. I am also going to try the coconut kefir, and I started introducing more vinegar into my diet as well. Thanks.

    • Hi, Adam. Sorry to hear of your challenges. Drinking water kefir is a great option, but vinegar actually feeds Candida like crazy. Use caution with it. I wish you the very best.

      • Julia says:

        Apple cider vinegar included? I’ve been taking that twice everyday to help control candida. Do you think it should be avoided?

        I’ve also been taking saccharomyces boulardii to help control candida, but I know that it’s a yeast probiotic found in kombucha. Should I refrain from continuing to take it?
        Also, thank you for writing this article!! I always wondered if kombucha was causing my symptoms to worsen, but my naturopath had me convinced otherwise and so I was drinking it daily. However, after reading your thoughts I stopped drinking it about two weeks ago. To my surprise (and horror), my symptoms are gone. I wish I had stopped drinking it months ago. I couldn’t be more grateful for you!

        • I avoid apple cider vinegar. Not everyone responds well to it. Better safe than sorry. I know it’s lauded as being a “cure all,” but it’s not. We are each wonderfully unique and don’t all respond to things the same way. We aren’t cookies, so cookie-cutter approaches rarely work. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Chris says:

            Thank you for this! I hear how good apple cider vinegar is for us but I have been doubtful because of the similarities to kombucha. I wasn’t researching this but thinking about what feeds cancer and what feeds kombucha are the same thing.

            So then I used the enzymes which are supposed to help keep cancer away and did an experiment with my handful of different enzymes and put each on a piece of kombucha. Amazing results. One of the enzymes totally dissolved the kombucha.

  9. Andrea Amundsen says:

    Me too. Been eating fairly healthy for several months now. Recently have been drinking around 20 oz/day of home brewed kombucha, and wham, a yeast infection, with none in close to 5 years. There is really no other difference to my diet or other habits besides the sudden increase in kombucha intake. Before when I drank only 4-8 oz/ every other day or so, there was no problem. So once I am better, I plan to still drink it, but just not as much.

  10. Chris Sullivan says:

    Kombucha does contain a variety of candida that is known to oppose candida albicans, the culprit in yeast infections. kefir does as well. As the anonymous poster above suggests, there can be problems with what’s in the kombucha, or the sugar that’s still in it if it didn’t ferment long enough. I’m not sure it’s kombucha itself that’s causing problems. I do think this issues needs more critical analysis, as I find conflicting reports on it.

    • GWWR says:

      Thanks for your response, Chris. In my experience ad a practitioner, I find that only persons with a very strong balance of beneficial and potentially negative yeasts in their system benefit from kombucha, even those without excess juice. Although kombucha contains some anti-yeast organisms, it also contains a high level of yeasts that can have a negative effect in an unbalanced system. Unfortunately, most people in the US are imbalanced. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy kombucha as an occasional treat, it simply means they usually can’t enjoy kombucha every single day. I also find some people who seem to thrive on the yeasts in kombucha, and others who seem to suffer if they have only one bottle. I do believe kombucha has many health benefits, but I am cautious and recommend caution for anyone with systemic Candidiasis. Beyond that, when brewed correctly and not overloaded with juices and sugars (as many of the commercial kombuchas are), I think it’s a great beverage to enjoy occasionally. Thanks for commenting! I love Fermenti Artisan’s kombucha, but I can personally only enjoy it once in a great whole.

  11. Marla Morgan says:

    Very interesting. I recently started making my own kombucha tea, after getting the scoby from a friend. I have been drinking it daily for about a month now, and I now have a yeast infection. I haven’t had a yeast infection in 3 years, the last time I was on antibiotics, and I have only had a yeast infection in the past following antibiotic use. At the present time, I am eating healthier than I’ve ever eaten, I don’t drink soda, I’ve been drinking my coffee black, and aside from an occasional treat, the only sugar present in my diet is in the k. tea. At this point, I am really thinking that drinking the kombucha tea caused my yeast infection. Thoughts on this? Thank you!

    • GWWR says:

      Hi, Marla. So sorry to hear that. Yes, I strongly agree the Kombucha may be the cause of your issue. Have you ever tried coconut water kefir? It may be a great alternative to the kombucha for you.

      • Marla Morgan says:

        Thanks for the reply. Have not tried the coconut water kefir, but I certainly will. It helps to have the validation regarding the k. tea and yeast infections, as I was thinking maybe I was grasping at straws.

    • Jean Sharac says:

      I have been battling systemic candida for over a year. Many months ago my tongue, which had been white because of the candida, turned a healthy pink, and there was other evidence that I was winning the battle at last. Just recently, however, I noticed my tongue was white again! I have added recently some potatoes but not much. I thought about what I was doing radically different and it was KOMBUCHA — almost daily for at least two months. I avoided the ones which had fruit flavorings, but was ignorant of the components of the tea which is deceptively not added to the ingredient list on the bottle. IT HAS TO BE THE KOMBUCHA. I also realized I had a sort of “addiction” to it I was so yearning for it. That fits in also with feeding candida. WHAT A MISTAKE. All I can do is shake my head. And I have stopped drinking it.

      • GWWR says:

        Hi, Jean. I’m so sorry to hear you experienced that, but am so glad you figured it out! Knowing what our “triggers” are is a huge step in maintaining balance. Congrats on recognizing the cause of the problem and removing it!

  12. Jim says:

    Kombucha also has alcohol – right? And alcohol is a big no-no on the Candida diet

  13. Anonymous says:

    Interesting! Though I wish it weren't so- I've got a jar of kombucha brewing in my kitchen right now, and a 3 month old baby with whom I've been swapping thrush for many weeks now. I'll definitely try your kefir idea- this is getting ridiculous!

    I'd also be interested in the specifics of the Cornell U study.

    Thanks!

    Ren

  14. Leppy says:

    Pamela,

    I would be interested to know the specifics and where to find "A study at Cornell University confirmed that Kombucha stimulates the growth of Candida, but decreases the growth of other infective organisms".

    Thanks so much!!

    Becky

  15. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    Thanks for your comment. I must respectfully disagree based on my clinical experience. My patients with Candida who continue drinking kombucha w/out juice but who are compliant in every other way do far worse than those who stop drinking kombucha. I used to love kombucha, so I wish I were wrong! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Boyle says:

      Finally some clarity on Kombucha. I personally am addicted to the stuff and it drives me bonkers. I also have (male) yeast problems (pelvic rashing, severe genitalia numbness and metabolic probs) and have been hearing conflicting arguments over kombucha. I think I’m going to try to quit this stuff. As a point of reference / interest regarding my clinical picture, I’m also vaccine damaged and have been through seven years of hell on earth, yeast is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for a great article here Dr. Pam.

  16. Anonymous says:

    http://happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kt_cornell.htm

    Kombucha has not been proven to enhance the growth of Candida. There are many kinds of yeasts and the more you read about Kombucha yeast and its effects on Candida the more evidence there is that it actually does have some anti-microbial qualities though not very substantial. It won't cause yeast overgrowth but it also won't cure it. The problem is in the added sweeteners or fruit juices that are added for flavor. Plain Kombucha is fine for Candida. Read this one study from Cornell University.

    • Malina says:

      Never had a yeast infection. Never drank Kombucha. Tried Kombucha, drank it 3 days in a row. Noticed a yeast infection less than a week later. Nothing is new in my diet except kombucha.

  17. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    You're so welcome! Congratulations on your pregnancy! Is it safe ot assume they are keeping a close eye on your blood sugars? Gestational diabetes often causes thrush during pregnancy, although the hormonal changes can also contribute. Regardless, I highly recommend avoiding kombucha. Switching to coconut water kefir may help immensely. Blessings!

  18. Janine Lattimore says:

    Interesting post, thanks. I have also wondered about the remaining sugar content in kombucha.

    I am currently pregnant second time round and during both my pregnancies I have had ongoing problems with thrush. I am trying hard to follow a low/no sugar (including no grains or milk) diet & taking probiotics but the thrush is very easily triggered at the moment.

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