kombucha mushroom tea 
Author Message
 kombucha mushroom tea

will kombucha mushroom tea kill my friend who grows it?  what might
be the reasons for the deaths "related" to it?

thanks in advance,

"there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.." somebody
"so much that's wrong with people is all in their heads, and if
there's not much there, your chances improve.." garrison kiellor(sp?)
"welcome to your life, there's no turning back.." tears for fears

Sat, 11 Oct 1997 03:00:00 GMT
 kombucha mushroom tea

: will kombucha mushroom tea kill my friend who grows it?  what might
: be the reasons for the deaths "related" to it?

The main risk from kombucha is to immune suppressed persons who consume
kombucha  grown in contaminated cultures.  THere are some fungal spores,
notably aspergillus, that can set up {*filter*} opportunistic infections in
these folks.

Kombucha has not been scientifically studied.  Right now, the only
evidence for it is anecdotal, and anecdotal evidence is practically
worthless.  The promotional literature I've seen on it is full of
scientific errors and short on facts.  I personally wouldn't touch it
with a ten foot pole.

Attached is an article on Kombucha, and another herbal product called Essiac.

Poison by Prescription: Essiac and Kombucha  
for HIV Disease by W. Fred Shaw, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac

Many herbal therapies have been promoted in the past few years as  
the cure du jour for HIV disease. Unfortunately, the promotion of  
these formulas has been based purely on anecdotal "evidence". In  
fact, there is no scientific evidence supporting the usefulness of any  
herbal therapy for HIV disease. There are a number of  
organizations and individuals that promote and sell herbal  
therapies, often at a high cost to the HIV+ community. The cost  
may not just be financial, since many herbs can further  
compromise the immune system and accelerate disease  
progression. This is the case with the Kombucha mushroom and  
the formula Essiac.

An examination of the Kombucha mushroom and the Essiac  
formula reveals scientific and medical facts that are extremely  
important for HIV+ persons that use, or are thinking of using,  
herbal formulas. This includes the expected outcome and hazards  
of using herbs for a long time, or for the rest of one's life, as is the  
usual recommendation for persons with HIV.

The Kombucha "mushroom" has been promoted as a panacea for  
such things as rheumatism, gout, hemorrhoids, intestinal disorders,  
aging, hair loss, gray hair and cancer. The latest spin on Kombucha  
is that it is "antiviral" and can "reverse the symptoms of AIDS".  
The instructional literature distributed with this "mushroom" says  
to place it in a glass bowl in the closet, together with water, tea and  
sugar, and cover with a cloth. The culture is left to grow for one  
week, at which time the sugar-tea water from the bowl in which the  
Kombucha grew is strained off and refrigerated, to be drunk on a  
daily basis for the following week. The Kombucha grows a "baby"  
during its week in the closet, which can be given to someone else,  
thrown away or kept for the next weekly culture. Since the culture  
doubles itself every week, it is not difficult to find free sources.  
However, Laurel Farms of Los Angeles will sell a culture for fifty  
dollars and claims that cultures will be sent free to persons with  

The truth about this "mushroom" is that it is not a mushroom at all  
- it is a fungal infusion that includes a mixture of yeast, bacteria,  
and sadly, a lot of hype. As with other herbal therapies, the stories  
of miraculous recoveries and cures have not been scientifically  
verified. Promoters of these therapies often demonize and blame  
the FDA or the government as the reason for their inability to  
conduct scientific research.

Kombucha is very risky therapy in HIV disease. Paul Stamets, a  
mycologist in Olympia, Washington offers three words of advice  
about Kombucha: "don't drink it". Stamets points to the  
contamination of Kombucha cultures grown in closets -  
particularly from a mold known as Aspergillus, some types of  
which are known to be poisonous or carcinogenic. Aspergillosis is  
an opportunistic disease seen in HIV patients that can be fatal and  
has been reported with increasing frequency. The invasion of this  
fungus in the lungs can be seen on chest x-rays as focal infections  
or cavitation.  

The Kombucha yeast culture also appears to contain antibiotic  
substances that may be toxic. The long-term use of Kombucha by  
HIV+ patients has the potential for developing resistant germs.  
Further, immune-suppressed persons should remember that the  
sugar and yeast in the Kombucha drink may contribute to a  
friendly environment for candidiasis.

Essiac is an herbal formula that has enjoyed popularity in the HIV+  
community. While Essiac was originally promoted as an anti-
cancer therapy, the latest spin on this formula is that it stimulates  
the immune system. Supposedly acquired from an Indian medicine  
man in 1922 by Rene Caisse, this formula acquired her last name  
spelled backwards. The marketers of this formula, Essiac USA,  
claim that HIV patients using it are reporting "increases in their T  
cells". The product literature states that Essiac "contains INULIN,  
a powerful immune system modulator which attaches to white  
{*filter*} cells (T cells) and makes them work better." A  
representative of Essiac USA, Bob Zendels, could not provide  
more details regarding his claims, and admitted that there have  
been no studies regarding the efficacy or safety of this formula.  
Further, inulin is a cooking.net">food starch, and there is no evidence that inulin  
makes white {*filter*} cells "work better".  

One of the herbs in Essiac is rhubarb, which is one of the strongest  
purgatives of traditional Chinese medicine. Unfortunately, the use  
of rhubarb in the disease process associated with HIV is  
contraindicated by Chinese medicine. Essiac USA claimed secrecy  
and would not reveal the amount of rhubarb in Essiac. In one  
recent case, an HIV+ patient lost more than twenty (20) pounds  
due to diarrhea over a two month period. While thoroughly  
questioning the patient, he finally admitted that he began taking  
Essiac two months earlier. The patient was advised to stop taking  
Essiac immediately. Shortly after, the diarrhea stopped and the  
patient began gaining weight.

Biomedical research of rhubarb reveals that it contains an  
anthranoid laxative (also found in aloe, cascara and frangula)  
substances which may play a role in colorectal cancer. The use of  
Essiac for a long time appears to cause a dark greenish or black  
discoloration on the surface of the abdominal viscera, known as  
pseudomelanosis coli. Given the association between  
immunodeficiency and different types of cancer, the chronic use of  
Essiac may increase the chances of colorectal cancer.

Another Essiac herb is sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella).  
Biomedical research on various Rumex species reveals cases of  
acute oxalate poisoning. One fatality reported in the literature  
involving the ingestion of Rumex crispus, with the pathological  
findings of "centrolobular hepatic necrosis and birefringement  
crystals in the liver and kidneys." Another Essiac herb is burdock  
root, Arctium lappa. Recent studies of extracts from this plant  
found that it had no effect on in vitro cultures of HIV-1.

In conclusion, HIV+ persons should never use any herbal formula  
on a continuous basis. Instead, herbs may be used for short periods  
of time and for well-defined conditions that may arise during the  
course of HIV disease. In the state of California, only  
acupuncturists are licensed to prescribe herbal substances.  
Although herbs are readily available, get advice from an  
acupuncturist that is familiar with treating HIV disease. Finally, be  
suspicious of the promotional hype surrounding all herbal claims  
for HIV disease. Be wary of secret ingredients, research from  
foreign countries, claims of Native American origins, newly  
discovered plant species, names spelled backwards and psychic  
visions that result in herbal prescriptions. All of these claims are  
commonly used to bolster herbal therapies for HIV disease.

W. Fred Shaw, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and  
herbologist in San Diego. Shaw has a Master's degree in  
Traditional Oriental Medicine, a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in  
Computer Science and is engaged in the research of alternative  
treatments for immune disorders. Shaw can be reached at P.O. Box  


        Shrine of the {*filter*}netic Madonna BBS  213-766-1356
"The board that Hates Rush Limbaugh *and* Newt Gingrich With A Passion"

Sun, 12 Oct 1997 03:00:00 GMT
 [ 2 post ] 

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