International Health News

Lead poisoning from Kombucha tea

CAMPERDOWN, AUSTRALIA. Kombucha tea is a mildly alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting sweet black tea with the Kombucha "mushroom". It is becoming an increasingly popular alternative remedy for many conditions including insomnia, impotence, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, arthritis, cancer, and AIDS. Medical doctors at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital recently were confronted with two cases of lead poisoning, which turned out to have been caused by drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. The couple involved had been drinking 250 ml of the tea every morning for six months. When they went to the hospital complaining of fatigue and abdominal pain their blood level of lead was found to be more than 10 times the normal level. They were treated with chelation therapy using calcium disodium edetate and their lead level returned to near normal six months later. The hospital doctors postulate that acids in the Kombucha tea (pH of 2.5) extracted the lead from the ceramic pot. Other research has shown that wine and spirits can extract high levels of lead from crystal decanters.
Phan, Tri Giang, et al. Lead poisoning from drinking Kombucha tea brewed in a ceramic pot. Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 169, December 1998, pp. 644-46

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