The A-list love it - but is 'anti-ageing drink' kombucha actually doing more harm than good?
By Victoria Wellman
Last updated at 6:11 PM on 28th February 2012
Celebrities will try just about anything to stay young and keep healthy even if it means drinking a fermented tea that tastes like sweet and sour vinegar.
Kombucha, a fermented beverage that has been hailed as the elixir of youth and a cure for all imaginable ailments, is a favourite among stars like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Halle Berry.
But some nutrition experts and scientists warn that the full extent of the effects of the fizzy tea are still unknown and fans should be aware of the potential health risks before indulging too over-zealously in the drink.
Fad? Celebrities are often the leaders of health and beauty trends and Gwyneth Paltrow (left) and Madonna (right) are powerful endorsements for kombucha
Cell-based studies and those conducted on animals have shown that kombucha helps protect the liver, combats yeast infections and fights the free-radicals that are associated with the ageing process.
Elixir: The fermented tea that has been used medicinally for centuries
With results like these, it's no small wonder that kombucha companies are doing so well. Celebrities, cancer patients, expectant mothers and people with digestion issues are just a handful of the groups of people to whom the lightly effervescent concoction appeals.
But these studies are inconclusive, warn experts, and the alleged benefits should not overshadow the potential health risks when it comes to human consumption.
Dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered Diet, Sharon Palmer, told the Daily Beast: 'It’s important to note the safety concerns of kombucha.There have been side effects reported - like stomach upsets, infections, and even deaths.'
The incident to which the dietician refers is most likely the 1995 death of a middle aged woman who suffered a heart attack after drinking home-made kombucha for two months.
Grocery and health food giant Whole Foods had its own concerns about the alcohol content in 2010 and promptly to took the product off its shelves only to restock it months later.
Pros and cons: Reese Witherspoon (left) and Halle Berry (right) are fans of the fizzy tea that some experts worry may cause as yet unknown side effects
A mixture of acetic acid, malic acid, butyric acid, oxalic acid, lactic acid, and a minimal amount of alcohol, kombucha's provenance is something of a mystery.
What is known is that it partly takes its name from the Chinese word, 'cha' meaning tea and has been consumed as a remedial drink for centuries in both Asia and Eastern Europe.
Tangy: With roots in Asia and Eastern Europe is hailed by many to keep drinkers youthful and protected against yeast infections among other ailments
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