Eight Potential Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha is a sweet, fizzy drink made of yeast, sugar, and fermented tea. It has a number of potential health benefits, including gut health and liver function.

This article explores eight potential health benefits of kombucha and looks at the research that supports them.

What is kombucha?

A jar of raw kombucha fermented drink, on a wooden table with chopped up lemon and a stem of ginger.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that is popular for its purported health benefits.

To make kombucha, sweetened green or black tea is fermented with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY.

During the fermentation process, the yeast in the SCOBY breaks down the sugar in the tea and releases probiotic bacteria.

Kombucha becomes carbonated after fermentation, which is why the drink is fizzy.

Potential health benefits

There is a range of potential health benefits of kombucha, including:

1. Gut health

As this 2014 study confirms, the fermentation process of kombucha means that the drink is rich in probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are similar to healthful bacteria that are found in the gut.

Consuming probiotics may improve overall gut health. Probiotic bacteria have been found to help treat diarrhea, and some research suggests they may help ease irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).

More research is needed into how kombucha improves gut health, but the link between probiotics and gut health suggests it may support the digestive system.

The link between healthy bacteria in the digestive system and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. If the probiotics in kombucha improve gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system.

2. Cancer risk

There is growing evidence to suggest drinking kombucha could help reduce the risk of cancer.

2008 study found that kombucha helped prevent the growth of cancer cells. Further research in 2013 found that kombucha decreased the survival of cancer cells. Both studies suggest kombucha could play a role in treating or preventing cancer.

It is important to note that these studies looked at the effects of kombucha on cancer cells in a test tube. More research is needed to see if people who drink kombucha have a reduced risk of developing cancer.

3. Infection risk

A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented.

study carried out in 2000 found that kombucha was able to kill microbes and help fight a range of bacteria. This suggests that it may help prevent infections by killing the bacteria that cause them before they are absorbed by the body.

4. Mental health

Young smiling woman drinking fruit juice ice tea.
The probiotics in kombucha are thought to have the ability to treat depression.

There may be a link between probiotics and depression, suggesting that drinking probiotic-rich kombucha could help promote positive mental health.

There are strong links between depression and inflammation so the anti-inflammatory effect of kombucha may help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.

2017 review looked at a number of existing studies and concluded that there is strong evidence that probiotics may help treat depression. However, further research is needed to prove how effective they are.

5. Heart disease

Levels of certain types of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Studies in 2012 and 2015 found that kombucha helps to reduce levels of the cholesterol linked to heart disease. Cholesterol levels and heart disease are also influenced by diet, exercise, weight, lifestyle habits, and inflammation. However, the research cited here suggests drinking kombucha may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

At the same time, it is important to note that these studies were in rats. More research is needed to prove that kombucha reduces the risk of heart disease in humans.

6. Weight loss

When kombucha is made with green tea, it may aid weight loss. A 2008 study found that obese people who took green tea extract burned more calories and lost more weight than those who did not.

If kombucha is made with green tea, it follows that it could have a similarly positive effect on weight loss.

Again, researchers need to look at kombucha and weight loss specifically before this is certain.

7. Liver health

Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells.

Some studies, the most recent being in 2011, have found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver. This suggests that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation.

However, studies to date have looked at rats and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.

8. Type 2 diabetes management

Kombucha tea in iced bottles, with fruit segments fermenting.
Kombucha may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and aid in the management of diabetes.

Kombucha may also be helpful in managing type 2 diabetes.

2012 study found that kombucha helped to manage blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. This finding suggests it may be helpful in type 2 diabetes management.

Again, more research is needed to say with certainty whether kombucha can have the same benefits in type 2 diabetes management for humans.

Are there any risks?

It is important to be careful when making kombucha at home, as it can ferment for too long. It is also possible for kombucha to become contaminated when not made in a sterile environment.

Over-fermentation or contamination may cause health problems so it may be safer to buy kombucha in a store than to make it at home.

Store-bought kombucha normally has a lower alcohol content than homemade versions, but it is important to check the sugar content.

There are many potential health benefits of kombucha. However, it is important to remember that research is ongoing and not all benefits have been proven in studies with human participants.

If made properly or bought in-store, kombucha is a probiotic-rich drink that is safe to enjoy as part of a healthful diet.

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Benefits of Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Some people may turn to a hot stone massage as a way of relaxing after a stressful or tense time.

A massage therapist uses different techniques to relax the long, skeletal muscles of the body. There are many movements that the therapist can use, such as long strokes, circular motions, tapping, and kneading.

What is hot stone massage therapy?

hot stone massage
A hot stone massage involves flat basalt stones being immersed in hot water and then placed onto specific parts of the body.

During a hot stone massage, the techniques of a regular massage are applied. However, the therapist also works with hot stones that are placed on specific parts of the body.

The stones are smooth and flat and usually made of the volcanic rock type called basalt. These particular stones are chosen because they retain heat.

The stones used for a hot stone massage are placed in hot water to warm up before being applied. They are then placed onto specific areas of the body, such as:

  • the back
  • the stomach
  • the face
  • the hands
  • the feet

Some massage therapists hold the stones in their hands and use them to massage with. This allows the therapist to get deeper into the muscles without more pressure, helping their client to relax yet further.

Occasionally, cold stones can be used on the face or after the hot stones have been applied. Cold temperature helps to calm swollen blood vessels and soothe hot skin.

This type of hot stone therapeutic treatment is thought to have originated in China almost 2,000 years ago. Since then, the technique of using stones for healing has been used in many different cultures, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt, and India.

Five benefits

In addition to deep relaxation, there are many benefits to having a hot stone massage. They include:

1. Pain relief

Hot stone massage has specifically been associated with symptom relief in people with a variety of conditions, such as fibromyalgia and other autoimmune disorders.

Several studies, including on fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, have linked moderate massage techniques with lessening pain and improving range of motion.

2. Stress relief

Massage is an effective method for stress relief. Several studies have shown that massage reduces stress and anxiety and improves cardiovascular health.

3. Increased joint flexibility

Muscle tension can make it difficult and more painful to move the joints. Massage helps to relax muscles, which makes it easier and more comfortable for someone to move.

People with certain joint disorders may benefit particularly from hot stone massage.

4. Decreased muscle spasms and tension

Muscles that are tense and in spasm can cause a lot of pain and interfere with daily life. Reducing the inflammation and tension in the skeletal muscles eases both muscle spasms and pain.

As previously said, massage and the use of hot stones can promote relaxation of the muscles and joints in the body to ease both pain and spasms.

5. Better sleep

Many people do not sleep well. Factors such as stress, insomnia, and busy schedules mean they get much less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

A review of some the literature on the effectiveness of massage shows that it is helpful in promoting relaxation and sleep in older people.

Risks

Despite the many benefits associated with hot stone massage, it is not an appropriate therapy for everyone.

There are some people who should not have a massage, and more specifically, a hot stone massage.

For hot stone massage, some of the contraindications, or factors that mean a person should not have a particular treatment, are listed below.

Breaks in the skin

Anyone with injuries or breaks in the skin should avoid a hot stone massage until those injuries have healed.

Recent or severe bruising, cuts or scrapes, sunburn or varicose veins increase the risk of further tissue damage or injury. They also raise the chance of infection being introduced via bacteria from the massage oils or stones.

Infection or illness

This may sound like common sense, but anyone with a fever, cold, or flu should avoid a massage until they feel better.

Someone with a fever may spread their germs, and they will have difficulty regulating their body temperature, as well. This will leave them feeling more uncomfortable when hot stones are put on their skin.

Heart disease

Heart disease can cause swelling or other problems in the veins or arteries of the legs, both of which can be negatively affected by a massage.

A person should always tell the massage therapist about any health issues they have so that they can be aware of potential risks.

Diabetes

Diabetes influences how well the nerves and blood vessels function in the fingers and feet. People with diabetes can lose feeling in their hands and feet, making them unable to feel if an injury, such as a burn, occurs.

When it comes to massage, they may not be able to tell if the massage therapist is using too much pressure, or if the hot stones are burning their skin.

Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Drugs and alcohol do not mix well with massage. Both impair the ability to give feedback if necessary and also affect judgment, and a person’s self-control over their impulses.

Furthermore, having a massage can leave someone feeling light-headed or wobbly. Drinking alcohol will compound and worsen these feeling.

Pregnancy

Prenatal massage can be very relaxing and beneficial for many women, during their pregnancy. However, some practitioners feel uncomfortable with using hot stones on a pregnant woman.

Getting the most from a massage

Even though hot stone massage is safe and effective for relaxation, there are strategies that will make it a better experience.

  • People should be sure to go to a respected spa where the practitioners are trained and licensed, according to local and state policies. The spa should practice good hygiene and clean the stones, appropriately.
  • It is important for people to talk to the massage therapist. Clients need to let them know if the pressure is too hard, or too soft, or if the stones are too hot.
  • The massage therapist wants to give a great massage, and they depend on their clients letting them know if there is something they can do to make that better. Therapists will not be insulted if they are told something is uncomfortable.
  • If in doubt, a person should ask their doctor about any medical conditions that may interfere with having a massage, particularly a hot stone massage.

To get the best out of a hot stone massage, it is important for people to be open with their massage therapist.

The massage therapist should be aware of any health conditions a client has that could affect how they perform the massage.

A-fib and Exercise: Health Benefits and Risks

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat caused by faulty electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart. In people with atrial fibrillation, the heart beats irregularly and often too quickly.

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) can result in the heart not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, which may cause symptoms like heart fluttering, weakness, and dizziness. It may eventually lead to serious complications including stroke and new or worsening heart failure.

Is it safe to exercise with A-fib?

[woman looking at heart monitor while exercising]
Wearing a heart monitor during exercise enables people with A-fib to check their heart rate easily and reduce the risk of symptoms.

A-fib may reduce a person’s ability to exercise. It is generally recommended that people with A-fib do some exercise. However, people with A-fib should consult with their doctor and take proper precautions before starting any exercise program.

In some cases, a heart specialist may not want a person to start or increase an exercise program before treatment for A-fib starts. In other cases, moderate exercise and increases in current routines may be encouraged.