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Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Feds Set to Put Makers of Kombucha Out of Business
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Are the producers of one of the world healthiest beverages about to be harassed out of business? The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department has sent warning letters to several producers of kombucha, a fermented tea drink with many health benefits and a trace of alcohol resulting from the fermentation process. The letters allege that kombucha may exceed the allowable alcohol limit for a non-alcoholic beverage, and mandate their bottles must carry a label identifying the contents as an alcoholic beverage subject to alcohol regulation and taxation. If producers don’t comply, they will face hefty fines and legal action.
Kombucha has been consumed for more than 100 years as a probiotic, body toner, and general health drink. It is a combination of friendly yeasts and bacteria. Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of its worth, there has been scant research done to document these benefits, probably because kombucha is completely natural, making it ineligible for a patent. Kombucha typically falls below the federal limit of 0.5% alcohol by volume.
Kombucha can be made at home with a starter culture easily obtained for free or almost free online. It has also been for sale as a bottled beverage for many years, sold in health food stores and healthy image grocery stores like Whole Foods. Lately kombucha has been gaining ground even in conventional grocery stores.
So why is this happening? Obviously there is no health threat here from fermented tea that produces a half of one percent alcohol in its making. According to an Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) report, the only reason they can think of for the governmental action is prodding from special interest groups. They question whether the soft drink industry is detecting a threat from the rapid growth in sales of kombucha, and they are using the power of the federal government to eliminate its competition.
What makes kombucha such a healthy drink? Along with many species of bacteria and yeasts, kombucha contains enzymes, polyphenols, glucuronic and other acids, and a range of B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, and B12. It is important to note that the function of glucuronic acid in the body is to combine with toxins and eliminate them. Because glucuronic acid is part of the body’s natural detoxification process, it is currently being evaluated as a treatment for certain diseases, most notably breast and prostate cancer. Glucuronic acid is also found in fruits and vegetables.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that kombucha balances and increases energy, sharpens eyesight, aids in joint function and digestion, and improves skin elasticity. Kombucha is adaptogenic, meaning it helps the body achieve and maintain homeostasis. It is protective of the liver, and its antioxidant content makes it a beverage that can slow the aging process.
As kombucha is a probiotic tea, it is able to help populate the large intestine with the friendly bacteria that compose 80% of the immune system. These bacteria dissolve harmful cells and micro-organisms, along with excess cholesterol, and these actions may explain why kombucha drinkers feel so much better after drinking the beverage regularly for several weeks. There have been dramatic health improvements observed in some people after a year of use. Results generally vary from person to person, depending on the condition of their constitution when they begin drinking kombucha.
The facts of the case against kombucha are outrageous
“The facts of the case reveal just how outrageous this investigation is – further suggesting that crony interests may be pulling the string,” said ANH in their report. “The government is using the same alcohol test for kombucha that it uses for wine, beer, and spirits. But the organic acids and natural sedimentation in kombucha can be read as ethanol, which throws off the results of the test.”
A letter has been sent to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) explaining the flaws of the testing methods used, and asking the bureaucratic organization to cease the harassment of kombucha producers until a special testing method can be established that is specific to the chemistry of the beverage. Polis has been a friend of those using natural means to keep themselves healthy. He has supported the sale of raw milk, and the freedom of supplement producers to tell customers about peer-reviewed studies on the attributes of their products.
Until this plays out, if you are a drinker of prepared kombucha it’s probably a good idea to order kombucha grains so that you can make the health- giving beverage at home. It’s not difficult to make kombucha. Check out the last address below to learn how.
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