Kombucha is a fermented sweetened tea that dates back 2,000 years. In the last 10 years or so, it’s gained mass popularity for its alleged natural digestive benefits.

So is it true? Does kombucha help you poop?

There’s no definitive answer because there isn’t a lot of serious research behind that question, said Tai Ho, MD, a gastroenterologist with PACT Gastroenterology Center and Hartford HealthCare’s Digestive Health Center. “There’s very limited clinical evidence that kombucha provides significant digestive benefits,” he said. “And there have been no clinical trials.”

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“It’s important to remember that this is something that is not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved,” he said. Kombucha’s benefits “are all based on marketing towards consumers.”

Those who tout kombucha’s health benefits say it’s rich in probiotics, filled with live bacteria and yeasts that benefit your digestive system. They say tea contains polyphenols, which are known to act as strong antioxidants in the body and decrease inflammation.

Kombucha also provides B vitamins, a handful of essential minerals, organic acids such as acetic, glucuronic and D-Saccharic acids. These acids have been shown to be antimicrobial, meaning they fight against bacterial growth, proponents say.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends not drinking more than 12 ounces of kombucha a day. Ho noted that homemade kombucha can carry the risk of contamination, which can lead to infections. He said there have been some reports of liver toxicity caused by kombucha as well.

If you are interested in adding kombucha to your diet, Ho recommends:

  • Use commercial brands, which are made under sanitary, regulated conditions.
  • Don’t overdo it.
  • Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have with your digestion.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits and whole grains.