Does Drinking Kombucha Help Relieve GERD Symptoms?

People have prized kombucha for its healing properties since around 220 B.C. in Northeast China (via Forbes). The sweetened, fermented tea reportedly possesses immunity-boosting properties believed to heal various health conditions — some people claim it can help everything from cancer to AIDS. Although there is no scientific evidence that kombucha can help with these diseases, some researchers think fermented tea may contain healing benefits similar to tea and fermented foods. Plus, kombucha contains amino acids, vitamins, and nutrients that can help promote good health — but does drinking kombucha help relieve gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms?

According to The University of Kansas Health System, GERD is a medical condition marked by unbalanced acid levels in the stomach. GERD is basically recurrent acid reflux. Symptoms may include heartburn, chest pain, trouble swallowing, food regurgitation, hoarseness, sore throat, or dental problems. GERD is a treatable condition, and people with mild cases can often manage symptoms with diet and nutrition. Should you add kombucha to your diet to help alleviate GERD symptoms? Can it actually make symptoms better, or could it make them worse?

How kombucha affects GERD symptoms

Usually made from green or black tea and sweetened with sugar, kombucha offers many of tea's healing benefits. Healthline outlines some of kombucha's most potent benefits, including antioxidants, antibacterial properties, and probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to help relieve GERD symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation, as reported in a 2020 study published in Nutrients. Fermented foods like yogurt, raw kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha can help restore bacterial balance to the gut biome and may help reduce GERD symptoms (per MedicalNewsToday).

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests GERD symptoms may result from inflammation in the esophagus. The Cleveland Clinic affirms kombucha contains essential minerals, B vitamins, and most importantly for GERD, organic acids that transport anti-inflammatory polyphenols throughout the body. Still, more research is needed to support the benefits and risks of probiotic foods, including kombucha. However, three to four ounces a few times a day is considered safe, although there's no guarantee it will help relieve GERD symptoms. 

In short, there's not enough research-backed evidence to suggest kombucha will help relieve symptoms. As with any food or drink, discontinue use immediately if you experience unwanted symptoms, and consult with your doctor if your GERD symptoms are worsening.