"Kombucha-ching!" A Look at the Promising Research on Kombucha and Diabetes

As a person with diabetes, maintaining proper control of your blood sugar is a job every day. A 2023 study conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s School of Health in Washington, D.C. and published in Frontiers in Nutrition, suggests that drinking Kombucha, a bubbly beverage that’s grown in popularity in recent years and has been tied to improved gut health and energy levels, just might be able to help you out with blood sugar, too. So, what exactly is this beverage and possible new diabetes management aid?

What is Kombucha?

You might think kombucha is a relatively recent phenomenon as it has popped up in minimart displays and supermarket shelves in the past few years. But kombucha is thousands of years old and is believed to date back to 200 B.C., with roots in China. Soon, it made its way to Russia and Europe before becoming popular in the United States.

Kombucha is a bubbly beverage made from fermented tea, bacteria, and yeasts that is believed to have several wellness properties associated with digestion and overall energy levels. While most of these wellness claims remain unsubstantiated, a new study suggests that kombucha might have real benefits in helping those with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It might also help prevent or slow Type 2 diabetes from developing, and with nearly 40% of all Americans predicted to receive a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis by 2060, this is big news.

Breaking Down the Kombucha Study

The study included a cross-section of 12 participants who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Nine of them were women. Six of the participants were African American, and six were white. The group’s average age was 57, and nine of the 12 were currently on some form of insulin therapy.

The participants drank 8 ounces of ginger-flavored kombucha daily for four weeks. Following a two-month break to ensure that the kombucha's effects were washed out of their systems, the group then drank a similar-flavored placebo drink for four weeks. Blood sugar levels were carefully measured and logged during both periods.

Kombucha vs. Placebo: A Sparkling Win for Blood Sugar Control?

The results were impressive. While no dramatic changes in fasting blood glucose levels were reported during the placebo period. For the four weeks, the participants drank kombucha, and fasting blood glucose levels, on average, decreased from 164 milligrams to 116 milligrams.

This is a substantial drop, and one of the more critical notes regarding the study is that participants were not asked to change their diets in any way during the study, further pointing to the fact that kombucha led to the collective drop in blood sugar.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that fasting blood glucose (preprandial plasma glucose) taken before a meal should be between 80 ml/dL and 130 ml/dL. The 164 number participants experienced before drinking kombucha was out of the target range, and after drinking kombucha, they were brought back into the safe zone.

This is a milestone clinical trial and likely the first of its kind.

“Some laboratory and rodent studies of kombucha have shown promise, and one small study in people without diabetes showed kombucha lowered blood sugar, but to our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial examining the effects of kombucha in people with diabetes,” stated Dan Merenstein, MD, study author and professor of human science at Georgetown’s School of Health. “A lot more research needs to be done, but this is very promising,” he added.


This is a fascinating study, and the results are certainly promising. However, it is also a minimal clinical trial with only 12 participants. Indeed, ample evidence seems to show a connection between drinking kombucha and lowering fasting blood glucose levels. However, as Dr. Merenstein points out, more research needs to be done before conclusive claims can be made.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 33 million people in the United States are currently living with Type 2 diabetes, and this number is rapidly growing. Any new insights into ways to control blood sugar in those with diabetes and to slow or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in those with prediabetes, a condition a shocking 88 million Americans over the age of 20 have and likely don’t know it, are certainly steps in the right direction.


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