Kombucha and constipation: Will it make you poop?

Constipation can be unbearable for many people given the frequency of the problem, the time and pain involved even when going to the bathroom, which has led to seek treatments beyond the conventional, remedies have often been the salvation in these cases.

Natural drinks such as kombucha have been shown to be able to relieve constipation, in addition to generating psychological comfort thanks to some of its properties, the stimulating effects of motility stimulated by probiotics is a key factor for its control. [1]

How can you relieve constipation?

Probiotics are a therapeutic potential in the treatment of constipation. This is considered by what has been observed in several studies where there are differences in the intestinal microbiota between individuals, observing a greater number of Clostridia and Bifidobacteria in those with constipation. [2]  [3]

Kombucha contains probiotics which have been considered beneficial for the treatment of constipation, as they are involved in several aspects that can promote intestinal motility. In the right amounts they can generate a better colonic transit in both healthy consumers and those with constipation.

Probiotics also lower the pH generating an acidic environment that has been shown to facilitate and reduce colonic transit time, being the Lactobacillus who create and maintain this environment. Even so, more studies are needed to better support the effectiveness of probiotics against constipation. [4]

What is the function of probiotics?

It is believed that modulation of the gut-brain axis through the microbiota may be key as a treatment for intestinal motility disorders. Several studies, although few and mostly in animals, have shown that the benefits of probiotics on intestinal motility are mediated by the nervous system. [5]

Dysregulation of the gut microbiota and the ENS (enteric nervous system) has been observed in patients with constipation, so the use of probiotics is considered for its control. Probiotics are also involved in the production of mucin in the mucus layer and bile acid metabolism that seems to be altered during constipation and contribute to intestinal motility. Still, more research is needed to back this up well.

Another aspect to mention is its effect on some components of the immune system that may influence intestinal transit or how certain strains of probiotics modify the luminal environment affecting the motility and mucous secretion of the colon relieving the symptoms of constipation.

Although, as we mentioned before, more studies are needed to better explain these effects, but that does not take away what has been observed in several analyzes in both humans and animals that highlight and confirm some benefits of probiotics as a therapeutic option for the relief of constipation. [4]  [5]

Can there be any drawbacks with its use?

Although there are patients who have benefited from taking kombucha to manage some digestive problems, it is possible that in certain cases it may increase the risk of spread and infection of some intestinal microorganisms, such as Clostridium septicum.

In patients with constipation there is a greater amount of Clostridium, these are natural bacteria of the human intestine, which under the right conditions can develop and increase in number enough to spread and infect other tissues generating disease.

This is apparently a strange case, but it can happen in patients susceptible to certain medical conditions, it was observed in a study a patient who used natural remedies for her constipation, drank kombucha tea and performed coffee enemas. Additionally, the patient had type 1 diabetes.

So it is possible that they have worked for the benefit of Clostridium, for this reason they are considered as three possible new risk factors for its dissemination, you should be cautious in the presence of other medical problems before applying various treatments or natural remedies. [5]  [6]

Can the low pH of kombucha help in constipation?

It is thought that the acidity of the drink may be involved in the relief of constipation, but because organic acids are degraded by digestive enzymes, they are not able to generate any effect, so the acidity of kombucha does not affect intestinal transit.

The acidity of kombucha is generated by organic acids which do not reach the intestine intact, the acids are degraded and absorbed in much of their journey through the lower digestive tract, so they are not able to generate any effect at the intestinal level, instead probiotics with the decrease in pH if they favor a change.

Probiotics are able to lower the pH of the intestinal lumen, thanks to the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid, propionic acid and lactic acid, so they increase colon peristalsis and accelerate colonic transit, but this information at the level of kombucha has not been demonstrated.  [4]  [7]

Is there any chance that it will promote constipation?

Not entirely, the only way in which it can promote constipation would be with the use of certain types of tea, such as Japanese tea or Chinese tea  that are associated with a high incidence of cases of constipation, the use of black tea has been considered as a cause of constipation, but it depends on how much it is used in kombucha.  [8]  [9]

In several studies it has been pointed out that kombucha is effective as a treatment of constipation, apart from probiotics, its caffeine and alcohol content could help soften the stool according to the testimony of in a small group of people, also adding mint tea can relieve constipation and irritable bowel. [8] [10] [11]

With only a low percentage of alcohol is enough to help control constipation, also green tea, and black tea as long as it is not used too much in the drink, in addition to being the most common ingredients used to prepare kombucha, help stimulate intestinal motility, helping as preventive and curative of constipation.  [8]  [12]

Hydration to control constipation

Kombucha in addition to being beneficial to health is considered a hydrating drink, has a good supply of water, vitamins, and minerals, which is useful against very dry and hard stools causing constipation, it has been pointed out that the lack of good hydration can increase the risk of constipation. [13]  [14]

The loss and lack of fluid consumption leads to dehydration or low hydration that can harden the stool and generate constipation, the colon absorbs the liquids that pass in the lumen, if there is too little water at that level the stool will be very dry hardening being more difficult to transit the intestine.

Drinking kombucha, water, or any other hydrating drink can help keep this process in balance, allowing to support intestinal function and other benefits such as good lubrication, maintaining temperature, bladder, and kidney function, among others. [13 [15]

Irritable bowel syndrome and constipation

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) has been associated with constipation, with a change in the frequency and consistency of stool, so that some people have both diarrhea and constipation. It is considered that kombucha can relieve this syndrome and therefore constipation secondary to it, but the results are controversial. [16]  [17]

In fact, we have an article entirely dedicated to kombucha and irritable bowel.

The probiotics in kombucha help restore bowel habits, although prebiotics for constipation dominant in IBS are considered more beneficial than probiotics, and some components of the drink increase stool softening. [18]  [19]

You should be careful with the consumption of kombucha, as some of its components could be irritating. The presence of FODMAPs (oligo, di and monosaccharides and polyols) and abundant fructose worsen IBS symptoms, but it is not certain what relationship they could have with the associated constipation. [12]  [18]

See also.