Well, I certainly didn't see this coming when I woke up this morning. But, I stumbled across a study looking at the effects of electromagnetic fields on the copper, zinc, and iron levels of rats, and how kombucha reduces those effects.
Published in the Journal of Radiation Research and Applied Sciences in 2014, the study is titled "Effect of kombucha on some trace element levels in different organs of electromagnetic field exposed rats."
The full text is available here.
There were 4 groups of rats. A control group not exposed to EMF, rats exposed to a 950 hz electromagnetic field from a commercially available cell phone, rats fed kombucha and not exposed to EMF, and rats exposed to a 950 hz electromagnetic field and fed kombucha.
Here's a section of the abstract if you just want the summary:
"The group of animals subjected to electromagnetic waves caused significant increases in iron copper levels and copper/zinc ratio accompanied with a decrease of zinc level in all studied organs. Combined treatment of kombucha with EMF resulted in a successful attenuation of these adverse effects of EMF."
EMF Exposure Causes Altered Copper, Iron, and Zinc Levels
OK, so the most striking thing off the bat is that the group of rats exposed to the cell phone had significantly altered iron, copper, and zinc levels. These three metals are heavily involved in oxidative stress management, and since previous studies have shown increased oxidative stress from EMF, the author posits that it may be due to increased oxidative stress in the rats. If you are new to the idea that electromagnetic radiation from things like cell phones and wi-fi have non-thermal biological effects, strap in for a ride. It's beyond the scope of this blogpost, but for now I'll point you toward the Bioinitiative Report and Dr. Martin Blank's book, Overpowered.
The table below shows a 50% increase in iron levels the intestine from rats exposed to EMF, as well as a 33% decrease in Zinc and a 23% increase copper. That's pretty massive.
Kombucha Seems to Dampen These Effects
For kombucha fed + EMF group rats (KT + EMF group) while it did not completely offset this effect, it statistically significantly shifted the levels closer to the control group. The study also examined effects in the brain and spleen with similar results.
The authors posit the following: Kombucha cultures contain two groups of symbiotic microbes: Xylinum and yeasts. Xylinum generates bacterial cellulose from ethanol produced by the yeast; bacterial cellulose is an efficient adsorbing agent that will adhere to metals ions and other substances thereby facilitating their removal (Wang & Zhang, 2011). The present results indicated that administration of kombucha to rats exposed to the electromagnetic waves showed amelioration in the studied trace elements homeostasis which may be due to the adsorption effects of bacterial cellulose produced by the kombucha culture. On the other hand, reduced glutathione helps in the reduction of heavy metal ions by accepting electrons (Galhardi et al., 2004).
For those of you not familiar with how important the balance of these metals is, you may be saying "oh, well thats just some simple Iron, Copper and Zinc." WRONG. The way those metals interact and balance with each other and many other systems of the body can create havoc if not regulated properly.
Copper, zinc, and iron disregulation are associated with a number of health conditions including chronic fatigue, hashimotos thyroiditis, anxiety, asthma, depression, autism, infertility, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and more. These three metals bind competitively with each other's transport molecules and enzymes, and thus the balance of them is extremely important. They act as co-factors and substrates for a variety of processes and reactions in the body.
Could electromagnetic fields be driving altered metal homeostasis in humans? While the present study doesn't comment on that, there are human studies that show altered oxidative stress profiles from people sensitive to electromagnetic fields. It appears that certain common genetic variants in antioxidant genes such as GSTM (glutathione s-transferase) and CYP2C9 (a cytochrome P450 detox enzyme) may create the predisposition for higher oxidative stress in relation to exposure to EMF. There's a good study on that here.
Should I drink more kombucha?
My gut instinct (pun intended) is that there are more efficient ways to offset the oxidative properties of EMF, such as NRF2 activators like Protandim, sufficient grounding, and by limiting exposure in general. But this is certainly an interesting potential tool, especially for those that may have altered iron, copper, or zinc status. I look forward to seeing similar studies in humans. Rat metabolism can only tell us so much, but the results are pretty striking.