- April 26, 2022
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While it is true that consuming kombucha can result in a false positive drug test result, it is very rare. Obviously you don't want to consume "hard" or alcoholic kombucha as that is like drinking beer and could result in a true positive test. Homebrewed kombucha can have higher levels of alcohol that you bargained for and could have you wishing you didn't drink that glass of booch prior to your drug test.
Kombucha is made up of black or green tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast; it doesn’t explicitly contain liquor. However, the process of fermentation used to produce it inadvertently forms ethanol or alcohol. While most commercial kombucha has an alcohol content below 0.5%, allowing it to be listed as a non-alcoholic beverage, homebrewed kombucha differs. Their levels lie somewhere between 1% and 3%, depending on the manufacturer, and based on the exact level; they may be classified as alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Suppose you have already done so or are considering adopting this delicious beverage into your daily routine. In that case, it is essential you know the downsides to it, in addition to the overwhelming advantages.
Table of Contents
Can Drinking Kombucha Make You Fail A Drug Test?
While it doesn’t always do so, it is certainly possible and largely depends on the type of test administered and the quantity of kombucha consumed. Standard drug tests do not include alcohol testing by default, but they can easily be arranged if requested explicitly by the person or organization ordering the tests.
This is usually done through one of several different tests:
1. Breathalyzer or Saliva Tests
Administered usually after being pulled over, a breathalyzer can detect alcohol levels in your mouth. For example, if you drank kombucha with a higher than 0.5% alcohol content, it would result in a positive test. This is because that alcohol level, while low, has accumulated in your mouth, affecting your breath and causing a positive result. Similarly, saliva tests detect the presence of ethanol in your mouth.
However, breathalyzers are infamous for being inaccurate. A similar situation could very well arise if a person has recently used mouthwash or cough syrup, as they have identical alcohol content levels to a cup of kombucha.
2. Blood Alcohol Content Tests
The safest one when it comes to kombucha consumption, BAC Tests detect levels of alcohol in an obtained blood sample. Considered the most accurate as it tests for very recent consumption, it does not usually test positive for kombucha as its alcohol content is negligible.
However, that may change if the person has consumed enough kombucha to yield a positive test. For commercial kombucha with levels below 0.5%, this could mean drinking more than ten bottles of this beverage in one sitting, but this number could be significantly lower for homebrewed kombucha which has a higher alcohol content level.
3. EtG Tests
The most common test used to detect whether a person has consumed alcohol is the test for ethyl glucuronide. In simple terms, when alcohol enters your body, it is digested into smaller compounds, one of which is ethyl glucuronide which can only leave your body naturally. While alcohol stays in the system for only twelve to forty-eight hours, this little derivative survives up to five days. This is why the two tests mentioned above only test positive if alcohol was consumed recently, but this one doesn’t need alcohol to be present within the body.
Even though it can deduce if someone has ingested alcohol in the last five days, it cannot identify the source of that alcohol. Resultantly, many products such as beer and hand sanitizer could very well yield a positive result, albeit a very low one. Levels of alcohol lesser than 500ng/mL are displayed as ‘very low,’ but that can also mean light drinking in the last two days or heavy drinking in the days before that.
Kombucha also produces a positive, very low EtG test that is prone to rise depending on the quantity consumed, the time duration between the consumption and the test, and whether it was commercial or homebrewed. It is easier to increase your EtG levels if you have consumed the latter.
What Can Cause A False Positive Urine Test?
It is pretty standard for drug tests to yield false positives. A report by the American Psychiatric Association states that one in every ten drug tests is likely to be a false positive. This could be for a multitude of different reasons, for instance:
One might receive false positive alcohol detection due to an underlying medical condition. This is usually common in people with diabetes suffering from a urinary tract infection. As glucose is present in their urine, some of it may be fermented into ethanol by the causative microorganisms of the aforementioned UTI, resulting in a positive test for ethanol or its byproduct, ethyl glucuronide.
That is not the only medical condition that may yield a false positive. Rare conditions like the Auto-Brewery Syndrome (ABS) where unwanted microorganisms in the body’s digestive tract readily ferment the consumed carbohydrates into ethanol. While this is not a common condition, it may still be one of the reasons why someone may get an incorrect drug test result.
Improper Test Conduction
A faulty test kit and improper protocol carried out when testing could be another reason for a false positive. While the former is self-explanatory, urine samples are required to be refrigerated after collection. If that is not done, bacterial growth in the room-temperature urine could raise the EtG levels, producing an inaccurate positive reading.
Usage of Household Items That Contain Alcohol
As established above, EtG tests cannot identify the source of the alcohol listed as positive. Resultantly, many household items like mouthwash or antiperspirants used regularly can be mistaken as alcohol. This is because ethanol is used to produce such things, and if they enter your system, the test could misinterpret those as liquor.
What Can Show Up As Alcohol In A Drug Test?
A large variety of items you unknowingly use in your daily life contain ethanol as a manufacturing ingredient. Suppose these are applied, for example, hand sanitizers, inhaled in the form of sprays, or ingested. In that case, the ethanol and its derivatives such as ethyl sulfate and ethyl glucuronide can conclude a false positive. These items include:
- Mouthwash (most common)
- Non-Alcoholic Beer or wine
- Some brands of chewing gum
- Germ-killing Hand Sanitizers
- Hair Dye
- Perfume or Cologne
- Bug Sprays
- Nail polish remover
- Breath-cleaning products such as sprays
This list also includes some medications such as cough syrups, cough drops, alcohol-based cold and flu medications such as NyQuil, and common drugs like mannitol and paracetamol that contain ethanol in their composition.
As these drug tests are not the best metric of your intoxication, it is highly recommended that the listed products be avoided if there is a pre-scheduled drug test on your schedule.
If you have a household item and are unsure of its alcohol content level, you can refer to the ‘Household Products Database’ on the National Library of Medicine website.
Can Certain Foods Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?
Other than household products, certain foods can result in a higher number of positives in drug tests. Some of these contain alcohol while others contain trace amounts of other drugs, all of them can result in you failing that test. While these foods you avoid may differ based on what the test administered is testing for, such as alcohol or other drugs, it is better to be cautious.
Foods that contain alcohol and should thus be avoided before a drug test, especially a breathalyzer, BAC, or EtG test, include:
- Durian, as some alcohol from this ripe fruit, concentrates in your mouth.
- Pizza, as fermentation by yeast, is what causes its dough to rise.
- Bread and pastries, for the same reasons as pizza.
- Vanilla and its extracts have a 35% alcohol level.
- Other flavored extracts such as almond and lemon extract.
Foods that do not contain alcohol but would make you fail a standard drug test in other ways consist of:
- Cocoa powder and cocoa tea, as their metabolites, are the same as cocaine.
- Granola bars are produced from hemp seeds.
- Poppy seeds contain minute traces of morphine, codeine, and other opiates.
- Cannabidiol in its various forms.
- Dietary supplements such as B12 supplements, which are produced via hemp seed oil and other sports enhancers.
- Tonic water, as it contains quinine.
Given the list of items above, it is highly recommended that you do not consume any of these before a drug test.
The Bottom Line
Although kombucha and numerous other seemingly normal products can yield a positive drug test, it is not always representative of your level of intoxication. In addition, there are methods to dispute the provided test results, one of which is involving your primary care doctor or pharmacist if need be. Generally, it is advisable to avoid the products listed above before a test, and if that is not possible, they should at least be consumed in moderation.
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Hi, we are Benga and Lunide. We are a couple with a passion for health and fitness. Lunide has competed in multiple running races and triathlons and Benga is a former collegiate track and field athlete who now maintains a workout regime to stay fit. Read more
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