Interfaculty Lecture by Rev. Dr. W. S. K. Gbewonyo

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 10:00
K. A. Busia Hall

BSc, MSc (Ghana), MATS (Covenant Sem.), PhD (Birmingham)
Department Of Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology

Topic: A Biochemist Examines Kombucha: The Poor Man And The Rich Man’s Drink For Good Health

Date: Thursday, March 20, 2014

Time: 5.00 p.m.

Venue: K.A. Busia Hall

Chairman: Prof. Daniel KwadwoAsiedu, Dean, Faculty of Science

All are cordially invited.

Kombucha, also known as “Tea fungus” is sugared-tea drink fermented for about 14 days using a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeasts. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years and has rich anecdotal history regarding its potential to prevent and fight many diseases. The health benefits attributed to Kombucha include stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, improving digestive and liver functions and enhancing wound healing. It is a popular drink in the Eastern countries (China and Japan) from where it originated and was later introduced into Russia, then Germany, and more recently, the United States of America. Recent scientific studies give credence to some of the health claims attributed to Kombucha. It contains many micronutrients including vitamins B and C, antioxidants-mostly polyphenols, essential metal ions such as zinc, various organic acids (including glucuronic acid which is a “detoxifier”) and enzymes. Kombucha can be home-brewed. It is produced commercially particularly in Germany and the United States for public consumption as a health drink and as capsules. Just as with many nutraceuticals, no clinical studies have been published. In spite of this, only few cases of adverse effects due to its consumption have been recorded. This lecture aims at examining some of the scientific evidence in support of claims to the health benefits of Kombucha, and advocates for its local production and use by the poor and rich as a drink.


Rev Dr Winfred Seth Kofi Gbewonyo graduated with BSc Hons (Biochemistry with Chemistry) in 1976 and MSc (Biochemistry) from the University of Ghana in 1980. After his MSc he joined the Department of Biochemistry to begin a career in teaching and research. His research interest has focused on chemistry and actions of constituents of medicinal plants. He has supervised a number of graduate students and published papers on extracts and constituents of plants used for the treatment of asthma, diabetes, male impotence and for insect control. Rev Dr Gbewonyo is also a faculty member of the Insect Science Program (ARPPIS). His concern about the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides has led him to supervise many student theses on pesticide use patterns, toxicity and life of residues of insecticides in food products and metabolic resistance in insects as consequences of over-dependence on synthetic insecticide by farmers. Rev Dr Gbewonyo was a visiting fellow (Commonwealth Fellowship) to University of Ibadan in 1982 where he investigated anaphylaxis in guinea-pig lung as a model for the study of anti-asthmatic plants and a visiting scientist to Monsanto Company, St Louis, Missouri, USA (sabbatical, 1999) where he investigated the chemistry and actions of some plant constituents.

Rev Dr Gbewonyo has served on the Technical Committee on General and Household Chemicals of Ghana Standards Board, and on a number of Boards and Committees of the University of Ghana. He was Head of the Department of Biochemistry (2000-2002) and held several positions in the administration of Akuafo Hall, University of Ghana becoming the Hall Master from 2007 to 2010.
Prior to his ordination into the Pastoral Ministry, Rev Dr Gbewonyo was very actively involved in discipleship, lay Christian leadership at the national level and within his church. He has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary, USA. He is currently the District Pastor of Global Evangelical Church, Dome-Atomic. He has a wife and three children.