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Reflection by Edgar Cahn

When a TimeBank member substitutes teaching how to make Kombucha for making the Kombucha, more is happening than transferring knowledge to save money.

First, any transfer of knowledge represents an exchange that empowers. Payment in Time Credits rather than money is a statement that empowerment is priceless.

Second, Kombucha itself has restorative powers that we still do not comprehend. It reflects an ancestral awareness that we can enlist nature to promote health. Our bodies somehow know how to make use of bacteria, microorganisms, and nutrients. Making Kombucha reflects that awareness on both a practical and symbolic level.

Third, when TimeBank members teach others to make their own Kombucha, it represents a triumph over commercialism. Health is less reliant on what one must buy. We can create sources of healing and renewal for ourselves and for others.

Fourth, because of its origins, making Kombucha is an acknowledgment of our debt to other cultures, other traditions, and other views of health. Acupuncture comes from an ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles in specific points on the body to manipulate the flow of energy or Qi. Likewise meditation as a mind and body practice originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions that pre-date Western medicine’s mechanistic approach.

The first recorded use of Kombucha was in China during the Tsin dynasty around 200 BC where it was referred to as the Remedy for Immortality or The Elixir of Life. Just as Western medicine is now acknowledging the power of those ancient traditions, so by ingesting Kombucha, one observer has written “you are actively acknowledging that you live in symbiosis with other living beings.” It wasn’t until the 1990s in Los Angeles that Kombucha became a commercial success in the U.S., fueled first by the AIDS epidemic, and later by a growing interest in probiotics and gut health.

By sharing how to make Kombucha, these TimeBank members are defining health as the product of an ecosystem that we must seek to learn about, preserve, and promote. We are not separate from nature. Day 13 celebrates that wisdom.