Any shade of brown is considered a “normal” feces color. However, certain substances can cause the feces to turn an unusual color, such as white, black, red or green. When your derriere delivers an unusual green package into the potty, it can be a bit alarming. Although you might assume that earthy color is caused by the green tea you’ve been drinking, there are a few other factors to consider.
Causes of Green Feces
A green stool may be caused by heavy intake of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale or collards. Green stools can also be caused by food dyes or artificial food colorings. These green, blue and purple dyes are commonly added to candy, drink mixes, ice pops, ice cream, frosting and gelatin. Iron supplements might also cause your feces to turn green temporarily. However, this is likely to happen only if you consume excess amounts of iron.
Green Tea & Stool Color
Green tea should not cause your feces to turn green. Although the green tea leaf is green, making the tea requires such a small quantity of the leaf that it should not impact stool color. If you are drinking fresh or homemade green tea, you should notice no changes in the color of your feces. However, if you are drinking prepackaged bottles of green tea, check the ingredient label for food dyes or colorings. In some cases, the manufacturer might add artificial colorings to the beverage to make it visually appealing. If food dyes are added to the beverage, you could certainly experience green feces if you drink enough of the green tea.
Green Tea Side Effects
Although drinking green tea does not typically cause a change in stool color, it can have other unusual side effects on the body. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, excessive amounts or concentrated extracts of green tea can be dangerous for patients with liver disease. Green tea also contains vitamin K, which can interact with anticoagulant and blood-thinning medications. Drinking a glass or two of green tea per day should be safe for most adults. However, if you plan to drink more than two glasses per day, speak with your physician to ensure your health and safety.
Although temporary green stools are a common side effect of certain foods, supplements and food dyes, they can also indicate a serious gastrointestinal infection or dysfunction. When food moves through the large intestine too quickly -- such as with diarrhea -- the green acidic bile does not have enough time to break down. As a result, it is excreted from the body in its original green color. Green feces might also indicate a viral or bacterial infection, such as those caused by salmonella or E. coli. If the green stool occurs with diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or other unusual symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
- MDHealth.com: What Causes Dark Green Stool?
- Cleveland Clinic: Stool Changes Q&A
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Green Tea
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea
- Physical Examination & Health Assessment; Carolyn Jarvis, Ph.D.