Why is my poop green? Should green poop be a cause of concern to you? Find out what does green poop tells you about your health, and how to get rid of it naturally.
Green stool is a condition in which the stool turns green or may possess a green tint. In some cases, this condition is common and may be caused due to certain foods and medications. However, in some cases, it may be indicative of an underlying health problem, disorder, or another abnormal process.
Poop can turn green due to several reasons. Some of these reasons include consumption of high-chlorophyll-containing veggies, certain iron-rich foods or iron supplements, products with green food coloring taking birth shots like Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) that is responsible for imparting green color to your poop as a side effect.
In addition, taking a course of antibiotics, or bacterial infection and consuming nutritional supplements that contain chlorophyll, green tea, wheatgrass, blue-green algae, greens powder, and spirulina. Although rarely a cause for concern, changes in poop color should be explored.
Symptoms of Green Stool
Symptoms that may accompany green stool (He & Kies, 1994) include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe diarrhea
- Weakness (loss of strength)
- Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen
- Undigested food or mucus in feces
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Alteration in bowel habits
- Gas, indigestion and flatulence
- Symptoms that are similar to flu – fever, tiredness, sore throat, headache, body aches, cough
- Bad-smelling stool
- Burning sensation or rectal pain
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
- Acute bleeding in the rectum
- Increase in unresponsiveness or passing out
- Very high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Not producing any urine or an infant who does not produce the usual amount of wet diapers
- No breathing or feeling of choking
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) or Tachypnea (Rapid Breathing)
- Chronic diarrhea
- Board-like abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Labored breathing
- Acute abdominal pain
- Less strength (weakness)
Why is My Poop Green: 11 Common Causes of Poop Green
There are several causes of green poop. Sometimes it is due to certain medications, sometimes due to certain foods and sometimes it is an indication of some underlying medical condition or health disorder. Several causes include:
1. You’re taking antibiotics
If you have been taking antibiotics recently for any illness or sickness, there you would definitely see a change in the color of your stool. Antibiotics (medicines that fight germs) have the potential to modify the bacterial content of the poop, sometimes also resulting in changing the color of the stool.
Having antibiotic-induced diarrhea (loose and watery stools) is also very common wherein the color of the stool varies from yellow, green, and sometimes brown. Fortunately, your stomach should clear up in 4 to 5 days, after your antibiotic course is complete (Yoon, & Yoon, 2018).
2. You’ve had an infection, especially involving diarrhea
When you suffer from any stomach infection, the bacteria invading your Gastrointestinal tract add a green tinge to your stool. Bacterial infections, like norovirus and salmonella (the common culprit behind most food poisoning) – also alter the normal flora in the poop thereby changing its color. Bacterial infections result in loose and watery stools (diarrhea) which make stools more frequent and looser.
If you have diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, or any other gastrointestinal condition, the effectiveness of the bile to break the food moving through the body very quickly reduces drastically, which causes your stool to remain a greenish color instead of brown (Nolan et al., 2015).
3. You have a liver or gastrointestinal illness
Gastrointestinal diseases like colitis and IBS can contribute a lighter green color to the stool. Food intolerances (digestive problems that occur after a certain food is eaten) that result in conditions like diarrhea can also result in making the poop color green.
The liver (the largest gland in the human body), gallbladder (the small sac-shaped organ beneath the liver), and Gastrointestinal system function in close collaboration with each other. If one of these organs is not functioning properly due to some illness or disease, the entire system is affected.
Bile – a brownish-green or yellowish-green alkaline fluid that helps in the digestive process, is released by the liver and stored in the gall bladder, and so green poop might be a sign of liver or gall bladder illness.
4. You’re eating a ton of green veggies
Foods play an important role in altering the color of your stool. Green veggies and fruits contain chlorophyll, which is a pigment responsible for making plants green.
Usually, a small serving of green veggies will not make any difference in the color of the stool, but a bigger serving such as kale, arugula, green bell peppers, arugula, bok choy, watercress, beet greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, peas, celery, spinach, green peas, broccoli would contribute a significant green color to your stool.
Other green foods are basil, parsley, cilantro, green fruits (green grapes, honeydew melon, jalapeno peppers, green apples and avocadoes, hemp seeds, matcha (powdered green tea), pistachio nuts, drinks with green food coloring, Gatorade, (grape-flavored Pedialyte), and fruit juice.
Foods that elevate transit time in the digestive tract, resulting in the faster travel of food than normal, can also cause the poop to turn green. These foods include caffeinated beverages and foods like alcohol, tea, coffee, sodas, and chocolate (Brewer & Seth, 2018).
5. You have been consuming green dyes (frosting and ice cream)
It is not uncommon to have green poop after eating highly-pigmented frosted cookies or mint ice cream, green ice pops, green Jell-O, green candy, green gummy snacks, canned green vegetables
Most of the processed foods, cooked food items in eateries, and packaged foods have food colors or food dues added to them. Green, red, blue, yellow, etc. food colors modify your poop color. In this case, the green stool is indicative of you being overconsuming colored and processed foodstuff.
6. You are taking nutritional supplements
Nutritional supplements that contain chlorophyll, green tea, wheatgrass, blue-green algae, greens powder, spirulina, barley grass, and chlorella can lead to green poop
7. You are taking iron supplements
Iron supplements will turn the stool dark, almost dark green or black color, which is normal and is expected. Iron supplements can give your stools a greenish tinge. This does not mean that there is some serious illness or intestinal bleeding.
If the stool turns black after consuming iron supplements, it means that your body is absorbing the iron properly. On the other hand, green stool when you’re taking iron supplements indicates that your body is not absorbing the iron supplement properly. In such a situation, you should consult your doctor and see whether you require to adjust your iron formulation or dosage (Auerbach & Adamson, 2016).
8. You recently had your gallbladder removed
In case your gall bladder (which stores bile) has been removed due to the formation of gallstones, you may have green poop. Also known as a cholecystectomy, the gall bladder removal surgery results in some diarrhea that includes more bile than usual resulting in your stool having a green color.
Diarrhea caused due to surgery of the gall bladder typically vanishes away within 8 weeks as the body adjusts. If the condition still persists or if you see it as a concern, immediately consult your doctor.
9. Medical procedures
Stool discoloration can also happen in case of a medical procedure like a transplant of bone marrow. In case the body does not accept the transplant, a condition termed graft versus host disease can happen that can terribly affect the stomach and digestive system resulting in diarrhea and green stools.
10. You’re on the birth control shot
Birth control shots are also responsible for changing your stool color. Birth control shots like Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) is responsible for imparting green color to your poop as a side effect.
Scientific evidence report that any alterations in hormones can also have an impact on the biliary system (liver and gallbladder). If whatever you eat is not digested properly and broken down normally, it could elevate the odds of green stool.
Women who are pregnant often experience green stool because they take prenatal vitamins rich in iron. Iron supplements will turn the stool dark, almost dark green or black color, which is normal and is expected.
Iron supplements can give your stools a greenish tinge. Green stool also happens during the 3rd trimester. Some females experience green poop during the third trimester as the food moves rapidly through the stomach and through the intestines.
How to treat green stool?
In most cases, green stool is indicative of modification of the digestive system and may not be a cause of concern.
The below-given tips may be helpful to get you through about green stool.
- Keep track of what you’re eating
One can maintain a food diary for comparing lunch/dinner to stool output. After having a green smoothie or spinach juice, one will experience green stool in a day or so.
- Review your medications
Most of the medications have details along with their prescription labels and will indicate if there will be any alteration in the stool color after having particular medications. OTC medicines and natural supplements (powder form, pill, or capsules) are among the most commonly overlooked offenders.
- Be patient if you’re ill
If you are suffering from any bacterial infection, you will experience diarrhea or an upset stomach which usually will resolve with the antibiotics course. While your stool may turn green while you are unwell, it will automatically return to its normal color once your infection is treated.
When to See Your Doctor
Green stool can be a normal condition depending on the person’s diet, medication status. However, it could be indicative of an underlying health issue like serious intestinal infection as well.
It is important to consult the doctor in case the condition remains persistent. Once the underlying health disorder is diagnosed, your doctor can develop and design a treatment plan specifically for you in order to address potential complications including:
- Lower potassium (K) level
- Malabsorption syndrome
- Dehydration from loss of fluids
If the green stools are an ongoing thing you are experiencing and you also experience some other symptoms along with it like high fever, dizziness, body aches, abdominal pain, and sometimes blood in the stool (or black stool), then you need immediate medical attention and it is important to talk to your doctor.
A rare but extremely serious reason for green stool in small children and adults is chemical poisoning like the pesticide paraquat. Green poop along with mucus may be indicative of discomfort, irritation, and inflammation in the intestinal lining.
If this condition persists for a longer duration of time, it could signal an underlying issue that may need medical treatment (in conditions like constipation, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea)
Your poop indicates a lot about your health. And while the texture, frequency, and odor are critical indicators of your stomach, intestines, kidney, liver, and bowel health, so is color.
Green stool is usually a normal thing and falls within the normal color range for the movement of bowels. However, persistent stool discoloration accompanied by some other symptoms may signal some serious health condition that needs immediate medical treatment.
To sum up, the occasional greenish stool is not a cause of concern. If the poop discoloration was caused because of some eatable, then the color should return to normal within a day or two.