By Cathy Wong, ND – Reviewed by a board-certified physician.
What it means when your bowel movement is green? It may be disconcerting to see green stool (or other types of weird-looking stool) in the toilet, but there are some typical reasons why it can happen. Here are a few of the most likely– and more worrisome– causes of green poop.
What Does Green Poop Mean?
The liver secretes an intense green fluid called bile into the small intestine or it is concentrated and kept in the gallbladder.
Bile contributes in the emulsification, absorption, and digestion of fat and fat-soluble vitamins.
It helps to soften stools and is responsible for providing stools their characteristic brown color. Bile helps to alkalinize the contents of the intestines. It is comprised of bile salts, cholesterol, phospholipids, bilirubin, and electrolytes.
As bile makes its method through to the small intestine and after that to the big intestine via the bile ducts, it gradually changes color from green to yellow to brown, due to acting bacteria in the big intestinal tract on the bile salts.
Green stool often indicates that food has passed through the intestines quicker than regular (called reduced bowel transit time), prior to it might be changed from green to brown. Diarrhea reduces bowel transit time, so any condition that causes diarrhea can result in a green stool.
Conditions that can cause green stool include:
- Laxative use (e.g. OTC laxatives, insoluble fiber or senna, cascara sagrada, rhubarb).
- Food poisoning.
- Celiac disease.
- Watery diarrhea due to Clostridium difficile (e.g. after antibiotic use).
- Medication side effects (e.g. ciprofloxacin, Lexapro, Nyquil, Zantac).
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Bacterial overgrowth.
- Infectious diarrhea– particularly Salmonella and Giardia.
- Tourist’s diarrhea.
- Graft versus host disease.
In many cases, soluble fiber can be increased in the diet to slow transit time. You can get soluble fiber naturally through food such as oats, vegetables (peas and other beans), rye, barley, particular fruits and vegetables (prune juice, plums, bananas, berries, carrots, the insides of apples and pears, root veggies, psyllium seeds. Likewise, see natural remedies for diarrhea for 3 methods to address diarrhea naturally.
Food, dyes, and supplements that can cause green stool include:
- Spinach, kale, and other green veggies.
- Juicing with green veggies or fruits or during a juice fast.
- Green or purple food coloring in drink blends, frozen ice pops, cake icing, blue Gatorade, packaged fruit snacks and other foods.
- Grape-flavored Pedialyte (might turn stools intense green).
- Foods that contain the green pigment chlorophyll can also cause momentarily green stool, consisting of algae and grasses such as wheatgrass, spirulina, barley yard, seaweed and chlorella.
- Nutritional supplements that contain chlorophyll, such as greens powder.
- Iron supplements and iron-enriched products, consisting of baby formula, are another cause of green stool.
When these foods, dyes, and supplements are withdrawn from the diet, the stool needs to go back to its typical color within a day.
An infant’s first defecation are normally green-black in color. This is called “meconium”– you ought to not see it after the infant is 3 days old.
Remember that you must always talk about with your doctor any symptoms or health problems, consisting of changes in stool.
Disclaimer: This site is for information only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. You ought to look for prompt treatment for any health problems and consult your doctor before using natural medicine or making a change to your routine.