Why is my poop green?

As a science blogger, I hear a lot of interesting questions, and this is one of the more interesting questions I’ve heard in a while. It is, I’m sure, rather disconcerting to notice that your feces are the color of a corroded penny, and not know why. Or, if your feces are the usual brown color that our species tends to produce, perhaps you’d like to know how to make your poop green for Saint Patrick’s day. Either way, read on:

So, why is my poop green?


Does green poop mean cancer? Liver disease? That you are an alien? Or was it just too much partying on Saint Patrick’s Day or something you ate?

There are several reasons why one can have green poop, one or two of which should concern you. Naturally, one of the possible reasons you will encounter on the Internet is cancer, but that is highly unlikely. More likely it is something else.

If you are on antibiotics, that could be the reason. Antibiotics can cause greenish diarrhea. Also, various factors (including antibiotic use) can cause bacteria that are not normally active in your gut to become more active, producing a green stool. Although most food that you eat, no matter what it looks like, ends up being brown when it has been converted to poop, some natural foods will retain their green color. Also, in the early development of your stools, they are greenish. If something causes feces to transit the intestines more quickly than usual, that could cause a greenish effect.

Quite possibly the most dramatically green stool is caused by food dyes. If you have a green stool, ask yourself if you’ve eaten anything with green food dye in it lately. If you have not, recall that green is a combination of yellow and blue. Copper green poop can be generated by the regular consumption, over a few days, of Metamucil and blue Gatorade. Don’t ask me how I know that. Anyway, consider the possibility that you’ve somehow combined something yellow and something blue to produce green. Try the orange Gatorade for a while.

If you have a green stool, wait a few days and keep checking, and consider the food dye explanation. If that does not satisfy you check out the Mayo Clinic web site and consider seeing your doctor. If you don’t have green poop but would like to, for Saint Patrick’s day, try the Metamucil and Gatorade idea, but only after consulting your doctor, who I’m sure will be very interested.

Finally, I hope you do realize that you are seeking potentially important medical advice on the blogosphere. I’m not sure that is such a great idea. (Though I do like the Mayo Clinic site.)

SEE: Poop: A Natural History

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