You might have been quite embarrassed to have to Google that.
But know that you are in good company.
Green poop is actually very common! (Especially going by how often it is searched for in Google.)
Before you give in to the panic after turning to see a blob of green that should be brown – first think back to what you have eaten in the last 24 hours.
It is most likely something you ate that is causing the green color (more on that in a bit).
If food wasn’t the cause, there are a few other reasons that your poop is green.
If it is a once-off occurrence, you almost certainly don’t have to worry. If it is ongoing, or you are experiencing other symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or pain – then go see your doctor.
Why Is Poop Brown, Anyway?
The standard brown color comes from a combination of elements. There are the dead red blood cells, the waste from the bacteria, and the bile from your intestines (which is a yellowish green color).
All these combine together, which (if you remember color theory) results in the brown you see.
What Could Be Causing Your Green Poop?
You’ve Been Eating A Lot Of Green Foods
Green foods like kale, spinach, wheatgrass, and broccoli contain chlorophyll – a plant pigment that gives the green hue to these vegetables.
If you’ve suddenly increased your intake of healthy green veggies, then that is most likely the cause of your green poop.
Interestingly – if you have also been eating a lot of plant foods that are blue or purple in color (such as blueberries).
When the pigments in these fruits or veggies mix with your yellowish-green bile, it results in a vivid green color.
If you have also eaten any food or had drinks that contained green, blue, or purple food coloring (St. Paddy’s day beer, for example), then that could also cause green poop.
To confirm if it is indeed your foods causing the green color, cut out green and blue/purple fruits and vegetables for a few days and see if your poop returns to its normal color. If it does, then you have nothing to worry about.
If not, then you will need to consider one of the other reasons that can cause green poop.
You Have An Infection (Bacterial, Viral, Or Parasitic)
If you have an infection from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, viruses like norovirus, or parasites like giardia, one of the symptoms you will suffer from is diarrhea.
Now, we need to take a quick a step back.
During the digestive process, bile plays a very important role (it helps your body break down fat from the diet, which then allows the fat to be absorbed in the small intestine).
During this process enzymes change your bile (chemically) from a yellowish green color, to brown.
Diarrhea forces your poop to go through your system too quickly. Because of this, your bile doesn’t have the opportunity to break down properly and turn brown.
It will keep its yellowish-green color as it mixes with the bacteria and other waste, thereby turning your poop green.
If you are experiencing diarrhea, along cramping, vomiting, or a fever, that isn’t clearing up after a few days, then see your doctor.
You’re Taking Antibiotics, Indomethacin, Or Taking The Birth Control Shot
Certain medications can actually cause green poop. For example, the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Even Depo-Provera – the birth control shot – can cause green poop.
Doctors don’t yet know why, but it is thought that perhaps these drugs may alter the way your body digests food slightly.
When it comes to antibiotics, the green poop occurs because the antibiotics (though not all antibiotics), interfere with your gut flora. Your gut flora is the bacteria in your digestive system. This can, at times, cause green diarrhea filled with bile.
You Have Gastrointestinal Conditions
Any gastrointestinal condition that causes diarrhea can possibly end up you having green stools.
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract. With this condition, bile may end up moving too quickly through your intestines.
Celiac disease – which comes from an intolerance to gluten – can cause stomach pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis can also lead to green stools.
If you have been diagnosed with IBS, you probably know that certain foods and events can trigger your symptoms.
If you’re under a lot of stress, have eaten foods that cause flare-ups (wheat, citrus, dairy) or are going through hormonal changes (such as your period), then IBS could force your stool to rush through your body too quickly. This can then result in green poop.
If this happens only occasionally, then you don’t have to worry. If, however, you are suffering from green diarrhea regularly, I recommend setting an appointment with your doctor to see how to can reduce or avoid these flare-ups.
Ulcerative colitis is the name given when you have sores and inflammation in your digestive tract – most often in the large intestine and rectum. One of the (many, unpleasant) symptoms of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea, and as with other gastrointestinal disorders, the diarrhea will be green from the bile.
Overuse of laxatives – which is unhealthy in an of itself, can also end up with you having green stools.
You’re Taking Iron Supplements
If you’ve been prescribed iron supplements and you are experience green poop, then you need to go back to your doctor.
The green poop is a sign that your body isn’t absorbing the iron supplements properly. If your poop is black, however, that could mean your body is absorbing the iron.
It is important to note that you should only be taking an iron supplement if it has been prescribed to you by a doctor, for a issue like iron deficiency anemia.
Taking iron supplements when you don’t actually need them can be potentially dangerous, and can cause nausea and vomiting.
You’ve Recently Had Your Gallbladder Removed
Your gallbladder stores bile. If you have gallstones, your gallbladder may need to be removed. This is known as a cholecystectomy.
For the first 8 weeks or so after having your gallbladder removed, you may have some diarrhea. The diarrhea will have more bile in it than usual, which will result in your poop having a green color.
If the 8 weeks have passed, or if you’re concerned at the level of diarrhea, then make an appointment to see your doctor.
When To Seek Treatment For Green Poop
If you are suffering from green poop, don’t keep it to yourself.
Especially so if you are experiencing other symptoms along with it such as fatigue, abdominal pain, and weight loss.
If green stools are consistently showing up, then it is very likely linked to some illness or disorder, and it is important that you get it addressed. Don’t be embarrassed to go to your doctor with your concerns.
Your health is more important – and you don’t have anything to be embarrassed about, anyway.
And besides, considering how common green poop is, they have very likely come across it many, many times already.