Why is my poop green?

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Q: Why is my poop green?

A: Green poop is usually caused by your diet – as they say, what goes in must come out.  Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli contain large amounts of chlorophyll, a green pigment that can remain in the stool as it passes through your system. Artificial dyes from things like soft drinks and candies can also cause your stool to be weird colors.  Blueberries and Pepto Bismol can turn your stool black.

Another potential cause of green poop is bile. Bile is a greenish/yellowish chemical stored in our gall bladder that helps us to digest fat.  It is usually broken down in the intestines and gives stool it’s normal brown color.  But if stool moves too quickly through the intestines – like when you have diarrhea – it can pass through unchanged and give the stool a greenish color.

There are some infections, such as Salmonella, that can cause green poop but they are usually associated with severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Unless you’re having other symptoms we don’t usually worry too much about the color of poop.  The only exception would be black or red, which can be a sign of bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract.  If you ate a big piece of Red Velvet cake the night before, it’s probably OK.  But if you see red or black in the toilet bowl, and/or you are having other symptoms (abdominal pain, fever, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, etc.) be sure to come in and see us.

Adam Brandeberry, Med IV (OSU COM)

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)

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