Why is your Poop Green?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you ever look down at the toilet after a bowel movement and wonder “Why is my poop green?” You’re not alone. Seeing green poop can be alarming at first glance. But in most cases, green stool is not a major cause for concern.

Green poop occurs when stool passes through the intestines too quickly. This rapid transit means bile doesn’t have time to break down completely and turn brown.

But what causes poop to turn green in the first place? And when should you see a doctor about green stool? This article covers the common reasons for green poop and when to seek medical care.

What Causes Green Poop?

Green poop usually occurs due to diet, medication, or an underlying medical condition. Here are some of the top reasons your poop may appear green:

Eating Green Foods

One of the most common reasons for green poop is eating lots of green foods. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, and lettuce contain large amounts of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants.

As these foods move through your digestive tract, chlorophyll can mix with stool and turn it green. Other green foods like avocados, green juices, spirulina, and matcha may also cause green poop.

Eating large quantities of green foods like smoothies or salads is a classic cause of green stool. But even having a couple servings of spinach can turn poop green in some people.

Food Coloring

Another dietary cause is food coloring agents like those found in flavored drink mixes, ice pops, cake frosting, and candy. The dyes that create vibrant greens, blues, and purples can pass through the intestines unabsorbed and color the stool.

Eating large amounts of foods with green, blue, or purple dyes may temporarily cause bright or dark green poop. This effect should subside once you stop eating the colored foods.


Your liver constantly produces bile, a digestive fluid that helps break down fats. Bile contains bilirubin, a yellow-orange pigment that gives bile its characteristic greenish color.

Normally, bile has time to mix with stool and turn it brown before being excreted. But when food passes through the intestines rapidly, bile doesn’t have time to break down fully. The result is greenish-colored poop.

Conditions that cause diarrhea like infections, food poisoning, or irritable bowel syndrome can lead to green stool from the faster transit time.


Certain medications and supplements can cause green poop:

  • Iron supplements contain ferrous sulfate, which has a greenish-black color. Iron can cause dark green, nearly black stool.
  • Antibiotics like ciprofloxacin may cause light green poop due to changes in gut bacteria.
  • Laxatives containing senna, a natural stimulant, can turn poop green due to increased bowel activity.
  • Antacids with aluminum hydroxide like Maalox can cause pale green poop.

If you notice green stool after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor. Switching medications may resolve the issue.

Digestive Disorders

Gastrointestinal conditions that affect the intestines often cause diarrhea and rapid transit of stool. As a result, people with these disorders may periodically pass green poop.

Examples include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Food intolerances – lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption

For people with chronic digestive issues, green poop may become a common occurrence especially during symptom flare-ups.


Viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections that cause diarrhea or vomiting can also lead to green poop.

Common culprits include:

  • Norovirus – the notorious “stomach flu” virus
  • Salmonella and E. coli food poisoning
  • Giardia – a parasitic infection often caught from contaminated water

Infections cause diarrhea, which speeds up transit time through the colon. Stool doesn’t have time to turn its normal brown color before being expelled, often resulting in green diarrhea.

When to See a Doctor About Green Poop

Most of the time, green stool is normal and not a cause for concern. But in some cases it may signal an underlying problem that needs medical attention.

See your doctor if green poop is accompanied by these symptoms:

  • Persistent diarrhea or nausea
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever higher than 101°F (38°C)
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramps

These symptoms could indicate a viral, bacterial or parasitic infection that may require treatment. Persistent diarrhea also leads to dehydration over time if fluids aren’t replaced.

Seeking medical care is especially important if symptoms last longer than two days or significantly interfere with daily life.

Also make an appointment with your doctor if you recently started a new medication and suspect it may be causing green poop. They can help determine if stopping or switching the drug may resolve your symptoms.

When Green Poop May Be an Emergency

Very rarely, green stool can be a sign of a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

Seek ER care if your green poop is accompanied by:

  • Poop that is black or bloodstained
  • Unbearable abdominal pain
  • Signs of an intestinal blockage – inability to pass stool or gas, vomiting
  • Extreme dizziness, weakness, or generally feeling very ill

These symptoms may indicate a severe condition like:

  • Bowel obstruction or perforation
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Ischemic bowel – lack of blood flow to the intestines

Don’t try to wait it out at home if your symptoms are severe. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Timely treatment is crucial for these conditions.

How to Prevent Green Poop

You may not be able to prevent green poop 100% of the time if you have a chronic digestive disorder. But for mild or intermittent cases, you can reduce episodes of green stool with a few simple steps:

  • Rehydrate – Drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte if you have diarrhea.
  • Avoid trigger foods – Cut back on big salads, green juices, and artificially colored foods if needed.
  • Take probiotics – Probiotic supplements can help normalize bowel movements.
  • Manage medications – Talk to your doctor about adjusting any medications suspected to cause green stool.
  • Treat infections – Take prescribed antibiotics fully to clear up bacterial or parasitic infections.
  • Reduce stress – Anxiety and stress can make GI symptoms like diarrhea worse. Try relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid dairy – Lactose intolerance may be a contributor if dairy gives you diarrhea. Limit milk, cheese, ice cream.

With some adjustments, you should be able to reduce troubling instances of emerald-green poop.

When to Stop Worrying About Green Poop

Green poop can seem like cause for concern when you first notice it. But in most cases, it’s a harmless side effect of diet or digestive issues and not a dire warning sign.

As long as you feel fine otherwise, don’t worry about the occasional bout of green poop, especially if it occurs right after eating leafy greens or green-dyed foods. Stay hydrated and it should resolve on its own soon.

However, persistent or severe symptoms always warrant medical evaluation. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you have ongoing diarrhea, pain, or other troubling symptoms.

With a few precautions, green poop doesn’t have to alarm you. Stay vigilant about your symptoms, but know that green stool is seldom serious. You can take steps to reduce troubling instances while getting checked out for severe or ongoing symptoms.

About The Author

Scroll to Top