Green diarrhea in adults

Green diarrhea in adults can be caused due to a variety of reasons such as intake of certain medications or a diet that is rich in green leafy vegetables. It is usually a harmless and temporary condition.

Causes of green diarrhea in adults

It is important to know the functioning of the digestive system so as to understand the reasons behind green diarrhea in adults. The liver produces bile, a fluid responsible for absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins, which then goes into the small intestine or the bladder. The functioning and release of bile is what determines the color and texture of stool. In combination with bile, healthy feces changes color from green to yellow to brown. Thus, green diarrhea in adults may signify that stool has not passed at a normal pace within the intestine. It is considered as a malfunction of the digestive system and is known as decreased bowel transit.

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Some of the common causes of green diarrhea in adults are listed below:

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  • The diet: Individuals who eat green leafy veggies like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, etc., on a daily basis may experience evacuation of green stools. The presence of excessive food dyes and colors in the daily diet can also result in green diarrhea in adults, as the body is usually unable to metabolize such substances. Intake of an iron-rich diet is another cause. The body is unable to absorb the increased amounts of iron and releases iron salts to compensate for it, thereby leading to green stools.
  • Medications and supplements: Algae consists of vital vitamins, amino acids, and minerals which improve the health of the body and enhance its defense systems. Algae supplements are rich in fiber and can result in green diarrhea in adults when consumed daily.Intake of medications like multivitamin iron supplements which are iron-abundant can also cause green diarrhea in adults.
  • Mal-absorption: Problems of the digestive system such as lactose intolerance, deficient breakdown of fat, etc., can result in intestinal mal-absorption of food matter full of vital nutrients. This can eventually cause episodes of green diarrhea in adults, or constipation.
  • Eating disorders: People with eating disorders usually use laxatives to clear out the food that they have eaten and thus avoid gaining weight. Laxatives tend to cleanse the body of toxicities. Such toxins are usually full of roughage and high fiber content which then get removed as green diarrhea in adults.
  • Bacterial infection/buildup: Food poisoning caused by intake of foods contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria is one of the major causes of green diarrhea in adults.Salmonella poisoning can occur after eating undercooked meats that are more than slightly raw, or intake of stale dairy products. It may be noted that any kind bacterial presence in food typically gives rise to symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Intestinal conditions: Underlying presence of intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and pseudomembranous colitis, etc. can also cause green diarrhea in adults.
    • Ulcerative colitis is a condition characterized by development of scattered or groups of ulcers on the intestinal lining. It causes inflammation of the intestinal tract, eventually resulting in thin, loose, and green stools in the form of diarrhea.
    • Crohn’s disease is characterized by inflammation and swelling of the ileum, which then results in discomfort and pain in the lower parts of the intestinal tract along with green diarrhea in adults. Prolonged diarrhea can cause soreness and sensitivity of the intestines.
    • Pseudomembranous colitis is characterized by colon inflammation and green diarrhea after intake of antibiotics. It can also arise due to C. difficile bacteria buildup.
    • Celiac disease: It is characterized by intolerance to wheat or gluten, wherein the small intestinal tract lining adversely reacts to the occurrence of gluten and results in severe dysfunction of digestive processes. One of the adverse effects of celiac disease is the passage of green diarrhea with putrid odor.


As discussed above, it can be seen that green diarrhea in adults can arise due to varied causes. Hence, treatment is dependent on finding out the cause and then remedying it.

Diagnosis usually involves X-rays, blood tests, and stool culture examination and study. Some doctors may also opt for a colonoscopy to fully understand the causes behind green diarrhea in adults.

  • Diet modification as well as regular exercising for boosting the immune system are recommended.
  • Green diarrhea in adults caused due to bacterial or viral infections are treated with antibiotics and antiviral drugs.
  • A chronic case of green diarrhea in adults can result in severe dehydration. Hence, such patients are advised to intake lots of water and other fluids.
  • Inflammation and pain can be alleviated with analgesics and/or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Drinking lemonade juice with maple syrup and cayenne pepper can help find relief.
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