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What Does It Mean If Your Poop Is Green?

Learn about the many different reasons for seeing green in your bowel movements.

Regularly peeking at the bowl’s contents after a bowel movement may not be dinner table conversation – but it can provide insight into your overall health. Thanks in part to daytime television shows tackling formerly taboo subjects on health awareness, an increasing number of people are practicing elimination observation. A common stool color that frequently takes observers by surprise, green hues may seem strange – but are rarely cause for panic.

Paying attention to your body’s output is a smart practice. Noticing a drastically different color, shape or consistency can be a signal that a health issue needs to be addressed. While a short-term stool color change (such as a green or red hue) can easily be attributed to diet, lasting stool color changes might require further investigation.

Due to the presence of bile, poop’s normal color is brown. Made by the liver, concentrated and stored in the gallbladder, and secreted into the intestines to aid in food digestion, bile is the primary stool color determinant.

  • When secreted from the gallbladder into the intestines, bile is a dark green, bilirubin-containing liquid.
  • As bile travels through the intestines and mixes with fecal matter, it undergoes chemical changes that affect its color.
  • When bile progresses from the small intestine to the large intestine via the bile ducts, it progressively changes color from green to yellow to brown.
  • In the large intestine, bile-rich stool is metabolized by bacteria creating a byproduct, called stercobilin.
  • Stercobilin is what colors stool brown.

Page 1 2, Green Poop, Cathy Wong, Retrieved December 29, 2012,, 2012., What Can Cause Green Stool?, Amber J. Tresca, Retrieved December 29, 2012,, 2012., Stool Color Changes, Slamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH, Retrieved December 29, 2012, WebMD, Inc., 2012., Green Stool, Retrieved December 29, 2012, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2012.

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