Is Green Tea Causing Liver Damage?

Green tea is supposed to be good for us, right? A metabolism boosting drink filled with powerful antioxidant properties? Green tea is a good choice of beverage for those wanting to get healthier isn’t it?  Well, you might be surprised to hear that there are some very scary cases in the news recently that are shaking a lot of green tea drinkers up.

Green Tea Causing Hepatitis?

green tea cupA recent case study in the British Medical Journal reports that a 16-year-old girl suffering from symptoms of nausea, joint pain, and non-specific abdominal pain visited her physician. The doctor did not feel it was serious and sent her home stating she may just have a minor infection. When she did not get better and her symptoms worsened, she went to the ER. By the time she arrived in the ER she was jaundiced as well.

The girl explained that she had recently started drinking green tea she purchased online to help her lose weight. Citing she had only lost a few pounds when she started to experience horrid pains in her joints. She also felt very dizzy and sick the study reported. The teen was admitted to the hospital and put through a battery of tests.

Test results revealed she had acute hepatitis, or an inflamed liver. She was lucky because once the cause was found, she was given intravenous fluids and medication that let her quickly recover. She also stopped drinking the tea. While the tea she purchased was not tested, doctors theorized that the tea itself could have contained the materials that affected her liver function. While doctors said for the most part green tea is predominantly very safe and healthy to drink with the benefit of antioxidant properties, the danger may be in the additives.

These additives can be chemicals or other ingredients that can cause hepatotoxicity which is chemical-driven liver damage. They said this is especially true in teas made and marketed especially for weight loss. These teas in loose and bag varieties are being sold online through major online retailers and other sources. They have become quite popular with those looking to lose weight or detox their bodies.  It actually appears a natural and safe way to slim down but as shown here, could have dire consequences. Beyond additives, pesticides used in growing the tea leaves could also be a culprit in liver disease.

green tea leaves

Dr. Donna Seger, head of the Tennessee Poison Center in Nashville, said she’s always concerned when people buy herbal supplements or tea over the Internet without knowing much about where it came from. “I think there are still tons of people who don’t realize that because it’s natural,” doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you, Seger said of unlisted herbs or other materials in products. “They can have very significant toxicity.”Seger said people often turn to herbal supplements for weight loss and body building and that the liver, used to filter out toxins, is often the first organ to signal something is wrong.

The teen said she will never buy any online tea or weight-loss pills online again.

Green Tea Extract Supplements Causing Severe Liver Damage?


A New York Times Article told the story of  17-year-old Christopher Herrera.  Christopher was using a concentrated green tea extract that he bought at a nutrition store as a “fat burning” supplement.  However the effects on Christopher were life-threatening. When he went to the ER at Texas Children’s Hospital with his chest, face and eyes bright yellow it was determined he was suffering from severe liver damage from taking the supplement. The damage was so severe he was put on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Christopher was terrified, this high school student from Katy, Texas was focused on the fact he needed a new liver and the possibility of his body rejecting it. Even with the best surgeons trying to comfort him it was gut wrenching. Research is showing us that Christopher’s case is not an isolated occurrence. Nutritional supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug related liver issues that are seen in hospitals. This is up 13% from just a decade ago. Since this study only had data from the most severe cases of liver damage, investigators believe the actual number of cases is even higher.


Middle-Aged Women At Risk?

It is not only naïve teenagers who are at risk. Today, growing numbers of  middle-aged women are turning to dietary supplements that promise to speed up fat burning and help them lose weight. These supplements appear to be a good choice for them and the women consider them  a “healthy option” to stack the weight loss deck in their favor. I think these discoveries and the potential effects will have a lot of people rethinking their choices.

“It’s really the Wild West,” said Dr. Herbert L. Bonkovsky, the director of the liver, digestive and metabolic disorders laboratory at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. “When people buy these dietary supplements, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they’re getting.”

So what do you think? Have you tried the detox or weight-loss teas? What about the herbal supplements like Garincia Cambogia, Forsklin, Raspberry Ketones, Green Tea and Green Coffee Extracts? What about the increasingly popular Matcha tea from Japan? Do you really know what is in those teas and supplements? Are you willing to play Russian Roulette with your health. I would love to hear your thoughts.



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