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Not All Green Tea Weight Loss Products are Safe Reports Medical Journal

Tim Boyer's picture
Green Tea cause of teen's hepatitis

According to a recent medical journal case study, a teenager developed a potentially fatal disease after drinking green tea she bought for weight loss.


Green tea is recognized by many health professionals as a safe and healthy drink and may help dieters lose weight. However, according to a recent published case study in this month’s British Medical Journal Case Reports there is a growing number of hepatitis cases associated with drinking green tea.

Hepatitis is a type of liver disease where inflammation causes tissue damage and scarring that significantly limits the liver’s ability to detoxify the blood. Hepatitis is commonly caused by one of five viral types—A, B, C, D, and E―but can also result from an autoimmune condition where the body makes antibodies that attack the liver cells, or can result from medications, drugs, toxins and drinking too much alcohol. Hepatitis is increasingly being found to have been transferred from one person to another during unsafe tattoo procedures.

According to the published case study, a 16-year-old girl arrived at a hospital with a complaint of nausea, joint and abdominal pain. Initially, she was believed to have a urinary tract infection and was prescribed antibiotics; however, her condition worsened with apparent yellowing to her skin and eyes prompting a return to the hospital ER for further investigation.

Subsequent tests revealed no viral, autoimmune or metabolic cause for the patient’s suspected hepatitis. It was only after further questioning by her physician that the patient then revealed she had been drinking green tea that she had bought online for weight loss and been taking it 3 times a day for the past 3 months. Soon after discontinuing drinking the green tea, her condition improved and she no longer had signs and symptoms of liver disease.

The doctors attribute her condition as being one of acute hepatitis with the probable cause of being due to the green tea she had bought online. While the cause of her acute hepatitis was not proven, historically there have been other cases of this type of condition in patients some of whom died and/or had to have a liver transplant that have been linked to drinking some green tea products.

According to the authors of the article, some green tea products may be contaminated with pesticides that could be causing the liver disease; or, could be due to adulteration of green tea with unknown, hidden ingredients that some manufacturers use for promoting weight loss.

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“We acknowledge that green tea is predominantly a very safe and healthy drink, with antioxidant properties. It is the secondary or tertiary processed products, rather than the freshly made leaves, that have been described in previous case reports. This raises the possibility that it is the addition of other chemicals causing hepatotoxicity, particularly in preparations used for weight loss. Also, pesticides may be widely used during the growing of tea trees and are known to contaminate green tea infusions. There is potential for pesticide-induced hepatitis to exist, especially from less regulated products ordered from developing countries over the internet.”

They authors state that there is a real need for healthcare workers and the public to be aware of herbal hepatotoxicity that can result when ingesting non-regulated herbal products.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Hepatitis

If you ever experience the following signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis, contact your physician immediately and be sure to alert him or her to ALL supplements you ingest, even if you believe them to be all-natural and safe.

• Fatigue
• Flu-like symptoms
• Dark urine
• Pale-colored stool
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite
• Unexplained weight loss
• Yellow skin and eyes (may be signs of jaundice)

For more about the hidden dangers of some herbal products, here is a warning about 12 potentially dangerous weight loss supplements.

Reference: “Chinese green tea and acute hepatitis: a rare yet recurring themeBMJ Case Reports Published 23 September 2015; Sebastian Thomas Lugg et al.



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