green tea – miracle herb or a bomb of side effect

Green tea – Is it really a miracle herb that companies claim it to be or it is a bomb of side effects that could explode any time…!!!

Green tea benefits – A view on claimed health benefits or a potential for severe life threatening side effects

A lot has been written on green tea benefits on health. Rather than writing any more on health benefits of green tea, I will straight away come to the point ‘how safe are green tea extract supplements?’ You might also be interested in knowing whether you should go with green tea available as drink tea or as green tea extract pills.

Are you risking your life by taking green tea supplements?

Green tea is available in market in almost every online and physical store all over the world. People are buying and consuming green tea in various formulations like dip tea, extract pills, double extract pills, triple extract pills and in many more forms. Several companies have come up with formulations of green tea in combination with other herbs like coffee bean and garcinia to gain a lead over competition. Some of the health benefit claims made by these companies are anti-cancer, weight loss, anti-aging, Parkinson’s disease, kidney stones and low blood pressure.

Certain studies have shown the beneficial effects of green tea in weight loss. Green tea products hold a huge share on multi-billion dollar weight loss industry. Almost every brand of green tea, marketed for weight loss, claims 10 to 15% weight loss within 3 months.

But the question is how safe is green tea to consume on a daily basis?

Life threatening acute hepatotoxicity has been reported in 1 in 100,000 people taking green tea extract pills. As far as I know, Canada is the first country who has taken some actions for the safety of its citizens. For every brand of green tea, Canada has made it compulsory to display a warning on the packet itself. The warning states that ‘Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you have a liver disorder, develop symptoms of liver trouble such as abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice. Consult a healthcare practitioner if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Consult a healthcare practitioner if you have an iron deficiency.’ However, green tea is sold as a supplement and people buy them over the counter without even caring to ask the in-store pharmacist.

Case studies

3 cases of acute hepatotoxicity have been reported in Canada itself. 2 of them were fortunate enough to have beaten death. But, before you come to any conclusion, read further to know and understand more on safety and efficacy of green tea supplements and what researchers have to say for these supplements.

Active component in green tea extract and review of various scientific studies

Active component in green tea extract is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Numerous studies have been conducted to prove the efficacy of green tea extract in weight loss. However, most of these studies were not placebo controlled. While writing this article, I came across only one study that was conducted by Chinese researchers that was placebo controlled. To make you understand in simple words, a placebo controlled study determines whether the results obtained are psychological (feel good factor associated with taking a pill) or physiological (actual changes occurred within the body after taking the pill).

Most of the doctors all across the globe strongly believes that the weight loss observed by consumers after taking green tea extract pills is just a placebo effect i.e., psychological effect. The reason behind such beliefs held by the doctors and researchers is purely scientific. The active component of green tea – EGCG has poor bioavailability.

Are green tea extract supplements safe?

Well, as mentioned earlier, 1 in 100,000 people have suffered life threatening severe acute hepatotoxicity with green tea extract pills. That makes these supplements UNSAFE mainly because there is absolutely no way to determine whether you will suffer from this condition unless you actually suffer from that condition.

Green tea available as a drink tea is much safer than the green tea extract pills.

Unwanted effects of green tea

Osteoporosis – Deficiency of calcium is known to cause osteoporosis. Excess consumption of green tea increases the removal of calcium from the body through urine. It is advisable to take calcium supplements along with green tea.

Male infertility – While researching for this article, I came across two research studies conducted on animals to evaluate the effects of green tea supplements on testes. Both the studies concluded with similar results. A green tea supplement reduces the functions of testes, thereby lowering the levels of testosterone, thereby lowering the male reproductive ability.

Liver toxicity ­­– As mentioned earlier in this article, green tea supplements are known to cause life-threatening acute hepatotoxicity.

Caffeine related side effects – Excess consumption of green tea supplements may also produce caffeine related side effects like insomnia, stomach upset and frequent urination in some people.

Interactions with other medicine – Green tea supplements are promoted for its weight loss and anti-cancer properties. The active components of green tea are polyphenols. Polyphenols may reduce the activity of anti-cancer drugs. It is advisable to avoid any supplements when on radiotherapy or chemotherapy of cancer.

Avoid taking green tea supplements if you are taking any medicines for blood tinning. Vitamin K in green tea may nullify the effects of any such medicine.

Fasting and green tea – green tea supplements are promoted for weight loss. People taking weight loss program are known to skip meals while taking green tea supplements. This only helps to worsen the side effects.

Still not convinced?

Even after reading this article, if you still wish to give a try to green tea extract supplements with the extra money to waste upon, please note down the following points.

  • If possible, go with green tea available as drink tea since it is much safer and actually beneficial than the green tea extract pills.
  • A brand which promotes double or triple fat burning usually employs a highly concentrated extract. Higher the concentration of the extract more is the potential for side effects. Strictly avoid such brands.
  • Irrespective of recommended dosage mentioned on the container, do not take more than 1 pill in a day.
  • Fat burning has more to do with your life style, food habits and exercise than it have to with any supplement.
  • Always choose green tea available as drink tea and not as green tea extract supplements. Do not drink more than 2 or 3 small cups of green tea in a day.
  • Always remember, your life is precious than your quest of losing weight and looking slim.

A note and an appealThe purpose of this article is not to discourage you in your weight loss campaign, but to make you aware about the safe practices in choosing and consuming a green tea supplement. There are many people who are taking these supplements only on the basis of claimed green tea benefits. Please share this article as much as you can so that any person taking green tea supplement can become aware of the possible side effects.

further reading

By |2018-12-29T07:59:53+00:00March 16th, 2017|weight loss|Comments Off on green tea – miracle herb or a bomb of side effect

About the Author:

B. Pharm (K.L.E. society's S.V.V. Patil College of Pharmacy, Bengaluru) M. Pharm (Maharishi Arvind Institute of Pharmacy, Jaipur)


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