TEEN HEALTH Published September25, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Teen Girl Gets Hepatitis from Online Green Tea

(Photo : Mario Tama | Getty Images News)

A teen girl who wants to lose weight developed acute hepatitis after drinking too much Chinese green tea she purchased online.

Based on the case published in BMJ Case Reports, the girl, 16, whose name remains withheld, was born in Yemen but currently lives in the UK. In an effort to speed up her weight loss, she decided to buy 2 boxes of Chinese green tea over the Internet. The exact name of the brand and the website are not mentioned in the report. One of the suggested benefits of green tea is its ability to enhance metabolism and burn more calories even when the person is at rest.

She drank at least three cups a day for about three months. However, while although she was losing weight, she also started developing certain symptoms such as abdominal and joint pain, as well as nausea. She went to see a doctor who diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection and sent her home with antibiotics.

But her condition turned worse despite the medications  until she turned yellow or jaundiced, one of the telltale signs that something is wrong with the liver. In the emergency, the acute medical team diagnosed her with hepatitis, a sudden inflammation of the liver caused by either a toxic substance or a virus. It can lead to organ failure when it's not promptly treated.

The physicians then went on to identify the potential source, which can be medications, illegal drugs, blood transfusion, or exposure to the virus in countries where hepatitis cases are still common. However, she had none of these. It's only when she talked about the Chinese green tea she found online that the doctor believed to have found the "causative agent." 

Green tea, in general, is safe to drink and contain antioxidant properties. However, the green tea she had may have chemicals that caused a negative reaction on the liver, which plays a huge role in detoxification. It's also possible that the green tea leaves used in the product had traces of pesticides. Although rare, pesticide-induced hepatitis exists. According to the teen girl, the ingredients were written in Chinese, so she didn't know what's found in every tea. 

The doctors immediately advised her to stop drinking the tea. The inflammation subsided with medications, and within a few months, her liver function returned to normal.

She shared her story to convince others to know the ingredients and side effects of whatever they're buying online.  

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