Doctors say that a British teen contracted acute hepatitis and jaundice after consuming green tea to lose weight, Grub Street reports.
The unidentified 16-year-old was unable to read the directions on the box because they were in Chinese and drank approximately three cups per day. Doctors are certain that the teen’s consumption of the tea is the culprit for her ailments but believe that the tea itself is not what caused her health complications. Instead, they suspect that the unregulated additives and/or pesticides used in the production of the tea are what caused the issues.
When she first sought medical attention, the young woman was initially diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given antibiotics. However, after returning to the emergency room with symptoms that included yellowing skin and eyes, she confessed that she had been drinking a Chinese weight loss tea that she purchased online. Tests eventually revealed that she was suffering from acute hepatitis, or an enlarged liver.
What’s worse is that medical reports show that this isn’t the first time someone has fallen ill under similar circumstances. According to a British Medical Journal report by composed by doctors who treated the young woman, there are dozens of cases where individuals suffered medical complications after the consumption of tea extracts, tea-leaf powder, and tea infusions, even those included in diet pills.
“I had only lost a couple of pounds but then started having horrible pains in my joints, and felt very dizzy and sick,” the teen said in the study. “I was very scared when I was admitted to the hospital and had lots of tests. I didn’t fully understand what was going on at the time.”
“I will never buy any online tea again or any weight-loss pills,” she continued. “People should be more aware of what they are buying and the side effects.”
Thankfully, she was able to recover, but it took nearly two months; others have not been so lucky. In some cases, liver damage brought on by use of these “miracle” substances is so severe that transplants are necessary.
“We acknowledge that green tea is predominantly a very safe and healthy drink, with antioxidant properties,” authors of the study wrote. “This raises the possibility that it is the addition of other chemicals causing hepatotoxicity, (chemical-driven liver damage) particularly in preparations used for weight loss.”
Dr. Donna Seger, head of the Tennessee Poison Center in Nashville, says that consumers should proceed with caution when ordering herbal supplements over the Internet when they have little to no knowledge of their origins.
“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 told ABC. “They can have very significant toxicity.”