A teenage girl only wanted to lose weight by drinking tea. Instead, she was left with serious health problems, including acute hepatitis, doctors say.
An unidentified patient visited her London doctor with nonspecific abdominal pains, nausea and joint pain, a new case study in the British Medical Journal Case Reports revealed. She was given antibiotics to take, thinking she had a urinary tract infection, and was sent home, ABC reports.
The 16-year-old told her doctors in London that she bought the green tea online in an effort to lose some weight. The teen’s symptoms had worsened two days later and she went to the hospital. She developed a case of jaundice, a condition where the white of one’s eyes and skin turned yellow.
“I had only lost a couple of pounds but then started having horrible pains in my joints, and felt very dizzy and sick,” she 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.”
While she was in the hospital, doctors determined that she had hepatitis. Hepatitis is usually caused substances such as drugs and alcohol. However, the teen had not been drinking or taking any over-the-counter drugs, she said.
What she did admit to doing was ordering Chinese green tea online. She bought two boxes containing 100 tea bags. She drank three cups a day for three months, according to Food World News.
Doctors told her that she could no longer drink the tea. After she stopped, the swelling in her liver from hepatitis dwindled and she was discharged.
“Ah, green tea—it turns out that the elixir of many people’s lives can be dangerous to your health,” the teen told BMJ Journal. The report’s authors stated that infections which develop from drinking too much herbal tea are a “rare but recurring theme.”
The team did not test the tea for other substances, but they theorized that the tea could have contained something that made the girl sick, according to ABC.
“We acknowledge that green tea is predominantly a very safe and healthy drink, with antioxidant properties,” the authors 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.”
They added that pesticides on the green leaves could cause problems for big tea drinkers. Head of the Tennessee Poison Center in Nashville, Donna Seger, said that she is always concerned when it comes to buying tea over the internet.
“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.
Seger also said that people turn to herbal supplements for weight loss and that the liver malfunction is the first thing to signal something might be wrong. “You tell me anyone has gotten anything over the Internet [she says check] the liver function,” she said.
The patient, from Yemen, said that she would not make the same mistake in the future. “I will never buy any online tea again or any weight-loss pills,” she said.