Green tea extract: a potential cause of acute liver failure

World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Aug 21;19(31):5174-7. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i31.5174.


The use of herbal products has increased significantly in recent years. Because these products are not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration and are often used without supervision by a healthcare provider, the indication for and consumption of these supplements is quite variable. Moreover, their use is generally regarded as safe and natural by the lay-public. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of reported adverse events occurring with the use of herbal products. We present a case of acute impending liver failure in an adolescent male using a weight-loss product containing green tea extract. Our case adds to the growing concern surrounding the ingestion of green tea extract and serves to heighten healthcare provider awareness of a potential green tea extract hepatotoxicity. Despite the generally touted benefits of green tea as a whole, clinical concern regarding its use is emerging and has been linked to its concentration in multiple herbal supplements. Interestingly, the suspected harmful compounds are those previously proposed to be advantageous for weight-loss, cancer remedy, and anti-inflammatory purposes. Yet, we emphasize the need to be aware of not just green tea extract, but the importance of monitoring patient use of all dietary supplements and herbal products.

Keywords: Dietary supplements; Green tea; Hepatotoxicity; Liver failure; Liver injury; Plant extract.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / adverse effects*
  • Biopsy
  • Camellia sinensis*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / diagnosis
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Failure, Acute / chemically induced*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / diagnosis
  • Liver Failure, Acute / therapy
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Plant Extracts