colon health tips

- Black Bowel Movements -
What Causes Black Feces?

Black bowel movements can be caused by a limited number of factors. Normal bowel movements are not black but a brown walnut color, so any variation from this color indicates a possible change in colon health.

Medications containing iron can cause you to produce black stool, but bleeding in the colon or the stomach can also cause black feces. This is called melena.

The variations in bowel movement color are usually the result of the composition of the contents of the bowel. Different chemicals and bacterial action of the micro-organisms in the bowel can alter the color of the stool and cause a variety of different stool colors.

Sometimes what you think are black bowel movements are actually a very dark green color. This indicates that the stool has not spent a long period of time in the large colon and the stool still has the color that is characteristic of small intestine contents.

These types of dark green bowel movements will often be loose and not solid because the feces have not spent a long time in the large colon where most of the water reabsorption takes place.

Real black stool is not that common and not a normal bowel movement color. The reason you should always pay attention to a black bowel movement is because it can indicate the presence of blood in the stool.

Why Do Black Feces Indicate Blood in the Stool?

You might think that blood in your bowel movements would always present as red because that is the color of blood.

However, if blood is deposited into the colon, then it is subjected to the digestive action of the chemicals and enzymes that are necessary to digest food.

This digestive action on the red blood cells transforms them from the characteristic red color to black.

Blood that is deposited into the colon from bleeding higher up in the gastrointestinal tract will characteristically turn stools a black color and this is called "melena".

Other Causes of Black Bowel Movements

licorice sticks can cause black bowel movements

It stands to reason if you eat a lot of black food or even dark blue food then you could have an episode of black feces. However, you would really have to eat a lot of licorice or a lot of blueberries to make this happen.

So besides eating these types of foods to excess, the other main cause of black poop would be medications that turn black in the bowel. The most common non-food items you might ingest that will cause cause black feces are medications that contain iron or bismuth.

Iron supplements - if you have been diagnosed with an iron deficiency anemia and are taking iron supplements this is an easily identifiable cause of black feces. This color of your stools will probably persist as long as you keep taking this supplement.

bottle of pink medicine causes black bowel movements

Medications with bismuth - Some over the counter preparations contain bismuth subsalicylate. Typically they are used to treat a variety of stomach upsets including common heartburn and mild diarrhea. Normally these medicines are a pink liquid and are taken to slow down the growth of certain undesirable bacteria that disrupt the normal balance of microflora in a healthy colon.

The action of digestive enzymes, acids and bacteria on these chemicals can cause black bowel movements.

by Beverly OMalley

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