Black Licorice Heart
October 29, 2011 by staff
For adults 40 years or more, the FDA says, eat 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks can lead to arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythm, which could lead to the emergency room.
The culprit is glycyrrhizin, a sweetener compound derived from licorice root. In large amounts, glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to the floor, which in turn can lead to abnormal heartbeat and high blood pressure. It can also cause fluid retention and swelling, which is a particular risk for people with congestive heart failure.
This is not exactly a generalized risk – the FDA says the agency received a report of a problem with licorice black last year – but studies in various medical journals have linked the candy to health problems in people over 40 ( some with a history of heart disease or high blood pressure).
The good news is that potassium levels right back to normal once you stop eating black licorice, without permanent health effects. And if you like the taste, you’ll be glad to know that many licorice-flavored products do not contain any real licorice, are usually made with anise oil in place.
Moreover, while licorice root has been used as a folk remedy in many cultures – is supposed to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, sore throat, cough and even some viral infections – no evidence that it has some benefit from health, the FDA reports.
Black licorice can interfere with some drugs, however, such as heart medications and birth control pills and some herbs and dietary supplements, so the FDA advises consumers to consult with your doctor if you are unsure.
“No matter what your age, do not eat large amounts of black licorice at the same time,” says the FDA. If you have been eating a lot of it and has an irregular heartbeat or muscle weakness, stop eating immediately and call your doctor.
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