Health Care

Heart Risks From Black Licorice

The FDA has issued a candy-related health warning, and it'll spook fans of the black stuff. Pregnant women should also avoid eating black licorice, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health advises.

The FDA explained in a warning published on its website this week that black licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin (pronounced gliss-er-EYE-zin), the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, which can cause potassium levels in the body to fall.

The food and drug administration warns that people over forty who eat two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could end up with an irregular heartbeat and other troubles.

In a consumer update, the FDA advised those who've been scoffing black licorice recently (perhaps as their go-to Halloween treat) to stop eating it immediately and contact a healthcare provider if they have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness.

It's reversible, though; potassium levels return to normal after you stop eating too much of it.

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FDA's Linda Katz, M.D., says a year ago the agency received a report of a black licorice aficionado who had a problem after eating the candy.

Several case reports (such as this, this and this) have linked licorice to a range of medical problems.

- Black licorice can interact with certain medications, herbs, and dietary supplements.

The FDA also noted that licorice has a long history of use as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions such as heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough, and some infections caused by viruses like hepatitis.



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