Don't OD on black licorice this Halloween, FDA warns

Jose A. Bernat Bacete  Getty Images

Jose A. Bernat Bacete Getty Images

Glycyrrhizin, the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, can cause your potassium levels to decrease, sometimes resulting in abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, edema, even congestive heart failure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning ahead of Halloween-which it describes as the "biggest candy eating holiday of the year"-urging people not to overdo it on the medicinal-tasting candy or potentially face heart problems". While all candy is certainly not very good for you, black licorice in particular can be extremely bad for your heart.

The agency does not recommend eating large amounts of this treat at one single time, no matter how old.
If you're over the age of 40 and eat two ounces of black licorice per day for two weeks, you could land yourself in the hospital due to arrhythmia, an irregular heart rhythm.

The connection between black licorice and health problems came about past year after the FDA received word of a candy lover who experienced heart problems after eating too much of the candy.

Black licorice can also interact with medications, herbs and dietary supplements, it warned.

The FDA also says that it received "a report" of someone who "had a problem" after eating the candy a year ago, but no mention is made of anyone literally dying from licorice overdose. The NIH, however, says there isn't enough data that licorice is an effective treatment for any health problem.

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. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take. A lot of licorice-flavored products in the United States instead contain anise oil, which has a similar taste and smell.

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