The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging moderation this Halloween when eating black licorice.
The agency said that eating two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land over 40’s with a hospital trip with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.
FDA said that black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root.
Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, meaning some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and congestive heart failure.
FDA urges restraint
FDA said no-one of any age should eat large amounts of black licorice at one time and warned that it can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements.
FDA’s Linda Katz, M.D., said last year it received a report of a black licorice aficionado who had a problem after eating the candy.
Medical journals have linked black licorice to health problems in people over 40, some of who had a history of heart disease and/or high blood pressure.
Katz said that potassium levels are usually restored with no permanent health problems when consumption of black licorice stops.
Anise oil substitute
Many “licorice” or “licorice flavor” products manufactured in the US actually contain anise oil, which has the same smell and taste.
Licorice root that is sold as a dietary supplement can be found with the glycyrrhizin removed, resulting in a product known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Licorice, or liquorice, is a low-growing shrub mostly grown for commercial use in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.
NIH said that the plant’s root has a history of use as a folk or traditional remedy in Eastern and Western medicine.
It has been used as a treatment for heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough and some infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis; however, current data is insufficient to determine if it is effective in treating any medical condition.