FDA Warning: Black Licorice May Cause Heart Problems

heart problems

Part of living a healthy lifestyle is regularly performing a variety of physical activities, consuming a well balanced whole foods diet that is nutritionally rich in vitamins and minerals, and ensuring that you get plenty of rest, relaxation, and sleep. In addition, depending on the individual, it is common that one of the specific aspects of living a healthy lifestyle will be consistently more challenging to achieve than the others.

For some individuals, regularly enjoy a variety of different types of candies and sweets. In fact, many occasions include or center around, consuming some type of sweet treat. For example, many couples that get married have a wedding cake at the reception. In another example, Halloween is centered around children dressing up in a costume and going from door to door and receiving a candy treat.

This being said, if you are trying to determine what sort of sweet treats you would like to indulge in this Halloween and which ones you would not, consider removing black licorice from your list, according to a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Black Licorice May Cause Heart Concerns, Warns FDA

A new warning from the Food and Drug Administration is stating that the deeply-flavored candy could cause a number of health problems, including heart arrhythmias, when eaten in large quantities. The black licorice heart problems announcement comes just as many households are stocking up on candy in preparation of trick-or-treaters.

The Dangers of Glycyrrhizin

According to experts from the FDA, the dangerous compound found in black licorice is called glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin is what makes licorice taste sweet. The organization found that eating black licorice in quantities of 2 ounces per day for just two weeks could create an irregular heartbeat in certain susceptible individuals.

Once glycyrrhizin is in the body, it causes potassium to excrete from the kidneys. According to cardiovascular medicine professor Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, having too little potassium can deregulate your heart beat, making it beat out of sync or far too fast.

Glycyrrhizin also causes the body to retain more water and salt, potentially posing problems for those with a history of high blood pressure or heart failure.

Licorice as Medicine?

In some cultures, licorice has been prescribed for centuries because of its supposed medicinal qualities. Depending on the location, you might find licorice billed as a cure-all for everything from viral infections and bronchitis to heartburn. However, the FDA states that no studies have indicated any real medicinal purposes for licorice, regardless of whether it’s red, black or some other color.

However, just because licorice isn’t medicinal doesn’t mean that it’s totally chemically inert. In fact, licorice is unique among other candies because it’s a bioactive food. This means that it can interact with the various metabolic processes that take place in your body. As such, it may also interact with some medications.

Be Careful of Licorice-Medicine Interactions

According to Dr. Fonarow, people taking laxatives, digoxin or diuretics should avoid licorice entirely. That’s because imbibing licorice with one of the above medications could drive your potassium levels down even further, sometimes to a dangerous degree. Other negative side effects of such a combination include a disruption of cortisol metabolism.

Certain studies also indicate that if you’re a woman taking oral contraceptives, eating licorice could increase your blood pressure levels due the same effect that it has on your potassium.

Black Licorice Heart Problems: The Bottom Line

The FDA recommends that individuals of all ages monitor their black licorice consumption. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up black licorice altogether.

As with most things, eating black licorice in moderation shouldn’t have any serious health consequences aside from the added sugar and empty calories that you’ll somehow need to work into your dietary regimen. However, if you experience any apparent heart problems after eating a large serving of licorice, your best bet is to call your doctor immediately.

17 Responses to FDA Warning: Black Licorice May Cause Heart Problems

  1. Laura Paden says:

    Does this include good and plenty’s ?

    • Ryan Lundin says:

      Laura – good question. According to the Hersey’s website, the licorice extract listed as an ingredient in Good and Plenty candy does contain glycyrrhizin, the compound found to be potentially dangerous in the study. However, it’s likely that traditional black licorice contains more glycyrrhizin by weight than Good and Plentys, meaning that you’d need to eat far more Good and Plentys before experiencing the health problems discussed in this article.

  2. Mary says:

    I was delighted to read that Good-n-plenty,s don,t pose much of a threat to health issues,as I,ve personally discovered the good-n-plenty,s do help with heartburn,,,Thanks!!

  3. Often at night while watching television, I experience acid reflux, which often causes me to feel nauseous and to vomit. I find that eating Good & Plenty candy stops this from happening entirely. I love the candy anyway, and am so happy to have discovered that it stops the acid from bubbling up into my mouth.

    • Still eat two ounces of Good & Plenty every single night while watching television. I eat them one at a time, so the half ounce lasts a couple of hours.

      My point is that ever since I’ve been eating this candy I have not had a single episode of acid reflux or nausea. In fact, if I ever feel indigestion after supper, eating an ounce of Good & Plenty calms and eliminates that “acidy” taste and feeling completely. I used to take Tums. Now I have Good & Plenty. Why not get rid of acid indigestion/acid reflux with something that tastes so delicious. It also prevents me from wanting to eat snack food after dinner.

      • Lena says:

        You can get the benefits of licorice without having to deal with the negative aspects of Good & Plenty candy (which I love, LOL!). It is unhealthy, because it has sugar in it, the glycyrrhizin mentioned in the article, and the pink ones are actually colored by the wings of a certain insect. It is hard to believe, but it is true. What you can do if you like the taste of licorice, as long as you do not take laxatives, digoxin or diuretics, is to get a bottle of licorice extract and make yourself a cup of tea. Use a teaspoon per cup, flavored with raw honey (so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like processed sugar would). You can also use maple syrup. Grade B is less processed than Grade A, but I can’t find Grade B. Anyway, good luck with your licorice! :)

  4. Jeanne Crownover says:

    Could the ingredients in Good and Plenty have any effect on the immune system? I’ve had the diagnosis of Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpia for about one year now and the only lifestyle change that I can think of is that I’ve started eating about one box of Good and Plenty a week.

    • John says:

      Best talk to your doctor about that one… Stress to him/her you are talking about Good & Plenty candy and not licorice extract supplements.

  5. Marilyn says:

    I ate one small piece of black licorice from the licorice allsorts and almost immediately got severe heartburn. It was so bad I thought I was having a heart attack. After 4 gavison a bottle of water and an hour I started feeling better. I understood that licorice was used to easy heart burn so why did I have the opposite reaction?

  6. Debra says:

    OMG!!!! Never before everyone said me that licorice is good for health, liver, detoxify the body … So crazy!!!
    Debra recently posted..Polaris 9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner ReviewMy Profile

  7. Resse says:

    So if the black licorice lowers the potassium in your body, does that mean if you have high potassium due to kidney disease you can lower it by eating black licorice?

  8. Heather says:

    Springfield mo removed all good and plenty from the stores within the last week. Can’t find out why they are recalled. Anyone know what’s going on? My favorite candy is gone. I usually buy a box a week.

  9. Wanda says:

    How bad is it eating 1 to 2 boxes of good n plenty a day ??

    • Melanie says:

      Bad if 2 weeks or more. Especially if you have high BP. I just found out and I eat 2 Also. I got bloated, swelling ,irregular heartbeat and mu eyelids started spasming(apparently also a symptom. Licorice extract is the real stuff. Anise is not the real stuff.

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