- Black Licorice contains the sweetening compound glycyrrhizin, which can decrease potassium levels in the body, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
- That temporary potassium deficiency can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and even congestive heart failure.
- People over 40 with a history of high blood pressure and heart disease are especially at risk.
Reasonable people have agreed for decades that black licorice is the most disgusting, repulsive candy on the planet.
The US Food and Drug Administration is finally backing us up.
In a report released Monday, the FDA warns, “if you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.”
Two ounces is only about five Twizzler-sized ropes of licorice, or nine Red-Vine-sized pieces.
The sweetening compound in licorice root, glycyrrhizin, is the danger: Glycyrrhetic acid can elevate sodium levels and reduce potassium in the body. That temporary potassium drop can cause some people to experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and congestive heart failure.
According to the FDA’s Linda Katz, potassium levels in licorice-eaters are usually restored with no permanent health problems once people stop eating the black stuff.
But not always.
The FDA said that last year one “black licorice aficionado” had “a problem” after the person ate too much of it.
Traditional Chinese doctors have used licorice to treat gastric ulcers for thousands of years, but the National Institutes of Health cautions there’s insufficient data to know whether or not licorice root is an effective treatment for any condition.
Regardless, the reasons why anyone would ingest that foul-tasting rope regularly enough to cause a potassium problem remains a mystery to level-headed scientists everywhere.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.