The FDA noted that many candy “licorice” products in the U.S. do not actually contain any extracts of the licorice plant, a low-growing shrub that has long been used in candy-making and ancient medicine.

Instead, a lot of candy licorice contains “licorice flavor” or anise oil, which has the same smell and taste as authentic licorice.

However, authentic black licorice candy contains glycyrrhizin, which is a sweetening compound derived from the root of the licorice plant. Glycyrrhizin can lower potassium levels in the body.

When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure.”

The FDA said it received a report of a black licorice aficionado who had a problem after eating the candy. And several medical journals have linked black licorice to health problems in people over 40, some of whom had a history of heart disease and/or high blood pressure.

If you like black licorice, the FDA is offering the following advice:

  • No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
  • If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.

Source: Black Licorice: Trick or Treat?

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