Eating Too Much Black Licorice Can Be Harmful, Says FDA

December 21, 2017 Updated: December 21, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned some adults that they should limit their daily intake of black licorice.

“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,” the FDA says.

Experts at the agency noted that black licorice “contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root.”

Glycyrrhizin, the agency says, “Can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure.”

The FDA’s Linda Katz said that potassium levels are usually restored with no permanent health issues when one’s intake of black licorice ends.

The FDA noted further:

“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.”