FDA Warns About Overdosing On Black Licorice

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The FDA is warning trick-or-treaters about the dangers of overdosing on black licorice.

In a report on their website, the FDA advised people eating candy on Halloween to be careful how much black licorice they consume, as it could lead to an overdose.

"FDA experts say black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin 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 explained in its report.

Linda Katz, a doctor with the administration, said that the candy was linked to health problems in people over the age of 40. The FDA suggested that people avoid eating large amounts of the candy at one time, and to stop consumption immediately if someone experiences muscle weakness or irregular heart rhythm while eating it.

"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," the administration advised.

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"This is equal to eating three 1-inch pieces of black licorice for 14 days in a row," Kristi King, a dietitian with Texas Children's Hospital, told CBS News of the effects of eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks.

"Candy isn't something we should be eating on a regular basis anyway, nonetheless every day, so we want to make sure that we're consuming it in moderation."

Licorice is a popular candy enjoyed on Halloween in particular.

"Licorice, or liquorice, is a low-growing shrub mostly grown for commercial use in Greece, Turkey, and Asia. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says the plant’s root has a long history of use as a folk or traditional remedy in both 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, NIH says there are insufficient data available to determine if licorice is effective in treating any medical condition," the FDA reported.

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"Licorice is also used as a flavoring in food. Many “licorice” or “licorice flavor” products manufactured in the United States do not contain any licorice. Instead, they 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, or DGL, NIH says."

Sources: CBS News, FDA / Featured Image: Helen Rickard/Flickr / Embedded Images: FDA/Flickr, Susanne Nilsson/Flickr

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