Haloween is the time to stock up on tricks and treats. Most of us go for the latter, enjoying the memories (good and bad) as we stroll down the candy aisle. A caution though avoid black licorice.
The FDA reports “If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least 2 weeks could land you in the hospital with irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.” The culprit is glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. It results in potassium levels dropping to potentially dangerous levels causing the heart to skip around into abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias). Low potassium will also affect blood pressure. These adverse effects were noted in those over 40 and reversed by stopping the candy.
Historically in eastern medicine the root has been used as a natural remedy. It has been used as a treatment for heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough and some infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis; but no evidence for its merit is found by the National Institue Medicine (NIH).