Thankfully I won’t ever have to worry about this because I can not stand black licorice! But I know that some people absolutely love the stuff and I was shocked to learn that it can absolutely be deadly in some instances.
Now, I’m not talking about the licorice that most people consume. I am talking about licorice that has Glycyrrhizin, a weird word that I have never heard before.
Glycyrrhizin is also called glycyrrhizic acid and is the chemical in black licorice that gives it the flavor. It’s also what can cause toxic effects.
On September 23rd, 2020 a man in Massachusetts died by overdosing on licorice. Sounds like some weird movie, like a Willy Wonka horror film.
Death isn’t the only thing that can come from licorice overdose. Patients have also experienced hypertension crisis and muscle breakdown, who knew?
Now, there is no need to worry about eating a piece of licorice! The danger comes when people eat way too much and normally they are over the age of 40.
The man in Massachusetts had been eating a bag and a half of licorice every single day for 3 weeks! You would think you would get tired of it long before eating too much of it, apparently not though.
Here’s what happens
Glycyrrhizin mimics a hormone called aldosterone. Our bodies naturally create this in our adrenal glands when it needs to excrete potassium and retain sodium.
I learned the hard way how important sodium and potassium are to each other. Like, ended up in the hospital with heart issues and near death, however my issue was not caused by licorice.
Sodium and potassium are important for nerve and muscle communication. When these are out of balance it can seriously affect the body… especially the heart considering it is a muscle, and that is what I experienced.
Overindulging on black licorice increases the hormone and impacts the balance. Your blood pressure can increase, your heart rhythm can change and this is not safe.
Other side effects of eating too much licorice can cause swelling in the body, headaches, numbness, and muscle pain.
Most licorice that we are most likely to eat uses anise oil and not real licorice. So you’re safe if you’re just eating the “flavored” licorice.
If you happen to be someone that loves black licorice, just eat it in moderation. Pretty much anything we overindulge in can cause issues, even water… which is what happened to me!