Dangers of licorice

Eating too much licorice can lead to irregular heartbeat or even heart failure due to its glycyrrhetinic acid content. If you tend to overchew, you might be advised to seek out DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated) licorice. Stawberry Twizzler fiends need not worry. About this anyway. From Smithsonian (Wikipedia image):

 Wikipedia Commons 8 85 Liquorice Wheels When consumed in large quantities, (glycyrrhetinic acid) can cause your body’s potassium levels to fall to the point that some people experience arrhythmia, a rise in blood pressure, swelling and even congestive heart failure. People taking diuretics or medications for high blood pressure should be especially wary as the licorice may inhibit the effectiveness of the drugs. How much is too much? According to the FDA, a diet including 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks might merit a trip to the hospital to have an irregular heart beat checked out. And consuming one to two pounds of licorice candy in one go may cause the blood vessels in your eyes to spasm, causing temporarily impaired vision. Though predominately a concern for persons over 40, it is recommended that everyone should moderate a high licorice intake.

"Is Licorice Dangerous?"



  1. Ok, so Twizzlers does not contain licorice. But what the heck does it contain that makes it more addictive than crack? It is the only product I know of that I have to open while I am in the car in the parking lot of the supermarket. It is the only product that compels me to drive to the store when an episode of FRINGE shows Walter eating (though he eats the competition, Red Vines), or when the product placement occurs in Warehouse 13. It is the only product that I have to throw the oversized bag away because if I do not I will eat the entire bag. I fully expect in a few years to learn that just like Coca Cola contained cocaine, Twizzlers contains SOMETHING similar.

  2. Not all licorice is made with licorice root, especially in the US. Quite a bit is made with anise which doesn’t have the same health issues.

    1. More than about 9.5 mg of glycyrrhetinic acid taken daily can cause a significant increase in blood pressure which is about what you’d get from half a cup of licorice tea. The licorice tea I last drank had a warning of not taking it daily at all.

  3. My aversion to liquorice is well founded then. But not so with aniseed. 

    You give me a dish of salted liquorice along with a measure of pastis as apéritif and I’ll kill you on the spot.

    1. WAIT WAIT. The glycyrrhizic acid blocks potassium. Isn’t licorish usually (over) salted with potassium chloride by the Dutch?

      Jeeze, they’re on to something there.

      EDIT: Damn, no, it’s ammonium chloride instead. Never mind.

    2. I can’t eat anything less than a whole bag of licorice in one setting. If it came in a five pound bag, I’d finish it all. And then die.

  4. They can have my mildly toxic candy when they pry it from my black, sticky fingers!

    Actually, I just finished eating a bit of Panda licorice. As in, I was swallowing it when my eyes passed over the headline, “Dangers of Licorice.”

    Oops, I just ate another piece. Mmm… deathalicious…

      1. Yes, PaulR, I did plenty of googling. What I am asking about is licorice ROOT, not licorice SWEETS. Google has plenty of information on licorice sweets, which are made from licorice extract, but not on licorice root. Licorice tea is made from the root, not the extract. If you think licorice extract has the same chemical content ratio as licorice root, maybe you should do some more googling.

  5. Mmm. Licorice.  The good stuff is too rare and too expensive to OD on.  Insist on RJ’s or Black Opal.  You gotta feel a little sorry for the poster drooling over Panda. ;)

  6. I’m not surprised.  Consumption of black licorice does seem to increase with age, sagacity and refined tastebuds, and just when the gettin’ gets good the health flags go up. 

    You ken just hush up, Petersen, and eat your candy corn!

  7. first the candy hierarchy and now this.  what, exactly, boingboing do you have against us licorice eaters? 

  8. I learned this the hard way.  The unexpected arrhythmia was scary enough that it caused me to stop eating licorice entirely.

    Somehow I have to get over the fear, though; the stuff is simply too good to avoid forever.

  9. What’s even more suspicious:
    Ammonium chloride, better known as sal ammoniac.
    I love eating salty liquorice, but this can cause Ammonium chloride acidosis.

  10. Bananas contain lots of potassium – and you can od on those!  So banana-wolfing competitions should have a liquorice chaser every banana.  Or is that bad science?  I’m off to try!

    Bitter almonds are the ones that got me worried – high arsenic content, which I only learned after eating too many for too many days, and googling the association I experienced between arrythmia and almonds.  It was all a bit worrying.

  11. And here I am with a whole year to save my nickels and dimes so that I can give every trick-or-treater a pound bag just for themselves…

  12. Usually I manage to stay off the stuff, but I when I have a bag I can’t stop the binge, well into a state of nausea, until the 230 gram (8 oz.) bag is empty. Just reading about licorice now makes me want to rush out and get some.

    Anyone knows why it can be so addictive?

  13. I’m glad to see that something that tastes like Satan’s ass has been proven to be bad for you.

    Let the wife-taunting begin!

  14.  Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is available in supplement form for heartburn control.   The same “features” around the sore throat use are exploited there.  I’m not sure if the same is available as a tea though.

    1. “Yes, but the only people that eat black licorice are frighteningly close to death anyway.”

      And that’s the true origin of the saying, “once you go black, you never come back”. People think it’s a race thing. Silly non-licorice eaters.

  15. This is just such ancient “news”.  There are medicinal uses of licorice and preparations of deglycyrrhizinated licorice were made available about 15-20 years ago at least.

  16. But if you have a medical condition called POTS, Postural Orthastatic Tachcardia this stuff can help with keeping your Blood pressure up. it’s acts in the same way as a drug called Fludrocortisone (a steroid) which robs your potassium and turns it to salt, or whatever it does it has the same effect. Liquorice is natures equivalent of this drug.

    To much of any mineral can cause palpitations, potassium, salt or magnesium

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