Liquorice and the heart

Unique view of a bin of black and mutli colored licorice candies.

After a bad day – or indeed even a good one! – it is very easy to sit down in front of the television with a bag of sweets and suddenly find the packet empty. If that packet contains liquorice then particular caution is advised.

Liquorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin and this increases sodium and lowers potassium levels in the blood, which causes a rise in blood pressure and also predisposes to changes in heart rhythm.

Regular intake of even moderate amounts of liquorice has been shown to increase blood pressure significantly, and there have been isolated reports of excessive consumption of liquorice causing death by inducing fatal heart rhythms.

Sources of liquorice are plentiful and sometimes unexpected – it appears in many herbal teas, and also in chewing gum, cough mixtures and herbal remedies, as well as in sweets – so it is worth being vigilant to avoid accidental consumption.

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