Is liquorice dangerous for the over 40s?

Black liquorice can be dangerous, so if you’re a fan of the sweet treat, take care. A 51-year-old man has been hospitalised with critically high blood pressure and low potassium levels.  These symptoms initially left doctors in Canada extremely confused.  On admission to hospital, the man complained of abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting and dry mouth.  After some investigation, doctors discovered that the man had a fondness for liquorice. In fact, he had been eating one bag (containing approximately 50 small sweets) per day, for quite some time.

Why is liquorice dangerous?

Black liquorice contains the sweetening agent glycyrrhizin, which if ingested in high levels can decrease potassium levels in the body.  Potassium is important for maintaining a healthy heart. Low potassium levels can cause high blood pressure, lethargy, abnormal heart activity and in serious cases, heart failure.

Although consuming too much liquorice is particularly dangerous for the over 40s, all age groups can encounter problems if they aren’t careful.  Dr Nitin Shori has warned that anybody eating more than 57g of black liquorice per day for a period of two weeks or more could risk encountering serious heart problems.  The NHS also advises that anybody who experiences health-related problems such as heart palpitations or abdominal pain following eating liquorice should seek medical advice immediately.