Eating too much black licorice can be dangerous. Should you be worried this Halloween?

Posted on October 31, 2019 by


by N’dea Yancey-Bragg

Licorice lovers beware: eating large amounts of black licorice might be harmful to your heart health — but as long as you enjoy the treat in moderation, health experts say there’s little to worry about.

The candy can contain a chemical compound called glycyrrhizin, which is derived from the root of a low-growing shrub grown mostly in Greece, Turkey and Asia, according to a consumer alert issued by the FDA in 2017. Glycyrrhizin can cause the body’s potassium levels to fall which can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and congestive heart failure.

However, if you’re eating a mainstream version of the treat, your risk of adverse health effects is low, according to Craig Hopp, the natural products expert at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Hopp said while there is a legitimate concern about consuming real licorice root, many candies don’t pose a threat.

Many licorice flavored products made in the United States are made with anise oil, which has the same smell and taste according to the FDA.

“The candy people get at Halloween likely contains no actual licorice root,” Hopp said. “It’s just artificial flavoring. Thus, it contains no glycyrrhizin.”

Twizzlers Black Licorice Twists, for example, gets its flavor from licorice extract which is derived from licorice root as well as added natural and artificial flavors, according to Jeff Beckman, a spokesperson for Hershey which produces Twizzlers.


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Posted in: Family safety