The Hidden Danger of Licorice Consumption

CHRONIC. Excessive consumption of licorice can lead to increased blood pressure or serious poisoning.

By Boris Hansel with Guillaume Paret (video)

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VSEvery Friday, find, on Le, the nutrition chronicle of Pr Boris Hansel, endocrinologist and nutritionist at Bichat Hospital in Paris. He is also the host of the health channel PuMS on YouTube.

Licorice is a medicinal plant that I would like you to know better so that you can make the most of it without taking any risks! To remove any ambiguity, I specify that we are talking about licorice, in the feminine, when we talk about the plant and its juice. But we say liquorice, in the masculine, when we designate sweets. Including the famous catechus from a famous pharmacist… Licorice is also found in alcohol-free pastis, in certain herbal teas, or even in cough pastes and in certain food supplements. And there are also licorice sticks that some smokers like to stave off the urge to light up a cigarette.

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Studies suggest a beneficial effect of licorice in the treatment of cancers or neurodegenerative diseases, but to date these studies are not sufficient to consider using licorice in prevention or for the treatment of these diseases… On the other hand, it It has been shown that excessive and prolonged consumption of licorice can cause an increase in blood pressure. This is the direct result of the effect of glycyrrhizin, a chemical compound in licorice. It promotes the retention of water and salt and the loss of potassium in the urine… with therefore, a risk of hypertension and a drop in potassium in the blood.

Several cases of serious poisoning

This is why licorice is therefore not recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure and people with heart or kidney disease. It is not a question of prohibiting these confectioneries. But simply to alert: beware of overdose. Several cases of serious poisoning have been reported by ANSES linked to excessive and prolonged consumption of liquorice-based products. Health authorities believe that 10 mg per day of glycyrrhizin is a safe dose for healthy adults and recommend never to exceed 100 mg per day in any case.

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The problem is that even if the presence of licorice appears on the packaging, the content of glycyrrhizin is very variable in food products. This content is not mentioned and it is rarely specified the quantity of food not to be exceeded. According to the FDA, an American health authority, you should not exceed 56 g of licorice candies per day, i.e. 3 licorice rolls or 2 sticks per week.

In practice, if you suffer from high blood pressure or kidney failure, the regular consumption of licorice should be really limited. The acceptable amount depends on your particular case and in particular on the medications you are taking. Only your doctor can advise you. Apart from these situations, there is no reason to deprive yourself of consuming licorice. But as a precaution, do not combine the sources of intake. As often in nutrition, moderation is the key to good health.

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