Scientists from the University of Rochester found that eating too much black licorice could lead to high blood pressure.
Licorice is an herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which can cause side effects when eaten in large amounts.
Recent research has found that glycyrrhizin mimics the hormone aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands when the body needs to retain sodium and excrete potassium.
Too much glycyrrhizin can raise blood pressure and disturb the heart’s rhythm. Other symptoms of excessive licorice intake may include swelling, muscle pain, numbness, and headache.
In the current case study, the team reported a woman who had excessive licorice intake. This 50-year-old lady came to the hospital after 4 days of muscle aches and dark urine.
She was on a water pill to help reduce the amount of water in the body by increasing the flow of urine.
The patient admitted to consuming one and a half bags of black licorice bites containing 2% natural licorice during the past 3 weeks.
Doctors’ examination showed she had high blood pressure, and lab tests revealed elevated muscle injury, low potassium, low calcium, and low phosphorous in the body.
Potassium helps carry electrical signals to cells in your body. It is critical to the proper functioning of nerve and muscle cells, particularly heart muscle cells.
Calcium is key to the conduction of electricity in your body. Your nervous system needs calcium to function properly.
Low phosphorous can cause a host of health challenges, including muscle weakness, respiratory or heart failure, seizures, or comas.
The researchers found that the active component of licorice is glycyrrhizic acid, which inhibits an enzyme required to convert cortisol to a less active metabolite, cortisone.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney.
This can lead to excess cortisol, simulating the syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess (AME).
AME is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by high blood pressure, low potassium, low calcium, and low phosphorous.
The team found that in the patient, licorice-induced low potassium resulted in rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening syndrome resulting from the breakdown of skeletal muscle fibers.
This syndrome along with the effect of licorice led to more complications.
Researchers also suggest that this may have caused low phosphorous, further worsening the health conditions.
They suggest that black licorice is a sweet snack requiring a big price and that people should not have an excess intake of it.
The research is published in Clinical Nephrology and was conducted by Megha Shah et al.
Copyright © 2022 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.