Eat black licorice

What Happens If You Eat Too Much Black Licorice?

It's sticky, it's sweet, and some people are repulsed by the taste. For others, black liquorice is a tempting treat that leads them to over-consume. They know that overeating can cause your stomach to feel bad. However, large amounts of black liquorice can have a negative effect on stomach pain.

A close-up of the black licorice candy. (Image: Dirk van der Walt / iStock / Getty Images)

Loss of potassium

Black licorice contains a substance called glycyrrhizic acid, which works similarly to a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone increases the amount of potassium the body excretes in the urine. If you ingest large amounts of black licorice over time, you may develop a potassium deficiency - a condition known as hypokalemia.

Hypokalemia

Hypokalaemia is an abnormally low level of potassium in your blood. Fruits and vegetables like bananas and potatoes provide potassium. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, hypokalemia is rarely due to inadequate potassium intake. In most cases, the loss of potassium is the cause. Because black licorice can increase potassium excretion, it can lead to hypokalemia.

Effects of hypokalemia

If black licorice consumption is so high that hypokalemia occurs, it can cause arrhythmias, high blood pressure, water retention, fatigue, and heart failure, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Because of this, the FDA warns against consuming large amounts of black licorice in a short amount of time.

Positive effects of black liquorice

Consuming black licorice isn't all bad. Herbalists have used it for centuries for conditions ranging from muscle cramps to eczema, according to MedlinePlus. While there is no actual scientific evidence to support its alleged uses, the evidence does support the use of licorice in combination with other herbs as a possible heartburn cure.

Considerations

You don't have to completely renounce black liquorice, but to avoid complications from these candies, you should keep your consumption within certain limits. According to MedlinePlus, consuming 30 g or more for a few weeks can lead to hypokalemia, high blood pressure, paralysis, and even brain damage in healthy people. If you have heart disease, kidney disease or use a lot of salt, these effects can occur as early as 5 g or licorice per day. The FDA says that eating a number of 2 ounces. Bags of black licorice for 14 days or more can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, lethargy, and heart failure. As with anything else, enjoy your black liquorice in moderation.