Do You Get Side Effects from Eating Too Much Liquorice?

Glycyrrhizin, a compound found in the root of the liquorice shrub, can cause problems in some people, especially pregnant women, who may experience preterm birth as a result of its use. Licorice, the more common spelling of liquorice, tastes very sweet, and apart from eating it in candy or baked goods you can take it as a tablet or capsule and in liquid form. Many take licorice to soothe a sore throat or an upset stomach. It can help treat irritated skin, such as that experienced by people with eczema. Eating too much liquorice can cause side effects, which can be quite serious.

A close-up of black licorice candy. (Image: JavierGil1000/iStock/Getty Images)

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness may occur as a serious side effect of liquorice. Any number of muscles may become involved. This serious side effect requires an immediate medical evaluation. If you cannot reach your doctor, go to the nearest local emergency room and tell them your symptoms. Bring a list of all drugs and supplements you're taking, as interactions with heart medications and diuretics could be a factor in your symptoms. Liquorice may cause you to lose potassium as well as other needed electrolytes from your body, the Merck Manuals report.

Paralysis Side Effect

Paralysis, a very rare but serious side effect of liquorice, requires immediate medical attention. You may lose feeling in any part of your body: arms, legs, feet or the respiratory center. If you experience numbness that lasts more than five minutes, go to the emergency room. Apart from being a possible liquorice side effect, this could be a symptom of a stroke or blood clot.

Swelling Side Effect

Your hands and feet may swell as a serious side effect of eating too much liquorice. This is a result of your body retaining fluid because of a change in the balance of sodium and potassium in your blood. Go to the emergency room if you experience shortness of breath. Shortness of breath could indicate congestive heart failure that also may occur as a serious, but rare, side effect of liquorice.

High Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure may increase if you retain fluids, which may occur after excessive consumption of liquorice. If you notice weight gain and experience a headache, go to the emergency room. Potassium regulates your blood pressure, and consumption of licorice will lower your potassium levels, which can raise blood pressure according to High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and even cause death. Eat no more liquorice until you've had a thorough evaluation from a doctor.

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