A 51-year-old man from Ontario, Canada rushed to the local hospital after experiencing alarming symptoms for three days in a row. After bouts of extreme abdominal pain, vomiting, dry mouth, and loss of appetite, the man was diagnosed with high blood pressure and low potassium levels.
The cause of his illness? Licorice poisoning.
Doctors quizzed the man about his eating habits, and he revealed he'd eaten licorice-flavored jelly beans. In fact, he'd become so addicted to the candy, that he ate an entire bag every day.
While in hospital, his doctors reported that he "continued to eat jelly beans" until they advised him to quit. Not surprisingly, the man's symptoms disappeared afterwards.
Now, you might be thinking that anyone who eats that much of anything is going to be in big trouble, but licorice actually has ingredients that are potentially dangerous. A recent study found that the glycyrrhetinic acid in licorice causes life-threatening conditions such as fatal heart arrhythmia.
While licorice poisoning doesn't occur often, typically a patient will suffer from symptoms of hypertension and blood pressure spikes. It's an easy condition to misdiagnose because of its rarity and similar symptoms to a variety of other ailments.
Cases have been found in Germany, Italy, England, and Spain where consumption of licorice has led to vision impairment, seizures, and swelling of the face and body. Patients had eaten licorice toffees, licorice tea, and herbal licorice lollies regularly.
So, the next time you reach for a piece of black licorice candy, you might want to think twice.
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