FDA warns black licorice can cause you to overdose

Just in time for Halloween, the Food and Drug Administration is sharing a warning about the potential dangers of black licorice.

The agency cautioned that the candy contains high amounts of glycyrrhizin, the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, which can significantly lower the body's potassium levels.

This can cause some consumers to experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and even congestive heart failure.

If you're 40 or older, the FDA cautions that eating two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm.

If you still plan to devour some black licorice this Halloween, the agency recommends:

  • No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
  • If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a healthcare professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.

Thankfully, the FDA's Dr. Linda Katz says the damage caused by licorice isn't forever -- potassium levels are usually restored with no permanent health problems when consumption of black licorice stops.

RELATED: Here are the candies dentists say you should avoid: 

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Dentists reveal the worst Halloween candy for your teeth
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Dentists reveal the worst Halloween candy for your teeth

CHEWY CANDIES

The reason candy, in general, is harmful to teeth is that bacteria in the mouth burn the sugar, creating acid as a byproduct, explains Matthew Messina, DDS, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). The acid then dissolves tooth enamel, which is what causes cavities. Chewy candies, including gummy candies and taffy, are among the worst offenders because they linger and stick around in your mouth, giving them additional time to cause tooth decay. Not to mention some are sticky and strong enough to pull out a filling, bridge, or braces. Opt for one of these healthy Halloween candies instead.

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CARAMELS

Caramels are another sticky offender because they stick to teeth—not to mention expensive dental appliances like orthodontics. Like other sweets, caramels are best enjoyed after a meal and brushing and flossing immediately after eating limits the amount of time the stickiness sticks around in your mouth. Check out the best and worst candy as ranked by a nutritionist.  

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SOUR AND CITRUS-FLAVORED CANDIES

Sour candies have grown in popularity over the years; and they are bad for teeth on two fronts. They contain both sugar and acid, according to Dr. Messina. Like other candies, limit how many sour candies and lemony sweets you or your child enjoys in order to prevent long-term damage any day of the year. When you brush, make sure to avoid these common teeth-brushing mistakes.

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HARD CANDIES

Hard candies may be a Halloween favorite, but suckers and lollipops actually do more harm than you might realize. Because they are meant to be enjoyed slowly, hard candies and their cousins on a stick linger longer, making it difficult for your saliva to do its job and causing acid to build up in the mouth. Making sure that you properly care for your teeth as soon as the candy is gone can help prevent cavities. Ready for a fright? See exactly how many calories are in your favorite Halloween candy.

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