Beware of black licorice this Halloween!


I’m not sure I know anybody whose favorite Halloween candy is black licorice. In fact, I had a major Good ‘n’ Plenty aversion as a kid that continues to this day. But everyone is different and I’m sure there’s someone out there who loves black licorice to the point of over-indulgence.

To that person, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strongly urges caution. Though health experts urge moderation with all Halloween candy, licorice poses more serious health risks than you might imagine. According to the FDA, if you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.

Experts say black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and congestive heart failure.

Potassium levels are usually restored with no permanent health problems when consumption of black licorice stops.

So, if you are among the odd few who loves you some licorice, here are some tips from the FDA:

  • 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 health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.
Amanda Cuda

5 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    I happen to love black licorice, licorice allsorts and Good & Plenty.

  2. HOBGOBLIN says:

    Black licorice is disgusting anyhow. why anyone would consume mass quantities, if any at all, is beyond me. :(

  3. FactChecking says:

    Much of the black licorice sold in the United States isn’t dangerous at all, outside of the fact that it sticks to your teeth and turns them black. That’s because much of the licorice sold in the U.S. doesn’t contain any actual licorice from the licorice plant. Instead, manufacturers add anise to the candy to give it a licorice-like flavor. Real black licorice candy can be dangerous if you consume it in large amounts. The occasional real licorice candy won’t harm you, unless you have certain health conditions.

  4. Amanda Cuda says:

    This might just be a release the FDA puts out every year at Halloween. It’s the first time I’ve seen it. Thanks for the feedback.

  5. GinnyK says:

    This looks like an article that appeared 2 years ago, except that article conceded that today’s “licorice” generally contains minimal actual licorice root.'overdosing'-on-black-licorice
    Never heard of anyone actually getting sick from the stuff, no matter how much they eat.