16:51 GMT26 February 2020
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    It’s that time of year again, when you’ll likely be stuffing your mouth with candy.

    However, this year, you might want to avoid black licorice: the Food and Drug administration (FDA) released a statement on Monday warning against its consumption. 

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

    Licorice root, commonly found in Greece, Turkey and across Asia, contains glycyrrhizin, a sweet-tasting compound that when consumed in large amounts, can reduce potassium levels in the body.

    Low potassium levels in the body can cause several health problems, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, swelling, lethargy and congestive heart failure.

    The FDA also warns that anyone who consumes too much licorice and experiences muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat should immediately stop eating licorice and visit the doctor.

    According to the FDA's Linda Katz, potassium levels should return to normal when licorice consumption is halted. 

    The National Institute of Health also claims that even though the plant's root has been used as a traditional cure in Eastern and Western medicine for treatment of heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough and even viruses like hepatitis, there isn't enough data to determine whether the root is actually effective in treating such conditions.

    In addition, the FDA warns that black licorice can interact with certain medications, herbs and dietary supplements.

    This isn't the first time warnings have been issued for black licorice. In 2012, California health officials warned people that the popular Red Vines black licorice candy was found to be high in lead when tested.

    "American Licorice is notifying consumers not to eat this candy and asking they return to their place to their place of purchase for a full refund," company officials said on their website.


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