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What Is the Relationship between Licorice and Blood Pressure?

By Nya Bruce
Updated May 17, 2024
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Licorice comes from the root of the legume plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra. While it is often thought of as a type of candy or flavoring, people also use it for medicinal purposes as well as in certain tobacco products. When taking or eating licorice, users should educate themselves on the potential side-effects. The relationship between licorice and blood pressure is a potentially hazardous one, as it can increase blood pressure levels if taken regularly for periods of time.

The compound glycyrrhizin is the basis of the adverse interaction between licorice and blood pressure. When a person eats or takes licorice daily for several weeks, excess glycyrrhizin builds up in the body. This may result in pseudoaldosteronism, a condition that leads to a number of health problems, including elevated blood pressure levels, or hypertension. Once the consumption of licorice stops, blood pressure most often returns to normal within weeks.

Medicinal licorice comes in several different forms, such as the dried root, licorice extracts, or in pill form. They may be useful in treating ailments such as colds, asthma, indigestion and stomach ulcers. Taking 0.11 ounces (about 0.31 grams) a day is generally safe for adults, however, problems with medicinal licorice and blood pressure arise with long-term usage for those who take one ounce (about 28 grams) or more a day. People who currently suffer from hypertension may experience an increase in their blood pressure when taking 0.18 ounces (about 5 grams) a day. In addition, other related problems may arise, such as headaches and an increased risk of heart disease.

Black licorice is a candy that sold in most grocery and candy stores. The relationship between black licorice and blood pressure is also a negative and potentially dangerous one, particularly for people who have pre-existing hypertension and are middle-aged. Eating large amounts on a daily basis can result in increasing blood pressure in people who consume this candy for longer than one week.

People who are taking certain medications such as Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or diuretics should not take licorice in order to avoid negative interactions, including problems with elevated blood pressure. Women who are using oral contraceptives may also develop high blood pressure if taking licorice for prolonged periods. When undergoing surgery, licorice supplements can increase the risk of blood pressure-related problems. For planned surgeries, licorice intake should stop two weeks prior to the date of surgery or sooner if advised by the surgeon.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On Apr 04, 2014

Licorice is probably bad for people who already have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing it due to age. I'm in my twenties and I have regular blood pressure. I have licorice a few times a week, either the candies or the tea and I have not had any problems.

By bear78 — On Apr 04, 2014

@burcinc-- All candies labeled "licorice" may not raise blood pressure. Most licorice candies actually do not contain licorice, but rather anise. I have no idea about the relationship between anise and blood pressure however. That's something that should be looked into as well. But the relationship between licorice and blood pressure applies only to candies and products that have real licorice in them, which may be listed as licorice root or licorice extract.

Black licorice candies like Dutch licorice candies definitely have licorice in them. If you have high blood pressure, I think that you need to avoid them completely. People respond to compounds in different ways. So one person may experience spikes in blood pressure from small amounts of licorice candy while others may no be affected as much. But it's a good idea to be careful anyway.

By burcinc — On Apr 03, 2014

I have high blood pressure and I'm using medication for it. But I love Dutch licorice, especially the salted type. I don't buy it often because I know that I'm inclined to eat more than I should.

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