Licorice overload may cause seizures

Overconsumption of candies with licorice is associated with tonic clonic-seizures and hypertension in a case study.

The report involved a 10-year-old boy who was admitted to a hospital in Bologna, Italy following generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The boy had an elevated blood pressure. A brain magnetic resonance scan showed a localized vasogenic oedema. [Pediatric Neurology 2015;52:457-459

A follow-up examination offered the clue:  the boy’s teeth had black stains.  He later admitted to have consumed 20 licorice toffees per day in the past 4 months. This amounts to 2.88 mg/kg of glycyrrhizic acid, which gives licorice its sweet taste, and exceeds the WHO’s maximum recommendation of 2 mg/kg. This partly explained the reason for his hypertension, said the authors.

The risk of seizures from licorice is of particular concern in children with low body weight, they added. Licorice consumption is also linked to posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome in children.


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