Licorice or Liquorice is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a somewhat sweet flavur can be extracted. The liquorice plant is a legume (related to beans and peas) that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is called “Mulethi” in Northern India. The flavor of liquorice comes mainly from a sweet-tasting compound called anethole. Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, a compound sweeter than sugar.
Glycyrrhizin is the main sweet-tasting compound from liquorice root. It is 30–50 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). Upon hydrolysis, the glycoside loses its sweet taste and is converted to the aglycone glycyrrhetinic acid plus two molecules of glucuronic acid. The acid form is not particularly water-soluble, but its ammonium salt is soluble in water at pH greater than 4.5.
Although sweet, the taste sensation of glycyrrhizin is different from that of sugar. The sweetness of glycyrrhizin has a slower onset than sugar has, and lingers in the mouth for some time. Unlike the artificial sweetener aspartame, glycyrrhizin maintains its sweetness under heating. Glycyrrhizin is used as a flavoring in some candies, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products.
Side-effects of glycyrrhizin use are related to the inhibition of cortisol metabolism within kidney and subsequent stimulation of mineralocorticoid receptors; can lead to hypertension and edema (water retention). Thus, consumption of black licorice can mimic disorders of excess aldosterone.
Too much liquorice consumption may cause serious health problems
On the occasion of Halloween, FDA has warned...
against eating too much black licorice, particularly for the people more than 40. Eating 2 ounces a day for two weeks may lead to hospitalization with complaints of arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm.
The main problem that large consumption of glycyrrhizin can cause body’s potassium levels to drop, leading to abnormal heartbeat and high blood pressure.
The good news is that potassium levels roll back to normal once you stop eating black licorice, with no permanent health effects. You will be glad to know that many licorice-flavored products don’t actually contain any real licorice; they are usually flavored with anise oil instead.
FDA says, “No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time. If you have been eating a lot of it and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and call your doctor.”
Halloween is a day to collect and eat candy. Try not to eat too much candy having black licorice and stay healthy.