After a young boy in Italy had a series of violent seizures following the consumption of large quantities of licorice (20 pieces a day for four months), doctors have concluded that the chewy black candy can trigger high blood pressure and hypertension in high doses. The boy, from Bologna, was hospitalized after he had several seizures, and doctors found that he had high levels of cortisol and blood pressure.The boy will recover, but following the incident, doctors are recommending that licorice makers list a daily consumption limit on their packaging, according to a recent report in Pediatric Neurology.
No candy can be healthy in high doses, but licorice in particular contains high levels of glycyrrhizic acid, the chief sweetener in the licorice root, which has also been used as a food emulsifier in other packaged food products. Consuming large quantities of the chemical can lead to heart problems, as seen in this case.
After the boy quit eating licorice, the swelling in his brain slowed and his blood pressure rate returned to normal.