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J R Soc Promot Health. 2000 Jun;120(2):83-9.

Liquorice and its health implications.

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East Surrey Hospital, Redhill.


This article presents an overview of the health implications of liquorice. Liquorice has beneficial applications in the medicinal and the confectionery sectors; the substance, therefore, is both widely available and commercially attractive. However, the ingestion of liquorice, and/or its active metabolites, can sometimes produce an acquired form of apparent mineralocorticoid excess (AME) syndrome, expressed as sodium retention, potassium loss and suppression of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, in addition to clinical consequences such as raised blood pressure and oedema. Moreover, these metabolic changes, the mechanisms underlying which are highlighted in the accompanying text, are associated with a number of additional clinical symptoms. Considering the easy availability of liquorice itself and also of other products containing its active metabolites, it is quite possible that the health burden of liquorice-induced morbidity could be substantial. Healthcare practitioners need to be fully aware of the risks in view of a large number of reports in the literature concerning its toxicity.

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