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10-Year-Old Boy Suffered Four Seizures. A Week Later When Doctors Saw His Teeth Were Black, They Found Out What Caused Them.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

There is apparently an ingredient in black licorice candy that if eaten in mass could cause harmful health effects.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

After a 10-year-old boy in Bologna, Italy, suffered four seizures, doctors eventually determined they were the result of eating up to 20 pieces of licorice a day for four months. In addition, he had a headache and high blood pressure, according to the case study published in the journal Pediatric Neurology.

The cause of these symptoms, determined after other possibilities were ruled out, was the active ingredient in the candy: glycyrrhizic acid. Doctors found out the boy was eating so much licorice on a daily basis because when they saw him a week after the initial incident, his teeth were black.

The boy had been eating more than the World Health Organization's recommended maximum of 2 mg/kg of glycyrrhizic acid, the case study authors wrote.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the effects of glycyrrhizic acid in licorice is not a concern at the level that most people consume them, but it added that it could become a problem in the "few individuals who may indulge themselves with excessive intakes of licorice-containing candies and/or beverages."

According to the case study, the boy stopped eating so much licorice and his symptoms were reduced and returned to normal.

Overall, the authors recommended that the manufactures of licorice candies put safety warnings about the ingredient and its recommended daily amount on labels. They also said children with a low body weight are at a higher risk for having a reaction.

(H/T: Science Daily)

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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