Licorice or mulethi is widely known for its potential health benefits. An herbal caffeine-free tea made from the woody herb has also become popular around the world, for its claimed digestion-promoting benefits. Licorice coffee has also gained prominence among health freaks. The herb has been believed to have a number of benefits including boosting respiratory system, immunity, digestion and even skin health. However, there may be a downside to consuming herbal licorice tea. A new study has associated the consumption of the supposedly healthy herbal beverage with elevated blood pressure. Researchers arrived at the conclusion after an 84-year-old man was hospitalised after drinking the tea.
However, the researchers said that the side-effect may arise due to excessive consumption of the tea, indicating that consuming it once in a while may not be harmful. But high blood pressure patients or hypertension patients must be cautious about this harmful side effect of licorice tea. "Excessive amounts of some herbal products can have harmful side-effects. Products containing licorice root extract can raise blood pressure, cause water retention and decrease potassium levels if consumed in excess," said, a neurologist Dr Jean-Pierre Falet, in the study published in the Journal of Canadian Medical Association. Potassium is a nutrient that is required by the body to keep levels of blood pressure optimal.
The 84-year-old man reportedly visited the emergency department for a high-blood pressure emergency, which was found to have been induced by consuming homemade tea made from licorice root or mulethi. His blood pressure was found to be severely elevated, and some other symptoms that he was suffering from included headache, light sensitivity, chest pain, fatigue and fluid retention in the calves. After admission to the hospital and treatment, it was found that the patient had a history of high blood pressure. He told physicians that he had been drinking one to two glasses of an herbal concoction made at home from the licorice root extract called "erk sous".
The man was found to have been drinking the tea for two weeks, before he had to be rushed to the hospital due to high blood pressure emergency. Licorice tea is popular in the Middle East and parts of Europe, and erk sous are especially popular in Egypt during Ramadan. "Given Canada's multicultural population, physicians should consider screening for licorice root intake in patients with difficult-to-control hypertension," said Dr Falet.
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