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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Licorice Day - It's a Holiday!

In 2004, Licorice International founded National Licorice Day, celebrated on April 12. National Licorice Day is even listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events and celebrates black licorice.  Imagine a whole day devoted to licorice! 

Licorice has been around a long time.  It was found in King Tut's tomb and there are even writings about how Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great personally endorsed the benefits of licorice, which is similar to how in our day, Ronald Reagan endorsed Jelly Bellys.

In ancient days, licorice was used as medicine. It was used for eye ailments, skin diseases, coughs, and even for loss of hair. Now days licorice is still used as medicine. It is known to help with stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throats, and infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis. There is even research on licorice lending support in the treatment of prostate and breast cancer.

But for the most part, the majority of us use licorice as a candy. We like that it is sweet and chewy. But even though it is a treat, there are precautions and side effects we should be aware of. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services gives the following cautionary advice about licorice consumption:

  • In large amounts, licorice containing glycyrrhizin can cause high blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart problems. 
  • Taking licorice together with diuretics (water pills), corticosteroids, or other medicines that reduce the body’s potassium levels could cause dangerously low potassium levels.
  • People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice.
  • When taken in large amounts, licorice can affect the body’s levels of a hormone called cortisol and related steroid drugs, such as prednisone.
  • Pregnant women should avoid using licorice as a supplement or consuming large amounts of licorice as food, as some research suggests it could increase the risk of preterm labor.
So on International Licorice Day, April 12, 2013, you should celebrate and enjoy the sweet chewy goodness of one of America's favorite candies; licorice!