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Beware of high blood pressure: herbal teas with licorice drive blood pressure dangerously high


Hypertensive crisis due to certain herbal tea consumption

Doctors recently presented a case in which a man with a hypertensive emergency was hospitalized. He suffered from severe headache, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. His blood pressure was dangerously high. The cause of the hypertensive crisis was initially unclear. It later turned out that his herbal tea consumption had triggered the emergency.

Canadian doctors warn of high consumption of herbal teas that contain licorice. In a case study on an 84-year-old patient, the team showed that licorice tea was responsible for a life-threatening hypertensive crisis. The case was published in the medical journal "cmaj".

Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis

The case: An 84-year-old Canadian was admitted to the emergency room of a hospital in Montreal. He complained of symptoms such as sensitivity to light, severe fatigue, chest pain, difficulty breathing, high blood pressure and headache. Investigations showed that the man had a blood pressure of 196/66 mm Hg. His blood potassium level was reduced and his blood pH was abnormally high (metabolic alkalosis).

Licorice raises blood pressure

Intensive treatment with several medications improved his condition within a few days. When asked about the possible causes by a doctor, the man stated that he had drunk one or two glasses of homemade liquorice tea each day. Although he knew that liquorice raised blood pressure, he did not associate licorice herbal tea with his rising blood pressure.

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Doctor warns of high licorice consumption

"Products containing licorice root extract can increase blood pressure, cause water retention, and lower potassium levels if consumed excessively," emphasizes Dr. Jean-Pierre Falet from McGill University's Neurology Clinic in Montreal, Quebec. Licorice tea is popular in the Middle East, parts of Europe and Egypt, for example. In some cultures, tea is also often drunk during Ramadan because it can suppress feelings of hunger. Patients and doctors should be aware that high licorice root consumption can lead to hypertension that is difficult to control, according to the specialist. Patients with high blood pressure in particular should be particularly careful when consuming licorice.

Condition normalized after abstinence from licorice

The patient's complaints improved again under the intensive treatment. After a three-week abstinence from liquorice extract, his blood pressure was 110/57 mm Hg and he said he felt good. The blood test showed that his potassium level was back to normal (3.8 mmol / l).

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Background information on licorice

Licorice is the root of the plant "Real Licorice" (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Root extracts have been used as an essential ingredient in various sweets and beverages for thousands of years. The best known licorice product is licorice. Licorice also has a long tradition as a medicinal plant. The root contains glycyrrhizin. This substance has an anti-inflammatory effect and in some cases also has antiviral properties. Licorice is used as a medicinal plant for flu infections, bronchitis, gastritis (gastritis), stomach cramps, herpes, diarrhea and rheumatism. In addition, licorice can suppress feelings of hunger and thirst, which is why it was not only standard equipment in the Roman army in the past, but is still drunk during Ramadan.

When can licorice become a health hazard?

According to the Canadian medical experts, the blood pressure-increasing effect of licorice arises from the fact that a certain receptor is activated by consumption. The so-called mineralocorticoid receptor regulates the water-electrolyte balance in the body in the kidney and colon. Overactivation triggers several processes in the body that ultimately lead to a loss of potassium and hydrogen ions, which results in increasing blood pressure and blood pH. (vb)

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