Someone Wound Up in the ER for Drinking Too Much Licorice Root Tea


Herbal teas have a reputation for offering health benefits, like soothing the nerves and easing stress. But at least one kind can have just the opposite effect, especially if it’s consumed in excess. Drinking too much licorice root tea led to a bout of high blood pressure that landed one man in the emergency room.

In a case chronicled in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, an 84-year-old man was admitted to a local emergency room for elevated blood pressure, chest pain, headache, light sensitivity, and other very non-relaxing ailments. Physicians identified the source of the problem as the patient’s habit of drinking one or two glasses daily of homemade licorice root tea, called “erk sous” in some parts of the world.

There were contributing factors to the man’s spike in blood pressure. He had already been suffering from hypertension and his consumption of homemade beverages derived from licorice root were likely far more concentrated than commercial products. But the case does illustrate the ability of licorice—often seen as a harmless substance—to have dangerous effects on blood pressure.

Licorice is the root of a plant known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. It contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, or glycyrrhizinic acid, that induces the body into retaining more water, diluting potassium levels. That leads to a rise in blood pressure. The ingredient is used in teas and black licorice products but isn’t typically found in processed and artificially flavored candies like Twizzlers. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that products containing licorice root extract could potentially result in health complications.

It’s not uncommon, either. Adults over the age of 40 who consume two ounces or more of black licorice for more than two weeks are vulnerable to heart problems, especially if they have preexisting conditions, the FDA said.

The patient profiled in the Canadian Medical Association Journal was admitted to the hospital and abstained from any more licorice consumption. After 13 days, he made a full recovery and was discharged.

The moral? It’s best to enjoy licorice the same way you enjoy most indulgences: in moderation.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Michigan Hospital’s Neonatal ICU Is in Need of Volunteer ‘Baby Cuddlers’

barsik/iStock via Getty Images
barsik/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to be an empty-nester impatiently waiting for grandkids to feel the urge to cuddle a newborn baby. And, unless you or a loved one happens to be raising a baby at the moment, the opportunity doesn’t arise all that often. But if you live in Michigan and have a little extra time on your hands, now is your chance to get the snuggle action that you (and the babies) have been craving.

MLive reports that Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, Michigan, is looking for volunteers to cuddle, rock, and soothe babies in its Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It’s no surprise that the hospital takes the safety of its patients—especially infants—very seriously: All applicants must pass a background check, interview, and extensive training before gaining access to the NICU.

You’ll also have to make at least a year-long commitment to volunteer for four hours on a weekly or biweekly basis. Though the NICU staff could use volunteers every hour of every day, right now they only need people to sign up for the graveyard shift—between midnight and 8 a.m.

If staying up past your bedtime once a week sounds like a reasonable trade-off for four hours of tender, loving care and that sweet baby smell, you can apply on Covenant HealthCare’s website here.

Wondering why you now feel the urge to move to Saginaw just so you can cuddle Covenant’s newborns? You can blame evolution. Newborns aren’t so supremely snuggle-worthy just because they’re often soft and doughy; they also have large, round eyes and tiny noses, mouths, and chins. This configuration of facial features is called kinderschema, and it activates our instinct to nurture and protect, giving our species the best chance of survival. You can read more about it here.

[h/t MLive]

A Custom Wheelchair Allowed This Brain-Injured Baby Raccoon to Walk Again

фотограф/iStock via Getty Images
фотограф/iStock via Getty Images

Animal prosthetics and wheelchairs allow dogs, cats, and even zoo animals with limited mobility to walk again, but wild animals with disabilities aren't usually as lucky. Vittles, a baby raccoon rescued in Arkansas, is the rare example of an animal that was severely injured in its natural habitat getting a second shot at life.

As Tribune Media Wire reports, Vittles came to wildlife rehab specialist Susan Curtis, who works closely with raccoons for the state of Arkansas, with a traumatic brain injury at just 8 weeks old. The cause of the trauma wasn't clear, but it was obvious that the raccoon wouldn't be able to survive on her own if returned to the wild.

Curtis partnered with the pet mobility gear company Walkin' Pets to get Vittles back on her feet. They built her a tiny custom wheelchair to give her balance and support as she learned to get around on her own. The video below shows Vittles using her legs and navigating spaces with help from the chair and guidance from her caretaker.

Vittles will likely never recover fully, but now that she's able to exercise her leg muscles, her chance at one day moving around independently is greater than it would have been otherwise. She now lives with her caretaker Susan and a 10-year old raccoon with cerebral palsy named Beetlejuice. After she's rehabilitated, the plan is to one day make her part of Arkansas's educational wildlife program.

[h/t Tribune Media Wire]