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]

General Mills Is Recalling More Than 600,000 Pounds of Gold Medal Flour Over E. Coli Risk

jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images
jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images

The FDA recently shared news of a 2019 product recall that could impact home bakers. As CNN reports, General Mills is voluntarily recalling 600,000 pounds of its Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour due to a possible E. coli contamination.

The decision to pull the flour from shelves was made after a routine test of the 5-pound bags. According to a company statement, "the potential presence of E. coli O26" was found in the sample, and even though no illnesses have been connected to Gold Medal flour, General Mills is recalling it to be safe.

Escherichia coli O26 is a dangerous strain of the E. coli bacterium that's often spread through commercially processed foods. Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most patients recover within a week, but in people with vulnerable immune systems like young children and seniors, the complications can be deadly.

To avoid the potentially contaminated batch, look for Gold Medal flour bags with a "better if used by" date of September 6, 2020 and the package UPC 016000 196100. All other products sold under the Gold Medal label are safe to consume.

Whether or not the flour in your pantry is affected, the recall is a good reminder that consuming raw flour can be just as harmful as eating raw eggs. So when you're baking cookies, resist having a taste until after they come out of the oven—or indulge in one of the many edible cookie dough products on the market instead.

[h/t CNN]

Doctors at a British Hospital Are Now Prescribing Houseplants for Depression

Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to take a trip to the countryside to reap the mental health benefits of being around nature—a single plant might just do the trick (as long as you can keep it alive).

Fast Company reports that the Cornbrook Medical Practice in Manchester, England, is one of the first in the country to prescribe houseplants to help treat anxiety and depression. It’s part of a horticultural therapy program led by a local nonprofit called Sow the City, which leads initiatives to foster community gardens in Manchester.

It’s just as much about building a sense of community through gardening as it is about the therapeutic advantages of caring for your own house plants. “There’s evidence that people who are socially isolated have worse health outcomes,” Sow the City director Jon Ross told Fast Company. The organization has also assisted Cornbrook Medical Practice in establishing its own herb garden, which patients are welcome to help maintain. Ross and his team work closely with doctors at different offices to optimize each garden for its particular clientele—sometimes, that means building a small, flora-filled sanctuary that’s just for rest and relaxation.

Other times, it’s a fully-fledged vegetable garden. For a “Hospital Beds” program at another hospital, Sow the City installed raised vegetable beds where long-term mental illness patients can soak in some sunlight, socialize with each other, and take pride in seeing the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors flourish. There’s an added physical health benefit, too: The patients get to eat the produce. “We really don’t have good food in our public hospitals,” Ross said.

Sow the City also makes sure that no green thumbs are necessary to participate in any gardening party. Its members populate the gardens with already-healthy, easy-to-tend plants, and they’ll even train patients on how to care for them.

If you’re thinking a garden might improve your own quality of life—doctor’s orders or not—here are 10 easy-to-grow plants for first-time gardeners.

[h/t Fast Company]