Licorice Consumption Causing Severe Hypokalemic Paralysis

Elinav, Eran; Chajek-Shaul, Tova
June 2003
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Jun2003, Vol. 78 Issue 6, p767
Academic Journal
Hypokalemic paralysis due to licorice consumption is extremely rare, with only 40 cases in the English literature describing paralysis secondary to exposure to licorice in candies, medications, chewing tobacco, and herbal preparations. We describe a patient who suffered life-threatening hypokalemic paralysis caused by consumption of licorice in the form of a tea sweetener superimposed on long-term consumption of licorice candy. Aggressive fluid and potassium replenishment produced complete and lasting recovery. To our knowledge, this is the first report of hypokalemic paralysis due to exposure to licorice as a tea sweetener, a common custom among the Arab population. The case emphasizes the importance of considering patients' cultural backgrounds and local customs, which often may lead the treating physician to the correct clinical diagnosis.


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