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Liquorice tea caused my high blood pressure – Nikki’s story

 

As a fit and healthy 50-year-old, Nikki couldn’t understand why she developed high blood pressure. A chance find on the internet led to an interesting discovery.

Liquorice tea caused my high blood pressure – Nikki’s story

 

Taking care of my health

I am a very healthy 50-year-old. I have been self-employed for 26 years and have a very enjoyable, stress-free job. I have a good BMI of 21.7, I exercise regularly, and I’m very health conscious about what I eat – predominantly organic foods, no processed or fast foods, low salt and low sugar. I don’t smoke and I drink alcohol very infrequently.

In early August 2013, in a bid to get even healthier, I decided to stop drinking caffeinated tea in preference for herbal tea and swapped my coffee for decaffeinated coffee. I discovered a whole range of herbal teas, and tried several different types, before settling on a few that I really liked – superfruits, chamomile and peppermint and liquorice. My favourite by a long way was the peppermint and liquorice and I started to drink it regularly. 

Disbelief at feeling the pressure 

I was in total disbelief when, at a periodic health check in December 2013, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was told I should visit a doctor and have it monitored. I purchased a blood pressure monitor so that I could keep an eye on it. Over the next couple of months my blood pressure fluctuated but seemed to be getting steadily higher, sometimes reaching 220/110mmHg.

In February 2014, I decided that I needed to get my blood pressure under control as it was dangerously high. The first doctor I saw prescribed potassium medication (Lorsatan potassium) to start taking immediately and arranged for me to have an ECG and blood test. I didn’t like the idea of taking medication without knowing the cause of my high blood pressure, so I decided not to take the tablets. A week later, both the ECG and blood test came back with no problems.

I went to a different doctor and he determined that I must have essential hypertension, although I have no family history of this. He prescribed two sets of medication, ACE inhibitors called Ramipril and Lisinopril, on two different occasions but I reacted badly to both.

I stopped taking the tablets and went back to the doctor. He suggested that I take a rest from medication to give my body a chance to recover. He also recommended that I go onto the waiting list for a 24 hour monitor to measure my blood pressure, before prescribing further medication.

I was never happy about taking medicine without knowing the cause and I always felt that there must be a trigger of some kind, but couldn't think what that could be.

A chance find on the internet 

In my spare time, I explored the internet looking for possible ways to lower my blood pressure. I found out about the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and started eating foods that I thought would help.

In early April 2014, I chanced upon a UK homeopathic website that suggested foods to help and foods to be avoided. I glanced down the list and noticed that it recommended avoiding liquorice, as it can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and dangerously low potassium levels (hypokalemia). It explained that liquorice contains glycyrrhizinic acid, which sets off a chain reaction of biochemical events in the body and can result in high blood pressure.

Instantly alarm bells sounded. I realised that since September 2013 I had been drinking as many as 4-6 cups of liquorice and peppermint tea every day.

I knew that something must have triggered the high blood pressure, but I hadn't linked it to my switch to herbal teas as I had assumed that they are healthy. I researched this more and discovered that there have been instances of individuals being admitted to hospital after consuming too much liquorice. Seemingly, it is also not advisable to consume liquorice whilst taking ACE inhibitor medication – which could have contributed to my adverse reaction to the prescribed medications.

I immediately stopped drinking the liquorice and peppermint tea and within the next week my blood pressure returned to normal levels. 

The tea manufacturer agrees to make things clearer

I subsequently went back to the website from which I bought the liquorice and peppermint tea to look at the product description. There is nothing on the first page, however, if you click on the ingredients tab it states: ‘This tea contains liquorice – people with hypertension should avoid excessive consumption.’

When I first bought the tea I didn't have hypertension and I hadn’t even noticed this before. On further exploration, it appears some other herbal teas also contain liquorice, for example, some lemon and ginger teas, so it’s worth checking the ingredients.

I went back to the manufacturer and thankfully they have agreed to update their packaging and their website details.

As a fit and healthy 50-year-old, Nikki couldn’t understand why she developed high blood pressure. A chance find on the internet led to an interesting discovery.

Taking care of my health

I am a very healthy 50-year-old. I have been self-employed for 26 years and have a very enjoyable, stress-free job. I have a good BMI of 21.7, I exercise regularly, and I’m very health conscious about what I eat – predominantly organic foods, no processed or fast foods, low salt and low sugar. I don’t smoke and I drink alcohol very infrequently.

In early August 2013, in a bid to get even healthier, I decided to stop drinking caffeinated tea in preference for herbal tea and swapped my coffee for decaffeinated coffee. I discovered a whole range of herbal teas, and tried several different types, before settling on a few that I really liked – superfruits, chamomile and peppermint and liquorice. My favourite by a long way was the peppermint and liquorice and I started to drink it regularly. 

Disbelief at feeling the pressure 

I was in total disbelief when, at a periodic health check in December 2013, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was told I should visit a doctor and have it monitored. I purchased a blood pressure monitor so that I could keep an eye on it. Over the next couple of months my blood pressure fluctuated but seemed to be getting steadily higher, sometimes reaching 220/110mmHg.

In February 2014, I decided that I needed to get my blood pressure under control as it was dangerously high. The first doctor I saw prescribed potassium medication (Lorsatan potassium) to start taking immediately and arranged for me to have an ECG and blood test. I didn’t like the idea of taking medication without knowing the cause of my high blood pressure, so I decided not to take the tablets. A week later, both the ECG and blood test came back with no problems.

I went to a different doctor and he determined that I must have essential hypertension, although I have no family history of this. He prescribed two sets of medication, ACE inhibitors called Ramipril and Lisinopril, on two different occasions but I reacted badly to both.

I stopped taking the tablets and went back to the doctor. He suggested that I take a rest from medication to give my body a chance to recover. He also recommended that I go onto the waiting list for a 24 hour monitor to measure my blood pressure, before prescribing further medication.

I was never happy about taking medicine without knowing the cause and I always felt that there must be a trigger of some kind, but couldn't think what that could be.

A chance find on the internet 

In my spare time, I explored the internet looking for possible ways to lower my blood pressure. I found out about the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and started eating foods that I thought would help.

In early April 2014, I chanced upon a UK homeopathic website that suggested foods to help and foods to be avoided. I glanced down the list and noticed that it recommended avoiding liquorice, as it can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and dangerously low potassium levels (hypokalemia). It explained that liquorice contains glycyrrhizinic acid, which sets off a chain reaction of biochemical events in the body and can result in high blood pressure.

Instantly alarm bells sounded. I realised that since September 2013 I had been drinking as many as 4-6 cups of liquorice and peppermint tea every day.

I knew that something must have triggered the high blood pressure, but I hadn't linked it to my switch to herbal teas as I had assumed that they are healthy. I researched this more and discovered that there have been instances of individuals being admitted to hospital after consuming too much liquorice. Seemingly, it is also not advisable to consume liquorice whilst taking ACE inhibitor medication – which could have contributed to my adverse reaction to the prescribed medications.

I immediately stopped drinking the liquorice and peppermint tea and within the next week my blood pressure returned to normal levels. 

The tea manufacturer agrees to make things clearer

I subsequently went back to the website from which I bought the liquorice and peppermint tea to look at the product description. There is nothing on the first page, however, if you click on the ingredients tab it states: ‘This tea contains liquorice – people with hypertension should avoid excessive consumption.’

When I first bought the tea I didn't have hypertension and I hadn’t even noticed this before. On further exploration, it appears some other herbal teas also contain liquorice, for example, some lemon and ginger teas, so it’s worth checking the ingredients.

I went back to the manufacturer and thankfully they have agreed to update their packaging and their website details.

Why I want to share this experience

I feel that it is very important to share this experience with others, as without my chance find on the internet, I would probably be taking medication for the rest of my life. 

I feel that it is very important to share this experience with others, as without my chance find on the internet, I would probably be taking medication for the rest of my life. 

 

Share your story

Sharing your story lets others know they’re not alone, and could help them to live well with high blood pressure.

 

 

 

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