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Throat Coat Tea and Potassium Loss

Question:
A tea called Throat Coat made me lethargic and I was found to have low potassium. Is this a known problem? I was drinking 5 cups a day.
Throat Coat Tea and Potassium Loss -- box of Throat Coat tea
Answer:
Throat Coat contains a very large amount of licorice root (760 mg per tea bag) plus another 60 mg of a 6:1 licorice root extract and these ingredients are likely to be the cause of your issues. Licorice root provides great flavor, but you need to exercise caution and moderation with it because it contains a compound that can act on the kidneys to cause loss of potassium, fluid retention, increased blood pressure, and lethargy. Throat Coat has a warning on its box regarding these issues, although the warning does not identify the causative agent — licorice root. See our article about licorice root for more details about its side effects, as well as the findings of clinical studies of its proposed uses.

Be aware that the FDA has warned that eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks can cause similar problems.

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COMMENTS

Mark17578   February 27, 2019
I also use throat coat tea, but for leaky gut, as it has the same ingredients recommended to heal that condition, Licorice, Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm. Glycyrrhizic acid is the component of licorice that causes the potassium loss and high blood pressure. I contacted the manufacturer, Traditional Medicinals to ask how much glycyrrhizic acid a tea bag contains, and here is their answer:

"Our organic Throat Coat tea contains 760 mg of organic licorice root (non-extract) and 60 mg of organic licorice root dry aqueous extract 6:1. We use pharmacopeial grade licorice root, which stipulates at least 4% concentration of glycyrrhizic acid. This would equate to approximately 40 mg per tea bag."

A single tea bag with 40 mg is far below the amount required to cause these symptoms(assuming Traditional Medicinals 40 mg figure is true). But drinking many cups a day might. I have reduced my intake to one cup per day and am instead using DGL, which is Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice, it does not contain glycyrrhizic acid, yet retains some of the beneficial properties.

ConsumerLab.com   February 27, 2019
Thanks for adding that information, Mark. Please note, however, that even 40 mg of glycyrrhizin per tea bag of Throat Coat is a substantial amount and if taken daily, can cause adverse effects, as noted in the Safety Concerns section of our article about licorice at https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21674.


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This CL Answer initially posted on 2/26/2019.
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