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Most everyone experiences occasional acid reflux and its most noticeable symptom is heartburn. Acid reflux is the backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus and the pain it causes is heartburn.
Most doctors recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications for short-term relief even though natural remedies like deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) can also provide relief from dyspepsia and chronic acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).1
- GERD: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatment
- Mega List of Natural Heartburn Remedies
- OTC Heartburn Medication: Which One Is Best?
What is Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)?
Licorice root has been used to treat digestive issues like dyspepsia, heartburn, stomach ulcers, and sore throat for centuries, however, the glycyrrhizin component in licorice root, the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, can cause health problems.2
Glycyrrhizin can cause low potassium levels which may lead to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, sodium retention, and more.
Fortunately, these negative side effects can be avoided. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is available. DGL is a dietary supplement that has had the glycyrrhizin component of licorice removed. It’s a much safer option.
Benefits of Using DGL for Acid Reflux and Heartburn
1. DGL Soothes And Protects The Gastrointestinal Tract
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) soothes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract including the esophagus by increasing mucus production. This increase in mucus builds up the mucous membrane which coats and protects against acid irritation like heartburn and allows for healing of irritated or damaged tissue including ulcers.3
2. DGL Improves The Muscle Tone OF The LES
DGL can improve the muscle tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Improved muscle tone means that the LES, a ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach, can close tighter to keep stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus. A weakened LES will allow acid to reflux.
The improved muscle tone of the LES after taking DGL is thought to be due to the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis which decreases normal muscle tone or tension in the LES.1,4,5
3. DGL Is More Effective Than Antacids
Scientific studies have found DGL to be more effective in treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic acid reflux, symptoms than commonly used antacids.6
4. DGL Aids In Weaning Off PPIs
Integrative medicine practitioners frequently use DGL to help wean off acid suppression medications like Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs).2
Related Content: How to Wean Off PPIs and Why
Risks And Warnings When Taking DGL For Acid Reflux
1. Only Use Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)
Only use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Large amounts and/or long-term use of licorice without the glycyrrhizin removed can cause cardiovascular health problems and others that can lead to death.
2. DGL Is Not Regulated By The FDA
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a natural food supplement. Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the ingredients, quality, and strength of doses will vary across manufacturers.
3. Statements Regarding DGL Treatment Are Not Regulated By The FDA
Statements provided by supplement manufacturers and this website regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
The FDA supports the physician-supervised treatment of acid reflux through the use of FDA regulated acid reflux medications.
4. Supplements Side Effects
Supplements including DGL can have negative health effects and can affect the potency of medications you take.2
5. DGL Is NOT Recommended When Pregnant
DGL is NOT recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. DGL should not have measurable amounts of glycyrrhizin. But the FDA does not regulate the production of DGL. Glycyrrhizin can cause miscarriage, shorter gestation periods, low birth weight, and can allow cortisol, a stress hormone, to pass through the placenta and impair brain development of the fetus.7,8,9,10,11
Best DGL Supplements
DGL can help reduce acid reflux symptoms like heartburn by coating and protecting the esophagus and maintaining the muscle tone of the LES.
When taking DGL, follow the recommendation of your healthcare provider and the product recommendations or directions.
Rhizinate by Integrative Therapeutics – Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) Chewable Tablets
Rhizinate by Integrative Therapeutics is Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) in a chewable tablet form. Rhizinate uses GutGard in its product formula.
GutGard is a clinically-studied DGL extract that has been proven to provide relief from dyspepsia and acid reflux.1,12
Iberogast by Medical Futures Inc. – Liquid
Iberogast by Medical Futures Inc. is a proprietary blend of herbal extracts including DGL that is designed to alleviate heartburn, accelerate gastric emptying, reduce gastric pain and cramping, and gas and bloating.
Iberogast like GutGard in Rhizinate has been clinically proven to relieve dyspepsia and acid reflux.1,13
GI-Encap by Thorne Research – Capsules
GI-Encap by Thorne Research contains DGL and three additional forms of mucilage (marshmallow root, slippery elm, and aloe vera) that help coat and protect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract by building up the mucous membrane that lines the throat and stomach.
Related Content: Marshmallow Root For Acid Reflux
Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals
Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals contains DGL and two other forms of mucilage (marshmallow root, and slippery elm) that help protect against acid reflux by coating and building up the mucous membrane that lines the throat and stomach.
Throat Coat Tea is my favorite tea for relieving acid reflux symptoms.
I used DGL, diet changes, lifestyle changes, and other natural supplements to overcome gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the esophageal spasms which occasionally accompanied my acid reflux symptoms. (GERD is chronic acid reflux.) This approach doesn’t work for everyone. You should meet with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.
If you’re pursuing an alternative route for healing, your doctor should know. Supplements and alternative forms of medicine can have negative health effects and can affect the potency of medications you take.
- Ann Ming Yeh and Brenda Golianu. Integrative Treatment of Reflux and Functional Dyspepsia in Children. Children (Basel). 2014 Sep; 1(2): 119–133.
- Black Licorice: Trick or Treat? U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Wendy McLean. Herbal and Nutritional Solutions for Upper Digestive Complaints. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society. Vol. 24, No. 4, Summer 2018: 264-266.
- James W. Maher M.D., John I. Hollenbeck M.D., Valerie Crandall M.S., W. James McGuigan M.D., and E.R. Woodward M.D. Prostaglandin E2 Effect on Lower Esophageal Sphincter Pressure and Serum Gastrin. Journal of Surgical Research. Volume 24, Issue 2, February 1978, Pages 87-91.
- F. Brown, B. Beck, R. Fletcher, D. Castell, and G. Eastwood. Evidence Suggesting Prostaglandins Mediate Lower Oesophageal Sphincter Incompetence Associated with Inflammation. Gastrointestinal Motility in Health and Disease, pp 619-624.
- Russell Setright. Prevention of Symptoms of Gastric Irritation (GERD) Using Two Herbal Formulas: An Observational Study. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society. Volume 23 Issue 2 (Winter 2017).
- Licorice Root. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). NCCIH Publication No.: D318.
- T.E. Strandberg, A.L. Järvenpää, H. Vanhanen, and P.M. McKeigue. Birth Outcome in Relation to Licorice Consumption During Pregnancy. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2001 Jun 1;153(11):1085-8.
- T.E. Strandberg, S. Andersson, A.L. Järvenpää, and P.M. McKeigue. Preterm Birth and Licorice Consumption During Pregnancy. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2002 Nov 1;156(9):803-5.
- Hesham R. Omar, Irina Komarova, Mohamed El-Ghonemi, Ahmed Fathy, Rania Rashad, Hany D. Abdelmalak, Muralidhar Reddy Yerramadha, Yaseen Ali, Engy Helal, and Enrico M. Camporesi. Licorice Abuse: Time to Send a Warning Message. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012 Aug; 3(4): 125–138.
- K. Räikkönen, A.K. Pesonen, K. Heinonen, J. Lahti, N. Komsi, J.G. Eriksson, J.R. Seckl, A.L. Järvenpää, and T.E. Strandberg. Maternal Licorice Consumption and Detrimental Cognitive and Psychiatric Outcomes in Children. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2009 Nov 1;170(9):1137-46.
- K.R. Raveendra, Jayachandra, V. Srinivasa, K.R. Sushma, J.J. Allan, K.S. Goudar, H.N. Shivaprasad, K. Venkateshwarlu, P. Geetharani, G. Sushma, and A. Agarwal. An Extract of Glycyrrhiza Glabra (GutGard) Alleviates Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012;2012:216970.
- J. Melzer, W. Rosch, J. Reichling, R. Brignoli, and R. Saller. Meta-analysis: Phytotherapy of Functional Dyspepsia with the Herbal Drug Preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2004; 20: 1279–1287.