Can You Use Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) to Treat Acid Reflux

DGL is a natural substance found in many plants and trees. Its chemical structure resembles that of caffeine, but without any psychoactive effect. It has been used since ancient times to treat pain and fever. However, its use was restricted because it caused diarrhea and vomiting when taken in large doses. Today, dgl is available over the counter at pharmacies or health food stores. Some studies have shown that dgl may reduce acid reflux symptoms in some patients who are prone to them. Other studies show no such benefit. There are several different types of dgl. They all contain caffeine, which makes them popular among coffee drinkers. The most common type contains only caffeine and is called dextro-dextrin. This type is sold under brand names like “Caffeine Free” or “Natural.” A second type contains both caffeine and other ingredients, called dextro-dextrin. These types are often sold under brand names like “Caffeine Free +” or “Dextro-Dextrin.” A third type of dgl is known as a triphasic product. Triphasic products contain three or more active ingredients. These ingredients include varying amounts of dgl, guaifenesin, and doxylamine succinate. DGL manufacturers claim their products will relieve the symptoms of acid reflux by two different mechanisms: They will coat the esophagus, preventing stomach acid from coming in contact with it.

They will relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing the contents of the stomach to flow into the esophagus with less resistance. In theory, this will enable acid reflux sufferers to sleep without having their symptoms triggered. We have found no studies showing any of these claims to have any real scientific basis.

In fact, most of these claims are made by marketers rather than researchers. It is also worth pointing out that dgl is not an anti-acid medication such as Prilosec, Zantac or Prevacid. It does not reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Given this lack of evidence, we are left to guess as to how dgl is supposed to work in patients with acid reflux. The most likely explanation is that they are intended to coat the esophagus with a protective barrier. This barrier should be strong enough to resist the effects of stomach acid and prevent it from coming into contact with the esophagus. In theory, this type of coating should work for acid reflux. But there is no scientific evidence proving that it does. Using dgl for acid reflux also poses some risks that may not be immediately apparent. The first is that dgl can have the side effect of causing nausea and vomiting. If this occurs during the night when you are asleep, you may not be able to get yourself to the bathroom in time. This could lead to accidental poisoning if the vomit contains any dgl. This could potentially be very harmful. The second risk is more serious. Some people with acid reflux disease also have esophageal cancer. Using dgl could mask the symptoms of this cancer, making it more difficult to diagnose. If the dgl were discontinued because it was not working, and esophageal cancer was the true cause of the problem, the cancer could advance to a stage where it could no longer be treated. This is a relatively uncommon problem, but it is a real one. If you have acid reflux disease and are thinking about trying dgl, you should tell your doctor before taking it. This way, you can avoid both of the potential problems described above.

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Sources & references used in this article:

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) for Acid Reflux by S Hood –

Prevention of symptoms of gastric irritation (GERD) using two herbal formulas: an observational study by R Setright – Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine …, 2017 –

Naturopathic Treatment of Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in the Setting of Parkinson’s Disease by EM Neiworth-Petshow… – Integrative Medicine: A …, 2018 –

Heartburn/GERD and Licorice by FD Hyman, NY Times –