In light of our increasing awareness of the risks associated with acid-reflux targeting medications known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), including Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, it seems only fair to offer an alternative means of treating acid reflux. That’s where deglycyrrhizinated licorice comes in.
Treating Acid Reflux with Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice
Enter Deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or to spare having to spell it, DGL. Marketed in Europe, South Africa and Canada as a preparation called ‘Caved-S,’ DGL has shown great promise as a reliever of gastrointestinal ulcers in clinical trials, and is also commonly regarded as a treatment for the pain associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly referred to as acid reflux.
Licorice, called ‘gan cao‘ in Mandarin, has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to augment digestion, stop coughing and ‘fire’ in the throat, relieve spasms,and harmonize the effects of other herbs. Due to concerns about water retention and hypertensive effects resulting from the glycyrrhizin in traditional licorice, supplemental licorice is almost always in its de-glycyrrhizinated form, meaning that the offending compound has been removed.
In addition to it’s traditional gastrointestinal uses in western medicine, an article awarded the ‘Best Paper Award’ by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences last year reported on a study wherein licorice showed great potential in preventing liver injury.
Licorice’s potential as a promoter of liver health aside, it’s promise in treating acid reflux is much more clear: in laboratory settings, it has been demonstrated to promote mucus production and growth of the cells which line the stomach; in the clinical setting, anecdote after anecdote has suggested its efficacy. While licorice, as a physiologically active herb, does interact with certain medications, and therefore should be used under the advice of a physician or herbalist, it’s benefits certainly make it worth considering. Although if not trying out this remedy due to medication usage, it seems the first step toward escalating your health would be to get off the medication!
Dr. Astrid Pujari, a Seattle based physician with an additional degree as a medical herbalist, notes licorice’s potential in a reader-question driven column called Yours in Health.
“In herbal medicine, the root of the licorice plant is used to help soothe and release spasms from the digestive tract, among other things. DGL is pretty interesting, because in the lab it seems to increase mucous production and grow the cells lining the stomach. These are the natural protective mechanisms the body uses to protect itself against stomach acid. So the idea is that DGL may enhance the body’s own natural defense mechanisms, which could prevent or reduce problems related to acid such as heartburn.” She goes on to note, “…licorice has been safely eaten as a food, in reasonable amounts, for hundreds of years. Without the glycyrrhizin, the risk is even lower. Given that, it may be worth a try…”
In addition to using deglycyrrhizinated licorice for treating acid reflux, there are a number of other natural solutions you can utilize. If you want to know how to treat acid reflux without the use of pharmaceutical drugs, be sure to check out our other natural solutions.