DGL: Licorice with a Purpose

DGL, or deglycyrrhizinated licorice, is a supplement that puts in work. While licorice is used as a sweetener, it is also a traditional remedy for issues affecting the gut, respiration, energy level, and hormonal imbalance. In its pure form, licorice can cause unwanted drug-nutrient interactions, and effect kidney function to the extent of causing water retention (known as edema) and elevated blood pressure.

The DGL form of licorice has a large part of its active component glycyrrhetic acid removed, which reduces its impact on body systems. While licorice is not recommended for daily use, DGL is way safer.

So, what is DGL good for?

Gastrointestinal issues, first of all.  For those suffering from occasional heartburn, chronic acid reflux, gastritis, or peptic ulcer disease, DGL can provide natural relief.

A medication typically prescribed for these GI issues is a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). The PPI industry rakes in about $14 billion+ annually. It makes sense that doctors want to prescribe something that will reduce their patients’ discomfort and lower risk of acid damage to the esophagus, that faithful organ connecting the mouth to the opening of the stomach. But PPIs are not the best long-term option to those with gastric-acid related diseases or injury.

The fact is, longterm PPI use is linked to iron-deficiency anemia, along with altered absorption of vitamins B12 and C, and minerals calcium and magnesium. These nutrients require normal levels of stomach acidity for proper absorption, and the PPI works by lowering stomach production of acid. Therefore, chronic PPI use can set us up for mineral deficiencies that may lead to mental confusion, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, and depression (not to mention organ damage, weakened bones, increased risk of infections, and reduced efficacy of other, perhaps irreplaceable, pharmaceuticals).

Finding yourself interested in DGL yet?

DGL often comes in a medium-sized chewable tablet. It has a faint licorice taste, although flavored options are available today. DGL is proven to provide relief at doses as low as 1-2 tablets twice daily, and is considered as effective as the over-the-counter alternative. Taking DGL about 15-30 minutes before each meal can calm stomach upset. Bonus, a regular DGL regimen has been linked to reduced fatigue. As a traditional medicinal for adrenal support, anyone with a high-stress lifestyle or daily exposure to environmental toxins could benefit from a little DGL.

Should you wish to add DGL to your daily routine and for long-term use, it is a good idea to monitor your blood pressure as much as once per week to be certain that you are still in a normal range. Keeping up with regular checks of kidney function via routine blood tests would be a helpful practice as well. Basically, if you put anything in your body on a daily basis, taking a few extra precautions can’t hurt. Plus, this is a great opportunity to make your doctor aware of DGL, and the full scope of your personal health practices.

Published by Okay to Eat

Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro, MS, RDN, CDN

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