Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is licorice that does not contain glycyrrhizic acid. Some people think DGL can reduce acid reflux, but the evidence is inconclusive. Lifestyle modifications and medications may be more effective.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels up into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and pain in the chest.

This article discusses DGL for acid reflux. It reviews the evidence and outlines the potential risks and benefits of DGL. It also discusses other treatments.

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According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), DGL is a form of licorice root. This root has culinary uses and is an ingredient in candy, foods, and beverages. People have cultivated this plant throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Some individuals believe that licorice-based supplements, including DGL, could improve a range of health conditions. DGL is licorice but with no glycyrrhizic acid, which occurs naturally in licorice.

Research has investigated using DGL for gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which refers to chronic acid reflux.

One 2017 study involved 58 people, some of whom had GERD. It investigated whether a formula containing DGL could improve symptoms of the condition. According to self-reports over 2 years, the researchers suggested DGL could positively affect GERD.

However, the sample size was small, and further studies are yet to replicate these results. Additionally, the study did not compare DGL with a placebo or investigate the effects of licorice in isolation. For this reason, scientists cannot attribute these improvements to DGL.

Additionally, the NIH notes that studies into the health effects of DGL have yet to provide high quality evidence.

Learn more about GERD.

It is possible to purchase DGL supplements, which may come in gels or capsules. An individual can swallow these gels or capsules with water. Other options include:

  • lozenges
  • creams
  • gargles

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbal supplements, including DGL supplements, which may have harmful effects. An individual needs to speak with a doctor before taking any DGL supplements.

The 2017 study suggests the potential benefits of DGL mixed with other herbal supplements for common digestive problems. Research has also found that licorice-based gels may improve atopic dermatitis symptoms. It also discovered that licorice-based gargles and lozenges may help with a postoperative sore throat.

However, none of the studies focused on DGL specifically, and it is unclear whether DGL-containing products would have the same effects.

As the NIH explains, licorice can cause side effects. This may occur if an individual eats large amounts or regularly over long periods. These side effects include low potassium levels and low blood pressure.

Some people believe that glycyrrhizic acid may cause these side effects. DGL does not contain glycyrrhizic acid, so it may cause fewer side effects, although research to confirm this is necessary.

Treatment for GERD and laryngopharyngeal reflux, which is when stomach contents flow back into the larynx and pharynx, can involve lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • achieving and maintaining a moderate weight
  • avoiding chocolate, citrus, and spicy foods
  • avoiding certain drinks, especially caffeinated and carbonated ones
  • eating smaller meal portions
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • reducing alcohol consumption
  • avoiding lying down for 3 hours following a meal

Doctors may also prescribe medications, such as histamine receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors, to treat GERD.

Read more about how to stop acid reflux.

Some people believe that DGL, a form of licorice that does not contain glycyrrhizic acid, can help manage acid reflux and its symptoms. DGL is available as a supplement in various forms.

The evidence for the efficacy of DGL in treating acid reflux is sparse and of limited quality. The same is true of licorice in general.

Although some research suggests that licorice could improve conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and digestive problems, more research is necessary.