Q. My husband and I live aboard a sailboat and have been at sea for three weeks off the coast of Venezuela. We listen to podcasts of the People’s Pharmacy radio show, and I have a question about DGL licorice and reflux.
What is DGL licorice and how does it differ from regular licorice? I have some Dutch licorice that is not the sugary artificial-flavor stuff you can buy in the States. I don’t know the exact ingredients (they are in Dutch), but if I feel a tinge of reflux coming on I find that sucking on a piece of this licorice kills the reflux.

A. DGL, or deglycyrrhizinated licorice, has been treated to remove the compound in natural licorice that can raise blood pressure, lower potassium and lead to fluid retention. Licorice has long been used to reduce stomach acid.

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  1. MMM
    Reply

    I take DGL for stomach irritation. If you are at risk for breast cancer, is DGL something that should be avoided?
    Is it considered a phytoestrogen?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: DGL HAS NO GLYCYRRHIZIC ACID, BUT IT STILL CONTAINS FLAVONOID COMPOUNDS. THESE HAVE ESTROGEN-LIKE ACTIVITY. IT SEEMS IT WOULD BE PRUDENT NOT TO USE IT LONG TERM.

  2. Lue
    Reply

    Re licorice helping reflux, will regular licorice (the type readily available in stores) help reflux? I love this licorice but have not associated it with helping reflux, possibly because I may not have been having a problem at the time. It would be good to know. Thanks.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: MOST LICORICE CANDY IN THE US IS NOT FLAVORED WITH GENUINE LICORICE ROOT, SO IT WON’T HELP.

  3. CHS
    Reply

    The term “degly” mystifies me. I am an organic chemist trained in amino acid chemistry. While not an MD, I never heard that glycine, the amino acid having “gly” as its symbol, was hypertensive. This seems a spurious explanation for the need for its removal. Perhaps the other part of the molecule is actually responsible for the change in bioactivity. Can you enlighten me?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: AS A CHEMIST, YOU ARE THREE STEPS AHEAD OF US. WHAT IS REMOVED IS THE GLYCOSIDE GLYCYRRHIZIN, WHICH IS ONE OF THE MOST STRIKING CONSTITUENTS OF THE LICORICE ROOT.
    http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2005/10/18/lemon-balm-1/

  4. MJ
    Reply

    How does herbal “licorice tea” (with “Licorice root” as the primary ingredient) compare to DGL licorice? Does it have any influence on blood pressure?

  5. Ann
    Reply

    Where do you buy this Licorice?

  6. Ruth
    Reply

    I read that iodine helps treat nail fungus. How often does it have to be applied? Your article did not state the usage.

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