Q. You have been writing about problems with heartburn drugs. A prominent naturopathic doctor told me to use DGL.
I take one tab twice per day and have not had any heartburn since starting this regimen. This is excellent information for those who do not want to take drugs that could be potentially harmful.

A. DGL is deglycyrrhizinated licorice. That means the medicinal herb licorice has had the glycyrrhizin taken out. This ingredient is primarily responsible for the adverse effects of licorice, such as increased blood pressure.
DGL has been used to help heal stomach ulcers and is often recommended to ease heartburn. We did not find medical studies supporting this approach, but we appreciate your experience.

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  1. Deborah

    My Experience with DGL
    My acid reflux (throat on fire at night) had been going on for years and a Gastro doctor saw an ulcer, gave me a hpylori test and put me on a 15 day antibiotics/PPI treatment for it. Two months after I feel 85% better and after the two weeks of treatment, only once or twice have taken non PPI anti acids. I have read about PPI studies in the health section of The NY Times and they have found that prolonged use of protein pump inhibitors can cause kidney failure and many people end up on dialysis.

    I find that DGL can be helpful when taking it before meals. However, one of the most helpful things is also to avoid the typical foods that bother you but to also take probiotics. I take one of those super 60 million strain probiotics daily and “try” to avoid eating a lot of flour, late at night and no spicy foods ever.

    More than half the population of the US has h-pylori, 60% of the world but with many people, it does not bother them. If you do need the treatment, be careful after about sharing spoons and re-infection. ( I guess no more kissing!!! LOL)

  2. Gussie

    DGL was the answer to avoiding fundiplasty. Two surgeons recommended it was my best option to prevent esophageal cancer.
    Had Barrett’s brought on by fosamax. On omaprazole and others, Messed with immune system. Spoke to two recent surgery patients — both had complications — I’ve met others since. So glad I said no.

    We were all in late 50’s, slender. Seems a decade ago Barrets and reflux were all the rage medically speaking. Reflux meds on drugstore shelves in overweight/obese society? Bothersome to see people who are 40 pounds overweight choose eating “whatever they want” over losing weight because of these handy pills.
    Reading Euro research, I learned of DGL & within six weeks it (plus continuing with healthy diet with occasional enjoyable slip-ups) turned the tide.
    Docs wanted me on immune suppressing drugs after second year of clean endoscopes . I sent them both a bottle of DGL with a goodbye letter. Buyer beware.

  3. joyce

    I have a stomach ulcer back in the 80’s from a pharma drug and so that is my concern area. I have been taking DGL for going on 5 yrs or so and I’m doing good. I do take minimal amounts of ibuprofen which I’d rather not, but chronic pain rears it’s ugly head from OA.

  4. Nicky

    I have Barrettes Esophagus plus pancreatic problems. It all started after my third attack. They could not figure out why my enzymes kept going up so they did a scope, and everything was normal except that I had B-E. After the third attack they pulled out my gallbladder, stating that it was the best decision. I found this odd since every gallbladder test was negative! Then they said that prior to the removal I would need an ERCP test, so that got done. A few days later out came the gallbladder.

    Since all this I still have problems. They also keep telling me to take PPIs which make me very ill. They say my side effects are impossible, as I tell them that I have never had the slightest heartburn until they tried me on PPIs, and all the same symptoms: the loss of appetite, the nausea, and, the funniest thing, what I believe is heartburn!!! Are these drugs supposed to keep acid at bay? And they won’t let up on the PPIs due to B-E.

    I also mentioned that I was seeing a homeopathic doctor, and that a stool test claimed I definitely had an infection, but she could not tell what kind of infection. So I asked my my new family doc to humor me and give me an h-pilori test. Sure enough, it came back positive! Why would all other Doctors put this test off? So my family doctor put me on five days of PPI, 2 antibiotics, and one penicillin.

    That went well till the Gastro practitioner told me to take more PPIs. So here I am sicker than sick with no place to turn as any emergency room gets down on me about the PPIs, saying it’s the only drug for B-E. On top of all the pain it puts on my guts, it also effects my pancreas. That the duct is dilated. Last big test showed nothing suspicious. But what to do?

    I find it very hard to believe that the only way to deal with Barrettes is to be on PPI for life including all side effects. Long story I know but thanks for letting me share as the last month has been very scary, this coming from a person who had it almost all.

    • Gussie

      Sounds as though you, like many of us, are trying to please many practitioners.
      Please remember that you know your body better than anyone. Get to know it better by diaring daily food and meds for two months. Pain, discomfort is a message from your body to you — listen carefully and it will guide you to health.
      Do try DGL — inexpensive and few people encounter problems.
      Remember that going off reflux meds or simply changing quantities creates reflux rebound. Stop the drama in your gut.
      Find out what feels right, do what your diary suggests, & you will find your way out of this quagmire. PS, maintain a healthy diet & if you are over 20 pounds too heavy for your height, losing it will help.
      Reflux free with DGL
      only for two years, with no acid meds for another seven. Also like two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar (Trader Joes is well priced) in glass of water every morning — lots of benefits. You’ll see.

  5. RAP

    I tried taking the DGL and it made my back hurt. I don’t know if it was my kidneys but the pain was my lower back on both sides. I am tired of taking prescription meds that don’t work. I tried ACV (apple cider vinegar) which worked for a while but stopped working. I am trying to control my diet, but it seems like the acid just won’t go away no matter what I take. It is so debilitating.

    • Gussie

      Do you have Barrettes? Recent endoscopy? Good doctor and second opinion?
      If you’re overweight — start there. Eating low carb pays dividends for life. The best medicine.

  6. Thiery

    Like everyone else here, I’ve learned the hard way that the drugs prescribed by the majority of doctors actually exacerbate the heartburn problem and even cause far worse problems. Just read the side effects from review forums.
    DGL and L-Glutamine really helped me wean of the PPI medications and feel 100% heartburn free. Also, I am taking a lot of probiotics (Fivelac, Yoghurt, Acidophilus etc.) And needless to say, alcohol, smoking, and certain foods need to be avoided for at least few months until your system is back on track but stopping them is the ultimate solution for a healthier lifestyle.
    Stress is a major cause of heartburn and other terrible diseases, so exercise more and that will help improve your moods that have been severely altered by taking all these PPI medications that somehow affect our moods as well (personal experience and not scientific research).
    Happy at last! Free at last from heartburn.
    Hope this helps someone out there!

  7. Chuck

    What were the results of your visit to the doctor? Thx

  8. Chandler

    DGL ROCKS! I gave up coffee a week and a half ago, much to my dismay…
    I was having a very physical symptom that scared me, every time I had heartburn, my heart would have palpitations. Apparently this was caused by some kind of leakage tickling a nerve in my heart or something. Anyway, when I started to feel the presence of that leakage more and more (it actually felt like something was pressing up slightly against the wall of the left side of my chest, near my spleen) I sort of panicked and said, enough is enough.
    I forced myself to give up the coffee I loved so much, but really, my heartburn and that left chest anomaly/heart palpitations have changed since then. And that coupled with DGL, whenever I eat, it truly is a wonder drug! I hope your DGL is working for you as well as mine is for me. I had the pills called “gastro ease” and then ran out and bought the drops, seems to work the same. In the past I’ve used all kinds of remedies, but quitting coffee and DGL seem to be saving me. I’ve also been on my diet, which is a lot of brown rice and veggies. But, I am able to eat things that used to give me heartburn thanks to DGL..

  9. EH

    I am miserable with acid reflux and have been on meds for years with it only getting worse and worse. It finally dawned on me that the stupid meds are perpetuating my problem, not making it better. GRRR! I have ordered some DGL to try to wean myself off the meds. I have lost 25 lbs, exercise regularly and have changed my diet in order to take control! I can’t do this medication thing any longer, too many side effects.
    Coffee is going to be the hardest to give up but, I will do it. Watering it down by half now to wean myself off. Wish me luck! I have an endoscopy on Friday to check for damage to my esoph. I pray that there is none. There has to be a better way than meds!

  10. Brent B.

    DGL is also supposed to be good for intestinal health, and slippery elm is another alternative you may want to consider. In many cases the real problem is insufficient stomach acid, which tends to decline with age. Many years ago I used to suffer pretty bad heartburn at night when I was trying to fall asleep, but since I discovered ginger beer, that problem no longer happens. And it also helps to avoid processed foods, sticking with whole ones whenever possible. And definitely ditto on the digestive enzymes and probiotics. The new Nutritional Outlook magazine has a heavy emphasis on probiotics (especially in functional foods), and one scientist writes that at least 60% of our immune system is in the GI tract — so it certainly serves our health to feed it right!

  11. ns

    I’ve been troubled with acid reflux on and off for years. I want nothing to do with Prilosec, Nexium or similar products, so have tried various remedies and OTC drugs.
    Here’s what I’ve found works: if you’re carrying a few extra inches around the middle, lose weight. Avoid tight clothes with snug waist bands. Switch from regular to decaf coffee and tea. Avoid carbonated beverages except as a rare treat. For me wine and red (tomato) sauces are real triggers for indigestion. Recently I have been using digestive enzymes – two capsules – with my evening meal. Avoid eating after 7pm, if possible. Allow several hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime.
    Until I started taking the enzymes, chocolate often caused problems. Now I find I can eat it as long as I don’t indulge every day or go overboard with portions. Perhaps most importantly, skip the seconds and keep your portions smaller. A small snack a couple times a day is better than overeating at meals. Above all, avoid eating until you are uncomfortably full.
    Hope this helps. It has been weeks since I’ve resorted to even one Pepcid Complete.

  12. Nancy L.

    Read your article today regarding the woman who had developed Barrett’s esophagus from taking Fosamax. It could have been my story except I complained to my Dr. about terrible reflux when I first started it. An upper GI showed no scarring. However, after several years of problems, I changed to Actonel, & felt much better except for sore joints. It was only after I collapsed did they discover Barrett’s.
    Aciphex was prescribed, & worked well until serious neuro side effects developed. Prevacid Solu Tabs left me with major memory loss, drugged feeling, neuro problems, so only alternative has been OTC Prilosec, which may or may not continue the healing process. I will NEVER take another drug that I have not researched the side effects. I found the most serious Aciphex side effects on a professional website…otherwise, I might have still been taking it & lost all of my memory.
    Instead of forcing women to start these dangerous drugs in their 40’s, doctors should start them on higher doses of calcium, magnesium, Vit D, Boron, & other bone building minerals. They should also let them know that acid in soft drinks are a major cause of bone loss. That would save millions of women a lot of pain & suffering, but cost Big Pharma BIG DOLLARS…and that’s the real story!.
    Thank you for your articles. We enjoy hearing common sense solutions.
    McKinney, Tx

    • Susan

      Nancy, I took one Actonel and coughed for 6 months and had Barretts. I still have silent reflux, and am trying desperately to get off the PPI drugs. It is very slow going. I am now considering trying the DGL, but worry about side effects from this also. Nothing is perfect. Because I have silent reflux, I have no idea what is going on. It can be causing damage and I don’t know. I do have problems with a sore throat, but don’t know if it is from reflux or sinus drainage. Another thing that reflux can cause. I am just a miserable mess at time, and still searching for something that will help

  13. toni a.

    Aciphex was not a good medicine for me. I made me having fecal oozing. (sorry to be so gross) So I stopped.
    I did prevacid for a while and learned to roll over to my left side at night when the acid indigestion occurs. Then I noticed that tums works for me! I take twice the normal dose but only have to take it at night unless I have been eating trash. However, I noticed in my last blood work up that my calcium was high so want to try this licorice stuff. I appreciate learning about it.

  14. pac

    I’ve had heartburn for over twenty years. Recently I had stomach aches 4-5 times daily for 2-3 months. I visited a nutritionist and she prescribed pro-biotics and a digestive enzyme. Not only did my belly aches go away so did 20 years of heartburn. These two little pills – non-prescription – have changed my life! They also do a lot more.

  15. yhb318

    Ever heard of BioSalud or Yakult? While I lived in Brazil I became familiar with the product, but never had it regularly. Since I’ve been back in the States (since 2001) I’ve been plagued with GERD and IBS. I guess the food was better in Brazil… I’ve taken just about everything there is to take, (Nexium to Aciphex to Nu-lev, etc.) and had good success at controlling both.
    I don’t want to be on a pill the rest of my life, if I can help it, so for the past year or so I’ve been trying to modify my diet to accommodate my stomach problems. (plus, I’m one of the 50 million uninsured now). Reflux has improved, but still experienced 2 or 3 times a week, and IBS much better. For the past 4 weeks though, I have been taking 1 or 2 bottles of BioSalud (62ml each), usually before/after a meal (usually dinner).
    I have only felt a little acid reflux once in the 4 weeks, and it wasn’t bad enough to need take anything. I still don’t know why it’s making such a difference for me, but I’m grateful for it! I find BioSalud at the local Walmart for $.89 a 5 pack (near the yogurt) Cheaper for me than the meds!
    Who knows – maybe this will help someone else! Good luck!

  16. j collins

    Since I cut way back on my coffee consunption my acid reflux has stopped 98%.

    • Love

      How long were you on the BioSalud before you saw results?

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