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Can Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Relieve Heartburn?

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Updated February 09, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Can Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Relieve Heartburn?
Answer: Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a remedy that has been used for heartburn and other digestive ailments. While many people have used licorice to treat their heartburn, it's important to note that there haven't been any clinical trials to support licorice's effect on heartburn. It is also important that you consult your doctor before trying licorice or any other treatment for your heartburn.

How does DGL work? It doesn't reduce stomach acid itself or decrease acid reflux. DGL may soothe the tissues of the stomach and esophagus that have been irritated by refluxed stomach acid. It may also act as an anti-inflammatory. DGL has been used to provide some relief for the stomach and esophageal pain that can occur with acid reflux; however, remember that no clinical trials have supported its effectiveness.

You should not use DGL if you have been diagnosed with hypertension and/or are receiving treatment for hypertension.

You can alleviate heartburn by making wise choices in the foods you eat. One of the leading triggers of heartburn is the food we eat. Since we all have to eat, we need ways to prevent food from causing heartburn. The following tips can help you.

Avoid foods and beverages that weaken the LES muscle
These foods include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fatty foods, and greasy or fried foods.

Avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus
These include citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, chili peppers, and black pepper.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Eating large meals increases pressure in the stomach and against the LES muscle. It's better to eat five or six small meals instead of three larger ones. And remember not to eat too quickly. Putting your fork or spoon down between bites can help you do this.

Don't drink alcohol
Drinking alcohol before, during, or after meals can worsen heartburn because alcohol weakens the LES muscle.

Sources:

"Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 03­0882 June 2003. NIH Publication No. 03­0882. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

"Herbs at a Glance - Licorice Root" National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

"Licorice: a possible anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer drug" National Center for Biotechnology Information

Rinzler, Carol, and Ken DeVault, MD. Heartburn & Reflux for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2004

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