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The Difference Between DGL and Regular Licorice Root

DGL can help stop heartburn in tracks, but with multiple forms out there, which one is best for you?

Dr. Kate Rhéaume
Licorice roots, licorice powder and licorice product

What is DGL, and how is it different from regular licorice root?  

DGL is short for deglycyrrhizinated licorice. DGL licorice root is a regular licorice root that has been processed to remove the glycyrrhizin, sometimes called glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhetinic acid.

Glycyrrhizin is a component of licorice that is known to cause side effects such as blood pressure and electrolyte dysregulation, including elevated sodium levels and decreased potassium levels. [1] Removing the glycyrrhizin helps ensure safety, minimize potential side effects, and make it safer for those with blood pressure issues.

Why does it matter that the glycyrrhizin is removed?  

DGL is safer than regular licorice root, particularly for people with blood pressure issues, as glycyrrhizin can affect blood pressure homeostasis.

Glycyrrhizin can cause other side effects such as electrolyte imbalance, and particularly increased sodium and decreased potassium levels. [1] DGL, with the glycyrrhizin removed, does not pose a risk of affecting blood pressure in those with blood pressure issues. [2]

Also, unlike regular licorice root, DGL does not cause electrolyte imbalance, so sodium and potassium levels remain normal. 

Is DGL safe? 

DGL is safe. Serious adverse effects such as hypertension, electrolyte imbalance, and low potassium levels may occur with regular licorice root, but not with DGL. [3] DGL is also safe for those with high blood pressure, as the glycyrrhizin has been removed.

Is DGL only for the gastrointestinal system?

While historical uses of licorice have included the support of respiratory and other systems, gastrointestinal support and maintenance are the most common use today.* 

Why should I chew DGL?  

Chewing DGL helps release its natural compounds, promoting optimal digestive support.* 

Woman with hand clenching chest

How can DGL help me?

DGL has been used for centuries to support gastrointestinal health.* DGL may help soothe, support, and maintain healthy mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal tract.* It may help maintain and soothe oral mucus membranes.* [4]

DGL may also help soothe and support healthy esophageal membranes.* [5] Additionally, it may help soothe and maintain healthy gastrointestinal mucous membranes, including the duodenum, and may help support and maintain healthy gastrointestinal function.* [6,7]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Kate Rhéaume
Dr. Rhéaume is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
References

1. Deutch MR, Grimm D, Wehland M, et al. Bioactive candy: effects of licorice on the cardiovascular system. Foods. 2019; 8(10):495.

2. Licorice. In: Drugs and lactation database (LactMed). Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2021. 

3. Licorice. In: Natural medicines [database on the Internet]. Somerville (MA): Therapeutic Research Center; 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 15]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

4. Najafi S, Koujan SE, Manifar S, et al. Preventive effect of Glycyrrhiza glabra extract. J Dent (Tehran). 2017; 14(5):267-74.  

5. Neiworth-Petshow EM, Baldwin-Sayre C. Naturopathic treatment of gastrointestinal dysfunction in the setting of Parkinson’s disease. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018; 17(4):44-50.  

6. Tewari SN, Trembalowicz FC. Some experience with deglycyrrhizinated liquorice in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers with special reference to its spasmolytic effect. Gut. 1968; 9(1):48-51. 

7. Raveendra KR, Jayachandra, Srinivasa V, et al. An extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra (GutGard) alleviates symptoms of functional dyspepsia: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012:216970.