Research & Education

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) in Promoting Gastric Mucosal Health

The gastrointestinal mucosa plays a pivotal role in the immune system, GI system, and overall health. The GI mucosa supports intestinal barrier function, regulates healthy immune responses, and wards off potentially harmful antigens and microorganisms. In the stomach, the mucosa serves as a protective coating from hydrochloric acid. Poor diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and certain medications may negatively impact GI mucosal health. Compromised GI mucosa may be associated with a broad range of GI disorders (e.g., peptic ulcers, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease) or other chronic conditions (e.g., allergies, obesity, chronic liver disease). 

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a licorice extract from the ayurvedic herb Glycyrrhiza glabra that has been shown to support GI mucosal health, promote healthy microbial environments, and potentially have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The medicinal use of licorice dates back several thousand years in both Western and Eastern cultures. DGL is “deglycyrrhizinated” (glycyrrhizin removed) due to the potential adverse side effects associated with the glycyrrhizin molecule. 

Animal studies reveal that DGL supports GI mucosal health in multiple ways. It increases prostaglandin synthesis, the blood supply to damaged mucosa, the number of mucus-producing cells, the amount of mucus the cells produce, and the lifespan of intestinal cells. Owing to these benefits, a human study administering GutGard® (a patented form of DGL) concluded that DGL might support those with functional dyspepsia and is generally well tolerated. Many human clinical studies conclude that DGL may support individuals with gastric ulcers

In one randomized controlled trial, 33 patients with gastric ulcers were given a placebo or 760 mg of DGL three times a day for one month. The individuals receiving DGL experienced significantly greater reductions in ulcer size (78%) compared to the placebo group (34%). Furthermore, 44% of the individuals receiving DGL displayed complete ulcer healing compared to 6% in the placebo group. 

Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) is a bacterial infection estimated to affect half of the world’s population and is associated with GI mucosal barrier damage. The flavonoids in DGL may be clinically beneficial in those with H. Pylori by supporting mucosal health, promoting antimicrobial properties, and potentially attenuating H. Pylori gastric mucosal adhesion

DGL in GutGard® has been shown to help attenuate H. Pylori infection in animal models and human studies. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants diagnosed with H. Pylori infection were randomly assigned to receive a placebo (n = 52) or 150 mg of GutGard® daily (n = 55) for 60 days. On the 60th day, more than half of the subjects (56%) receiving GutGard® had negative H. Pylori results, compared to only 4% of subjects receiving the placebo. 

DGL is a well-established herb that supports the gastrointestinal system. DGL may help maintain a healthy gastric mucosa and promote a healthy microbial balance in the stomach. 

By Danielle Moyer, MS, CNS, LDN