Licorice Root Extract: Natural Stomach Ulcer Prevention
By Decker Weiss: NMD, AACVPR
Dr. Weiss is considered an expert in integrative cardiology. He is the first naturopathic physician to complete a conventional residency program in the Columbia Hospital System, the Arizona Heart Hospital and the prestigious Arizona Heart Institute. Dr. Weiss has a unique perspective in that he has experience with both naturopathic and conventional practice. Dr. Weiss holds several appointments, including Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Chief Medical Officer of Naturopathic Paradigms, a private practice in Phoenix.
Conventional medical treatment of peptic ulcers, an extremely common health problem, has dramatically changed in recent years. A huge variety of antacids, histamine blockers, and proton pump blockers are now considered standard ulcer therapy. However, these medicines do not address the underlying factors of ulcer formation. They only block an ulcers effects. Fortunately, there is an effective natural supplement available that stimulates the bodys normal defense mechanisms to prevent ulcer formation. And, in the presence of peptic ulcers, this natural supplement promotes true healing.
Stomach Ulcer Symptoms Include:
Stomach pain that comes and goes, for several days or weeks.
Occur two to three hours after eating.
Occur in the middle of the night.
Be relieved by food. Other symptoms of a peptic ulcer may include weight loss, poor appetite, bloating, burping, nausea, vomiting.1,2
What causes stomach ulcer symptoms?
Over the past 20 years, there has been a radical shift in thinking regarding the cause of peptic ulcers. No longer blamed entirely on stress, spicy foods, alcohol consumption, gastric acid production, or heredity, most peptic ulcers are now known to be caused by a bacterial infection. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the bacteria that accounts for the vast majority of peptic ulcers.1-3 However, use of over-the-counter and prescription painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also causes peptic ulcers.1-6 A common example of NSAIDs is ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Other medications are currently being studied for their role in peptic ulcer development.7-9
How can individuals tell if they have this bacterium?
H. pylori is diagnosed through blood, breath, and tissue tests. Blood tests, the most common diagnostic tool, are used to detect antibodies to H. pylori bacteri10 A breath test, called a urea breath test, is used after treatment to determine if the treatment worked.11 It is interesting to note that about 20% of people under 40 and over half of the people over the age of 60 are infected with H. pylori. However, infected individuals do not always develop ulcers. Researchers are trying to determine why H. pylori does not cause ulcers in every infected person. Furthermore, many people take NSAIDs for long periods of time and do not develop ulcers. Infection with H. pylori or irritation from medication use may be dependent on the gastric or intestinal environment of the person who develops an ulcer.5,6
How are H. pylori positive peptic ulcers medically treated today?
The focus of medical treatment is to kill the H. pylori bacteria and reduce stomach acid. Medical treatment usually involves the use of triple therapy: a combination of antibiotics, acid suppressors, and stomach protectors. H. pylori peptic ulcers are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteri13 Acid-suppressing medications include the histamine2-receptor antagonists cimetidine (Tagamet®), ranitidine (Zantac®), or famotadine (Pepcid®) and proton pump inhibitors omeprazole (Prilosec®), and lansoprazole (Prevacid®).
How are other stomach ulcers medically treated today?
Conventionally, acid-suppressing drugs and stomach-lining protectors are used for ulcer treatment.14-17 Is it necessary to treat ulcers with medical treatments? Are there natural alternatives? The biggest risk for individuals with ulcers is that the ulcer will perforate (erode through) the entire stomach lining. Life-threatening bleeding and infections (peritonitis) can occur.1-3 Therefore, anyone who suspects he or she may have an ulcer should seek treatment from a licensed health care practitioner. It may be necessary to use medications initially despite risks of adverse effects. However, there are certain natural supplements that work well with prescription medications to enhance healing. There may also be instances in milder pre-ulcer conditions that your licensed health care practitioner chooses to use a natural intervention first.
What natural supplement can be used to complement antibiotic therapy? An extremely effective natural supplement for ulcers is a form of licorice root that has been specially processed. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is an important component of a complementary natural health approachtogether with other therapeutic measures recommended by your health care professional. Many researchers have studied de-glycyrrhizinated licorice (often referred to as DGL) in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.18-25
The use of DGL compared to standard drug therapy is a classic example of addressing the underlying cause of a condition rather than simply blocking an effect. Use of DGL addresses the underlying factors and promotes true healing by stimulating the normal defense mechanisms that prevent ulcer formation. Specifically, DGL improves both the quality and quantity of the protective substances that line the intestinal tract.23,27-30 DGL is a special extract of licorice from which the glycyrrhizin molecules have been removed, leaving biologically active flavonoids. The value of DGL over other forms of licorice is that it eliminates adverse effects associated with long-term use of very high doses of conventional licorice (including sodium and water retention, high blood pressure, and low potassium levels).31,32
How does use of DGL compare to Tagamet® or Zantac®?
Researchers reported in 1982 in Gut that DGL is as effective as cimetidine Tagamet®) for reversing gastric ulcers.30 That same year, Lancet reported DGL to be as effective as ranitidine (Zantac®).19
Researchers report licorice root extract stimulates the release of secretin, which, in turn, has a protective effect on the gastric mucos The bodys production of secretin by such natural agents may play a signif-icant role in their mucosal protective action, note researchers. In fact, they attribute the anti-ulcer effect of licorice root extract to its unique ability to stimulate the body to release endogenous secretin, which helps to rebuild the stomach or intestines protective lining.33
What about using antacids for peptic stomach ulcers?
Antacids are alkaline compounds that neutralize stomach acid. At one time, antacids were the mainstay of anti-ulcer therapy. However, these drugs have been largely replaced by the histamine2- receptor antagonists and the proton pump inhibitors.34 Most antacids adversely affect the bowels. Some (e.g. aluminum hydroxide) promote constipation while others (e.g. magnesium hydroxide) promote diarrhe Some antacids contain significant amounts of sodium. Furthermore, by raising the stomachs pH, antacids can influence the absorption of other drugs.34
Can DGL be used with antibiotic therapy?
Yes. DGL can be used as an additive or adjunct treatment with antibiotics and other agents that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Consumers will find DGLs restorative effects on the gastric mucosa help to hasten healing and prevent recurrences.
How does DGL compare to standard peptic ulcer therapy?
The drugs used in standard therapy do not address the underlying cause of peptic ulcers. They merely treat the symptoms caused by an ulcer. DGL does not inhibit stomach acid production, neutralize stomach acid, or block histamine. Use of DGL promotes true healing by stimulating the normal defense mechanisms that prevent ulcer formation and improve the integrity of the stomach lining. And, DGL accomplishes this without any of the side effects associated with standard peptic ulcer therapy.
What is the best way to use DGL?
DGL should mix with the saliva to promote release of salivary compounds that stimulate the growth and regeneration of stomach and intestinal cells. Several forms of chewable DGL are available.
How much DGL should be taken?
For treatment of peptic ulcer, take 760 to 1,520 mg of DGL between, or 20 minutes before, meals. Never use after meals, due to lack of efficacy. Use for eight to 16 weeks or as recommended by your health care professional.
Are there side effects or complications related to use of DGL?
As mentioned earlier, DGL is a specially processed form of licorice that avoids the main hazards of regular licorice. Thus, there are no known side effects or drug interactions with use of DGL. Pregnant or nursing women should discuss use of dietary supplements with their licensed health care practitioner.
Stomach Ulcer Conclusion
In summary, DGL is a supplement that improves the integrity of the stomach lining, stimulates the normal defenses that prevent ulcer formation, and enhances the bodys healing powers.
1. Peptic ulcer. In: Guyton AC, Hall JE. Textbook of Medical Physiology. Philadelphia, Pa: W.B. Saunders Company;1998:846-847.
2. Peptic ulcer disease. In: Porth CM. Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott; 1998: 725-728.
3. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse Web site. H. Pylori and Peptic Ulcer, Accessed March 22, 2001. Available at: www.niddk.nih.gov
4. Hawkey CJ, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug gastropathy. Gastroenterology. 2000;119:521-535.
5. Dajani EZ, Klamut MJ. Novel therapeutic approaches to gastric and duodenal ulcers: an update. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2000;9:1537-1544.
6. Cappell MS, Schein JR. Diagnosis and treatment of nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug-associated upper gastrointestinal toxicity. Gastroenterol Clinical North Am. 2000;29:97-124.
7. Elliot SN, McKnight W, Davies NM, MacNaughton WK, Wallace JL. Alendronate induces gastric injury and delays ulcer healing in rodents. Life Sci. 1998;62:77-91.
8. Graham DY, Malaty HM. Alendronate and naproxen are synergistic for development of gastric ulcers. Archive International Medicine. 2001; 161:107-110.
9. Seinela L, Ahvenainen J. Peptic ulcer in very old patients. Gerontology. 2000; 46:271-275.
10. Borody TJ, Andrews P, Shortis NP. Evaluation of whole blood antibody kit to detect active Helicobacter pylori infection. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 1996;91:2509-2512.
11. Graham DY, Klein PD. Accurate diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori. I3Curea breath test. Gastroenterol Clinical North Am. 2000;29:885-893.
12. Cohen H. Peptic ulcer and Helicobacter pylori. Gastroenterol Clinical North Am. 2000;29:775-789.
13. Kim HS, Lee DK, Kim KH, et al. Comparison of the efficacy and safety of different formulations of omeprazole-based triple therapies in the treatment of Helicobactor pylori-positive peptic ulcer. Journal of Gastroenterology. 2001;36:96-102.
14. Sipponen P. Update on the pathologic approach to the diagnosis of gastritis, gastic atrophy, and Heliobacter pylori and its sequelae. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2001;32:196-202.
15. Scheiman JM. The impact of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory druginduced gastropathy. American Journal of Manag Care. 2001;7:10-14.
16. Cappell MS, Schein JR. Diagnosis and treatment of nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug-associated upper gastrointestinal activity. Gastroenterol Clinical North Am. 2000;29:97-124.
17. Yoemans ND. Approaches to healing and prophylaxis of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-associated ulcers. Amercian Journal of Medicine. 2001;8:24S-28S.
18. Engqvist A, von Feilitzen F, Pyk E, Reichard H. Double-blind trial of deglycyrrhizinated liqourice in gastric ulcer. Gut. 1973;14:711-715.
19. Glick L. Deglycyrrhizinated liquorice for peptic ulcer. Lancet. 1982;9:817.
20. Bardhan KD, Cumberland DC, Dixon RA, Holdsworth CD. Clinical trial of deglycyrrhisinated liqourice in gastric ulcer. Gut. 1978;19:779-782.
21. Balakrishnan V, Pillai MV, Raveebdran PM, Nair CS. Deglycrrhizinated liqourice in the treatment of chronic duodenal ulcer. Journal of Assoc Physicians India. 1978;26:811-814.
22. Rees WDW, Rhodes J, Wright JE, Stamford IF, Bennett A. Effect of deglycyrrhizinated liquorice on gastric mucosal damage by aspirin. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1979;14:605-607.
23. Tewari SN, Wilson AK. Deglycrrhizinated liquorice in duodenal ulcer. Practitioner. 1973;210:820-823.
24. Abrahamsson H, Dotevall G. Pharmacological and clinical aspects of some drugs used in peptic ulcer treatment. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1979;55:117-120.
25. Bardnan KD, Cumberland DC, Dixon RA, Holdsworth CD. Proceedings: Deglycrrhizinated liqourice in gastric ulcer: a double-blind controlled trial. Gut. 1976;17:397.
26. Dehpour AR, Zolfaghari ME, Sadian T, Vahedi Y. The protective effect of liquorice components and their derivatives against gastric ulcer induced by aspirin in rats. Journal of Pharm Pharmacology. 1994;46:148-149.
27. Morgan AG, Pacsoo C, McAdam WAF. Maintenance therapy: a two year comparison between Caved-S and cimetidine treatment in the prevention of symptomatic gastric ulcer recurrence. Gut. 1985;26:599-602.
28. van Merle J, Aarsen PN, Lind A, van Weeren-Kramer J. Deglycrrhizinated liquorice (DGL) and the renewal of rat stomach epithelium. European Journal of Pharmacology. 1981;72:219-225.
29. Morris TJ, Calcraft BJ, Rhodes J, Hole D, Morton MS. Effect of deglycrrhised liquorice compound on the gastric mucosal barrier of the dog. Digestion. 1974;11:355-363.
30. Morgan AG, McAdam WAF, Pacsoo C, Darnborough A. Comparison between cimetidine and Caved-S in the treatment of gastric ulceration, and subsequent maintenance therapy. Gut. 1982;23:545-551.
31. Negro A, Rossi E, Regolisti G, Perazzoli F. Liquorice-induced sodium retention. Merely an acquired condition of apparent mineralocorticoid excess? A case report. Ann Ital Med Int. 2000;15:296-300.
32. Khanna A, Kutzman NA. Metabolic Alkadosis. Respir Care. 2001;46: 354-365.
33. Takeuchi T, Shiratori K, Watanabe S, Chang J-H, Moriyoshi Y, Shimizu K. Secretin as a potential mediator of antiulceractions of mucosal protective agents. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 1991;13:83-87.
34. Lehne RA. Antacids. In: Pharmacology for Nursing Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: W.B. Saunders; 1998:781-783.
35. Cimetidine. In: Physicians Desk Reference. 54th ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc; 2000:3043-3046.
36. Ranitidine. Ibid. pp. 1310-1312.
37. Omeprazole. Ibid. pp. 617-621.
38. Lansoprazole. Ibid. pp. 3105-3110.
Page Updated: January 2013
Standard treatment for chronic pain may pose greater risk
Along with the potential to cause ulcers and bleeding, NSAIDs could damage the small intestine. National Library of Medicine - Side effects of commonly used pain relievers - This brief patient education fact sheet, from a series on common gastrointestinal (GI) and medical problems in women, reviews the dangers of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), particularly their impact on the GI tract. The fact sheet notes that the second major cause for ulcers is irritation of the stomach arising from regular use of NSAIDs. The fact sheet discusses the complications of ulcers, how ulcers are diagnosed, issues that may arise with regular use of NSAIDs, some health benefits associated with aspirin and NSAIDs, patients with ulcer or GI bleeding who do not have any obvious symptoms, drug therapy used to inhibit or reverse the NSAIDs-induced injury to the intestinal lining, the need to balance pain relief and concerns with side effects, the impact of personal medical history (risk factors), and the magnitude of NSAID use. The fact sheet includes one table that summarizes the different brand-name over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs and the recommended limits to amount taken.
Nexium, Pepcid and Prilosec can make people more susceptible to pneumonia
JAMA 10-27-04 - Widely used heartburn and ulcer drugs such as Nexium, Pepcid and Prilosec can make people more susceptible to pneumonia, probably because they reduce germ-killing stomach acid, Dutch researchers found in a study of more than 300,000 patients. More Info
Comparison Chart: DGL vs. Antacids, Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, and Prevacid
|Typically Prescribed||Adverse Reactions Possible Chronic Toxicity|
|Magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide, calcium and aluminum carbonate (Maalox Mylanta®, Gelusil®, Tums®)||Rebound hyperacidity (a condition in which the body creates even more acid in reaction to artificial stomach acid neutralization), bowel changes (either diarrhea or constipation) possible drug interactions, possible precautions for use by individuals with kidney impairment (due to high sodium content).34|
|Cimetidine (Tagamet®)||Dizziness, sleepiness, headache, confusion, hallucinations, diarrhea, impotence (reversible).35|
|Ranitidine (Zantac®)||Headache, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, rash.36|
|Omeprazole (Prilosec®) Lansoprazole (Prevacid®)||Headache, dizziness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, upper respiratory symptoms.37,38|
Broccoli Sprouts Fight Ulcers
If a type of bacteria called H. pylori is the firebug that ignites most ulcers, then a serving of broccoli sprouts is your edible sprinkler system. In a study sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, sulforaphane--a phytochemical in the sprouts--killed off any H. pylori that was exposed to it. And while the research was done in the lab, "all indications point to sulforaphane's having a similar effect on the H. pylori in our stomachs," says Paul Talalay, M.D., a professor of pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University medical school. Try folding sprouts into your omelettes or using them in a sandwich. (And yes, regular broccoli contains some sulforaphane, too.) - Prevention Magazine
Selective stimulation of the growth of anaerobic microflora in the human intestinal tract by electrolyzed reducing water
By the Department of Physiology of Microorganisms, Lomonosov Moscow State University
96-99% of the "friendly" or residential microflora of intestinal tract of humans consists of strict anaerobes and only 1-4% of aerobes. Many diseases of the intestine are due to a disturbance in the balance of the microorganisms inhabiting the gut. In this work, it is suggested that prerequisite for the recovery and maintenance of obligatory anaerobic microflora in the intestinal tract is a negative ORP value of the intestinal milieu. Electrolyzed reducing water with E(h) values between 0 and -300 mV produced in electrolysis devices possesses this property. Drinking such water favours the growth of residential microflora in the gut. Continue
See Also: The Health Effects of Mineral Water
More Petic Ulcer Resources
MEDLINEplus : Peptic ulcer National Library of Medicine
OMNI : Peptic ulcer Univ Nottingham, United Kingdom
healthfinder® : Peptic ulcer US Government
ClinicalTrials.gov : Peptic ulcer National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Peptic ulcer : Signs & Symptoms Mayo clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Sander Veldhuyzen van Zanten, Dalhousie Univ, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Pictures of Ulcers
Stomach Ulcer Resources
Bleeding Stomach Ulcer: National Institutes of Health Digestive Diseases
Stomach Ulcer - Pain Medicine Overuse National Institutes of Health Digestive Diseases
Digetive Health Tips:
American College of Gastroenterology
Common Digestion Problems: American College of Gastroenterology
Women's Digestion Problems: American College of Gastroenterology
Stomach Diseases: National Institutes of Health Digestive Diseases
Stomach Ulcer Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Peptic Ulcer Disease: American Gastroenterological Association
Stomach Ulcer SymptomsBUPA - Global health care organization