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DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) as Treatment of Barrett Esophagus

Dr. Adil R, MBBS


DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) to Treat Barrett’s EsophagusDGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) to Treat Barrett’s Esophagus

Licorice is a legume and member of pea family (Fabaceae). It is used to treat variety of diseases and it also has a historical medicinal value. Now scientific studies also proved that it is very useful in inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcer and barrett’s esophagus. Glycyrrhizin is a component of licorice. This is a dangerous substance and can increase blood pressure to very dangerous level. It causes retention of salts and water also. If it is consumed, human body converts it to Glycyrrhetinic acid. It also causes retention of sodium and elevation of blood pressure. Because of these harmful effects, Glycyrrhizin is removed from licorice and it is used in the form deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL). It doesn’t cause any harm to body, doesn’t cause elevation of blood pressure and retention of salt and water.

Licorice is very useful in case of stomach ulcer (or peptic ulcer) and Gastro esophageal reflux disease. It increases the production of mucus in stomach and mucus helps in protecting the stomach and esophageal walls from acidic erosion. Dysfunction of mucous secreting glands is one of the major causes of getting stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcer result in heart burn and is a major risk factor of acid reflux and barrett’s esophagus. Acid damages the esophageal lining and convert it to barrett’s esophagus in which the innermost lining of esophagus changes from normal to intestinal type. Mucus protects the walls of gut from acidic damage. DGL is available in chewable form and it coats the esophageal wall and protect it from harmful effects of stomach acid, decrease inflammation, promote healing and reduce visceral spasm. It increases the blood flow which in turn enhances the mucous secreting ability of glands. Thus it helps in curing barrett’s esophagus in many ways.

Licorice can increase the level of bilirubin in human body. Bilirubin Is a substance that is produced in liver from the breakdown of red blood cells and hemoglobin. High concentration of bilirubin imparts yellow color to eyes and skin. This usually indicates a disease but latest scientific study revealed that bilirubin in higher concentration than normal acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are very useful chemical substances that protect the body from aging and cancer. Antioxidants also delay the progress of barrett’s esophagus to esophageal cancer.

Experts acknowledge the healing and medicinal properties of licorice but there are very few scientific studies that support its positive role in barrett’s esophagus. Further studies and researches are needed to prove this property of licorice. Licorice shouldn’t be used by pregnant woman.

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