What is Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice?

Laura Evans

Licorice, or Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been used medically for centuries as well used for the plant's flavor and sweetness. In addition to being the generic name for licorice, glycyrrhiza, which is derived from a Greek word for "sweet root," is the component of licorice that makes the plant taste so sweet — 50 times more than regular refined table sugar. Glycyrrhiza may be responsible for some of the side effects that licorice consumption induces in human beings. People who take deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) don't seem to suffer the same side effects.

The glycrrhiza component of licorice gives it its sweet taste.
The glycrrhiza component of licorice gives it its sweet taste.

Glycyrrhiza glabra, native to China and the Mediterranean area, has a long history. Licorice users included Egyptian Pharaoh King Tutankhamen (1341 BC to c. 1323 BC), who had licorice stored in his tomb for use in his afterlife. Other historical licorice supporters were Alexander the Great (356 to 323 BC), Julius Caesar (100 BC to 44 BC) and Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 to 1821). Traditional uses of licorice include treating digestive problems, coughs, urinary tract problems, and sore throats. In addition, licorice was used to prolong life, to treat coughs and to treat diabetes.

Julius Caesar reportedly was a proponent for the use of licorice.
Julius Caesar reportedly was a proponent for the use of licorice.

Licorice contains several healthful ingredients, such as vitamin B complex, vitamin E and lecithin. In addition, licorice may have antiviral and anti-bacterial characteristics. Glycyrrhizin itself may be able to reduce inflammation.

High blood pressure is a side effect of licorice.
High blood pressure is a side effect of licorice.

Science does not completely support licorice health claims, though there is relatively good evidence that licorice can treat infections. Evidence that licorice can treat viral infections, Addison’s disease, and HIV and that deglycyrrhizinated licorice can treat canker sores, gastrointestinal bleeding, or gastroesophageal reflux disease is contradictory or insufficient. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice may not have any true effect on indigestion or heartburn. In addition, licorice may not have an impact on asthma, shingles, or menopause.

Licorice side effects can include increased blood pressure and water retention and licorice may have an effect on serum testosterone levels. Other side effects can include electrolyte imbalances and temporary vision loss. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice does not cause many of the side effects that "regular" licorice has. People who are interested in taking licorice or deglycyrrhizinated licorice should consult with their physicians before trying this substance. In addition to possible side effects, licorice can interact with drugs and other herbal or natural medications.

In addition to consulting with their physicians, people should read the packaging labels carefully before making a purchase. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate licorice medications. There are no industry standards for the quality and strength of these products.

Sore throats are one health issue treated with licorice.
Sore throats are one health issue treated with licorice.

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Discussion Comments


@drtroubles - You should give DGL licorice a try, it may help with your asthma. While a lot of scientists scoff at traditional Chinese medicine I think that a lot of it works just as well as our over-priced prescription drugs.

Licorice goes by quite a few names in Chinese with one of the more popular ones being Ling-t’ung. If you see a Chinese medicine doctor they can set you up with a good dosage.

One thing that I have found with taking DGL licorice for my asthma is that it works really well on bronchial asthma, especially if you suffer from allergic rhinitis. I am not sure how it works, but it really keeps my allergies in check.


Has anyone ever used DGL licorice for helping with their asthma?

While a lot of mainstream science has said that DGL licorice isn't a proven method of treating asthma, I have been reading a lot that indicates it has been a popular treatment in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Right now I suffer from moderate asthma and I really hate having to take inhalers to improve the quality of my life. I find my throat gets sore after use, even if I rinse well. Also, the inhalers for asthma can get quite expensive, especially if your insurance company labels it a pre-existing condition.


When I was having some abdominal discomfort, I was diagnosed with chronic gastritis. I didn't want to treat this with medication if I could find a natural way that was effective.

When I was doing some research, I read that one of the many licorice benefits was helpful for gastritis and heartburn. I didn't have any heart or high blood pressure problems, and discussed this with my doctor before starting the supplement.

I took this faithfully for about 6 months and didn't have any problems. I decided to slowly wean myself off the supplement, hoping that I wouldn't have any more gastritis symptoms.

I don't know if it was the licorice supplement or some diet changes, but I have not had any symptoms or taken anything for a year now.


The licorice candy that most people are familiar with is different than than the licorice root that is used in many herbal remedies.

I am a big fan of all kinds of licorice candy, but my favorite is black licorice. When I had the chance to try some licorice tea, I thought it would taste like a stick of the black licorice I was used to.

I wasn't disappointed in the taste, it just wasn't quite what I expected. The tea is naturally sweet and smooth and has become of my after dinner favorites.

Some will drink licorice tea when they have a cough or sore throat saying it really helps with those symptoms. I have not tried it for any medicinal reasons, but just enjoy the natural sweetness of the licorice root extract.


My son in laws family is from Europe, and it is always interesting to hear about some of their customs and ways of doing things.

He says his mom uses chewable DGL licorice supplements all the time. The main reason she uses them is to prevent ulcers and protect her digestive and intestinal tract.

There is something about the saliva in your mouth mixing with the ingredients in the licorice tablets that helps prevent ulcers.

I was not really very familiar with the medicinal benefits of licorice. I just know that we always buy a package of red licorice to take with us whenever we travel for a great snack.

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