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DGL: Special Licorice Extract for Peptic Ulcer

DGL: Special Licorice Extract for Peptic Ulcer

Article by Don Goldberg



A special extract of licorice known as DGL is a remarkable medicine for peptic ulcers. The term peptic ulcer refers to ulcers that occur in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or the first portion of the small intestine (duodenal ulcer). Duodenal ulcers are more common with an estimated frequency rate of 6 to 12% of the adult population in the United States. In other words, approximately 10% of the U.S. population has clinical evidence of duodenal ulcer at some time in their lifetime. Duodenal ulcers are 4 times more common in men than in women and 4 to 5 times more common than gastric ulcers.

What are the symptoms of an ulcer?

Although symptoms of a peptic ulcer may be absent or quite vague, most peptic ulcers are associated with abdominal discomfort noted 45-60 minutes after meals or during the night. In the typical case, the pain is described as gnawing, burning, cramp-like, or aching, or as "heartburn." Eating or using antacids usually results in great relief.

What causes an ulcer?

Even though duodenal and gastric ulcers occur at different locations, they appear to be the result of similar mechanisms. Specifically, the development of a duodenal or gastric ulcer is a result of some factor damaging the protective factors which line the stomach and duodenum.

In the past, the focus has primarily been on the acidic secretions of the stomach as the primary cause of both gastric and duodenal ulcers. However, more recently the focus has been on the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Gastric acid is extremely corrosive. The pH of gastric acid (1 to 3) would eat an ulcer right through the skin. To protect against ulcers, the lining of the stomach and small intestine has a layer of mucin. In addition, the constant renewing of intestinal cells and the secretion of factors which neutralize the acid when it comes in contact with the stomach and intestinal linings also protect against ulcer formation. The acid is designed to digest the food we eat, not the stomach or small intestine.

Contrary to popular opinion, over-secretion of gastric acid output is rarely a factor in gastric ulcers. In fact, patients with gastric ulcers tend to secrete normal or even reduced levels of gastric acid. In duodenal ulcer patients, almost half have increased gastric acid output. This increase may be due to an increased number of acid producing cells known as parietal cells. As a group, patients with duodenal ulcers have twice as many parietal cells in their stomach compared to people without ulcers.

Even with an increase in gastric acid output, under normal circumstances, there are enough protective factors to prevent either gastric or duodenal ulcer formation. However, when the integrity of these protective factors is impaired, an ulcer can form. A loss of integrity can be a result of H. pylori, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol, nutrient deficiency, stress, and many other factors. Of these factors, H. pylori and NSAIDs are by far the most significant.

Are ulcers really caused by a bacteria?

The role of the bacteria H. pylori in peptic ulcer disease has been extensively investigated. It has been shown that 90-100% of patients with duodenal ulcers, 70% with gastric ulcers, and about 50% of people over the age of 50 test positive for this bacteria.1 Physicians can determine the presence of H. pylori by measuring the level of antibodies to H. pylori in the blood or saliva, or by culturing material collected during an endoscopy (the process of examination of the stomach or duodenum with a fiberoptic tube with a lens attached to it).