How To Use Licorice For Heartburn Safely For Best Results

Licorice (or licquorice) is one of the most widely prescribed herbs in Chinese medicine. Licorice for heartburn is a very effective remedy. Due to it being a natural substance, the potential dangers can be over looked. You need to know which type of licorice is best, and take the correct dosage because there can be serious side effects if you get it wrong.

How does taking licorice for heartburn help?

licorice for heartburn

While most other natural remedies either soothe the esophagus, or they neutralize the stomach acid; stopping it from refluxing into your esophagus, licorice actually works in multiple ways to make you feel better and cure heartburn or GERD.

Most cures of heartburn help to neutralize the stomach acids. In the long run, this affects your digestion. But with licorice, it works to soothe the lining of your stomach and esophagus so that your discomfort from heartburn is lessened.

What happens with licorice is that your stomach acid remains, but your mucosal tissues that line the stomach and esophagus are encouraged to protect themselves from acid damage. Licorice also encourages circulation so that the cells of your gastrointestinal system become healthier. In turn, this lessens the bad effects of acid reflux and heartburn.

Licorice for heartburn: what type is best?

The main types of licorice that you might take for heartburn are:

  • fresh or dried licorice root
  • black licorice candy
  • deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) in powder or tablet (chews)

Let’s look at each type, but before we do, let’s look at potential dangers:

Side effects of licorice

If you’re going to take licorice for heartburn, or as a treatment for any other condition, you need to be aware of the potential side effects:

  • The FDA does not regulate licorice, so ingredients and quality can vary.
  • If taking other medications, it can affect these medications.
  • Do not take licorice if you are pregnant as it can induce preterm labor.
  • If you take too much licorice, you can reduce your potassium to dangerous levels .
  • Licorice contains a substance that be harmful for your health if you eat too much. And this substance is glycyrrhizin and it can cause high blood pressure, water retention, bloating and kidney problems, which can be life threatening.

Read this article if you want some in-depth scientific explanation of the side effects of consuming too much licorice.

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice for heartburn (or DGL)

Thankfully, it is possible to remove glycyrrhizin from licorice and still get all the good benefits. This product is called deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL. And you can get DGL as a powder or tablet (chews).

Due to the potentially serious side effects of consuming glycyrrhizin, DGL is the safest form of licorice for heartburn.

If you are considering taking DGL for heartburn or acid reflux, you should also consider doing your own research and reading reviews.

Fresh or dried licorice root tea for acid reflux

Fresh or dried licorice root is often used to make herbal tea. You can often buy fresh licorice root at health food stores, or licorice root tea can be purchased at the grocery or health food store.

To make licorice root tea, you simply place 1 licorice root in a cup and pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Allow your licorice root tea to sit for 5 minutes, then strain.

A word of warning, if you’re using actual licorice root, you will have no idea how much glycyrrhizin you are consuming. And it is possible for you to overdose.

It’s hard to know how much licorice root tea is safe for you to drink without knowing exactly how much glycyrrhizin is in the tea. My research has found suggestions from half to 2 cups per day for up to 2 weeks. I suggest you do your own research, and if you’re unsure, consult your health professional before taking licorice root tea for heartburn.

Also, there are other herbal teas you can consume as a natural heartburn treatment,

Black licorice candy and heartburn

Today, most “licorice” is flavored with anise oil, which has the same smell and taste as licorice. However, you can still get the real deal. You need to look for “black licorice”. Also, you should check the ingredients list to be sure.

If you’re going to eat black licorice, you really need to be careful with how much you consume due to the glycyrrhizin in it. The FDA recommends that you eat no more that 2 ounces a day for 2 weeks if you’re 40 or older, because it can lead to heart palpitations. But I would take this as a warning for any age group, and limit your consumption.

If you want to take black licorice, or fresh or dried licorice root, you should consult your health professional as some products don’t tell you how much glycyrrhizin is in the product.

And if you’re wondering, red “licorice” is candy and does not actually contain any licorice.

How much licorice for heartburn should I take?

The World Health Organisation suggests you can take of 100 mg per day, which is about about 2 mg per kilogram, or roughly 1 mg per pound of bodyweight per day would be unlikely to cause adverse effects in the majority of adults. 

It is important for you to note that some DGL products

Other medicinal uses for licorice root

Licorice can help many other conditions, including:

  • stomach ulcers (which can cause heartburn)
  • sore throats
  • skin issues like dermatitis
  • canker sores in the mouth
  • peptic ulcers

Licorice may also help the following conditions, but research to verify effects in humans is either limited or non-existent.

  • skin, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers
  • upper respiratory conditions such as asthma
  • diabetes
  • menopause
  • weight loss
  • hepatitis C

Other natural ways to treat heartburn

The last word on licorice for heartburn

Licorice is an effective treatment for acid reflux, heartburn and GERD, but there are many factors you need to consider before deciding if licorice is right for you.

The best way for you to take licorice for heartburn is DGL due to the absence of glycyrrhizin, because too much glycyrrhizin can be life threatening.

If you want to try licorice for heartburn, you should do so in consultation with your health professional as they can check to make sure licorice is a suitable natural heartburn remedy for you.