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The proportion of people who carry Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)—bacteria that can infect the human stomach lining—ranges from around 7% in industrialized, Western countries to as high as 95% in developing countries, and much remains to be learned about how this human hitchhiker affects health. One thing is known for sure: For some people, H. pylori increases the risk of ulcers and stomach cancer.
This has led to efforts to eliminate the infection in people with symptoms by prescribing multiple antibiotics and medications to inhibit stomach acid production. These efforts have met with mixed success, and now researchers are turning to an ancient remedy—licorice root—to confront the wily H. pylori.
Researchers used a urea breath test and a stool test for H. pylori presence, and identified 107 adults who were infected with the bacteria. Participants were randomly selected to receive a GutGard supplement or a placebo pill (no active ingredient) once per day, for 60 days. Each GutGard capsule contained 150 mg of licorice root extract (Glycyrrhiza glabra), standardized to provide precise quantities, by weight, of specific components, including glabridin, glabrol, eicosanyl caffeate, docosyl caffeate, glycyrrhizin, and total flavonoids.
After 60 days, people in the GutGard group were significantly less likely to test positive for H. pylori compared with those taking placebo.
This was a placebo-controlled, double-blinded trial, the gold standard of research, but consider some caveats before deciding if GutGard is right for you:
As a final note, GutGard was well tolerated by the study participants; those taking it did not report more side effects than people taking placebo. This suggests the product may be safe for many people, but if you have chronic health conditions or regularly take medications, talk to your doctor before using it.
(Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/263805)