What is DGL (and why should I be concerned)?

Different species of the licorice plant, and even the same species grown in different parts of the world, vary in their proportion of the compound glycyrrhizin.

Much of the licorice imported for medicinal and other purposes in the United States, for example, comes from China. Chinese licorice typically has a glycyrrhizin content of 15% to as much as 24%. European licorice typically has a lower glycyrrhizin content, but is more expensive than its oriental counterpart so is less desirable from a commercial standpoint. (Note: these remarks do not apply to almost all “licorice” candy sold in the United States, which do not contain actual licorice — the “licorice” flavor in US-produced candy is from an entirely different herb called anise.)

For this reason, glycyrrhizin is chemically removed, partially or totally, from imported licorice to form deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), before it is used in other products. Unfortunately, and inevitably, this chemical process alters the delicate natural balance of compounds found in the original extract from the fresh plant. Such altered products cannot be sold or advertised as “organic.”

Zagarese licorice comes from a species (glycyrrhiza glabra) grown in the southern part of Italy. Its natural glycyrrhizin content is only about 5%, so there is no need to deglycyrrhizinate it. The Zagarese company has been producing pure licorice extract as its sole product since 1886, using only organic methods of cultivation.

For these reasons, Phyto Plus is able to offer a genuinely organic product: the ONLY certified organic licorice available in the United States, and possibly anywhere.

Copyright © 2004 Alan Gilbertson

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