MegaGuard is a novel digestive aid that combines protective licorice, cleansing artichoke, and soothing ginger to promote normal digestion, balance stomach acid, and reduce occasional digestive discomforts such as gas, bloating, and indigestion.
Background of MegaGuard
Stomach and gallbladder dysfunction affects roughly 7 million people in the United States. And to make matters worse, problems with the gallbladder and stomach are often interrelated and easily misdiagnosed. When left untreated, upper GI issues can lead to dysfunction further down the GI tract in the intestines. For example, acid reflux can degrade the lining of the esophagus, and uncontrolled H. pylori infections can lead to ulcers and stomach cancer. Furthermore, inadequate bile production can lead to poor digestion of fats, gallstones, and impaired detoxification.
Functional dyspepsia is an upper GI condition characterized by indigestion, bloating, abdominal cramping, and feelings of fullness. There is no known cure, but current treatments include elimination diets, stress management, antibiotic treatments for H. pylori, pain killers, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 blockers. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine antagonists (H2 blockers) are the traditional treatments for acid reflux because they can reduce the acidity of stomach acid, but these medications can be damaging to the rest of the GI tract and cause even more problems with long-term use.
PPIs work by blocking the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and H2 blockers reduce stomach acid secretion by preventing histamine from binding to its receptors in the stomach. While this may provide short-term relief, it can cause detrimental effects on the rest of the GI tract, particularly the gut microbiome.
PPIs and H2 blockers are intended for short-term use; however, many patients may remain on this medication for longer than its intended use. In fact, a recent study showed that 70% of patients prescribed a PPI in a hospital setting did not actually need the treatment.1 Furthermore, 19% were discharged from the hospital with PPIs, many of them believing they would need to continue taking the medication long term. Long-term use of this medication decreases the acidity of the stomach, disrupting one its primary protective functions: killing harmful bacteria.
Long-term or unwarranted use of PPIs can actually increase the risk of pathogenic gut infections like Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, Vibrio cholerae, and Listeria.2 Research shows that PPIs not increase the abundance of pathogenic E. coli and C. difficile, but they also decrease the overall diversity and richness of beneficial bacteria in the gut.3
Long term use of H2 blockers is associated with increased rates of stomach cancer, as well as short-term effects such as headaches, constipation, diarrhea, and difficulty sleeping.4
Given the limitations of current therapies, practitioners and researchers agree that alternative approaches to treating functional dyspepsia and other upper GI conditions may provide better results for patients.
Ingredients in MegaGuard
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has a long history of use for treating digestive discomforts.5 In Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, licorice is well-known for its ability to protect the stomach lining and balance everyday inflammation. One of the most commonly known active ingredients in licorice is a compound known as glycyrrhizin that has been used as an emulsifier and sweetener in the food industry. However, large amounts of glycyrrhizin have been associated with serious adverse side effects like elevated blood pressure and lowered potassium levels. For this reason, most dietary supplements that contain licorice remove the glycyrrhizin content resulting in deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL. DGL can be very beneficial for gut health, but it generally requires larger doses in order to be effective. This is because the active compounds, known as polyphenols or flavonoids, are the components of licorice that provide the most protection.
Gutgard ® is a novel ingredient made up of these powerful licorice flavonoids. The licorice flavonoids in Gutgard ® are entirely different from DGL with respect to chemistry, composition, manufacturing, and mechanisms of action. While standard DGL does not contain any significant quantity of flavonoids, Gutgard ® contains more than 10% total flavonoids and less than 0.5% of glycyrrhizin to avoid undesirable effects. More than 50 flavonoids have been identified in Gutgard ® which have been shown to have beneficial effects on digestion.6 In fact, Gutgard ® licorice flavonoids have been shown to protect the stomach lining and balance Helicobacter pylori levels much more effectively than regular DGL extracts with only 1/10th of the amount.7 Gutgard ® licorice can also relieve occasional indigestion, bloating, and stomach pain.
Gutgard ® is the ingredient that originally inspired this product and motivated Kiran to create a product for stomach and gallbladder health. After months of research, artichoke leaf extract and ginger root extract were selected to complement Gutgard ® in this robust formula designed to protect the upper GI tract.
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaf extract (ALE) has also been used in traditional medicine as a digestive aid. The bitter compounds, particularly cynaropicrin, are responsible for the digestive benefits of artichoke. ALE has been shown to increase bile production, protect the liver, balance blood lipids, and act as an antispasmodic.8-15
Ginger (Zinziber officinalis) has been used as a digestive aid in Eastern medicine for generations.
Studies have demonstrated that ginger accelerates gastric emptying and can relieve occasional bouts of nausea and vomiting.16-17 Gingerols and shogaols, the active polyphenolic compounds in ginger, appear to be responsible for such effects by weakly inhibiting the receptors responsible for nausea, vomiting, and hypomotility.18-19 Ginger extracts with a higher gingerol content (20-30% gingerols) are stronger and more effective at relieving digestive discomforts. While most ginger extracts only contain 5% gingerols, MegaGuardTM contains high potency ginger root extract with 20% gingerols for maximum strength.
The Science and Research Behind MegaGuard
Mouse studies have found that taking GutGard ® once daily for 8 weeks significantly reduced H. pylori abundance in the stomach.20 Mechanistic studies suggest that glabridin, one of the many flavonoids found in Gutgard ®, is responsible for this protective effect by interfering with the multiplication and adhesion of H. pylori to the mucosal lining in the stomach. Without the ability to multiply or adhere to the gastric mucosa, opportunistic H. pylori cannot grow out of control and wreak havoc in the stomach.
Glabridin also appears to soothe inflammation in the stomach as well, which can be helpful for anyone prone to developing stomach ulcers.21 In this way, GutGard ® gives the stomach a chance to heal, resulting in reduced stomach pain, bloating, and discomfort.21,22 Furthermore, studies show that GutGard ® can mimic pharmaceutical prokinetic agents, like metoclopramide (Reglan), domperidone (Motilium), and levosulpiride, while also helping to repair the stomach lining.23 This improves digestion and reduces symptoms of functional dyspepsia by encouraging a natural movement of food through the digestive tract.23,24
In a six-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study, German researchers tested the effectiveness of artichoke leaf extract on patients with functional dyspepsia.25 Two hundred forty-seven patients, ages 18-75, were randomly divided into 2 groups. For 6 weeks, the control group received placebo capsules, while the treatment group received 320 mg of artichoke leaf extract with lunch and dinner. At the end of the study, the experiment group experienced significantly greater reduction in unwanted symptoms, as well as an increase in quality of life.25 Furthermore, although the study was conducted over 6 weeks, the majority of the treatment group saw relief of their digestive symptoms in the first week.
In 2015, an Italian study of 126 patients with functional dyspepsia monitored the effects of daily supplementation with 40 mg of ginger extracts (25-30% gingerols) and 200 mg of artichoke leaf extracts over the course of 14 days. Researchers found that only 14 days of this daily combination reduced the severity and frequency of common digestive symptoms like nausea, bloating, early satiety, and abdominal pain 17% more effectively than just artichoke leaf extract alone.26
Further randomized, experimental studies, using only ginger, revealed that such supplements can aid gastric emptying, thereby assisting the natural movement through the GI tract known as peristalsis.27 Indigestion, belching, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) are symptoms of delayed gastric emptying; and therefore, ginger can be helpful in the upper as well as the lower GI tract.28 Interestingly, researchers point to the fact that ginger and artichoke complement each other in their action. Ginger can activate in the stomach, while artichoke is active in the small intestines.28
Helicobacter pylori infection
Peptic Ulcer Disease (Stomach Ulcers)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Advantages of MegaGuard
There are many advantages to using MegaGuard over other similar digestive aids. The main advantage comes from the fact that MegaGuard contains highly concentrated and scientifically-validated flavonoids from licorice rather than just diluted licorice extracts alone. Other licorice-based supplements tend to contain DGL, which can be soothing for the intestinal lining but lacks the protective powers of the licorice flavonoids. Gutgard ® contains more than 50 flavonoids that have been shown to improve digestion.6 In fact, Gutgard ® licorice flavonoids have been shown to protect the stomach lining and balance Helicobacter pylori levels much more effectively than regular DGL extracts with only 1/10th of the amount.7
MegaGuard also stands out among other artichoke leaf extracts because it contains the same extraction ratio of the artichoke leaf product HeparSL Forte, the German pharmaceutical drug used in the aforementioned 6-week clinical study on functional dyspepsia.25 MegaGuard contains the same extraction ratio and the efficacious dose used in the study for maximum efficacy. Most companies will use research to support their formulations, but often times the dosing used in the study is significantly higher than the dose of the formula being sold. MegaGuard was formulated based on scientific research in order to provide the most favorable results.
Additionally, the ginger root extract used in MegaGuard is a high-potency ginger extract very similar to the one used in the aforementioned artichoke and ginger study.26 Standard ginger extracts contain 2-5% gingerols, but MegaGuard contains 20% gingerols in order to match the concentration used in the study. This formula is one of the few digestive aids that is truly evidence-based.
Ages 8+: Take one capsule with lunch and dinner, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Do not open capsules. Capsule contents will have a strong bitter taste.
MegaGuard is best taken with a meal since it functions as an herbal digestive aid. Most people notice a reduction in bloating, cramping, nausea, and fullness in the first week.
MegaGuard is safe for children as long as they are able to swallow pills. Opening the capsules of MegaGuard will not reduce the efficacy of the product, but the strong herbs may not be palatable for children or adults. MegaGuard is also safe to take before, during, and after pregnancy. Pregnant mothers have reported that that MegaGuard helps significantly with nausea and morning sickness.
When used in combination with other Microbiome Labs products, MegaGuard offers complete gastrointestinal support from the stomach all the way to the colon. MegaGuard works synergistically with any Microbiome Labs product but will be most effective when taken with MegaSporeBiotic as part of the RECONDITION phase of the Total Gut Restoration system.
This product can be taken for acute, short-term relief of symptoms or used indefinitely. People who have had their gallbladder removed may want to take MegaGuard with meals indefinitely.
Because Gutgard ® can mimic prokinetic agents and balance stomach acid, it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking MegaGuard if you are already taking other medications for any form of upper GI dysfunction. In some cases, you may need to reduce your dose of prokinetics, PPIs, or H2 blockers when taking MegaGuard, but it is best to do so under medical supervision.
- Singh A, et al. Identifying Risk Factors Associated with Inappropriate Use of Acid Suppressive Therapy at a Community Hospital. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2016;2016:1973086.
- Bavishi C, Dupont HL. Systematic review: the use of proton pump inhibitors and increased susceptibility to enteric infection. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2011;34(11-12):1269-1281.
- Imhann F, et al. Proton pump inhibitors affect the gut microbiome. BMJ Journals. 2016;65(5).
- Cheung KS, et al. Long-term proton pump inhibitors and risk of gastric cancer development after treatment for Helicobacter pylori: a population-based study. Gut. 2018;67:28-35.
- Wittschier N, et al. Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from liquorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) inhibit adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009;125(2): 218–223.
- Omar HR, et al. Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012;3(4): 125–138.
- Asha MK, et al. Effect of Flavonoid-Rich Extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra on Gut-Friendly Microorganisms, Commercial Probiotic Preparations, and Digestive Enzymes. J Diet Suppl. 2017;14(3):323-333.
- Gebhardt R, Fausel M. “Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of artichoke extracts and constituents in cultured rat hepatocytes. Toxicology in Vitro. 1997; 11(5):669–672.
- Gebhardt R. Inhibition of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis by artichoke leaf extracts is mainly due to luteolin. Cell Biology and Toxicology. 1997;13:58.
- Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA. Luteolin-rich artichoke extract protects low density lipoprotein from oxidation in vitro. Free Radical Research. 1998;29(3):247–255.
- Perez-Garcia F, et al. Activity of artichoke leaf extract on reactive oxygen species in human leukocytes. Free Radical Research. 2000;33(5): 661–665.
- Rechner AR, et al. Caffeic acid derivatives in artichoke extract are metabolised to phenolic acids in vivo. Free Radical Research. 2001;35(2):195–202.
- Ishida K, et al. Effects of artichoke leaf extract on acute gastric mucosal injury in rats. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2010;33(2):223–229.
- Emendorfer F, et al. Antispasmodic activity of fractions and cynaropicrin from Cynara scolymus on guinea-pig ileum. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2005;28(5): 902–904.
- Holtmann G, et al. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Ailment Pharmacy Ther. 2003;18:1099-1105.
- Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products. Assessment report on Zingiber officinale Roscoe, rhizome. European Medicines Agency. 2011; EMA/HMPC/577856.
- Wu KL, et al. Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans. Eur J Gastroenterol & Hepatol. 2008; 20(5): 436–440.
- Ford AC, et al. The Rome III criteria for the diagnosis of functional dyspepsia in secondary care are not superior to previous definitions. Gastroenterology. 2014;146(4):932–940.
- Haag S, et al. Symptom patterns in functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome: relationship to disturbances in gastric emptying and response to a nutrient challenge in consulters and non-consulters. Gut. 2004; 53(10): 1445–1451.
- Kim JM, et al. Anti-Helicobacter pylori Properties of GutGardTM. Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 2013;18(2):104-110.
- Thiyagarajan P, et al. Modulation of lipopolysaccharide-induced pro-inflammatory mediators by an extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra and its phytoconstituents. Inflammopharmacology. 2011;19(4):235-241.
- Chandrasekaran C, et al. Dual inhibitory effect of Glycyrrhiza glabra (GutGard™) on COX and LOX products. Phytomedicine. 2011;18(4):278-284.
- Velusami CC, et al. Effect of Flavonoid Rich Root Extract of Glycyrrhizaglabra on Gastric Emptying and Gastrointestinal Transit in Albino Wistar Rats. SOJ Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2017;4(2):1-4.
- Raveendra KR, et al. An Extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra (GutGard) Alleviates Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:216970.
- Holtmann G, et al. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2003;18(11-12):1099-1105.
- Giacosa A, et al. The Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) Extract Supplementation on Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomised, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:915087.
- Bodagh MN, et al. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food Science & Nutrition. 2018;7(1):96-108.
- Hu ML, et al. Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World J Gastroenterol. 2011;17(1):105–110.