The Elemental Diet and Supporting Herbal Supplements


The elemental diet is a simple and highly underestimated way to effectively manage symptoms of a number of gastrointestinal conditions, yet it is still relatively uncommon in practice. It includes a food supplement that is free from whole proteins and contains the most easily absorbable versions of all the macronutrients. Therefore, the required digestive processes are significantly decreased, rendering the amounts of inflammation and pathogenic overgrowth minimal.  The diet is often used exclusively for at least two weeks and is effective for the management of certain digestive conditions including small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 1

The protocol surrounding the elemental diet includes various steps to ensure success of the program, including those aimed at nutritional support, antimicrobial therapy and gut repair. An important, yet often overlooked focus during this time is the stimulation of the migrating motor complex (MMC) via the use of prokinetics, to support the detoxification part of the diet.The migrating motor complex is a pattern of gut motility during the interdigestive (between meals) period. It is termed the ‘intestinal housekeeper’ that cleans out the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) by propelling undigested matter and other substances such as bacteria and sloughed enterocytes into the colon for excretion. It only occurs in between meals and can be severely compromised in people with conditions of the bowel such as SIBO and IBS. In fact, it has been demonstrated that patients with SIBO have a compromised MMC with a decrease of up to 70%. The elemental diet, in combination with prokinetics can improve the efficiency of the MMC and restore it to greater functioning once more.2-5

One such prokinetic is ginger. Ginger is thought to increase the interdigestive antral motility during phase III of the MMC. In fact, one study demonstrated that oral ginger improved gastroduodenal motility in the fasting state and after a standard test meal.6

Bioclinic Naturals Chewable Ginger is a great-tasting and convenient dosage of high quality, standardised ginger extract. Ideal for use during the elemental diet due to its highly absorbable dosage form and therefore low impact on the digestive tract.

Another important part of the elemental diet is the dampening of potential digestive symptoms that are typical of some gastrointestinal (GIT) conditions. These include inflammation, dyspepsia, nausea and bloating and flatulence. Whilst the elemental diet encourages GIT healing and in that will partially manage these symptoms, there are other supplements that can also help to significantly decrease them. 1

Deglycyrhizzinated licorice is one of these herbs. The anti-inflammatory, mucoprotective, and demulcent actions of licorice supports its therapeutic effects for the relief of symptoms of gastrointestinal inflammation, abdominal bloating and pain and heartburn. Along with the capacity to support gastric healing, licorice has also been shown to inhibit the formation and growth of gastric lesions, promote healing of ulcered tissues and increase eradication of Helicobacter pylori in the presence of peptic ulcer disease.7-13

Perhaps deglycrhizzinated licorice’s most potent effect is the improvement of functional dyspepsia symptoms. In a randomised double blind, placebo-controlled multi-centre trial, the efficacy of deglycyrrhizinated licorice when used for 30 days was investigated in subjects with functional dyspepsia.The primary outcomes were changes to the severity of symptoms (i.e. upper abdominal fullness and pain, belching, bloating, early satiety, nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, heartburn and loss of appetite) and global assessment of efficacy (short-form Nepean Dyspepsia Index [NPI]). Deglycyrrhizinated licorice resulted in significant improvements in the severity of symptoms scores on days 15 and 30 and the NPI compared with placebo, demonstrating significant efficacy of DGL for the management of functional dyspepsia symptoms. 14

Bioclinic Naturals DGL contains a therapeutic amount of deglycyrrhizinated licorice in just one tablet. The removal of glycyrrhizin from the licorice minimises the effects associated with high-dose and chronic use of non-deglycyrrhizinated licorice (i.e. elevated blood pressure and fluid retention), and increases gastric mucosal absorption of licorice, enhancing clinical efficacy. The chewable dosage form also means it is easier to digest, again making DGL the perfect supplement for the elemental diet protocol. 9

*References available on request