Should You Be Supplementing With Hydrochloric Acid?

by lydia on March 7, 2012

Life has been quite crazy and stressful for me for as long as I can remember. Stress, stress, stress! How I have learned to cope and deal with the stress in my life has dramatically shifted, yet still the demands and pressures keep coming. In spite of taking radical steps to heal my body over the past several years through diet and lifestyle, I still have some remaining health issues lingering.

Thankfully, all the major stuff has gone by the wayside. All the annoying peripheral stuff, like gas, bloating, major constipation, sinus migraines, chronic sinus infections, eczema, seasonal allergies, acid reflux, depression, lack of energy, dark circles under my eyes, bad PMS, low back pain, chronic joint pain all on my right side, asthma, really dry itchy skin, inflammation of my gums related to sinus issues, regular headaches, feelings of insecurity, sensitivity to cold, mental sluggishness, severe pain during ovulation (mittleschwertz), extremely raw gut/insides, seasonal sadness in the winter, lots of colds and I am sure I could go on. All that stuff doesn’t bother me anymore for the most part. Thank God!

I have come a long way and overall, I feel great! However, that said, I still have some lingering issues and I plan to share them with you.

Should You Be Supplementing With Hydrochloric Acid? //

My Experience

This past December, I had my health assessed by a functional examination. The functional examination is part of what I am learning in the course I am taking through the Nutritional Therapy Association. I am so grateful to have this ability under my belt, or should I say in my tool belt of healing knowledge and practice. What I learned then was several things, but for now I’ll share the primary one; my small intestines were a wreck! I knew this all on my own before getting the evaluation done. I’d sit on my couch in the afternoon studying and feel my lower ribs with some agitation and pressure. If I pressed into those ribs I felt like a spark of electricity type feeling. I was very perplexed as to what was going on at that time, but now I know more. I also have been able to drastically reduce that discomfort. So three months later my small intestines are getting better, but they still need some work. (*Note 11/24/13: As of today, I no longer have any of these health complaints).

If you read my post, Digestion 101, you will see that digestion works from the north most part of our body to the south. So, in order to address the issues going on in my small intestines, it was imperative to look ‘north’ to see what was going on leading to the issues found there. What I realized is that I had been eating a lot of protein, though not more than I should, but more than I had in past since I was a carb-aholic. But essentially, in the past couple of years I had ramped up the protein in my diet, which helped me in other ways a ton. I also was lifting weights and eating lots of protein snacks etc. However, what I hadn’t realized is how that might impact me since I had  hypo-chlorhydria (low stomach acid). The truth is, most of us have low stomach acid, there are so many reasons this is the case, and stress is one of those reasons. (but I’ll be getting more into all of that in a future post) I had known about need for hydrochloric acid awhile back, and tried to supplement with it, but didn’t really know what I was doing, nor did I notice any major results. So I stopped (I know now I wasn’t taking NEAR enough).

Going back in time a little, I used to have a hard time tolerating beef. I could only eat it once every few days. If I tried to eat it 2 days in a row, my body revolted. So, I tried a little experiment for about 2 months a few years ago, and I drank raw apple cider vinegar before every meal. Just about a tablespoon or so, and this helped immensely. I could tolerate beef on a more regular basis after that trial, and I still occasionally supplemented with the vinegar, though not consistently. Fast forward to this past December, I took a little test to see if my body was producing enough of it’s own hydrochloric acid and discovered it indeed was not. So, that became my quest and it still is, to teach my body how to make it’s own hydrochloric acid again. If I can digest my proteins properly, they won’t putrefy and make more work for my small intestines and the rest of my digestive system. Having enough HCL is my first line of defense against pathogenic micro-organisms. I suspect I have had low stomach acid for a LONG time – this has left me subject to a whole host of problems as I mentioned above. It’s amazing how many of our health ailments are linked to our gut health.

So to give you an idea, the functional points for my small intestine went from 8’s, 9’s & 10’s to 3’s, 4’s and 5’s, in just 3 months and I wasn’t even all that consistent with taking my hydrochloric acid. When we lingual neuro tested my points came all the way down! That means it’s very likely all I needed all along was proper hydrochloric acid to get my small intestines back on track.  These next three months I am bound and determined to take it faithfully to see how much things improve in June when I go back for my final weekend of testing. Hydrochloric acid is not something anyone should need to have to take for life, but it sure is a crucial aid in getting your body back on track. I plan to always have some around just in case and test myself often to make sure my body is properly and adequately producing enough HCL.

There is more to this picture than I am sharing here, but I wanted to focus and emphasize the importance of supplemental HCL, since it’s not really feasible to get in food form. Raw Apple Cider can certainly help, as can herbal bitters,but therapeutically HCL is required. Other things like enzymes are needed as well, but it’s so easy to get that from a good diet loaded with probiotic/enzymatic rich foods.

The Roles of Stomach Acid

  1. Stomach acid essentially sterlizes our food. It’s our first line of defense against pathogens coming in to the stomach. It will kill bacteria/microbes/pathogens/yeast that come in and try to colonize in the intestines. These germs are destroyed on contact as our food is mixed with stomach acid.
  2. Stomach acid begins digesting our proteins. Namely the enzyme pepsin in our stomach juices.
  3. Minerals are pulled for absorption by our stomach acid. Without enough stomach acid we cannot assimilate the minerals from our food.
  4. Stomach acid also stimulates the pancreas to secrete enzymes and bicarbonate. When the food is the proper pH moving out of the stomach it will signal the pancreas to secrete it’s juices. If the pH is not appropriate this can cause damage to the wall of the small intestines. (As discussed in Digestion 101).

Do you have any of the following symptoms? Rate them 0 for never, 1 for minor or rarely, 2 for moderate or weekly and 3 for severe or daily

Further Signs & Symptoms That Relate To Issues in the Upper GI

  • Belching or gas within one hour after eating
  • heartburn or acid reflux
  • bloating within one hour after eating,
  • a vegan diet
  • bad breath
  • loss of taste for meat
  • sweat has a strong odor
  • stomach upset by taking vitamins
  • sense of excess fullness after meals
  • feel like skipping breakfast
  • feel better if you don’t eat
  • sleepy after meals
  • fingernails chip, peel or break easily
  • anemia unresponsive to iron
  • stomach pains or cramps diarrhea (chronic)
  • diarrhea shortly after meals
  • black or tarry colored stools
  • undigested food in stool

Though these are not the only possible symptoms or signs that show you are not adequate in either stomach acid or pancreatic enzymes, they are the most commonly understood signs. What was your score? A score of 3-9 indicates a low priority, but you likely need some stomach acid and probably digestive enzymes. A score of 10-14 is a moderate priority meaning you’re on your way to worse things if you don’t get it ironed out, you definitely need hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, 15 and above is a high priority and should become your top priority to work on. I am going to teach you a million things (well maybe not a million, but a lot) in this course. Please do not try to implement everything all at once. Don’t even try to do more than a couple of new things while you are taking this class. Why? Because you didn’t get to where you are overnight and you’re not going to heal overnight either. It will be important to take your time working on things little by little. One key piece will be finding a dietary game plan that will work to further your healing. Add to that some basic supplements starting in the northern most parts of digestion and tackle that first. Most of us will need some time to see the benefits happen.

Heartburn & GERD


Should You Be Supplementing With Hydrochloric Acid? //

Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach irritates the tissue that lines the esophagus. Since acid does not belong in the esophagus it is very irritating, it is not made to handle the acid. The stomach however, is lined to deal with the extremely acid environment. The stomach is an acid producing machine. The acid in the stomach is secreted at about 0.8 if you took a drop of this acid and dropped it on the floor it would burn a hole in the floor.

Acid reflux can be caused by many things including obesity, smoking, eating fried foods (fast foods), coffee, alcohol, and carbonated beverages. These foods or conditions end up causing acid reflux by increasing pressure in the abdomen and this causes the gastric contents to be forced up into the esophagus. This can irritate the esophageal sphincter and cause there to be a decrease in muscle tone. Frequent or chronic heartburn may have a structural piece to it.

Hiatal hernias are associated with frequent or chronic heartburn. (Hiatal hernias are an out pouching of the stomach lining through the diaphragm.) I believe the main reason most of us are ‘impaired’ in this way is due to the standard American diet full of lifeless processed sugar and starch ridden foods.

Hydrochloric acid is needed for protein breakdown. Not chewing thoroughly, eating excessive amounts in a given meal, or overcooking our meats puts a strain on us in this area. Gluten, casein in pasteurized dairy products, and heavily processed soy can also lead to issues. Our diet, how we eat (not in a relaxed state), stress, and anxiety can contribute to lack of HCl production as well . How well we chew, and the quality of our proteins as well as consuming some raw and not always well done or reheated etc. can go a long way to correcting issues with low stomach acid.

Hydrochloric acid is  produced in the presence of proteins, and it’s also inhibited by sugars and starches. High carbohydrate diets are all too common today, and actually contribute to acid deficiency. This is why I really like a Paleo/GAPS dietary template.

[Note: A great, great cookbook that I have reviewed is called ‘Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet’ by Pauli Halstead. Pauli is a former chef/caterer and she became a client of Nora Gedgaudas (one of my nutrition heroes – who also attended the Nutritional Therapy association and wrote one of my favorite books; ‘Primal Body-Primal Mind‘. ) Thanks to what she learned from Nora she was able to heal and her cookbook has a great amount of information on proper diet and sourcing foods. I highly recommend this book! Dietary game plans are a great starting point for anyone wanting to heal. Then you can take it further as needed by removing other common allergens, such as eggs, gluten cross contamination foods, nightshades, and maybe even high oxalate foods, or FODMAPS – depending on your specific health situation. ]

Often problems with heartburn are due to a LACK of stomach acid, not too much stomach acid which is what mainstream medicine claims. There are those that may be hyper acidic, but it is VERY rare. This can be ruled out by a Heidelberg capsule test and may not necessarily mean that someone is always hyper secreting acid. The majority of Americans today produce too little stomach acid. Often the issue can just be inappropriate timing of acid secretion.

Low stomach acid secretion (also known as hypochlorhydria) can lead to irritated and inflamed mucosa in the stomach. This condition sets up the ideal environment for infection by Helicobacter pylori. You see the stomach acid is your body’s first line of defense against pathogens. It kills bacteria, viruses, pathogens, parasites and more, but only when it is adequately produced. Helicobacter pylori is an opportunistic bacterium that seems to prefer the chronically irritated environment of the gastric mucosa. H. pylori is also associated with gastric ulcers. If you have had a history of acid reflux or heartburn you may want to get tested for H. pylori, especially if you have been on acid blockers for any length of time.

Acid Neutralizers/Acid Blockers/PPI’s


Should You Be Supplementing With Hydrochloric Acid? //


  • Antacids – Tums, Rolaids, Maalox and Mylanta (partially reduce acid)
  • H2 Acid Blockers– Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid and Zantac (partially block acid)
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors – Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium (these block the acid completely – NOT GOOD NEWS!)

PPI’s are a huge money maker, they are the 3rd highest of all drugs sold worldwide! They were designed for only very short term use while ironing out the underlying problem. Now they can be purchased over the counter and used without supervision and used for far longer than they ever were intended for, this is alarming!

If you have been on acid blockers and want to get off of them, I recommend you do it gradually, never cold turkey. You can wean off acid blockers and use antacids in place while you work to heal the issue and add in whole foods/supplements that support the underlying issue.

Taking acid blockers long term can erode the esophagus, it can lead to cancer, leaky stomach, decreased levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, depression, IBS, pneumonia and more. Blocking stomach acid increases your risk of SIBO. It is has been found that people on PPIs have higher levels of IgE antibodies after 3 months of usage.

Women over 50 increase risk of hip fracture with use of PPI’s. The longer anyone takes a PPI the higher the risk of fracture due to poor mineral absorption. This is scary since there are now so many people on acid blockers unmanaged by any practitioner. They are never told that it’s dangerous to their long term health.

(In my online course: Heal Your Gut, I teach a method on how to wean off of acid blockers. Learn more about the course here: HEAL YOUR GUT).

Hydrochloric acid Test

Precautions: If you are taking acid and too much of it, can cause a burning sensation. If any discomfort arises, stop taking it immediately. If you have a known peptic ulcer do not take acid. Start by healing the ulcer first. HCL can irritate sensitive tissue and be corrosive to teeth. Capsules should not be emptied into food or dissolved in beverages. Spend 1-2 months using support other than the HCL to heal the sensitive tissues in the stomach if needed, then try the HCL test. This process tends to be self-weaning, your stomach should tell you when you need to back off with a warming sensation. If your dose is not decreasing over time then it’s time to look at deeper issues, such as H. Pylori overgrowth, poor thyroid function, or other pituitary issues. It’s best to work with a qualified practitioner to help you evaluate the possible deeper reasons you are not seeing progress.

Self-testing for stomach acid: There are two ways for you to do this assessment. One is a gradual slow approach and one is an approach to find out your dose in just one meal. I will just say that the approach you use to find your dose in one meal can cause a lot of potential die off reactions and can be unpleasant for some. I’ve seen some people very sensitive even to one pill and some people not have any noticeably uncomfortable reactions from several.

Please realize if you have anything going on in your stomach, such as H. Pylori or have had a low pH for a time taking even just a little bit of acid could really cause a reaction. Please don’t think this means you don’t need the acid or shouldn’t take it.

The only reason to NOT take it or stop immediately is if you have any ulcerations in the stomach. You will know because it will be very painful. If you suspect you have any ulcerations or have been on acid blockers for a long time you may want to spend 2-4 weeks working on your stomach health before trying the acid supplementation. People with ulcers, or acute reflux should take some time to heal prior to starting acid supplementation.

Self-Test Instructions

1. Begin by taking one 350 to 750 mg capsule of betaine HCl with a protein-containing meal. A normal response in a healthy person would be discomfort – basically, heartburn (or a warming sensation in the stomach). If you do not feel a burning sensation, at the next protein-containing meal, take two capsules.

2.    If there are no reactions, after two days increase the number of capsules with each meal to two capsules.

3.    Continue increasing every two days, using up to eight capsules at a time if necessary. Build slowly to a maximum of eight capsules with each meal. You’ll know you’ve taken too much if you experience tingling, heartburn, diarrhea, or any type of discomfort, including feelings of unease, digestive discomfort, neck ache, backache, headache, fatigue, decrease in energy, or any new odd symptom. If you experience tingling or burning, or any symptom that is uncomfortable, you can neutralize the acid with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in water or milk.

4.    When you reach of state of tingling, burning or any other type of discomfort, cut back by one capsule per meal. If the discomfort continues, DISCONTINUE the HCl and consult with your health care professional. These dosages may seem large, but a normally functioning stomach manufactures considerably more, about 2,000 per meal.

5.    Once you have established a dose (either 8 capsules or less, if warmth or heaviness occurs), continue this dose.

6.    With smaller meals, you may require less HCl, so you may reduce the number of capsules taken.

Individuals with very moderate HCl deficiency generally show rapid improvement in symptoms and have early signs of intolerance to the acid. This typically indicates a return to normal acid secretion. Individuals with low HCL/pepsin typically do not respond as well to so to maximize the absorption and benefits of the nutrients you take, it is important to be consistent with your HCl/pepsin supplementation.
Over time you will rebuild your own stomach acid and no longer need supplementation. If you are needing supplementation with HCl for more than one year you may need to address deeper issues and use digestive enzymes, bitters, nutrients and possibly some body work like acupuncture or learn stress management techniques.

To heal the stomach first: Make sure to chew slowly at every meal, relax, support with herbal bitters before and/or after meals, licorice (DGL – deglycyrrhizinated), digestive/pancreatic enzymes, Gastrazyme  by Biotics (gut healing nutrients), and maybe some Aloe Vera Juice if there are ulcerations. Cabbage juice, several ounces daily, could be very helpful and start to help the parietal cells of the stomach to make its own HCL (this is only if you do not have a thyroid problem – goitrogenic foods such as cabbage are contraindicated in thyroid issues). Vitamins A & D and even L-glutamine may also help. Supplemental B1, methylated B12 and zinc – nutrients support acid production.

Then add the HCL, keep using probiotics and enzymes daily. Working to add properly fermented foods daily would be optimal, aim to have a small serving with each meal.

Truly, it is best to find out what your own unique biochemistry is based on a simple hair tissue mineral analysis. There are several markers that can help to determine whether you need or don’t need to supplement with HCl. It will also help you determine, based on a retest, if you still need it or not. For example: Someone with sluggish thyroid and adrenals may find they need longer term HCl supplementation because digestion slows down in this case and it can take some time to get the glands back up and functioning more efficiently.



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Shayna September 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I just started a regiment of the HCL supplements (1 pill per meal about 600mg) last night and I find I am still having GERD symptoms and all my other symptoms (gas, bloating, full feeling, pain in the diaphragm area and back, nausea) but not as intense as I have had in the past few months. I had the intense symptoms now for a few months but on and off for 13 years. I have been on PPI’s also for 13 years stopped using them a week ago. I feel the HCL pill I have taken with my last 3 meals has made things a little better and I don’t feel this burning I see you talking about.

Do I need to take more HCL to quiet the additional GERD symptoms I am still having??

I also have been taking enzymes, aloe, iodine (for Hashimoto’s) and probiotics to try to get my stomach back to somewhat normal. I have been so very sick and I just want some relief. No physician has been able to help me yet. Anything you can do to help guide me is greatly appreciated.

lydia September 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Shayna – this is probably something I cannot advise you on fully in the comments here. Folks who have been on long term acid blockers need a different approach and need to do some healing first before HCl is tolerated. I’ve worked with countless folks on this. I would stop taking the HCl to be honest – and just keep up with your enzymes, aloe and probiotics.

If you’d like to speak more and get a game plan to help resolve this – I do have a health assessment available:

mkn October 6, 2015 at 11:09 pm

I had taken Prilosec for years and then went off of it several years ago. Then I changed my diet drastically to a high fat diet and got really sick with a lot of heartburn. I then had to go back on Prilosec. I finally got off of it and started using HCL tablets. Almost immediately I started feeling better with less fullness after meals, less lower abdominal bloating, cramping, etc., and I was finally able to put some weight back on. However after being on the HCL for a while I started noticing the bloating and feeling like I had to burp sensation coming back. So I started lowering the dosage. Then one day I stopped and my stomach felt great until that night. I noticed a little bit of an acid taste in the back of my throat so I took one tablet and it went away. Then the next day I had a lot of cramping again so then started taking 1 tablet per meal but still feel cramping. I can’t quite figure out a dosage to get rid of the lower gut cramping and also the bloating and feeling like I have to burp sensation at the same time. I have read different information about when to take the HCL tablets. Some say at the beginning of a meal, some say in the middle, and some even recommend waiting until 30-40 minutes after a meal. Any advice?

katia October 29, 2015 at 9:11 pm

im so confused. my gastro told me to stop taking betaine HCL before meals and to take instead zantac. when i asked why she said patients w ibs usually have dyspepsia and she wanted to see if this helped me feel better w indigestion.
im confused as to what to do because my health books advise agaisnt PPP and i take 3-4 tabs of betaine hcl and feel NO burning which could only mean i need MORE hcl!!!!?. please advise!

lydia October 30, 2015 at 6:22 am

First off, HCl should be taken near the middle or the end of a meal not BEFORE a meal. There are very few people who have too much stomach acid that need to avoid HCl. Some people have issues in their stomach – like ulcers for example, which often can be from long term acid blocker usage – so some healing needs to be done first.

I cannot advise you on this only to say – if your doctor did not do further testing to determine your short term need for Pepcid I would question their decision. Also, you do not need to feel a burn – some people would have to take a lot of HCl to get that and that is not sustainable. If you do not suspect ulcers and your doctor has cleared you of that – than you really just may only need a small amount to help you digest your food.

I work with clients one on one to better determine digestive issues – both through a simple health assessment or a hair tissue mineral analysis test.

Darlene Callahan November 17, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I am 39 years old, have been diagnosed with Lichen Sclerosis along with pernicious anemia and take a b12 shot monthly. I notice joint pain recently along with hair loss and eye pain. I’ve been tested for Lupus, RA, and Lyme’s disease. It all came back negative. I’m trying to heal my gut by eliminating Gluten and Dairy. I stopped drinking coffee as well. I just tried HCL for the last two days and find that it does cause some very slight discomfort which is disappointing after doing so much research to try to correct my gut issues. Is it possible I don’t have low acid and have all those other issues? I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t. If I need to look at enzymes, what’s a good brand ? Any advice is appreciated. There’s so much information. Should I see a nutritionist? Someone who knows how to get to the bottom of it all.

Ted January 13, 2016 at 7:00 am

This is late info: But you have to work your way up. You can’t expect your stomach lining to suddenly be that of your 20 year old self after years of low acid. I had to search hard for a 250 mg capsule. Taking just one for at least a week. Then up to 2 after a while. Then graduate tot he 650 mg ones. Then add another 250 mg on top. etc. With supplementation of any kind you cannot go wrong by going slow. Always.

Terri December 12, 2015 at 9:22 am

I began hcl w pepsin a week ago. I’ve been taking 2 tablets at 1300mg total but have never felt the burning sensation. I feel great when eating and my LPR reflux feels a bit better but I still have major congestion and post nasal drip, gas and some bloating. I also don’t have the heavy indigestion feeling but 3 or 4 hours later, I get nauseous and have a bad taste in my mouth most of the time. Any ideas whether I need more or less tablets? (also treating a very slight amount of systemic yeast with nystatin).

rebecca Buno December 14, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I have just been diagnosed with H.Pylori and started triple dose therapy nasty nasty almost done now i stopped taking the Hydrozyme as I’m on omeprazole to help with the eradication process. (and i think im correct in thinking these work on opposite ends of the scale?) Would you recommend continuing this after my treatment?
i have also cut out all sugar, fruit, carbs, wheat, yeast and mostly eating chicken breast with greens and soups but i am still very very ill, and weak i know it takes time to heal but any recommendations to help
maybe aloe juice or mustic gum?

Thank you so much

lydia December 15, 2015 at 6:50 am

Hi Rebecca – I cannot advise you on what to do or take in your current situation -if you have been diagnosed by a practitioner please ask them for advice on this matter. I’m sorry you are not feeling well, I wish you all the best as you heal.

Robyn January 10, 2016 at 12:05 am

Hello. Thanks for this article! I am ready to give HCL a try but I wondered if you take it with any protein, even if it’s not meat — i.e. eggs, hummus, cheese and so forth. What about if you were eating something like whole wheat pasta with pesto sauce? I want to make sure I do this right. I do know you wouldn’t take it with a meal or snack that’s all veggies, but most things I read just say “meat.” Thank you!

Anonymous November 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Wholewheat pasta with pesto sauce is mostly starchy carbs with little to no protein, so would not need any HCL. But gluten in any form is hard for many to process these days due to the way it is hybridised and processed.

If stomach acid production is low then it would be needed for the digestion of any kind of protein but certain proteins digest easier than others. How many capsules are taken depends more on the amount of protein eaten than the type though. A large meat-heavy meal would need more than a light omelette, for instance.

Some people may benefit from food combining. Eating one type of food at one meal. As meat needs acid for digestion and potato doesn’t, eating the starchy potato with the meat can lower the acid production. It would be better to have the meat at one meal and the potato at another.

Robin January 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Hi I’m so glad to see articles about low stomach acid. I lost my health, my life, my marriage and my friends due to chronic illness caused by low stomach acid. I think I have been low in that dept. since childhood. Anyway, I wanted to add a few things I’ve learned along the way… You can have worse relfux and other symptoms until you get the acid levels where they need to be. In other words, more may still not be enough. Don’t use NSAIDs if you are supplementing your stomach acid. NSAIDs compromise the lining of the stomach. Lie on your left side while sleeping. Your stomach can be in an “up” position. This means some of it may protrude through a lazy lower espohageal sphincter and this will cause reflux, too. So when you start increasing, the reflux will seem to get worse. Massage the stomach back “down” by placing the right fist in the solar plexus and rocking it and pushing in gently, slide it down and along the edge of the rib cage toward the left side. You can help it along with your left hand. If you hear or feel a plop, you have succeeded. You will have to retrain it to stay in place. The LES gets flabby when hydrochloric acid is low. You can also drink a large glass of water and step down off a stair or low stool to make it fall back in place. We have more than one sphincter and they all get lazy when HCl is low. The ones below the stomach can allow matter to enter the small intestine before it’s broken down. This (I believe) is the cause of allergies and food intolerances, leaky gut, etc. In my own case all that cleared up after I increased HCl. Also toned up were the tissues at the top of my digestive tract, including my soft palate. This made my sleep apnea and snoring so much better that I stopped thinking about CPAP machines and mouth pieces to allow me sleep.
I now focus on digestion, I believe it is central to health. The liver, gall bladder, stomach, vagus nerve and pancreas all work together closely. Right now I am learning about how to prevent bile re-circulation, so that new fresh bile is produced, and also how important it is to have enough hydrocholric acid in the body at all times, and how it can be used for many kinds of healing. How the hydrogen and chloride provided by this specific acid are nourishing and healing and other forms of acid can’t be expected to take it’s place in this. There is so much to learn. Thanks for your article. I think many, many people can benefit by knowing how their digestive tract works.

Leslie August 29, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Hey Robin. It siunds like you have learned a lot. I am trying to supplement with hcl but would love some support. Would you be interested in emailing? My email is glennfamilygardens at gmail dot com

Anyone else you is interested in emailing about hcl supplementation pkease do.

Debbie February 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Hi, I have been on PPI drugs for over 15 years. I recently started having burning in my throat and stomach and my Dr. ran test and said he suspected Gastritis. I changed my diet, no caffeine, sugar and no bread. I ate really healthy just chicken and veggies most of the time. I did this for 2 months with no relief. It has been 4 months and my Dr. has been trying to figure out what is going on. I’ve been changing my PPi drugs to see if maybe the one I was using just stopped working. I typically have extended stomach after I eat with moderate gas depending on what I eat. I still have the burning sensation in my throat and chest which is really bothering me. That is my only symptom other than the gas after meals. I am stressed and suffer with anxiety sometimes. Should I try Betaine HCL supplementation? I would like to know if I have low acid. Should I stop all PPI meds and for how long before? What kind should I try and what MG?

Warren February 28, 2016 at 10:20 am

I have been suffering with acid reflux for 3-4 years, it turns out I have a hiatus hernia. My doctor has put me on Omeprazole .. I’ve read bad things about Omeprazole and other PPi’s. How can you avoid taking PPi’s if you have a hiatus hernia? As soon as I stop the Omeprazol the reflux comes back.

Kim March 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Hi –
I’ve been having an interesting couple of months with GI issues, which I’ve never had before (I’m 43). It started one night January where I was awoken suddenly with stomach pain (bottom of ribcage on the left side). The next couple of days there was a huge amount of noise in my system – gurgling, bubbling and growling and a ton of burping. This finished with some diarrhea two days later. In hindsight I thought it was something I had eaten or a GI bug. That week eating was a bit tenuous as I tried to get my stomach back on track… but it seemed to improve and I thought I was better. Fast forward a week or so later, and I had amazing stomach noise, major burping, terrible stomach pain, more generalized and varying with sharp pain, general ache towards the middle and left of my belly button. I had amazing amounts of bloating no matter what I ate or drank. I would wake up with a flat stomach and by noon I would look pregnant. I tried a weak version of elimination diet but nothing seemed to either trigger or remedy the situation if omitted. I noticed occasional ‘food’ particulate in my diarrhea (which stayed pretty consistent) as well. I finally called my GP for an appointment… which coincidentally met up with my need for blood test to check in on anemia which I had been diagnosed with in the fall. She thought I should stop the iron pills (and my system might have “had enough” of that) and that I may have too much stomach acid. I took pantoprazole for 9 days to heal my stomach… she had prescribed two weeks but the side effects were HORRIBLE and so I stopped taking it early. I had a full GI ultrasound as well which nothing negative came from. I stopped the PPI, and three days later I felt fantastic… my stomach felt great – the side effects went away, my energy level went up and I thought I was over it all. This lasted 5 days, and then a variation of my previous pain and discomfort returned. The sharp pain has been gone, but general ache shows up in my stomach area, sometimes pain left of my belly button and I’m still very prone to major bloating. I read a great medical study on Iron Pill Induced Gastritis and thought there was a strong likelihood that my iron pills over the past 6 months caused this and a resulting ulcer or at least inflammation and my original pain. I do think the PPI’s and reducing stomach acid helped my stomach to heal. Interestingly enough, I have never had heartburn and still have not had a single episode… but for some time now I seem to be chronically clearing my throat (long before these stomach issues) and more recently (after the stomach issues), occasionally I’ll feel I have a “sore throat” and minor coughing with exhaling. I have had off and on sinus issues since I was a teenager, primarily showing through clogged ears which when really bad are helped with decongestants. This part brought me to look at LPR diagnosis as a possibility as well.

In my research and journey, I have wondered if I have H Pylori, an ulcer from iron pills as I mentioned, low acid, high acid, SIBO, Silent GERD/LPR, among other things. I am afraid to eat, and that’s not helping either cause I’m sure I’m causing more issues with my system. I’ve lost about 15 lbs in these 2 months.

For the past week, I have been taking probiotics and digestive enzymes along with a teaspoon of manuka honey in morning and evening. I have mastic gum and took it a few times but not regularly. This past weekend I picked up Slippery Elm and started that. As well I started taking vitamin D. I also picked up a low-dose of Betaine HCL (200mg in combination with enzymes) which I have been afraid to try (no idea why I feel so stressed about taking it). I just took it for the first time 90 mins ago with my high-protein lunch and have no ill effects an hour later except for usual/minor burping. I’m still bloated like crazy (I was already though from eating a few crackers for breakfast :-).

My next thought is to take the HCL again with dinner, not ready to up the dosage yet though but I will if needed.

I have learned so much through my research and this experience, and I really just wanted to share my experience in case it helped anyone else – even though I am sure I am not done with my journey quite yet. Thanks for listening :-).

Robin March 28, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Thanks Kim. I had no idea about iron pills causing gastritis.
Your story is interesting.
You are wise to feel cautious about taking an acid supplement. Make sure you don’t have an ulcer first. Also come off all NSAIDs. Betaine HCl (and other forms too) gave me my life back, but you do have to be aware of certain things. I like the book WHY STOMACH ACID IS GOOD FOR YOU. Hope you get it all straightened out and get back to feeling better.

Sakshi May 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

Hi I’m 19
I want to loose weight and i wanted to kno is taking HCl supplements a good idea….?
I don’t want anyside effects so could please suggest me what should i do….I’m very much frustrated from my fat and want to loose it as soon as possible…!!

Shaz July 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Hi, I am 24 and have been suffering with acne for 7 years. Slowly, every year I become intolerant to more and more foods. I have tried candida diet, vegetarian and nothing works. I believe I have low stomach acid due to all my symptoms: low energy, iron deficient, skin issues, always cold and get so depressed in the winter etc. I started taking HCL with pepsin and feeling confused on what my dose is supposed to be. I started taking 1, felt nothin, 2, nothing…. all the way up to 6, ate a high protein meal with tomatoes and it gave me serious heart burn. But when I ate the same meal with no tomatoes, I felt nothing with the same dose. So I continued doing this with meals without tomatoes. I got up to 12 and felt nothing and I am scared how far I should be going. I have felt no relief in symptoms, my skin is still bad, I am still so tired and cold and I do not know what to do. I am currently taking 8 with high protein meals without tomatoes just because…. please advise!! I am in need of serious help :(

lydia July 20, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Hi Shaz,

Honestly, I would stick with a lower dose, it’s more sustainable and it will help you – feeling the burn isn’t necessary and finding that dose via the burn is overkill and expensive long term. It’s better to rebuild the body with nutrition in general because we require many minerals to help us build strong stomach acid to begin with along with strong adrenal gland function.

So just stick with a couple per meal, and it sounds like maybe you should take a break on the tomatoes for now 😉

Hope that helps!

Mel August 5, 2016 at 10:19 am

Hello! I’ve been experiencing frequent belching shortly after meals and throughout the day, along with other symptoms you listed in the article.
I’m taking betaine with hcl before each protein meal and I’m confused whether or not belching shortly after shows signs of adequate gastric acid levels. I ask this because, again, I normally belch while eating and throughout the day. Should I focus on other signs to show when I should start weaning back the dosage?

I appreciate your time!!

lydia August 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm

There are other possible reasons for belching so it’s hard to say for sure why you are experiencing belching and other symptoms …that said, please take the betaine after you’ve eaten some food NOT before. If you experience any burning or warming from the HCl you can cut your dose back (if there is burning more than once I’d stop and speak to your practitioner before going any further).

Shane August 18, 2016 at 9:26 am

Well, where do I start…. I believe for me it began 6 years ago. I had an infection which required strong anti biotics criproflaxion. Suffered a long bout of constipation, after that my digestion was never the same. I acquired strange food intolerances, for example vitamin c in any form or from any source would cause psoriasis flare ups. They would show up on my fingers palms feet and genitals. When it first started happening I was at a loss I would supplement. With extra vitamins mainly vit c it started causing me huge amounts of joint pain.

Fast forward to beginning of 2016. The last four years I had just excepted that that was the way my body was it couldn’t handle C and I got along pretty well with out it. But from dec 2015 to April 2016 I drank in excess smoked , chewed tabbacco and ate what ever I pleased. I got to the point where I was taking 2-150 Zantac a day. With little or no relief. I realized had to stop drinking and clean up my diet. This didn’t help me enough was still having horrible reflux.

So I went to the doctor which I waited in line like a good little sheep 4 hrs later I was on my way with my ppi perscription for pantatprozole 40 mg twice daily. I could not get that pill in to me soon enough it was already in my mouth before I left the pharmacy. Followed by another Zantac. I took about two days but I finally found relief. I thought I was on the right track. But me being the Google searching person I am I began looking everything there was to look up on ppi’s. To my astonishment there was very little good about them. I understand that there is a time and a place and some people really need them. But it had been around 9 days I was on them and my throat was feeling G so I quit. I was good for the first three days. Then I was out to dinner with my fiancée and we had calimari and steak fairly late around 9:00. We got back to the hotel and wee where out by 1100. That night I woke up with one of the worst pains ever in my throat. The first time the acid had made it all the way up to my mouth. The following day was hell I couldn’t speak above a whisper it hurt too much. I caved it I went back to the ppis. What else could I do. This time it took longer to heal about three weeks for the pain in my esophagus to go away.

I stayed on it at 40mg twice a day for a month and a half then I finally got in for my consult with the gastro Doctor. Anyways I went in to his office I told him of the pain I had gone through and insisted I wanted a scope even though the pain had subsided. This was June 4 I told him that I need more pantaprozole because I was close to out. Told him my dose he said that’s a pretty high dose. So he proceded to write me a new perscription for 300 20 mg pills. And to take 2 a day. I had abit of trouble the first 2 weeks which I turned to gavascon for help. It worked great all of July was good for me I even got drunk acouple times with no percussion. Anyways I couldn’t shake the idea that ppis where bad for me. And I was doing so much reading online about low stomach acid. It sounded like me to a Tee. From the psoriasis food intolerances, constipation, burping to excess after eating heart burn which I still occasionally got if I over ate or indulged in things I new I shouldn’t.

I thought to myself what do I got to lose I went to the health food store and picked up some betaine HCL with Pepsin. I halfed my ppi dose to just 20 mg in the morning. I started off at 6 HCL with my breakfast pure protein 3 eggs and a bunch of back bacon. For the next 3 hrs I felt great no gas or burping like I’d normally get. Anyways I’ve been doing great for the last 10 days I feel like I’ve gotten my life back 2 days ago I quit all ppis. I also have taken a 500 mg vit c with absolutely no bad symptoms. There has been the of moment where I felt too acidy or maybe I just took to many HCL pills because I was playing with my dosage size but it was nothing one or two gavascon couldn’t extinguish. Anyways I just wanted to write this so everyone on he ppi merry go round would give betaine HCL with Pepsin a chance. It has given me hope for my future.

Leslie August 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Are you still feeling better with the hcl? I hope so

Jen September 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

How do you take hcl with pepsin and GB3 together? My practitioner wants me to take both but they seem to clash? I’m looking for answers / information if they can be used together. I used GB3 for over a year, had a second opinion and was told use Hcl to assist absorption of minerals and vitamins and protein. I have hidden copper toxicity and I like what gb3 is supposed to do (esp with adrenal fatigue). I’d like to use them together but don’t understand how to. My practitioner says put them together but dr Lawrence Wilson says only use GB3? Any thoughts or references for further information is appreciated.
Many thanks

Melissa November 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I just started taking Gastrazyme and Hydrozyme (HCl) at my chiropractor’s request to help with chronic GERD and some IBS. The Gastrazyme seems fine but with just one tab of the hydrozyme, my throat burns and I feel like all my worst GERD symptoms. Is this typical? I’m glad I didn’t start with the 3 tabs he recommended!
I’m new (and inherently skeptical) of the non-mainstream medicine but am allergic to PPIs and so willing to expand my horizon’s. Some more insight into what one might ‘feel’ when taking HCl would be helpful

lydia November 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm

If you have a past history of using any acid blockers or reducers you should not start with hydrozyme – spend time on the Gastrazyme for a month before reintroducing the hydrozyme. Also, a lot of people make the mistake of taking their hydrochloric acid before they have a full stomach – always take it after you have food in your stomach never before.

Kathleene Parker December 12, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I am a huge believer in HCL, but then, over-prescription of proton-pump inhibitors almost killed me! I was born, apparently, with low stomach acid and when I began having problems in came the GAStroenterologists with huge amounts of Nexium, etc. That I figured the cause of a, get this, 65-pound weight loss was my doing, not theirs.
But something else MUST BE CONSIDERED, for anyone having any symptoms like those above. PERNICIOUS ANEMIA! It’s a potential fatal blood disease, has many origins (including proton-pump inhibitors and gluten sensitivity), but it is one of the most UNDIAGNOSED AND IMPROPERLY DIAGNOSED ILLNESSES IN THE U.S. TODAY. Remember! Damaged stomach, poor B-12 absorption and YOU COULD DIE! Have B levels tested and if the doctor tells you to just go swallow some pills, get up and walk out! Severe cases require shots, others sublingual B-12 in methacabolomin form. But any severe B-12 problem or stomach problems and a broad-spectrum nutritional rebuilding may be required, PLUS rebuilding the stomach “to potential.” What I ain’t born with, I’m not gonna have, and I must adapt accordingly.

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