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.
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.
If you read my post, Digestion 101, you will see that digestion works from the north most part of our body and then 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 carbaholic. 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 a level of hypochlorhydria (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, 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.
How to Test Your Own Hydrochloric Acid Levels
Find a low dose hydrochloric acid supplement, such as this one from Biotics Research called Hydrozyme. This is the supplement I tested with and is only about 150mg of hydrochloric acid, the tablet has an outer layer of enzymes that dissolve first additionally aiding digestion. Find a meal time that you can sit and relax and not have to rush. Get a big glass of water, and your hydrochloric acid supplement. Start eating your meal, make sure your meal contains adequate protein, and after a few bites take one tablet or capsule. Continue doing this, a bite or two of food, chew slowly, then another capsule, until you get a warming sensation in your stomach. You can take up to 15 or so of a low dose HCL supplement, but don’t go beyond that. If at any time your stomach literally is in pain or hurts, stop right away. It is likely you have some ulcerations that need to be healed before you can continue supplementing with HCL. To help soothe the burning, drink some Aloe Vera Juice, water or even some bone broth. (*Note this is rare, can happen if you have been on Acid blockers for a long period of time, and is not harmful to your health). Once you have the warming sensation, note how many capsules you took, total the amount of milligrams and your dose will be minus one capsules worth. So if you get a 150 mg like I had and find the warming sensation at 10 capsules, you dose would be around 1350 mg. This may not be exact, as you may want to go ahead and find a higher dose of HCL so you don’t have to swallow so many pills at mealtimes. Also, look for a supplement that contains some pepsin as well. To give you an example, I am taking Biotics Research Betaine Plus HP, which contains 700 mg. of betaine hydrochloride and 10 mg of pepsin, 2 capsules at each meal. (I was taking 3 and I know people that thought they are overall very healthy that had to take up to 7 of that dose.)
If by chance, after 15 capsules you did not feel a thing at all – then you REALLY need HCL. Go ahead and start with a dose based on the 15 capsules. The only contraindication for taking HCL would be if you have any kind of ulcerations in your stomach – you will feel that instantly in a low dose of trying out HCL. If that happens just know you have some healing to do before you can take supplemental HCL. Trying this once won’t harm your ulcer, but it will burn, so if you know you have ulcers of any kind do not try this test. Work on healing your stomach lining first.
Take your HCL dose with every meal and every snack, especially if it contains protein. Continue doing this until you feel the warming sensation again, then cut your dose by one capsule. Keep this cycle up until you no longer need supplemental HCL, but maybe want to keep some low dose HCL around to see how things are from time to time. The dose will vary for everyone, and the rate of healing will vary as well. The cool thing is, you will begin to make a huge shift in how your digestion overall works and likely will see that you are getting more regular and having less digestive issues as a whole. This is a crucial first step for anyone wanting to heal their gut health, remember digestion works north to south. Don’t forget to eat in a relaxed state and chew your food well (30 times per bite if possible). Those three things can go a long way to helping you clean up your digestive health.
If you’d like to read more about the issue of Low Stomach Acid, I would highly recommend checking out the book; ‘Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You’, by Jonathan Wright MD
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on Digestion and Acid Reflux………
Have you ever supplemented with Hydrochloric Acid? If so, what was your experience? Feel free to share in the comments………
Lydia Joy Shatney is certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is a co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.
Lydia offers specialized one-on-one counseling for those that are looking to transform their health through dietary advice (both food and supplements), learning cooking techniques, shopping guidance, as well as fitness inspiration and self-empowerment. These personal consultations are tailored to suit your specific needs and can be done over the phone, Skype or in person. Lydia will work with you in person locally or long distance across the globe. Lydia currently offer 3 & 6 month packages. In these packages you will receive phone consultations, email support, food journal evaluations, a thorough nutritional assessment, lots of handouts, supplement recommendations for your specific needs, information, recipes, tips, cooking ‘how to’s’ and more. Contact Lydia to sign up for your free initial consult call today!