Contrary to popular belief, indigestion is usually caused by low stomach acid — also called hypochlorhydria — and it affects up to half of our population. Stomach acid, also known as hydrochloric acid (HCl), is a very powerful digestive agent and is extremely important for the following:
▪ To break down proteins into smaller molecules
▪ For your stomach to empty properly
▪ As a line of defense against pathogenic bacteria and yeast found in our food
▪ Your stomach needs an acid pH to absorb certain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, B12, selenium and boron
▪ To stimulate the pancreas and small intestines to produce digestive enzymes and bile to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If all your food is not broken down properly in your stomach this leads to problems further down in your digestive tract
Possible symptoms of low stomach acid:
▪ Bloating, belching, burning sensation, wind after meals
▪ Feeling particularly full after eating
▪ Indigestion/heartburn/acid reflux
▪ Burning sensation 30-40 minutes after eating
▪ Food allergies/intolerances
▪ Itching around the rectum
▪ Weak, peeling and cracking nails
▪ Thread veins around cheek and nose
▪ Acne/dry skin
▪ Iron deficient anemia/B12deficiency
▪ Hair loss in women
▪ Chronic fatigue
▪ Adrenal fatigue
▪ Autoimmune diseases
▪ Undigested food in your stools
▪ Gastric ulcers
▪ Low bone density
▪ Poor immunity
▪ Nutrient deficiencies
Some causes of low stomach acid:
▪ A diet rich in processed foods
▪ Mineral deficiency (certain minerals are needed for the production of HCL)
▪ Some medications
▪ Helicobacter Pylori infection–this infection neutralizes and decreases the secretion of HCL to aid its survival
▪ Low protein/high carbohydrate diet
▪ Aging – the production of HCL slows down as you age
▪ Underactive thyroid
▪ Zinc deficiency–this can be a catch 22 situation. You need zinc to make
stomach acid, but you need stomach acid to absorb zinc
▪ History of eating disorders
Test to see if your stomach acid may be too high or too low.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 4 – 6 ounces of cold water first thing in the morning BEFORE eating or drinking anything.
- Drink the baking soda solution.
- Time how long it takes you to belch.
- Time up to five minutes. If you have not belched within five minutes, stop timing.
- In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within 2 – 3 minutes.
- Early & repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution).
- Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.
Because the time frames can vary person-to-person, as well as how they drink the solutions, this test is only a good indicator that you might want to do more testing to determine your stomach acid.
If you have a positive test for low stomach acid, you need Betaine HCl. Here is the protocol to find your individual dose:
BETAINE HCL Dosage Protocol
Dosage of Betaine HCL can vary from person to person, depending on the level of stomach acid you presently have. For optimal results it is important to find your proper dosage. Please use the following steps to find that dosage:
- Start by taking 1 capsule of Betaine HCL after the FIRST BITE of EACH meal.
- Finish the meal as normal and observe your body for any changes in how your stomach feels. Things to look for: heaviness, hotness, burning or other GI stress. (If you experience these symptoms you will need to STOP the Betaine HCL for 2 weeks and take only the Digestive Enzymes. After 2 weeks you may test yourself again.)
- Stay at this dosage of 1 capsule per meal for 2 days. If you have no symptoms, increase to 2 capsules per meal for the next 2 days, again observing for any GI discomfort.
- Continue to increase the number of capsules by 1 every 2 days until you notice some discomfort as described in step # 2 or until you get to 6 capsules. Stay on 6 per meal & look for discomfort. May take several days.
- When you experience discomfort, your Betaine HCL dosage will be 1 capsule less than the dosage that caused discomfort. For example, you increased to 5 capsules with each meal and experienced discomfort your dosage will be 4 capsules per meal.