September 29

How to Safely Increase Stomach Acid Naturally

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Introduction - How to Safely Increase Stomach Acid Naturally

If you have made diet and lifestyle changes but are still having symptoms like heartburn, burping, excessive gas or nausea shortly after eating then you may need to address balancing your stomach acid to a higher level. Below we will tell you how to safely increase stomach acid naturally.

Low stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria), is a commonly overlooked problem that is linked to diseases such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Celiac Disease, leaky gut, stomach cancer, asthma, dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis. More than 90% of people have inadequate levels of stomach acid.

What You Will Learn

  • Low stomach acid is the underlying cause of many digestive system ailments
  • Why does acid reflux medicine work for you if acid reflux is caused by too little stomach acid?
  • Natural remedies to increase your stomach acid naturally
  • How to safely increase your stomach acid – in 5 steps
  • Sufficient stomach acid (HCl) is required for protein digestion in the gastrointestinal tract.

    But Isn't Too Much Stomach Acid the Problem?

    It took me years to come to terms with the fact that heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are caused by low stomach acid when common sense and the TV commercials told me that heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are all caused by excess stomach acid!

    And I guess I’m not alone. Americans spent over $16 billion on acid reflux medication last year alone. Are we all wrong? In most cases, YES!


    Low Stomach Acid Causes Acid Reflux

    When I first heard that low stomach acid was the cause of my acid reflux my first thought was, then why do antacid tablets, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 Blockers work for me?

    What I failed to realize is that many of the symptoms of low stomach acid and excess stomach acid are the same.

    In order for your food to be properly digested and the nutrients absorbed your stomach must be highly acidic. If you have acid reflux, GERD, heartburn, leaky gut, or IBS; these are all indicators of low stomach acid. The normal pH for a healthy stomach is 1.5 to 3.5 (Note: the lower the pH number, the higher the acidity).


    Consequences of Low Stomach Acid (Hypochlorhydria)

    • Low stomach acid causes acid reflux two ways.
      1. Stomach acid should increase when food is ingested. The increased stomach acid trigger the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to close tightly. If you have insufficient stomach acid the LES will remain slightly open.
       
      2. Low stomach acid will decrease the digestion of foods causing them to ferment and bloat the stomach. This added pressure will force stomach contents past the partially open LES and into the esophagus.

    • Wіthоut аdеԛuаtе acid, you cannot properly break dоwn рrоtеіnѕ into аmіnо acids. Lасk оf amino асіdѕ іn thе bloodstream mеаnѕ lеѕѕ available neurotransmitters whісh саn mean mооd dіѕоrdеrѕ lіkе depression. Thіѕ рооr protein dіgеѕtіоn can аlѕо lead to hаіr lоѕѕ аnd brіttlе nаіlѕ.

    • Low stomach асіd fosters іmbаlаnсеd gut flora. Pаthоgеnіс and food borne bасtеrіа, usually kіllеd by thе low ѕtоmасh рH, саn make their wау іntо thе іntеѕtіnеѕ. Furthеr, lасk of acidity іn the ѕtоmасh mаkеѕ іt more hospitable tо bacterial growth. Lоw ѕtоmасh асіd саn pave the way for аn H. Pylori infection.

    • Hуросhlоrhуdrіа lеаdѕ tо nutrient malabsorption. Sресіfісаllу, whеn proteins аrеn’t fullу brоkеn dоwn, B12 аbѕоrрtіоn іѕ dіѕruрtеd. Folate аnd nоnhеmе іrоn absorption are also аffесtеd bу lоw stomach асіd. 
      Inаdеԛuаtе ѕtоmасh асіd оftеn mеаnѕ соnѕtіраtіоn, bloating, gаѕ аnd bеlсhіng. Wіth inadequate acid, fооd ѕіtѕ іn thе ѕtоmасh аnd putrefies instead of bеіng рrореrlу dіgеѕtеd.


    • Leaky gut and thеrеfоrе, fооd allergies саn result. Imрrореrlу dіgеѕtеd ѕtаrсhеѕ fоѕtеr the оvеrgrоwth оf pathogenic bacteria lоwеr in thе ѕmаll intestine. Thеѕе орроrtunіѕtіс bugѕ саuѕе the junсtіоnѕ bеtwееn intestinal cells tо lооѕеn, creating a соndіtіоn саllеd leaky gut. Undigested proteins аnd оthеr fооd particles escape іntо thе blооdѕtrеаm through these сеll gарѕ. Then, fооd аllеrgіеѕ dеvеlор as the body rеасtѕ bу сrеаtіng antibodies tо thеѕе fоrеіgn раrtісlеѕ іn the blооd.

    Steps to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    Please consult your doctor before trying any of these in case you have any underlying condition or are on other medication that could cause adverse reactions for you. 

    WARNING: If you are currently taking Proton Pump Inhibitors or H2 Blockers, don’t attempt Step 1 or Step 3 until you have successfully weaned off of them. Do not attempt to wean yourself off of these medications on your own. Get advice from your doctor on how to do this safely. The last thing you want to experience is a rebound in gastric acid production.

    Listed below are 5 steps to increase your stomach acid naturally. Please don’t attempt to make these lifestyle changes all at once. Try the first step for a week or so, then add the next and try those together for a week or two. Over time add the remaining steps always monitoring how you feel. 


    STEP 1: Take Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Before High Protein Meals

    Apple cider vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar can increase your stomach acid relieving heartburn

    A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar either mixed in a glass of water or followed by a glass of water seems to help the majority of people. Take this about 20-30 minutes prior to eating a meal containing protein.

    Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great natural remedy for low stomach acid because ACV is has a very low pH and can balance a high pH stomach to a lower level. I’m not a big fan of the taste of ACV – at the end, I have listed a recipe that will make taking ACV a more tolerable.

    STEP 2: Take Digestive Enzymes With Your Meals

    Along with your ACV, you can also take digestive enzymes. There are many different brands. Look for a blend that contains these ingredients: Pectin, Lipase, Bromelain, Papaya, Tumeric, and Fennel. 

    These are all natural ingredients that aid in digestion, reduce stomach bloating, and enhance stomach emptying. Follow the directions on the label but in general 1-2 capsules taking prior to or immediately after meals should be sufficient. You will not need to do this forever, just until your stomach acid levels are balanced to normal levels.

    STEP 3: Take Betaine Hydrochloride (HClBefore High Protein Meals

    WARNING: Do not take Betaine HCl if you are currently taking acid reflux medication. Do not take Betaine HCl if you are taking any anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids, aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other NSAIDsThese drugs can damage the stomach lining, and Betaine could aggravate this problem.  

    I’ve had fantastic results taking Betaine HCl. I went through the protocol I’ve covered elsewhere on this site, and I was able to balance my stomach acid very quickly. Follow this protocol to safely determine how many you should take.

    A good rule of thumb is to start with one pill with each big meal you eat and stay at that for a few days. After a few days start taking two pills, repeat the process until you find the number of pills that cause digestive distress then back off by one pill. Also, avoid drinking liquid (especially water) while eating, try only to sip but drink as much as you want between meals.

    I started off needing 3 capsules and gradually reduced to just one. I’m still using my original bottle and only take it rarely now; just if I’m going to eat a large high protein meal with lots of fat.

    Betaine With Pepsin

    Some Betaine formulations also contain Pepsin. My recommendation is to purchase Betaine and digestive enzymes separately because chances are that you will take the enzymes after you no longer need to take Betaine. If you also have LPR it is not a good idea to take pepsin.

    Betaine With Fenugreek

    I buy Betaine that also contains Fenugreek. Fenugreek soothe the gastrointestinal tract by providing mucilage to calm down inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestines. Personaly I didn't find the Fenugreek to be noticably beneficial. 

    STEP 4: Take a Teaspoon Manuka Honey

    Manuka honey comes from New Zealand; it is antimicrobial, so it can help fight microbial overgrowth (bad bacteria) in the stomach that can occur when you have low stomach acid. Manuka honey also promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

    I recommend taking a teaspoon just before bedtime – it tastes great, and the extra carbs will help you sleep. 

    STEP 5: Make Some Lifestyle Changes

    I’ll break this down into Permanent changes and Temporary changes you just need to make until you have balanced your stomach acid levels.

    Permanent Lifestyle Changes to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    1. Chew Your Food Thoroughly
      Chewing your food is the first step in digestion. Smaller pieces of food mixed with saliva will be digested much quicker. Chew each mouthful at least thirty times before swallowing. This will help you lose body fat effortlessly. It takes about twenty minutes for the vagus nerve to tell your brain that you have eaten enough. Start with a salad or soup and then have your main meal ten minutes later and slow your eating so that it takes twenty minutes to finish your meal you will not be hungry but will feel satisfied.

    2. Eat Smaller Meals (Eat Less)
      Smaller meals are easier on the digestive process. If your stomach is constantly digesting food, it has no opportunity to heal. Consider reducing meal sizes or even trying intermittent fasting.

    3. If You are Overweight, Lose Body Fat
      Notice I say lose body fat and not lose weight. A lot of people just want to lose weight and go on a hyper-restrictive, calorie reduced diet. As a result, they do lose a lot of weight, but over 50% of that loss is muscle. This lowers their metabolism, requiring further restriction to continue losing weight.

      Extreme calorie restriction can’t be maintained for long so when they go off the diet, all the weight comes back as exclusively fat. Even if they now weigh the same as before they started, they are fatter than before because the muscle never came back and their metabolism is lower than before.

      If you have more than 20% body fat (for men) or 25% (for women) reducing your fat levels will have a profound impact on your health and longevity. 

    4. Don’t Lie Down After Eating
      I’m sure most of you have had acid reflux shortly after going to bed. Gravity helps the LES keep your food in the stomach but lying on your right side removes this advantage, putting the esophagus and the opening to the stomach at the same level. The least bit of stomach bloating will easily push your stomach contents past your LES and into your esophagus. If you have no choice but to lie down, lie on your left side or get one of those wedge pillows.

    5. Be Conscious of Your Posture
      The biggest breakthrough for me in the battle against acid reflux was discovering the effect of posture on this awful disease. I find that if I feel heartburn coming on, I can stop it immediately just by straightening up my posture. Poor posture can also put the LES at a disadvantage for keeping your stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. Maintaining good posture will correct this almost immediately. Read more about this Here.

    Temporary Lifestyle Changes to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    1. Intermittent Fasting
      I won’t go into much detail about this. The benefits are immense and how to do it is all over the internet – just search intermittent fasting. Basically, you will go 16 hours without eating – this includes the hours you are asleep, so it's not so bad. Don’t try to do this right away. The easiest way I’ve found is to gradually wait an extra hour every few days until I have postponed breakfast to 1:00 pm. You’ll be surprised how great you feel after doing this for a few weeks.

    2. Avoid Trigger Foods
      Everyone who suffers from acid reflux should have a pretty good idea of what triggers acid reflux for them. Avoid these until you have your stomach acid balanced. Then you can gradually reintroduce some of your favorites back into your diet. There may still be some that trigger your acid reflux even then, but it’s unlikely. Read more about Trigger Foods Here.

    3. Stop Drinking Shortly Before Eating And While You Are Eating
      Drinking water, especially cold water, before or while eating will dilute your stomach acid counteracting your efforts to increase your stomach acid levels. Drinking alcohol or carbonated drinks will also dilute your stomach with the added bonus of causing additional stomach bloating.

    RECIPE: The Balance Your Stomach Acid Drink

    A few minutes prior to eating a high protein meal drink this.

    To a glass add:

    • 1-2 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 4 ounces of grapefruit juice
    • 1 teaspoon of Manuka Honey
    • (Optional) Add a tincture of Swedish Bitters

    Mix thoroughly by hand or in a blender and drink just prior to eating a high protein meal.


    Summary Of How To Increase Stomach Acid Naturally

    If you have acid reflux or GERD, the best thing you can do is rebalance your stomach acid. This can be done safely using natural ingredients:

    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Digestive Enzymes
    • Betaine HCl
    • Manuka Honey
    • Lifestyle Changes.

    References

    1. "Hypochlorhydria - lack of stomach acid - can cause lots of problems" 16 Jan. 2015  http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/hypochlorhydria_-_lack_of_stomach_acid_-_can_cause_lots_of_problems


    Disclaimer

    The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.

    Low Stomach Acid is the Main Cause of Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

    Please Leave a Comment

  • Hi, Thank you for creating this highly informative website. I have been experiencing gradual weight loss since the time I started having acid reflux, did you have to deal with weight loss as well? I’ve just started following the remidies on the site and they seem to be working. Can I expect to gain my weight back?

    • Hi Lucas, I’m glad you find the site helpful and informative. All the articles are based on what I did to successfully cure myself of GERD. I never experienced weight loss as a result of GERD but I’m sure I wasn’t absorbing the nutrients from my food. Have you tried supplementing your high protein meals with betaine HCl? That was the turning point for me. I have been GERD from now for over 5 years mainly because of Betaine HCl. Posture was a lifestyle change that also helped. You may find my articles on Betaine and Posture helpful.
      Thanks for your comment
      Dave

      • David, thanks for replying. I’ve not started with Betaine yet but will definitely do it asap. So far, taking ACV has given me amazing results. So what I’m wondering now is which has worked better for you? ACV or Betaine?

        • Hi Lucas, I’m glad ACV worked for you. It did nothing for me. Plus I hated taking it – didn’t like the taste and I was concerned about its acidity on my tooth enamel. A lot of my tooth enamel is already gone from having acid reflux (for 40 years) so I did not want to make it worse. On the other hand Betaine was like a miracle for me. I started with taking 2 capsules with my largest meal and gradually increased the dosage every other day until I found the correct dosage for me. Within a few weeks of taking Betaine all of my GERD symptoms disappeared and after 5 years I am still GERD and symptom free. Before taking Betaine I had heartburn daily and reflux two to three times per week. It took a few weeks to find the correct dosage for me. As my stomach started producing more acid on its own I was able to reduce my dosage of Betaine until I only take it occasionally now – like every few months. A bottle of Betaine now lasts me over a year. I do not take Pepsin.

          It’s funny, when I discovered Betaine I wasn’t looking for a cure for my GERD. I’ve lifted weights since I was 14 (I’m 65 now) and always took protein supplements after my workouts. I watched a video on a bodybuilding website that explained that as we get older our bodies can’t absorb protein supplements as well. His solution was to take Betaine HCl. I’d never heard of it at the time. So I tried it. I don’t know if I’m absorbing more of my protein supplements but it sure helped my GERD. I hope this info helps you.
          Best Regards
          Dave

  • I have a very bad leaky gut over the yrs I have tried to get better , but still very sick ,!I have stopped eating so many foods . Last wk I tried Beataine HCl with pepsin but have headache painful muscles and terrible gerd , I’m not sure what to do to help myself .I would like to read more from information from you.

    • Hi Christine, I have never experience leaky gut but the research I have done indicates that it may be caused by insufficient digestion of meat due to low stomach acid. In order for Betaine to work effectively you must find the proper dosage for you. This is a personal thing – everyone is different. I would recommend taking Betaine without Pepsin. I never found any benefit from taking Pepsin and if you have LPR (Silent Reflux) Pepsin can make it worse. I would suggest reading my article on Betaine HCl. I hope it helps you. Please let me know if you have additional questions about taking Betaine after you read the article: https://theacidrefluxsolution.com/betaine-hcl-the-simplest-solution-to-acid-reflux-disease-and-gerd/
      It’s also very important to maintain good posture. Bad posture can make GERD worse.
      Thanks for your comments
      Dave

    • Hi Naela, thank you for your question. I don’t think it’s necessary to take digestive bitters if you are taking Betaine. It is safe to do so. I would suggest taking the Betaine immediately after your meal. Hope this helps. Dave

    • Hi Vic, thanks for your question.
      I can’t recommend a cookbook for acid reflux because I never used one. I’ve heard the Acid Watchers Cookbook is good but to me, it’s the wrong approach. The problem is not the food or your diet. A low acid diet might be useful temporarily until you get your stomach acid increased to normal levels but after that, you will be able to eat/f]drink whatever you want.

      If you have had acid reflux for a while you probably already know what foods trigger it for you. Avoid these triggers while you increase your stomach acid using Betaine HCl. This will take about 3-4 weeks for most people.

      Here are some articles that will help you:
      https://theacidrefluxsolution.com/betaine-hcl-the-simplest-solution-to-acid-reflux-disease-and-gerd/
      https://theacidrefluxsolution.com/foods-you-should-avoid-if-you-have-gerd-and-why/

      If you decide to try Betaine HCl, make sure you take it after your meal rather than before the meal. Taking it before the meal will still help but for best results, it’s best to take Betaine immediately following the meal. In fact, I have had great results taking it an hour or two after the meal when I have forgotten to take it and it works very well. The reason for this is when food enters the stomach the parietal cells of the stomach start to produce stomach acid. If the Betaine has already been ingested the stomach may not be triggered to create its own stomach acid. Taking it after will supplement your natural stomach acid. Just make sure you determine your correct dosage of Betaine by gradually increasing the amount. All this is in the article. Don’t take Betaine if you have an ulcer!

      It drives me crazy when I read about people with acid reflux worrying about the acidity or alkalinity of foods – there is no food that can alter stomach acid levels. I guess apple cider vinegar is probably the closest, but it just helps temporarily and tastes awful and is very hard on your tooth enamel. It seems to only help with mild cases of acid reflux.
      Foods that trigger acid reflux either irritate the LES or cause stomach bloating – the acidity of the food has nothing to do with it.

      Hope this helps
      Dave

  • Hi,
    Can taking anti anxieties cause low stomach acid and therefore SIBO? I’ve been under crazy chronic stress for about 15 years. I have been diagnosed with SIBO, joint pain and GERD ( which one doc said fibromyalgia) but herbal bitters kills my stomach. All of this started immediately when I weaned off the anti anxieties ( venlavaxine). I am certain I have a higher PH in my stomach but where do I start as my naturopath thinks that taking Thorne Biogest will hurt me as my stomach lining is most likely thin?!
    Thanks.

  • hello,
    I have been struggling with low stomach acid for a while, I think too much caffeine and stress possibly brought it on, I am just starting out with enzymes and Bentaine HCL with pepsin, as well as switching to decaf and relaxing on the hot sauce. Hoping to see improvement soon. Do I take enzymes with every meal, even a smoothie or salad? and if i have protein with every meal (ex: eggs for breakfast, tuna for lunch and steak for dinner) do i take the Bentaine HCL with pepsin with all three meals?

    and my final question- even with a calorie deficit I have been struggling to lose weight, I always feel very bloated and switch back and forth from constipation and diarrhea, as well as having auto immune flares more than ever before since beginning to have low stomach acid issues. –Is it possible I am holding on to weight like water weight from this? Not sure why I cant “release” some weight?

    Desperate to cure myself of low stomach acid as I am sure it is the cause of my auto immune diseases flaring when I’ve been in remission for quite some time. I am in physio to correct my posture as well as taking cultured coconut at night and fasting.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Paula,
      Thanks for leaving a comment. So caffeine and stress will not reduce your stomach acid. Low stomach acid does not occur rapidly. Stomach acid reduction is natural and occurs at a rate of about 1% per year throughout your life. I don’t know your age but let’s say you are 40, which means, on average, your stomach is producing 40% (40×1%) less stomach acid than the optimal level needed to properly digest protein. Despite what many people state on the internet, food and liquid have no influence on the amount of stomach acid someone has. These so-called acidic foods do not increase the acidity of stomach acid. Too bad, because that would solve the problem. The reason these foods cause acid reflux is that they take longer to digest, the food ferments, giving off gas, which causes bloating and the pressure from the bloating forces food back up through the LES into the esophagus. The LES can’t remain closed tightly enough because there is insufficient stomach acid to trigger it to stay closed tightly. Sufficient stomach acid is required to keep the LES closed.

      You should take Betaine with every meal containing protein, including eggs, tuna, steak, etc. Eggs were always one of my biggest triggers and if I also had bacon with them, it was a disaster for me before I knew about Betaine. It’s not necessary to take Betaine with smoothies or salads. I recommend taking Betaine HCl immediately after the meal rather than before. Even now, when I occasionally feel like my food is not digesting and will take Betaine 2 hours after I’ve eaten. The feeling goes away after about 10 minutes. This happens to me about every 4-5 months now. That’s as often as I take it now.

      Regarding enzymes with every meal, I don’t think it is necessary. Once you increase your stomach acid sufficiently, your stomach will produce these enzymes naturally. When food enters the stomach the stomach is triggered to start producing enzymes. The stomach acid also triggers the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to close tightly, keeping stomach contents where they belong, in the stomach. Also, be aware, if you have LPR (silent reflux) pepsin can make your symptoms worse.

      I’m not experienced enough to comment on failing to lose weight in a calorie deficit. From what I have read, when this occurs, it’s 1. either that the calories are underestimated or 2. the deficit is not enough to cause a loss in weight. A reduction of 300-350 calories per day is the usual recommendation. Do not exceed this number or you will lose muscle mass instead of fat. You could also try and increase your metabolism. Most people don’t realize what that means. They think metabolism is some magical thing they can acquire by eating different foods or aerobics. Metabolism is all about the amount of muscle you have. If you increase your muscle mass you increase your metabolism. Resistance exercise is best for increasing muscle mass. Muscle causes your body to burn more calories while you do nothing – this is metabolism. My apologies if you already know all of this.

      Posture can have a big impact on reducing acid reflux. I have worked at a computer for 8-10 hours a day since 1985. I was a terrible sloucher. When I finally figured out that this can simulate a hiatal hernia I became more conscious of my posture. I found that when I felt heartburn coming on, I could reverse it just by sitting or standing up straight. Posture is very important for proper digestion. Also, be aware of sleeping positions. Always sleep on your left side. This anatomically puts the stomach in a lower position that the LES so gravity can help the LES keep your stomach contents from backing up into your throat. Avoid sleeping on your right side or your back – this puts the LES at a disadvantage.

      I cannot comment on autoimmune diseases. There may be a relationship with GERD; I don’t know.

      Sorry for rambling on, I wanted to address all of your questions, I hope this helps you.
      Dave

  • Hi there. Thanks for this article. I took the baking soda test with no response so got some Betaine Hcl. I am vegan and my proteins are in my grains or beans etc. but I still have pain after eating. I was having terrible stomach pain at night and bloating. Taking 1-2 BetaineHcl pills helped me feel better so I will probably continue. My acupuncturist told me to stop eating raw food and I will try this for awhile. My question is if I take too little and still have pain can I take another pill even hours after eating? My pain Sometimes doesn’t start until hours after eating. My doctor just wanted me to take Prilosec but it’s made with gelatin capsules which is an animal product soi can’t take it. I just ordered some bitters today and hope to use this soon.

    • Hi Val, Did you determine your optimal dose of Betaine? You have to gradually ramp up the dose until you feel a slight burning or warm sensation in your stomach. When this happens you have exceeded your maximum dose and should back off by one capsule at your next meal. This sensation is more annoying than painful and feels nothing like heartburn. You can get rid of this feeling by taking a half teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water. Repeat every 20 minutes until its gone.

      I would avoid Prilosec or any other antacid meds. These drugs just treat the symptoms and don’t help with the underlying cause, which is low stomach acid. You can take another pill hours after eating. I don’t need to take Betaine regularly anymore but will take it hours after I eat if my meal doesn’t seem to be digesting quickly enough and I find this works well. This only happens every 6 months or so. I hope this helps. Read the new article I’ve posted on Betaine HCl for more info.

  • Hello,

    About 3 weeks ago, i felt like i had phlegm in the back of my throat. I had been cleaning so i wasnt sure if it was the dust causing it. This persisted to the following week, where i started to feel my mouth becoming dry and excessive saliva in my mouth followed by a constant burning if you will. I felt some chest tightness later on and then after that some burning under my breastbone which i then alluded to maybe being acid reflux. I am on my 8th day of nexium today. No significant changes and my burning sometimes feels worse now especially in my mouth. I have elevated the bed but whenever i wake up my mouth feels really dry. Does this sound like gerd? Also, if take the baking soda test now will it show low stomach acid because i have been taking the nexium?

    I am supposed to see a GI this week.

    • I would suggest stopping the Nexium as soon as you can. Do not stop cold turkey; gradually reduce the dosage until you no longer need them. If you get heartburn while you are weening off keep some Tums or other OTC antacids handy in case you get heartburn. Avoid suffering while getting off the drugs. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn for you. After beeing off the drugs for a week or so do the baking soda test for three mornings in a row. I can pretty much guarantee you will show low stomach acid. Get some Betaine HCl and determine your optimal dosage. Read my latest article on how to properly take Betaine. Ask your GI if he will test your stomach acid levels. I doubt he will agree to do this. It’s much easier for him to prescribe medication.

      If you increase your stomach acid to the optimal level your symptoms should disapper in a few weeks. Eventually you will no longer need to take Betaine regularly and will be able to go back to eating/drinking anything you want. Follow the protocol in my Betaine article to find your proper dosage. This is different for everyone and has to cusom tailored to the individual. Try sleeping on your left side rather than on your back. Do not sleep on your right side. Also be conscious of your posture when standing or sitting. Slouching can simulate hiatal hernia and cause GERD-like symptoms, especially after eating. I hope this helps.

  • Hi David,

    This was a very interesting article. I want to share my story as it may help other people who have had similar symptoms to me. Prior to March of this year I was a healthy 28 year old male with no major medical conditions or stomach conditions. However I went through a stressful period and between that and a mix of too much exercise, not enough rest and a bad experience with anti-anxiety medication given to me by my GP I developed stomach inflammation. At the time I didn’t know anything about what my condition was and it took me a visit to my local emergency department to even figure out it was my stomach. My GP told me to take Pantoprazole and didn’t explain anything about the medication or recommend I change anything in my diet and lifestyle. Unsurprisingly this alone did not help much at all and it took me two full months along with trial and error diet adjustments for the pain to settle, although I never felt 100% on the medication.

    As you can imagine it has taken me a long time to work through all this, starting from a place of complete ignorance, and mostly done while living in chronic pain. I first failed to come off the medication after about 2 and a half months. I stopped cold turkey and experienced terrible acid rebound. Having no idea what it was at the time and in a lot of pain I went back on Pantoprazole after 10 days. The worst part was I started getting symptoms I never had previously, such as severe acid reflux, indigestion and a burning pain radiating towards my back in the upper right.

    However, after going back onto the medication for a second time and further changes to my diet and lifestyle, along with basically giving up on exercise altogether due to a fear of stomach acid I started noticing symptoms of indigestion while I was on the medication. My GP told me to try reducing my dose, which helped, but only temporarily. It has been an absolutely mind boggling process to figure out that I have actually ended up suffering symptoms of low stomach acid when originally I definitely had high stomach acid. The second time around I was on Pantoprazole for just over a month, slowly reducing my dosage, and I am now two weeks clear of medication. It has also been extremely confusing, because for about a week after I took my last dose I definitely had high stomach acid and then between day 7 and day 9 my stomach acid just crashed. It almost seemed like I was just getting worse again for some unexplained reason, until I began investigating my symptoms a bit further and putting the low stomach acid idea to the test.

    When I had high stomach acid, my main symptoms were stomach pain, especially when eating certain foods and some indigestion and acid reflux during times where I was coming off of my medication. My trigger foods generally included spicy, acidic, fatty and salty foods. The key difference I noticed when I think my stomach acid crashed was being unable to eat protein at all, having severe reactions to plain chicken and painful indigestion that lasted for up to 8 hours in some cases, when I was able to eat it without too many issues even a few days earlier. The other key indicator for me was the ineffectiveness of antacid medications, when before they were giving me relief, instead there was no relief. I also developed severe constipation during this time which has been another key indicator for me. Previously, if anything I have been more prone to diarrhea.

    I have tried many of the solutions on the internet, but for me digestive enzymes made my constipation worse. I may have had more success with different enzymes, the one I took had amylase in it which can make stool more difficult to pass. Regardless, while it did help my indigestion slightly, it made my constipation worse. I have not had much success with apple cider vinegar either. By far and away the most successful thing I have tried is the Swedish Bitters, when taken before meals I have found to help with digestion significantly. I am only taking it once a day mainly due to fear of side effects. I am probably unintentionally doing intermittent fasting as well due to the way I am eating. I am going to start trying to exercise again and reducing sugar in my diet too. I hope my stomach with readjust within the next couple of weeks. I wish luck to everyone dealing with similar symptoms and ppi medications, as it has been the most challenging 6 months of my life.

  • Hi:
    I am certain that my stomach has very low stomach acid. I have been taking HCL supplements. I take the HCL in the middle of the meal. Usually, I feel no issues at the time that I take the HCL……perhaps a little heavniess or bloating….slight. However, several hours later, 3-4 hours after eating, I begin having digestive discomfort throughout parts of my stomach….particularly the lowest area of my stomach. I also have been having consistent nausea since I began taking the pills. The nausea is usually minor enough for me to fight through it, however, at times it is stronger. I have been taking between 650-1300 mg of Betaine HCL with pepsin with my meals. All of my meals have at least 5 to 6 ounces of protein, however, I know these symptoms are being caused be the HCL. What do you suggest. This has been occurring for about 2 weeks. I was hoping that my body would adjust to the supplement. Perhaps my stomach lining does not have enough mucus? or perhaps I am dealing with SIBO. Why might I be dealing with nausea and stomach cramping/discomfort 4 hours after the supplement, but not within the immediate time after taking it.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Hi Mike,
      You may be taking too much Betaine. Try cutting back gradually until you no longer get the digestive discomfort. Your need for Beatine supplementation will lessen as your body’s ability to create acid on its own improves. After about 6 weeks I was able to start cutting back on my dosage. I rarely need to take it anymore. I will take one capsule if I am eating a large steak (16oz). I sometimes go for months without taking any. It may be easier if you find smaller capsules – I’m assuming you are using 650mg caps. I use 500mg caps but I have seen some brands that are only 250mg. The smaller capsules make it easier to adjust dosages. I’m also wondering if you are taking any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or cortisone-like drugs. Betaine should not be used when taking either of these.

      I hope this helps.
      Dave

      • Hi Dave,

        QUICK BACKGROUND
        I have rheumatoid arthritis 20 years now, and a year ago diagnosed with non dysplasia short segment Barrett’s oesophagus & moderately severe erosive and ulcerative oesophagus – However my stomach and duodenum and villous pattern are all normal. For years I have researched RA and GERD and consulted with holistic doctors etc. I don’t like the idea of taking multiple drugs and use a lot of natural methods. I am resisting taking ppi every day for the rest of my life as advised by gp, as I believe I have low stomach acid from years of nsaid use and I am convinced that ppi’s are a bad drug.

        Due to many efforts both natural (diet, curcumin, fish oil, cbd oil on prescription) and minimal mainstream medicine, my RA is under control (methotrexate once a month is as low doseage as I have gotten so far and I’m aiming to stop altogether eventually) with normal bloods for years showing no RA indicators – but I was still getting joint pain until I cut out tomatoes, oranges, processed food, sugar, gluten etc.

        I’ve been having smaller meals and I exercise regularly both resistance and aerobic. I still get gastric reflux, huge stomach bloating and burping and diarrhoea but it’s reduced with these changes. I take 100mg of celebrex once a week usually.

        QUESTION

        My question is can I take a Betaine Hydrochloride and pepsin with my food. I believe I have low stomach acid? If not is there another natural alternative to raise my acid level and aid digestion and reduce bloating and burping. I tried apple cider but it had a fast reaction of making me get very light headed and nauseous. Any advice you could kindly provide would be greatly appreciated.

        Thanks, Wendy

  • Hi!
    I took the baking soda test a few times to test for low stomach acid and I didn’t burp at all. And I usually have heartburn and reflux symptoms about 30 minutes to an hour after I eat. Recently I’ve been experimenting with Betaine Hcl. So far I’ve gotten up to 5, but still no warming feeling. Although I do still get heartburn/reflux about an hour after I eat. Does that maybe mean I took too much or not enough, since I’m still getting heartburn? Or does it just take awhile to see substantial results?
    Thank You!

    • Hi Danielle,
      Thanks for the great question. If you are still getting heartburn after eating then you are not taking enough Betaine. If you take too much Betaine the symptoms are a warm or a slight burning sensation in your stomach. This feels nothing like heartburn. On the internet, there are some articles that tell you to take Betaine about 20 minutes before your meal. Do not do this. Take the Betaine halfway through or at the end of your meal. Taking before a meal can cause false heartburn and will actually turn off the natural production of stomach acid. This will lead to improper digestion and of course heartburn after the meal. Taking it so early can also cause you to lose your appetite.

      Have you noticed any improvement at all from taking Betaine? If not it may be because you haven’t found your proper dose yet. Continue to increase your dosage gradually (take one additional Betaine capsule each day) until you feel the slight burning sensation. When this happens reduce your dosage by one capsule at your next meal and continue that dosage from then on. Once your stomach starts producing more acid on its own you will need to reduce your dosage again – you will get the burning sensation at a lower dosage. This may take a few weeks. This is a good sign indicating your stomach acid is increasing naturally. Continue this until you are down to one capsule per meal. This took me about 6 weeks. Reduce the dosage gradually until you are only taking Betaine with your largest protein meal of the day. Then you can start taking one capsule every other day (with your largest protein meal) and continue that way until you feel the burning sensation again. Then take them every third day. Now I only take Betaine occasionally – you will get so you can sense that certain meals (usually high protein meals) are taking longer to digest. When this happens to me now I will take a capsule even if it has been an hour or two since I ate and the heavy bloated feeling in my stomach goes away quickly. I hope this helps and don’t hesitate to ask more. Thanks, Dave.

      • David – thanks so much for the info on HCL and when to take it! I’ve been taking it for over a year now but usually at the beginning of a meal! No wonder I rarely get the warm tingling sensation from them! I’ll be sure to take them towards the end of my meals from now on.

  • Hi David,

    If I take betaine and enyzmes like you did, how do I know when my acid is on normal level and I can stop taking betaine? Do I afterwards still need to take enzymes everyday?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kayla,
      I never took betaine if the meal did not contain protein (meat). It’s not necessary if you are only eating salad. It’s best if you can find betaine capsules that contain only 250 – 300 mg of betaine but these are hard to find and are more expensive. These smaller capsules allow you to increase more gradually than with the standard 500mg capsules. I used 500mg because it was all I could find.

      This is how I determined how much betaine to take:
      In the middle of your next meal (containing meat) take one betaine capsule. Check how you are feeling about 20 minutes after the meal. The response you are looking for is a warm sensation in your stomach like you just drank a cup of hot tea. This should feel nothing like heartburn. If you do not feel this sensation, at each subsequent large meal (containing meat) take one additional capsule of betaine. Continue adding one additional capsule with each meal until you feel this sensation. When you feel it, at your next meal reduce back to your previous number of capsules, i.e. if you took 4 caps and felt the sensation go back to taking 3 caps at your next and subsequent meals. Continue at this level until you experience the warm feeling again. This indicates that you now need less betaine. Reduce by one more capsule at your next large meat meal. Continue this until you are no longer taking any betaine. I found this took me 4 – 6 weeks. Occasionally I will still take one capsule after a meal if I feel like symptoms are coming on. This happens once or twice every 6 months. If you find the warm sensation annoying you can drink a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in an 8oz glass of warm water. Repeat every 20 minutes until it goes away. Hope this helps Kayla. Thanks for the question.

  • Is there a substitute for HCL supplements for Hypochlorhydria? Unfortunately, I am not able to tolerate them, although they do provide relief. Thank you

    • Hi Julie, I believe apple cider vinegar (ACV) may help. I’ve tried ACV but couldn’t get past the taste so I didn’t try it for long. It is also hard on tooth enamel and because of my years of GERD my tooth enamel is already compromised. I’ve never tried Digestive Bitters but I have read that they are helpful. I’m curious – what issues did you have with betaine HCl?

  • Hi, I have chronic mild heartburn and acid reflux for the past 3 months. Everytime I time PPI’s, I get temporary relief, but stopping makes me worse than where I started. Like I did not face acid reflux while going to sleep intially, after taking PPI’s , I started getting this symptoms too.

    I did the baking soda test too. 1st day – immediate burping after 10 seconds and on 2nd and 3rd day, burped after 6-7 minutes. Does it indicate low stomach acid? And if it is low stomach acid, why do I suffer increased acid reflux on eating tomato(cooked tomatoes) with Indian bread(Roti)? And cucumbers do give me temporary relief(isn’t supposed to be relief for hyper-acidity). So is it low stomach acid?

    • Hi Varun, PPI’s are actually meant for people with ulcers, to reduce stomach acid while the ulcer heals. They are not meant to be taken longer than 8 weeks. They will offer temporary relief, as you state, but in the long term they make GERD worse by stopping the natural creation of stomach acid completely. There is a study that was done back in the 1990s where they took a group of subjects who had no history of GERD or acid reflux disease and gave them PPIs for a short period of time (I can’t recall how long exactly – 2 months I think). At the end of the study, when they stopped the PPIs every one of the test subjects had GERD.

      From your baking soda test results, I would say that you definitely have low stomach acid. The reason tomatoes can cause acid reflux is because tomatoes can irritate the LES causing it to swell so that it won’t close tightly enough to keep stomach acid in your stomach. The bread, because of low stomach acid, will stay undigested in your stomach for a longer than normal time and will cause bloating. The pressure of the bloating forces your stomach contents back up through the LES and into the esophagus. Cucumbers are mostly water and therefore easily digested and don’t stay in the stomach long enough to cause bloating. They may also soothe the inflamed LES.
      You may find this article gives more details on foods and GERD: https://theacidrefluxsolution.com/foods-you-should-avoid-if-you-have-gerd-and-why/
      Hope this helps.
      Dave

  • hey i struggle with acid as well, would you reccommend taking enzymes and betaine on the same meal with protein? also does it have to be taken before or during the meal , as i want the both of these supplemets to be effective . also would you recommend opening your enzymes and swallowing withouth the plastic layer, however ive heard that it might get killed by the acid. thank you for the answers : )

    • Hi Jess, Great questions.
      Initially, I took a supplement with Betaine and enzymes in the same capsule. After a few months, my stomach acid levels had increased sufficiently that I was able to stop taking Betaine and just took the enzymes. I only take betaine now if I am consuming a large protein meal, like a large steak. The studies say to take the Betaine about 20 minutes prior to eating but I found that it made little difference. I even got good results taking the betaine after eating if I felt I was getting heartburn. I would not recommend taking the enzymes out of the capsules and ingesting the powder. definitely don’t do this with the betaine capsules.

  • Hi thank you for the informative article.. So clearly and simply explained. I’m a vegetarian. Do I need betaine Hcl? Acv is good enough?

    • Hi Vandana, Thanks for your question. In my opinion, regardless of being a vegetarian, you should still increase your stomach acid levels to the normal level. Once you get to normal levels you can stop taking betaine. Having said that, ACV should give you the same results – it might take a bit longer. Myself, I prefer taking betaine because I don’t like the taste of ACV.

  • Dear
    Please note that my friend is 50 year old and have acidity issue with him. He is very thin. what steps he has to take to gain some weight.

    • With the limited information you have supplied and without a medical history and without seeing him it would be impossible to diagnose anyone by email. He should go see his family doctor. You don’t say if he has GERD or Acid Reflux. Any other conditions? Is he on medication for these and if so what? What do you mean by “He has an acidity issue”? Are you saying he has low stomach acid and needs to be more acidic? Have you read the article on here about “Determining if you have Hypochlorhydria” and “How to Safely Increase Stomach Acid”. I will not attempt to diagnose via email.

    • Hi Teresa,
      Thanks for your comment. I will add these to the article in the near future. I have tried a number of different brands of Betaine HCL. The brand that I think is the best is called Enzymatik Control by a company called ATP(Athletic Therapeutic Pharma). ATP is a Canadian company and all of their supplements are top-notch. The only problem I find with them is the names of their products. I doubt Enzymatik Control would ever come back in a search for Betaine. I found it just by chance – I was on their website and was reviewing all of there products. They all have counter-intuitive names. This product is fantastic. Besides having 400g of Betaine HCL it has these enzymes: Cellulase, Amylase, Hemicellulase, Lactase, Pectinase, Protease, Invertase, and Alpha-Galactosidase. I highly recommend this brand. Also, beware of the price – they aren’t cheap. I have no affiliation with this company. I will add some cheaper brands to the site with links where they can be purchased.
      I hope this helps you.
      Best Regards
      Dave

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