Contrary to popular belief, most of us with digestive issues, including heart burn and GERD, are suffering from too little stomach acid, rather than too much. Many factors can contribute to having too little stomach acid including: eating too quickly and under stress, a diet too high in processed carbs and sugars which upsets the gut’s microbial balance and eating foods that we are sensitive to, such as gluten, which can cause an inflammatory response. Some medications also reduce our natural stomach acid.
Besides removing the factors that cause reduced stomach acid, one thing that we can do to improve digestion is to add in a hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme supplement. We can test how much HCl supplement we need by adding one HCl capsule each meal time. By increasing the number of capsules by one, each meal time, we can take note of any reactions we feel. When a slight burning sensation is felt in the upper gastric area, we know our supplementation is having an effect and it’s time to cut back. At this point, we reduce the dosage to that which we were taking prior to the burning sensation.
The HCl acid supplement we choose should also include digestive enzymes, particularly pepsin. If the stomach acid is low, it will not be producing enough protein digesting enzymes either.
A caveat to this advice comes from Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac as he warns:
Note: HCL should never be taken (and this test should not be performed) by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g. predisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil, etc.) or other NSAIDS. These drugs can damage the GI lining that supplementary HCL might aggravate, increasing the risk of gastric bleeding or ulcer.