Hydrochloric acid and digestive hormone deficiency (Hypochlorhydria)

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What is Hypochlorhydria?
 
Hypochlorhydria- Hydrochloric acid and digestive hormone deficiency is a relatively common condition and becomes even more common as one ages. A deficiency of Hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach and associated enzyme deficiency can lead to a variety of health disorders. These are essential to resolve to prevent a whole cascade of serious health disorders. Fortunately resolution is fairly simple and easy to achieve.

Symptoms
 

 Bloating      Belching  Upset stomach
 Nausea     Heartburn  Diarrhoea
 Gas     Desire to eat when not hungry  Indigestion
 Hair loss     Undigested food in stools  Weak brittle fingernails
 Fatigue     Susceptibility to Gastro-intestinal infections  Neurological Issues (Numbness, tingling or vision changes)

If one is suffering with low stomach acid, there can be cascading effects on ones health due to the body becoming deficient in certain minerals and vitamins. Common deficiencies found in those with low stomach acid are anemia (Low Iron), vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium and protein deficiencies. These vitamins and minerals are essential for good health and being deficient in any of these can result in any number of adverse health conditions.

Common health conditions associated with low stomach acid include.
 

 Lupus  Asthma  Acne
 Psoriasis  Thyroid issues  Gastric ulcers due to a H. Pylori infection
 Allergies  Gastritis  Chronic autoimmune disorders
 Eczema  Osteoporosis  Pernicious Anemia

What causes low stomach acid?

Low stomach acid levels are more common as one gets older. People over the age of 65 years are more likely to have low levels of hydrochloric acid. Chronic stress can also play a factor and may decrease the production of stomach acid. Deficiency of zinc or B vitamins may also lead to low stomach acid. These deficiencies may be caused by inadequate dietary intake. However, even where dietary intake is adequate nutrients can be lost because of stress, smoking, or alcohol consumption. Long term use of antacids or medications prescribed to treat ulcers and acid reflux, such as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) may also lead to lower levels of stomach acid.

How to diagnose Hypochlorhydria (Low stomach acid test)

To determine whether one has hypochlorhydria, a doctor will complete a physical exam and ask about the history of health and symptoms of the patient. Based on this information, the doctor may want to test the pH of  stomach acid.

However, there is a  method of testing for low stomach acid at home. This is known as the "Bicarb Stomach Acid Test (BSAT)".
 
To conduct the BSAT only bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and cool water are needed.

Instructions 

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into 4oz-6oz of cold water and drink the solution first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
After drinking the solution start a timer and time how long it takes before you belch.
If you belch within 3 minutes it could indicate normal levels of acid.
If it takes between 3-5 minutes to belch, it could indicate lower levels of stomach acid than normal.
If the timer reaches 5 minutes and you have not belched, then this is a strong indicator that you may have low stomach acid levels.

To get the most accurate results one should conduct the test for 3-5 consecutive  days to get as much data as possible.
 
Please note that this test is not highly accurate, and should only be used to gain an insight into stomach acid levels and the possibility of a problem, even if you pass the tests and belch within 3 minutes, it is not positively indicative of normal levels of stomach acid.

Treatment 
 
There are a number of approaches to the natural treatment of  Hypochlorhydria.

One way involves using apple cider vinegar. Experiment to find your optimal dose. For example start with 1 tablespoon in 1/4 glass of warm water taken with food. This will be of benefit as the cider vinegar is acidic and aids to break down food. Cider vinegar also has a wealth of other health benefits that should not be overlooked.

Another remedy that can be used singly or combined is Betain Hydrochloride capsules. The more protein there is in a meal the higher number of capsules are needed. If the capsule dose is too high, one may experience nausea or discomfort in the stomach, including a heating sensation in the gut. Experiment with doses to find the right amount for you and always start on a low dose and increase if necessary. It is common that over time the required doses can be reduced. 

Digestive enzymes, with their many benefits, are highly recommended. Even if there is not an obvious digestive issue when cooked food is consumed. Cooking food destroys digestive enzymes that may be present in raw foods. Digestive enzymes aid in the digestion of food but also mop up and dissolve dead material such as proteins and fats that accumulate in the tissues, organs, arteries and blood vessels. Research has shown that by combining a range of enzymes, with different actions, longer lasting health benefits can be achieved. To this end we have formulated Multi Enzyme Protect.

One of the most important functions of vitamins and minerals is to provide co-enzymes; these in turn are the building blocks of enzymes. Often the symptoms of vitamin or mineral deficiency can be understood as enzyme deficiency. Please see the article about Enzymes for more information about Enzyme Therapy.