Blog: The Candida Diet
by Dr.Jeff

HCL, Acid Reflux, and Health

By suppressing HCL levels, you lose absorption of calcium, protein, iron, iodine, B12, Folic acid, Zinc, Magnesium, and other minerals. Current antacid products are starting to carry a Black Box Warning about their use leading to osteoporosis.

Date:   2/10/2012 2:38:29 PM   ( 10 y ) ... viewed 4209 times

Excess stomach acid (HCL) has traditionally been treated as a result of low HCL levels that creates cycles of over- and under-production. With the advent of direct-to-consumer marketing by pharmaceutical companies, the public was entrained to believe that this was purely an excess HCL problem that needed to be suppressed with antacids, leaving behind the science, physiology, and wisdom of the body.

By suppressing HCL levels, you lose absorption of calcium, protein, iron, iodine, B12, Folic acid, Zinc, Magnesium, and other minerals. Current antacid products are starting to carry a Black Box Warning about their use leading to osteoporosis. Another warning about the loss of Magnesium was just released today by the FDA -
Eventually, all of these losses will need to be considered, as they all occur.

Next, you lose the protective and functional effects that HCL provides. Proper HCL levels in the stomach kill off many pathogens that otherwise would enter into the intestinal tract and potentially create problems. Proper HCL levels are necessary to digestive function once food leaves the stomach and passes into the intestinal tract. The acidic base that the food is in, as well as the partially digested foods from HCL's presence in the stomach, trigger further digestion and absorption of nutrients. Without this, we don't have proper liver/gall bladder and pancreatic function and digestion. This will cause further nutritional losses of fats, fat-soluble vitamins, proteins, etc. HCL deficiencies can lead to the creation and overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and fungus in the intestinal tract through altered pH. The downside to HCL deficiency spirals out exponentially at a very rapid pace creating systemic problems throughout the body and contributing to long-term health challenges, conditions, and diseases.

One of the most common causes of HCL imbalances is past antibiotic use. Antibiotics destroy the beneficial bacteria that synthesize B vitamins necessary for HCL production in the stomach. It is believed that HCL production starts to decline as we get older. This may also be a result of past antibiotic use, so I'm not as convinced that this is a normal part of aging, as it is a normal part of a society that is over-inundated with antibiotic exposures.

Unfortunately, most medical doctors are completely unaware of this widespread nutritional and functional downside from antibiotic and antacid use. Many Holistic doctors treat low HCL by giving Betaine HCL with Pepsin in either capsule or tablet form. If someone has chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract and they take HCL, it tends to produce a burning sensation. A warmth sensation is normal. A burning sensation with just one capsule can be diagnostic for chronic intestinal inflammation. In either case, restoring normal HCL levels is essential to health, and chronic low levels can have a tremendous negative effect on health and healing.

The typical protocol for taking HCL is as follows:
You start by taking 1 capsule of HCL with a meal. If no burning occurs, continue to increase this by 1 each day, or every other day, until it creates a burning sensation, then decrease the dosage by 1 capsule and stay at this dosage. For example, you take 1 capsule with each meal on Monday. If no burning, take 2 capsules with each meal on Wednesday. If no burning, take 3 capsules with each meal on Friday, etc. Now if on Saturday, you took 4 capsules and experienced a burning sensation, then you would back off to the 3 capsules with each meal and stay at that dosage. Some people get up to 4-8 capsules with each meal. How long you stay there varies, but I have seen some people do this for a year or two, before they start to get a burning sensation and then need to reduce the dosage. Once in a great while, someone will do the 1 pill with each meal for one day and then find that their HCL production kicks in and they don't need anymore. It's a rarity, but does happen. Balancing your digestive function as the same time through the McCombs Plan can help to reduce how long someone might need to take HCL.

So how do you know if you have an HCL deficiency? The expensive way is via the Heidelberg pH Capsule or the GastroCap. This is ordered by your doctor. Another way to check at home is to mix one quarter teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of cold water, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything except water. Drink the baking soda solution. Time how long it takes to belch. Time up to five minutes. If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing anyway.

If your stomach is producing adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid you should probably belch within two to three minutes. Three to five minutes will most likely be due to some level of deficiency. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid. Belching results from the acid and baking soda reacting to form carbon dioxide gas. The Heidelberg or Gastrocap tests can be employed for confirmation of the results of this test.

If while you're correcting HCL imbalances, you find that you have an excess amount at anytime, the old remedy of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in some water works well. Antacid medications can have a negative affect years after discontinuing them.

For those people who find themselves caught in the cycle of chronic intestinal inflammation and HCL imbalances and taking 1 capsule produces burning, you may have to start by opening the HCL capsule and just using a pinch of HCL with each meal mixed in water. It can be a bit of an uphill battle, but it is a much better alternative to a steady downhill slide in overall health.

For more information on Dr. McCombs Candida Plan, go to,
or call us at 888.236.7780 to ask questions or schedule a consultation.

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