My auntie had to go to the doctor. She tries to avoid doctors but this time, she had a problem and it was getting worse.
She would wake up at night with her chest soaking with sweat and a burning sensation. She couldn’t ignore it anymore.
When she told me, I thought it sounded like she had heartburn (or acid reflux). I suggested for her to try to add more acid in the stomach, rather than reducing it as her doctor prescribed.
After 3 tablets of adding more acid, her symptoms disappeared. She could sleep. Even her problem of tingling in her wrist was gone.
What is this interesting cure?
Do you get ill more often than you would like?
Do you feel bloated after a meal? What about belching and farting? Do you fall ill with flu and infections?
It can be cured. And it’s easy.
The wonder cure for this is betaine HCl, a natural substance that helps to add more acid in your stomach. It is naturally found in beets and spinach. Why would you want to add more acid to your stomach?
Your stomach normally releases acid to keep pH inside it very low (under 4). This has several benefits. It kills bacteria and other pathogens, that you might have picked up with food. And it prevents bacteria, yeasts and fungi from your gut finding a new home in your stomach1.
Because if these guys come and live there, you will be belching, farting and feel bloated.
Even viruses like common flu would find your not-so-acid stomach a great doorway to your body1.
It’s not just pathogens that can make your life miserable
How about this – you eat organic food and good quality meat and eggs. You spend a lot of time, money and energy making sure you eat right.
And then, you still feel tired, your vision is getting worse, your skin looks pale or you have muscle twitches.
What’s going on if you are eating a balanced, varied and quality diet?
Your stomach needs a certain pH to assimilate nutrients. Vitamin B12, calcium, iron and magnesium are typically deficient in people with insufficient stomach acid1.
So yes, all these minerals and vitamins might be going down the pan. Literally.
Why do I need to supplement with betaine HCl if I’m healthy?
Good question. I have discovered that I need to supplement as well, despite that I avoid coffee and tea which supposedly lower stomach acid. I’m young (over 30), so the ageing rule (everyone above 50 should supplement) doesn’t apply to me either.
Maybe it’s genetic as my mum and my granny also have these problems.
Or maybe I didn’t eat enough salt throughout my life. Salt (NaCl) is crucial for creating your stomach acid (HCl).
Whatever the reason, it is good to test whether you need it or not. You can do that at home, no doctors are needed. Don’t assume you don’t need to increase your stomach acid. Particularly if you are often ill, or have any deficiency, you probably need to supplement with betaine HCl. The supplementation is not for life – your body might start responding by creating its acid.
Have you already had acid reflux and are taking medicines?
Acid reflux is a reaction of your stomach. It is a symptom of both too much and too little stomach acid. So doctors often prescribe antacid medicines (that lower your stomach acid) without testing, which kind you are. Antacid medicines are also called antisecretagous and include PPI (proton pump inhibitors).
In case of too little stomach acid, your stomach knows when its food was not properly digested. It doesn’t want to let this partially digested substances into the gut. Undigested food can create havoc in there – from an allergy to too much gas… Your stomach lets the food upwards rather than downwards. And since the acid is very strong, you’ll feel burning in your chest or oesophagus.
Medicines against acid reflux lower stomach acid. They create instant relief but in the long run, they are dangerous. You will become vitamin and mineral deficient. And you may notice losing muscles as well – due to protein deficiency. Plus, bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts will be able to survive in your stomach and have a happy time by making you ill2,3.
And if it wasn’t enough – your digestive system may experience serious side effects. These include liver abscess, cholangitis and cholecystitis. Plus your brain can get infected with a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy2,3.
If you are on these antacid medicines, it might be a good time to reconsider using them. It is possible to wean yourself from them. Digestive bitters will soothe symptoms of burning, without the side effects. Plus they help to activate your digestion so they may start curing your bloat, farting and inconsistent stool. So you may want to start there, before trying betaine HCl.
DIY test whether you need to increase acid in your stomach before meals
Before you start taking betaine HCl, you must not be taking any anti-inflammatory medicines, such as corticosteroids, aspirin, Ibuprofen (Neurofen) and similar NSAID-type of medicines. These medicines may harm your stomach lining. If you do need to take any of these medicines, stop taking betaine HCl.
Also, if you have stomach ulcers, don’t use betaine HCl. In your case, best to start with digestive bitters. Digestive bitters are bitter herbs in a concentrated form. They help with digestion and soothe your symptoms and could be used alternatively to antacid medicines.
- Buy Betaine HCl (with pepsin). That is easy to get online or in a store that sells vitamins and nutrients.
- Just before eating a meal that contains meat, take 1 tablet of betaine HCl.
- During the meal and after it, notice feelings in your stomach, chest and belly. Hotness, burning and heaviness may mean this dose was too much – and you may be one of those people with plenty of stomach acid. In that case, you don’t need to take any betaine HCl before meals.
- If you don’t notice anything unusual, keep taking 1 tablet before every meal (excluding snacks) – for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 3 days.
- After 3 days, take 2 tablets just before a meaty meal. Notice whether the feeling of your stomach and oesophagus changes to burning and heaviness or any other discomfort. At this point in the test, you’re trying to find the dose necessary to help your stomach to work optimally and nutrients to be getting absorbed. For this, you’ll have to find out your upper limit of stomach acid concentration.
- If you feel burning, you have found your dose – 1 tablet. Since burning occurs at 2 tablets, your dose is 1 below it, so 1 tablet. If you haven’t found the burning sensation yet, you need to continue increasing the dose of tablets before each meaty meals every day, until you find it.
- For example, the next day, you’ll take 3 tablets. If no burning appears, you need to continue.
- Next day, take 4 tablets. Again, watch for burning during or after the meal.
- Don’t worry if you need to take a lot of the tablets – each manufacturer of betaine HCl puts a slightly different dose in each tablet. And each of us needs different doses to get the stomach to the right pH. If it is 6 tablets, that’s fine. Just find when you experience the burning sensation and then you’ll know that the dose that didn’t cause the sensation is your optimal dose.
- If you feel that the dose is getting a bit too high, count what you are taking in mg. If it is well above 5000 mg per meal without any burning or distress, you might need to get your stomach tested. In the meantime, use a dose that helps to alleviate your symptoms of farting, burping and stool consistency. This dose can be lower than the one you can tolerate.
- You don’t need to take the full dose before non-meaty meals – again, observe your body or judge yourself how many tablets you can take before vegetarian meals (or breakfast cereals).
- As your digestion improves, you’ll be able to start reducing your dose of betaine HCl. One day you may notice burning during your meaty meal. That is a sign to reduce by one tablet. From then on, just keep listening to your body and adjust the dose as necessary.
- Don’t forget to salt your food to your liking with good quality, naturally mineralized salt (such as ancient sea salt, Himalayan salt). Salt is crucial for your body to start making stomach acid.
This testing might seem a bit daunting but it is worth it. You won’t feel as if having a bloated belly, you won’t have a problem going to the toilet and you will feel more energized overall.
As doctor Joel Wallach says, supplementing with betaine HCl before meals can alone extend your healthy life by 10 years.
- 1.Martinsen, Fossmark, Waldum. The Phylogeny and Biological Function of Gastric Juice—Microbiological Consequences of Removing Gastric Acid. IJMS. November 2019:6031. doi:10.3390/ijms20236031
- 2.Xavier S, Magalhães J, Cotter J. Proton Pump Inhibitors: Are They a Real Threat to the Patient? GE Port J Gastroenterol. 2018:243-252. doi:10.1159/000487154
- 3.Haastrup PF, Thompson W, Søndergaard J, Jarbøl DE. Side Effects of Long-Term Proton Pump Inhibitor Use: A Review. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. May 2018:114-121. doi:10.1111/bcpt.13023