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Stomach Acid Test | Functional Medicine, Functional Nutrition, Nutrition Consultancy, Advanced Laboratory Testing, Corporate Health Plans.

Stomach Acid Test

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Betaine Hydrochloride (HCL) With Pepsin


Download The HCL Test

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Individuals suffering with stomach and intestinal problems most frequently assume that heartburn, indigestion, gas, and reflux are caused by overproduction of stomach acid.


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The Symptoms of Over and Under-Production Are the Same


Oddly enough, the symptoms of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCL) over-production and under production are virtually identical. It is therefore unwise to jump to conclusions regarding what’s occurring in the stomach without actual testing.

Functions of Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid serves many functions, the most important are:

1.It is is important for digestion and absorption of many nutrients. When hydrochloric acid is lacking, malnutrition results. At the same time, one can develop multiple food sensitivities as abnormally large, inadequately digested food particles are absorbed, triggering an immune response.

2. It kills many bacteria, yeasts, and parasites. Its insufficiency is associated with greater incidence of dysbiosis (gastrointestinal infection). Hypochlorhydria (low HCl) is linked to not only gastrointestinal symptoms (including belching, gas, indigestion, poor appetite, prolonged fullness after meals, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea), but also to autoimmune diseases and degenerative diseases of all kinds. It is a major contributor to chronic ill health that is under-appreciated.

Underproduction of Stomach Acid Is a Common Problem

Based upon the testing of sample groups, it has been theorised that well over half of the U.S. population beyond the age of forty years is under-producing hydrochloric acid.

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Important steps to include for the test:

1. Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20g of proteins.

2. Start with 1 capsule [around 600mg or less] at start of a meal, monitor and observe your symptoms.

3. Look for sensations of heat in chest, burning or GI distress.

4. Maintain this dose for a day , if you do not notice any symptoms, increase by 1, to two capsules.

5. Monitor symptoms

6. If you do not feel anything, increase to three. Keeping increasing with each meal until you notice some symptoms.

7. When this happens, you will know your ideal Betaine HCL dosage is 1 pill less. For example, if you felt the discomfort going from 4 pills to 5 caps, stay with 5 capsules your correct dosage for a normal meal.



IMPORTANT: this test should not be undertaken if there is gastritis or any recent history of gastric ulceration (stomach ulcers)

The rationale of the test is that excessive acid produces a sensation of warmth in the stomach. If you require a large number of Betaine HCl supplements to experience this it is an indication that you are perhaps not producing enough stomach acid of your own. Experiencing warmth or burning with low doses of Betaine HCl indicates you are probably producing enough stomach acid and don’t require ongoing supplementation.

This test is helpful but by no means 100% accurate. Other tests that can more accurately assess stomach acid production are the Heidelerg PH Test.

When consuming meals that contain little or no protein, much less hydrochloric acid is needed by the stomach to process its contents. Please keep this in mind when using Betaine HCL as a supplement and modify your usage accordingly.

A couple points to clarify:

–  If you eat a snack or a meal without much protein, you won’t need as much Betaine HCL (for a small snack like a piece of fruit you won’t need any at all)

– When you experience the GI discomfort finding your correct dosage, you can mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8oz of water and drink it to help lessen the pain.

I recommend the below supplement brands:

UK / Ireland: BioCare HCL and Pepsin or

USA: Pure Encapsulations HCl and Pepsin