Stomach Acid-Friend Or Foe?
By secreting hydrochloric acid and the hormone pepsin, the stomach plays a key
role in food digestion. When our ability to make hydrochloric acid is
compromised, poor digestion, poor absorption and gastrointestinal infection may
result, which can lead to a host of health problems. Diagnosis of low stomach
acid (Hypochlorhydria) can be obtained by performing a gastric pH analysis
test. Treatment of Hypochlorhydria consists of supplementing with “stomach acid” pills in the form of
Terminology Associated With Stomach Acid Problems:
Hyperchlorhydria - the production of too much stomach acid. This can cause corrosion of the stomach lining leading to stomach and duodenal
Hypochlorhydria - where the stomach doesn’t make enough acid to do the job of handling food intake and performs its responsibilities in an
Achlorhydria - when the stomach makes no acid at all, its lining cells are flat and
non-functioning. This condition is called atrophic gastritis.
How Prevalent Is Hypochlorhydria?
Research conducted in the 40’s at John Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic found low stomach acid in 30%
of people by the age of 40, 60% by the age of 60 and 70-75% by ages of 70 to
75. Over the last 40 years this has been ignored and brushed aside as irrelevant by the traditional medical community. However,
hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria can lead to consequences in our health that
are non-optimal and deleterious.
The Adverse Effects Of Hypochlorhydria Include:
• Amino acid deficiencies due to poor digestion and assimilation of protein. Low
grade amino acid deficiencies can be associated with muscle wasting,
immuno-deficiency, nervous system dysfunction and reduce liver detoxification.
• Multiple mineral deficiencies particularly of calcium, iron, magnesium and
possibly selenium, chromium, manganese, copper and other trace minerals.
Deficiencies of these minerals can further cause ill health and increased risk
to degenerative diseases.
• Vitamin B12 deficiency. This is particularly seen in achlorhydric patients
where there is no production of intrinsic factor. This is a chemical compound
produced by the stomach which tags onto vitamin B12 released from protein in
the stomach and carries it down the intestine to allow B12 to be absorbed in
the lower part of the small intestine.
When protein is poorly digested, partially digested fragments can gain access to
the body and initiate an activation of the immune system causing conditions
associated with food intolerance, e.g. arthritis, rhinitis, asthma, eczema,
urticaria (hives) and colitis.
An increased lead of undigested protein fragments can get to the colon and feed
a section of the flora there which overgrow, produce poisonous substances (like
ammonia and various biogenic aminos) which are toxic to the body if allowed
access to the general circulation. This is called putrefaction of the bowel.
Conditions And Diseases Associated With Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid)
Magnesium, avoiding food allergens and addressing low gastric acid.
Celiac disease – Wheat gluten sensitivity
Chronic autoimmune disorders
Cognitive Dysfunction and Dementia from B12 deficiency
Dermatitis herpetiformis (herpes)-typical for wheat gluten sensitivity
Depression- Leaky Gut with LPS
Diabetes – Autoimmune type one
Gall bladder disease – associated with hypochlorhydia
Graves disease-Autoimmune-Elevated TSH receptor ab-Yersinia molecular Mimciry
with TSH receptor
Iron deficiency-Low Iron and Low ferritin
Hyper and hypothyroidism- Autoimmune-Hashimotos Thyroiditis
Lupus erythematosus -autoimmune
Neuropathy and Neuro Psychiatric Disorder from B12 deficiency
Osteoporosis-from Calcium Malabsorption
Pernicious anemia – Parietal Cell Antibodies-B12 deficiency-gastric atrophy
Sjögren’s syndrome – Autoimmune
Thyrotoxicosis-three types: Graves, Hashitoxicosis, and Txic Nodular Goiter
Chronic intestinal parasites or abnormal flora -GI-Fx shows parasite DNA
Undigested food in stool-Demonstrated on GI-FX test
Chronic candida infections-from gut dysbiosis
Upper digestive tract gassiness-from dysbiosis
Signs And Symptoms Of Low Stomach Acid
• Belching, bloating, burning, or “acid reflux” after eating, immediately after meals.
• Sense of fullness after eating.
• Indigestion and constipation because food is not being digested properly
• Skin conditions such as Acne, Rosacea, Urticaria, Eczema
Dilated blood vessels in the cheeks and nose (in non-alcoholics), this is called
• Vertical ridging on the nails because of inability to absorb nutrients from
food, Weak, peeling, and cracked fingernails.
• Leg and foot cramps from mineral deficiencies because you are not absorbing
• Chronic injuries due poor amino acid status and inability to restore tissue,
muscle atrophy and wasting.
• Multiple Food allergies, which may be associate d with asthma.
• Gallstones. You may have already had a cholecystectomy.
• Poor cognitive function and the onset of dementia.
• Low bone mineral density and osteoporosis.
• Itching around the rectum from parasites.
• Hair loss in women. One also sees this in women who are pregnant, on oral
contraceptive pills or estrogen replacement therapy and in folic acid deficient
• Abdominal bloating, in the upper part with consumption if animal protein,
especially beef, when food just “sits there like a rock” and doesn’t “digest” well.
Diagnosis is done by performing the Heidelberg gastric pH analysis test. This
involves swallowing a capsule the size of a large multi-vitamin and mineral
which has within it a pH electrode and a radio transmitter. The signal given
off is sent to an antenna which the patient wears around the stomach in the
form of a belt and the result is shown on a large machine which visualizes pH
When safely swallowed and in place, resting stomach pH is measured. Except in
severely achlorhydric patients, it is usually acid (pH of 1.8 to 2.3). The
stomach is then made to work by the patient swallowing a known amount of sodium
bicarbonate. When this is done, the stomach becomes alkaline and then acid is
made to bring down the pH to the baseline.
In abnormal stomach this occurs within 20 minutes after 4 or 5 challenges. The
reacidification time is delayed in these individuals with hypochlorhydria. This
procedure is very reliable in diagnosing sub-optimal gastric acidity states and
confirms the clinical diagnosis.