How to Supplement with Betaine HCL for Low Stomach Acid

by Steven Wright

If you’ve just learned that you have low stomach acid and you don’t fix it, you’ll have subpar health forever… What should you do now? The first step is to replace the lost stomach acid until you figure out the root cause. One of the most common methods of supplementing for low stomach acid is using Betaine Hydrochloride (HCL).

Betaine HCL increases the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food. Normal levels of hydrochloric acid are required for complete digestion of proteins and absorption of amino acids. It’s also required for the extraction of vitamin B12 from our food. Betaine HCL helps to restore the proper acid levels in the stomach and maintain healthy GI function.

In case you didn’t know, stomach acid is a key component of our immune system needed to kill off any potential pathogenic bugs in our food. If the acid levels aren’t strong enough, besides not properly sterilizing our food, the stomach could delay emptying which can cause a multitude of digestive problems.

After switching my diet to SCD, I was still burping a lot after meals, having a decent amount of gas and feeling bloated all the time. Supplementing with Betaine HCL improved all of the digestive problems overnight. Coincidentally I lost 2 inches on my stomach measurement due to the reduced bloating… imagine if everyone could save 2 inches with Betaine HCL, half of America would suddenly care about digestion.  :)

Before Supplementing With Betaine HCL Read This

It’s important to understand the risks of Betaine HCL supplementation. It’s generally safe for most people. However, in the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You,” Dr. Wright recommends doing so under the guidance of a physician. No, seriously… it’s a good idea to find someone qualified to watch over your health and decisions. Your health isn’t a game, so get the right help.

People that are “high risk” shouldn’t take Betaine HCL without supervision. You’re high risk if you’re consuming any anti-inflammatory medicines. Examples of those are: corticosteroids, aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other NSAIDs. These drugs can damage the GI lining and supplementing with HCL could aggravate it, increasing the risks of bleeding or ulcer.

Okay red tape and warnings aside – you can do this safely and it will help your health tremendously when you correct low stomach acid levels. Did you know your stomach wall is about 5mm thick? And did you know the stomach is built with ridges on the inside that act like a rock crusher as it pulverizes your food?

I tell you this because I want you to know that your stomach isn’t some mamby pamby organ, it’s a beast that can easily handle extreme acid levels. The amazing part is, if this acid got out of the stomach it could burn right through every other cell in the body. Our stomachs were built to create and contain acid and making short work of what we eat. Supplementing with Betaine HCL will help it work like it was designed, because every meal you eat with low acid it has to work harder than it should.

How to Figure Out Your Betaine HCL Dose

Each person will have a specific supplementary HCL dosage. Unfortunately, there isn’t a special formula I can give you to figure it out. This is a case of trial and error until you get to the correct dosage. Failing to get to your correct dosage can remove the benefits of supplementing.

You must find the right dosage for you situation. If you fail to do the trial and error you’re wasting your time and money.

This is a very common problem we see with our readers. Remember, the stomach is purposely built to handle extreme acid environments. If your correct dosage is 2400mg and you’re only taking 1200mg, you’re not really doing your stomach any favors. You must follow the process below to figure out the right dosage to get the maximum benefit.

  1. Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20grams of protein (about 4-6ounces of meat).
  2. Start by taking 1 pill (650mg or less) of Betaine HCL during the beginning of the meal.
  3. Finish the meal as normal and observe your body for any changes in feeling associated with the stomach and belly button area.  Things to look for: heaviness, hotness, burning, or other GI distress.
  4. Stay at this dosage of 1 pill for another day of meals with protein and if you don’t notice anything on the 3rd day, try 2 pills.
  5. Stay there for another day and then try 3 pills.
  6. Keep increasing the number of pills taken with each meal until you notice some GI discomfort described in step #3.
  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 5 pills to 6 pills, then 5 pills is your proper dosage for a normal meal.

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.

– Dr. Wright notes in his book that “paradoxically adverse symptoms are most likely to occur in individuals with the lowest levels of stomach acid. This is because these people are most likely to have atrophic gastritis (a thinned-out stomach lining), which makes them much more sensitive to even small quantities of HCL than a normal, thicker stomach lining.”  This makes sense because a super inflamed stomach lining won’t have its normal protective barrier intact to contain the strong acids. In this case, it is wise to start with digestive bitters or get smaller dose Betaine HCL pills (think 350mg or less).

– If you have low stomach acid and you can’t supplement with Betaine HCL, there’s a few natural methods to help with symptoms. Start by taking a shot of lemon juice or vinegar before a meal to help the symptoms of indigestion. But know that these don’t actually help the digestion of food only the symptoms. A supplement that can help the digestion is digestive bitters.

I Need to Take How Many Betaine HCL Pills?

It’s very common for people to stop short of their needed Betaine HCL dosage. In fact, in the beginning I was nervous about taking 6 pills at a meal. But trust me. there is nothing to worry about. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage.

Remember, a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress (step #3), you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These include burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. For this group of people try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms and for Pete’s sake go get more testing to figure out what is going on!

Best Betaine HCL Supplement Brands

When choosing a Betaine HCL supplement it’s important to choose one that includes pepsin. It’s assumed by the medical research that when supplementing with HCL you need to supplement with pepsin. That is why most Betaine HCL supplements you’ll find include it and Dr. Wright recommends it.

I also try to look for a brand that has a minimal amount of additives in the pills. I like the following brands (which are all SCD legal):

Now Betaine HCL

TwinLab Betaine HCL

Thorne Research Betaine HCL

Tell me about your Betaine HCL experience in the comments below.

About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 282 comments… read them below or add one }

Myrle March 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

You ROCK!!! Sorry I haven’t talked to you in a while. But, I really have you and Jordan to thank for getting my health back under control. With having Crohn’s (severely for several years – and many treatments), I found Elaine’s website, then got the book, followed the diet (fanatically!!). But with very limited success. Then finding your website through a few links, and after reading what you’ve researched I modified my diet to the “Stop Your Flare” Diet – Still no success. Then through more of your teaching and the Advanced SCD course you offered, I learned of the supplements & Betaine HCl!! I started really low, being on Prednisone (and not being able to come off for years), So I kept a close watch on my reactions, can be really scary side effects with that combination. But, this really helped to bring my symptoms under control, and now I am off of ALL my meds. – Prednisone, Remicade, etc…
I haven’t felt this good and confident in over 15-20 YEARS!! Not worried about where the nearest toilet is. – unless of course Chinese is on the menu. :) So I just avoid that altogether. But I am a true believer that supplements are the key! – Take care and keep the blogs coming. You guys are an AWESOME resource, and YOU CARE!


Steven Wright March 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

@ Myrle – I’m really excited for you and happy to hear your doing so well! Thanks for the kind words!


Janine March 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

I had pretty bad heartburn off and on for years, and until last year, I was taking antacids for it. When I read Chris Kresser’s series about heartburn, I bought some betaine HCl with pepsin and tried his recommendations. It worked! After three weeks of taking it, I no longer had heartburn. Since then, I stopped taking it for a few weeks and didn’t have a problem, but the past couple days it’s come back, so I’ve started taking it again. Since I’ve had heartburn for so long, and it’s been pretty bad, is there a good chance I’ll have to take it indefinitely? Thanks for posting this article!


Maureen March 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Taking Betaine HCL has been a key to healing on SCD since I have serious GERD (Acid Reflux). Like Myrle, I also have not seen it mentioned in Breaking the Vicious cycle book or website, but SCD would not be working for me without it. I owe so much to Steve and Jordan who encouraged me to stop my dependance on the Prilosec, start Betaine HCL and to not be afraid to get to my appropriate dosage. I take about 9 NOW pills, which I buy through Amazon as I can’t find them in stores.

It was really hard for me to stop the Proton Pump Inhibitor because my symptoms of GERD were horrible whenever I had try to stop int he past. I also had a fear of getting worse problems caused by untreated GERD. It was a little rough in the beginning as I transitioned from stopping the Prilosec and then starting Betaine HCL a week or so later. (I read online to take mastic gum in the transition time, which I found out later that it is SCD illegal!). I also would encourage people to not be afraid to increase your dosage until you find what is right for you. I made this mistake in the beginning and I didn’t start seriously improving on this diet until I got the right dosage. I am currently on SCD for 8 months and I am adding food and feeling better and better every day.


Jamie March 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thanks! I think my biggest challenge is REMEMBERING to take my Betaine HCL when I eat, especially when I’m not at home. If I forget my burping quickly returns, even nausea. :| Ha. Need to get a nice portable pill case for that I see *goes off to buy one now*


Jamie March 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Oh and I would like to add I saw a naturopath one time that just told me to have apple cider vinegar with the mother before every meal. It kind of helps like digestive bitters. I highly recommend drinking that all day in plain water (maybe with a straw or rinsing afterward to spare your teeth) but I might add that in my case it was NOT enough, and that Betaine HCL was much much more effective.


Tanja March 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Thanks so much for your very informative and totally practical posts. My question is, how does finding the right dosage change for a child (mine are 2.5 and 3.5 yrs old). I am giving each just a pinch of an open capsule, and 3tsp of Sauerkraut juice before meals, but I have noticed no difference in anything (also not the stools). How high is a safe dose for a small child to reach up to, pinch by pinch?


Steven Wright March 20, 2012 at 8:21 am

@ Tanja – I’ve talked with people who give their kids several drops of liquid Betaine HCL, but I don’t recall the brand and I know they were working very close with a doctor which is what I would recommend you do for small children.


Sarah January 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I know this is an old conversation but I am searching for help for my 5 year old daughter. She has had food allergies for 2 years now and can’t hardly eat anything due to delayed internal food reactions (not anyphalaxis). We’ve had many tests done but so far have found nothing definite as to why she has such digestive problems. I strongly suspect she may have an HCL deficiency and would like to explore it further with her naturopathic physician and was wondering what kind of HCL supplement you give your children, what do you give it in? I had considered asking a compounding pharmacy to make some very small capsules with HCL that she would be able to swallow. I’m also interested in the liquid form that Steven talked about in his reply, but can’t find any info online and wondered if you had come across any liquid forms? Basically, I’m not finding much info on HCL deficiency with kids and saw this comment and wondered if anyone had any advice because I don’t know where else to ask. Thanks.


Stephanie June 13, 2014 at 8:17 am

HCl helped my allergies, I am 43 and scarring on my liver from cronic hep b. When I have sauce of any kind and I don’t take HCl, my nose spewes mucus and I sneeze violently. Also, organic apple cider vinegar helps me immensely; especially when going out to eat.


tanya@truthinweakness September 22, 2014 at 11:57 am


i know it’s been over a year & a half since you left your comment, but just in case you still haven’t found a viable option, here’s a low-dose betaine hcl i just found that, if given in a partial dose, would be more appropriate for children:

hope that helps!


Liane March 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hi Steve,
I re-listened to the podcast with Chris from I think January or last December. Lots of good stuff in there. I have discovered that the HCl works wonders. I actually bought the Now Foods formulation when I started Paleo after buying Robb Wolf’s book. So far it is working for GERD after meals, for normal bland foods. But I still can not eat chili (beanless) or other spicy foods. And I get reflux if I lay down even if it is several hrs after eating. I do not get burps but my gut makes a lot of noise. Not painful, but annoying as heck. It seems to be in the small intestine, not making its way down further and it goes away in a few hours. No gas comes forth from either end. Just a lot of loud gurgling. Have any idea what this is?


Steven Wright March 23, 2012 at 8:03 pm

@ Liane – Thanks Chris and Robb are great resources! A couple things could be going on
1. You could be taking less Betaine HCL then you actually need. This is usually the case if your taking NOW super enzymes, they seem to be just good enough to stop most heartburn problems but not actually correct digestion.
2. You need to check for underlying root causes of low acid like H. Pylori
3. For the gurgling… try drinking less liquids around your meals and see if you notice a change – would love to have you report back what you find out!


Zannix March 26, 2012 at 3:58 am

You know what’s weird, I’ve got acid reflux, a lot. In fact, I’m diagnosed with GERD. I read that it’s usually a case of too little acid as opposed to too much.

I decided to give it a shot, bought now super enzymes and probiotics. Super enzymes had around 200mg of betaine hcl added per pill. I can’t say it wasn’t helping, it was, and I lost about 7kg in 1 month (that’s ~ 14lbs I think), and I wasn’t even that overweight. I’m a male of 21 and I now weigh 72kg.

So that was super weird, even kind of scary. But here’s my dilemma…

I recently quit the PPI-s, and almost everyone says that when you quit PPI-s after a long term usage (~ 2 years), your gastrin levels remain elevated for several weeks/months, so you’re naturally secreting way more acid than you normally do.

And yet, with all this, I’m taking in additional acid. I even bought Twinlab’s betaine HCL+pepsin pills now that I’m eating with lunch and I feel the digestion is much smoother…

It doesn’t make sense lol… there must be tons of acid in my stomach right now…

I’m still getting reflux, but admitedly, not nearly as much as before… ALTHOUGH I do watch what I eat, some foods have been proven to cause misery for me… for example hard boiled eggs, tomato sauce, etc.

THERE’s ONE MEAL I’d like to share with everybody that helps me tremendously and has a BEAUTIFUL effect with my GERD:

Pasta + zucchini and carrots. Just cut the zucchini and carrots into small circles, throw them in a pan with oliv oil for 10 minutes and mix it with pasta. Add a little chicken too. You’re going to love it and your GERD should disappear for a while almost completely…

Best Regards,


Steven Wright March 26, 2012 at 6:46 am

@ Zannix – A story that we hear all to often, actually after coming off long term use of PPI’s you will almost always need to take Pure Betaine HCL like the twin labs product. Now super enzymes just aren’t strong enough and contain too much extra stuff. It sounds like to me, that your not at your optimal Betaine dose yet which will always hold you back.

And to make your recipe SCD legal just sub the pasta out for spaghetti squash.


Dave Welsh February 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Thanks for adding the “sub the pasta out” It confused me that someone on the SCD was eating pasta. I see so many others state things like ” Chinese” still bothers me. I have had digestion issues for last 8-10 years ago. Have been on a strict gluten free diet for 8 of those years. Diagnosed with SIBO three months ago. Had bloating almost every morning that made me look like I was 12 months pregnant. I took an antibiotic for 30 days then went on your version of the SCD diet, your first three day plan to the “T”. I went from a 36″ pant size to 32″ in two weeks due to the bloating going away. Still get the rumbles from time to time after eating but no gas, no runs, went from going to bathroom 6 times every morning to now 1 time per day, what a relief. 10 years of this crap. Anyways I am going to try your advice on the Betaine HCL great video. I am a firm believer in what you teach.


ladynitro March 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

is betaine hcl helpful for digesting only animal based protein in ppl w/low stomach acid, or is it also good for digesting beans/nuts/legumes? for example, i eat peanut butter on scd almond bread for breakfast every day, and am not sure if this is the type if protein that would be better digested if i have low stomach acid and take betaine hcl. thanks for all your helpful articles!


Steven Wright April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

@ ladynitro – It doesn’t matter if it’s animal or plant protein. Just that your eating protein. While they come from different sources, the protein structure itself still must be broken down by the digestive enzyme pepsin. So yes you should try Betaine HCL if your testing low for stomach acid levels.


Alan March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Something that will help the transition to using Betaine hcl for GERD is orange peel extract or d limonene.


Andres April 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

Hi Steven

Recently started supplementing with HCL and it’s been life changer to me. Now I have a lot of energy and my moods are better :) Great article. I have one question for you. I’m young and I wonder how long it takes to produce normal acid level again? or I should take HCL all my life?

Thanx a LOT!


Jordan Reasoner April 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Great work taking control of your heal Andres! That’s a great question and one I haven’t found the answer to.

There’s so many things that contribute to low stomach acid and “they” say we should return to normal levels after supplementation for 6 months or so… but that hasn’t been the case with us.

Both Steve and I still use Betaine HCL to have perfect digestion and we’re still seeking out “Optimal health” – that final 10% where we wouldn’t need it. But for right now, we’ve been on it for years.

Stay tuned, if we figure it out we’ll share it with the world.



Mike April 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

Great and timely article guys!

I’ve just got back onto the betaine Hcl after having to take a break during an 8-week course of steroids. I was taking 2 of the Thorne Labs tablets with each meal before the prednisolone but trying again have found that I am up to about 5. Shows how much the steriods can screw you over.

I have noticed in the last couple of days that 5 seems perfect in the morning with breakfast but then if I take 5 with lunch and dinner I get the burning. It seems like the 5 in the morning sets me up for the day so I don’t need quite as much with the next meals. I haven’t found the exact amount I need to cut by later in the day yet but i’m working on it.

Have you guys or any one else experienced this and needed less hcl later in the day?


Jordan Reasoner April 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hey Mike – nice work using Betaine! I haven’t experienced that specifically, but I have seen that I need less if I eat sauerkraut right before a meal to stimulate natural acid production. Maybe you’re doing something in your life that has the same effect.

Not only that, but the amount of Betaine I need varies meal-to-meal based on the amount of protein I’m eating from meat. Less protein = less betaine… and sometimes I still take a little too much. It’s a fine line to figure it all out and just takes lot’s of time.

Keep doing awesome work re-engineering your health man!



AB April 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I am so glad that I found this site with current information.

My doctor is an internal and integrative medicine doctor. Before I found him, I had been on PPI’s since 2006. I’ve been taking Prevacid over the counter but I can no longer find it on the shelf. Plus it really didn’t help that much.

Well I went to my doctor two days ago, because of heartburn symptoms including upper back pain, and he said he really thinks I’m dealing with low acid and told me I should taken Betaine. He sells Metagenics at his office, so I purchased those. However, they have 1300 mg of Betaine as well as 90 mg of Pepsin. I asked him what do do about the PPI’s (I had switched to Prilosec OTC…and that made things worse). He told me just to stop the PPI and start on the Betaine.

First meal, I took half. Felt warm and burped. Second meal I took a whole tablet (1300 mg) felt more warmth, burped. The next morning I noticed that I didn’t have a sore throat when I woke up nor was my nose as stuffy. However, went I went to the bathroom (I have IBS) I had burning. (don’t want to be graphic).

So for breakfast, I took a whole tablet. Same results. For lunch, I decided to take 1 1/2 tablets…more warmth, almost burn, lots of burps. Went back to 1 tablet for supper, but my meal was a little spicy (added, onion powder, cumin to my meal) and had reflux..felt the burn in my throat.

This morning, I had gluten free cereal with almond/coconut milk and took one pill…this has caused me pain and pressure in my chest, burning in my throat. Took several tums, but still didn’t help. I didn’t take one for lunch (had grilled chicken) and for a time, it seemed to settle down only to become aggravated again. I just ate a banana but didn’t take a pill. My chest is hurting, I feel the burning in my throat, and the pressure.

I’m wondering…did I take enough at the beginning? Remember I’ve suffered GERD since 2006 and have been on PPI’s so I already had the burning stomach. I wonder if a capsule would be better than the tablet? Should I still be increasing the dosage since I’m already feeling the burn? We don’t have health insurance so having other tests are out of the question.
Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.


fasten seat April 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

Hi Steve
thanks a lot for your interesting report!

I have a question regarding the TMG in the Betaine-HCL. Maybe you know an answer?

I ordered Betaine-HCL and while waiting for it, I took drops of pure HCL (5%) (up to 20 in a capsule to save my mouth and throught).
It looks like its helping me. Less bloating more energy.
Then the Betaine-HCL arrived. I took half a tablet/capsule. And had stomachal troubles (no burning) after about 3hours as if I had eaten something wasted. I redid the test with the same result.

What conclusion? Could it be, that I do I not tolerate the Betaine (TMG) just the HCL?
Why anyway do they put Betaine together with HCL and not pure HCL?
By the way.. 20 drops correspond +- 70mg (pure) HCL.

And one more question regarding the eventual feeling of heat after the BetaineHCL. Could it be, that the feeling of heat is below the bellybutton? And sometimes quite a bit after eating (1-2h later?)

(i made that bakingsoda -test.. no reaction at all.. is that somehow a scientific test.. is there some literature?)

Thanks a lot in advance


Colin April 27, 2012 at 10:43 am


Thanks for the article.

Do you have thoughts about Candida and Heartburn/Gerd? I had an upper GI done after years of Heartburn and they found I had candida in my esophagus….not bad but, just a patch or two. I had been on prilosec, off and on, for a couple of years.

I went on candida diet and it helped, but didn’t eliminate my GERD. I probably did the candida diet for about 2 months. But it was brutal…

So, lately i’ve been eating basically a paleo/primal diet. Lo carb, high-protein, etc. I’ve been cheating a bit more lately though. My heartburn has started coming back, and I feel like i’m back to square one.

While i’ve been cheating, I started using HCL. I’m up to 6-7 pills at lunch and dinner, and probably 3 in the AM. I have yet to feel any kind of burning sensation in my stomach.

Anyhow, with the heartburn back, and not sure what protocol/treatment to take, I am really frustrated. Really want the heartburn to go away.

Couple of questions with regards to HCL.

How much is too much? Is it normal or allowed to take 10 650mg pills?

Will you have to take HCL indefinitely? How does one go back to eating normal without the supplement?

Thanks for your help


Rebecca June 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Hi, I have the same problem or similar. I have candida which I think is causing a depressed PH balance in my gut. I’m so frustrated and at a loss on what to eat, not eat, when, how much. My day revolves around food and I can’t focus on anything else. I work, I have obligations but I can’t function. So I can’t figure out what to take to make the burning go down. Some days it is to the point I feel it in my ears, nostrils and it was even in my eye sockets. I can’t function like that. Please Steve, some help here!!


Russell November 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I take tremendous quantities of Betaine HCl supplements, and have noticed a dramatic improvement in my health. Unlike most folks here, my problems are mostly with my sinuses. I fought chronic sinus congestion/drainage for many years. A holistic doctor prescribed Diflucan for this, thinking the problem could be due to fungus/yeast. This drug helped a lot. However, over time Diflucan had diminishing benefits. I seemed to be getting fungus that was resistant to this drug. So I tried Betaine HCl, as I had heard that stomach acid can kill fungus in the gut. I started at low doses, and increased gradually. I now take Betaine with all my meals. If I feel a fungus infection returning in my sinuses, I dramatically increase the Betaine dose. I take as much as 20 grams of Betaine/Pepsin with a large meal!! That’s over 30 650mg capsules!!! I rarely experience gastric distress from taking Betaine, even at these doses. However, I lower the Betaine dose once my sinuses return to normal. This supplement has truly been a lifesaver for me!


Nicole May 7, 2012 at 11:53 am

Dear Steve,

What does one do if she can’t take HCL/pepsin or digestive enzymes of any kind, has extremely low pancreatic enzymes and stomach acid along with malabsorption problems and hashimotos thyroiditis? I was also diagnosed with LPR, laryngopharyngeal reflux, 5 years ago and my problem is that acid and pepsin gets into my larynx and causes damage. At this point, I’m off of all medication for this, probably because I don’t have many enzymes in my gut to cause much of a problem. I follow the Melvin Page foundational Diet Plan, which is a gluten and grain free diet; however, I’m
not absorbing well and suffer from bloating and constipation. This is the catch: as long as I follow this diet, my throat is fine and I’m pretty free of LPR according to my ENT. However, when I take the HCL and pepsin to address malabsorption issues, my LPR comes back immediately. In fact, now I’m de,ing with a granuloma that developed after 3 weeks of taking pepsin and HCL! I take apple cider vinegar, which doesn’t bother my throat, but it also doesn’t seem to so much of anything else, despite it’s many health claims. My food still sits like a rock in my gut. I’ve tried everything, including acupuncture, but I can’t get around this LPR problem. BTW, LPR also known as ” silent reflux” is often confused with GERD; however, they’re not the same.

Anyhow, do you have any suggestions, because I’m really beginning to think my condition is a true catch-22?


Steven Wright May 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

@ Nicole – sounds like your tissues from the intestines up to the mouth are very inflamed! You should be doing everything possible to lower all types of inflammation in the body. I would recommend trying SCD without the four horsemen (dairy, egg, nuts and only small amounts of fruit). Also start with a few things that will help heal the stomach lining like Pepzin GI (zinc l-carnosine) and DGL. After awhile of those you could try digestive bitters working your way to Betaine HCL. Unfortunately apple cider vinegar isn’t going to actually help your health just cover up the pain.


Andrea June 3, 2013 at 8:21 am

Nicole this is very tough. I sympathize with this, and remember when I felt I was in a catch 22 situation . This was a similar issue for me. The key for me was lowering stress, probiotics, and peppermint tea.

Let me know if Steve suggestions help as well!


JacquiB June 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Thank you for your info. I have recently started taking betaine hcl after going off ppi’s which seemed to make my gerd worse (i never had burning until my dr. told me i had gerd and put me on meds for it). After being off meds for a month, i had a colonoscopy and gastroscopy done which revealed two polyps in my colon and esophagitis. My dr. wrote out a new prescription for ranitidine because he knows i hate taking meds and says it’s not as harmful. I chose to try betaine hcl first and since starting with one capsule (now brand) my reflux is fine during the day, but much worse at night. It wakes me up for hours at a time. I also seem incredibly constipated since starting. Any thoughts? I really don’t want to do the ppi thing again.



Steven Wright June 22, 2012 at 9:28 am

@JacquiB – Great job owning your health. I think you might want to look into getting a full stomach acid test. It will tell you exactly what is happening. Other than that, night timer GERD is usually a good sign that you ate to close to bed, or that your HCL dosage isn’t high enough. In the meantime try elevating the head of your bed 4 inches which should help.

PPI’s kill your ability to make acid, when you come off them there is a massive rebound in the feedback loops and the body usually over corrects and then stabilizes so what your experiencing is pretty normal. PPI’s are much more powerful that people give them credit for.


Timber June 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

I am on a ton of supplements right now for adrenal and thyroid issues. My question is, do I need to space out the Betaine HCL supplement from my other meds? Can I take say my adrenal meds in the morning at the same time as the HCL? Btw, Ive been on SCD for several months and have seen wonderful improvements! I believe that a lot if my adrenal and thyroid problems started in the gut and SCD is helping me heal my stomach and restore my health! Thanks for putting your info out here!


Jordan Reasoner June 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Good question, you should always check with your Dr. to make sure it’s not going to affect it.

Betaine should always be taken with a protein heavy meal, so I wouldn’t move around when you’re taking that. The point is to help you digest immediately after eating a meal.

Glad you’re doing so well, you’re amazing!!!



Debra June 30, 2012 at 1:14 am

I have a couple of questions. Doing research I’ve found enzyme recommendations for Bromelain & Papain, and what you recommend here, HCL. I have had chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia for years and now have a mild case, compared to others, of UC as well. The UC I think surfaced after being on a plant based diet for about 3-4 months. Ironically, I was trying to regain my health from the cfs/fibro through that diet. I’m currently eating SCD, which seems to be helping. I want to add digestive enzymes, but I’m not sure which ones.

What is the difference between the two listed above? if any. Does one have more advantages than the other, or do they work to achieve different goals? I’ve read, from an enzyme information site, Proteases (Bromelain & Papain) help reduce inflammation by helping to escort toxins out of the blood when taken between meals. If taken with meals, it helps digestion specifically. Does the HCL do the same thing?

Sorry if these are silly questions, but I’m new to the enzyme supplement world, and the last attempt to reclaim my health led to undesirable results.


Steven Wright July 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

@ Debra – Nonsense there are no silly questions around this site! I’d love to help you overcome those problems. Here’s the thing enzymes are completely different from HCL. If I was in your situation I’d try them both as my guess is they are both going to really help you. Start with digestive enzymes from a very good source like GI Pro health or Pure Encapsulations and in the mean time do the stomach acid tests.

The majority of the enzymatic action happens in the small intestine. Where as the Betaine HCL is going to target stomach problems. Hope that makes sense.


AnnaM June 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Dear Steve,
Thank you for all the useful information on here. I am currently building up my dosage of Thorne Research Betaine HCL/Pepsin (on 6 caps, still no burning). I have found it to be much more effective when taken at the beginning rather than end of a meal but have a question about this.
How will the body ever get to the point where it knows how much HCL to produce on its own if the supplement is taken at the beginning of the meal, which is the time when the body should be producing enough on its own ie does taking the supp at the beginning short-circuit the body’s own mechanism for gauging how much to secrete?

Whereas if you take the supp at the end, the body will already have produced as much as it’s capable of so the supp is precisely that, a supplement?

Or am I completely misunderstanding how this works?

Thanks again.


Steven Wright July 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

@ AnnaM – Great question, I can tell you’ve been thinking about this hard. I honestly can’t answer your question. I’m not sure if you short circuit any body processes by taking Betaine HCL at the beginning of the meal. I take mine at the end of the meal. The body secretes acid based on the composition of the meal and size of it so there is some thinking that over time it will get better at figuring out the right pathway to control this. But I’m not so sure. In the long run, figuring out how you got low acid levels and correcting it should be your quest. In the short-term finding the right dosage of Betaine HCL can give you great health.


Daisy April 6, 2014 at 12:30 am

how do you correct it if it was due to alcohol abuse over 5 yrs.?


AnnaM July 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

Dear Steve, thank you for your reply, definitely some food for thought there. I have started experimenting by taking a couple of caps at the beginning and the rest in the middle of the meal, seems fine. Thanks again AnnaM


Kim July 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

Hi Steve,

I’ve had all the tests done (colonoscopy, endoscopy, H.Pylori, Gluten, SIBO, Pelvic ultrasound, upper body ultrasound, comprehensive stool analysis w/parasitology, gastric stomach emptying test, adrenal blood test, Leap Test, misc. other blood tests). I do have very mild gastroparesis and gluten sensitivity (not Celiac) but my doctor still doesn’t have an answer as to “why” I experience so much bloating, belching, and chronic constipation. The mild nature of my gastroparesis isn’t enough. And I haven’t eaten gluten for a year and a half. He does believe I have low stomach acid but doesn’t know the cause. I especially notice a lot of bloating with raw vegetables.

I’m taking four Now Foods Betaine HCl (575 mg each) with each meal, 12 pills per day. Still haven’t had any burning sensations. I read on one of the bottles not to exceed 12 pills per day. But since my stomach isn’t burning yet, should I continue to increase the dosage? Is it okay to take with a liquid meal (Smoothie w/whey isolate, blueberries, ground flax, coconut oil and spinach) – or does the liquid dilute the stomach acid? If I have a snack of just Swee Potato (with no protein) – should I still take the Betaine HCl?

Also, I’ve been taking this dosage for months. Will my own stomach acid start to improve and take over at some point, or will I have to supplement forever? If I stay at this dosage, will I eventually feel the burning sensation as a cue that my own stomach acid is improving?

Anything else you can recommend would be appreciated!



Rachel March 23, 2014 at 12:18 am

I have all the same issues as you; have you found anything to help? Would love to swap notes via email. Cheers.


boby July 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I am vegetarian and don’t eat much protein. I have bloating, belch and not good feeling, m
kind of feeling tired.
I just want to know can I take betaine hcl since I am vegetarian and don,t take much protein eveyday


Steven Wright July 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

@Boby – I wouldn’t recommend taking it unless you take it with protein. Honestly, sounds like your not getting your needs meet on a vegetarian diet and you might want to try a different approach.


Andrea June 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

HI Steve, thankyou for pointing out for us find out WHY you got low stomach acid to begin with. In your experience, what do you know most often creates this issue? I have read that long term stress does it.

Also, I have Hashimoto’s with low blood sugar, and low progesterone. I am told that by ingesting more cholesterol (raw eggs and butter) and fats into my diet that it will help to build hormones back. However, I seem to get bloated when I eat too much fat. Will HCL and pepsin help with the digestion of FATS so I can utilize them for energy? If not do you have any suggestions? I’m also nursing at the moment as well. Thanks.


Janette Brown July 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I have followed information associated with your name for 2 decades. Great work.

I have diverticula, so my GI guy recommended I stop Betaine HCL, which was v e r y affective. Here, on this page, I noticed the note re pure HCL liquid. ‘Sounds interesting.

Any advice for those with diverticulosis?

Thank you!


Janette Brown July 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

correction … I assumed you were Dr. Wright, whose work with Betaine HCL I’d heard about. Still, love this page!


Steven Wright July 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

@Janette – Thanks! haha nope I’m not Dr. Jonathan Wright. But I do follow his work and love the stomach acid book her wrote. You probably at this point should get a true idea of what is happening in your stomach, the test isn’t that expensive so I’d urge you to get a Heidelberg test done.


blackbass July 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

so…if you are suppose to take probiotics on an empty stomach…but you need acid for it work properly…not sure how all that is working in your favor…i have read that you should take betaine hcl on empty stomach then wait hour and take probiotic…the acid will foster a healthy environment for the probiotics to work….does this sound contrary?


Steven Wright July 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm

@Blackbass – Actually it’s the other way around, HCL is designed to kill as many microorganisms as possible that enter the digestive tract. Our goal with probiotics is to get them through the stomach as fast as possible. Raising HCL by taking supplemental HCL will only severe to destroy the capsule and contents faster. Same thing with taking probiotics with food, you delay stomach emptying and increase HCL acidity.


michelle March 17, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I am not understanding your answer on this. Can you please tell us a little more clearly if probiotics should or shouldnt be taken with HCL and on an empty or full stomach?? Thanks.


Lori Jo Berg March 19, 2015 at 4:06 pm

HI Michelle, each person is different in what they may need. Often times, probiotics are to be taken on an empty stomach, while HCL is to be taken just before a high protein meal.


Barney July 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

So…when you say you should feel ‘heated’ does it feel like heart burn? i have been taking like 3600mg at a meal and i feel full…but i cant say that i have felt heat yet…do you think i should kick it up a few pills?


Steven Wright July 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

@Barney – Yes it can feel like heartburn but is not typical. Usually it is located much lower and deeper like a stomach burn. 3600mg is at the low end according to what DR. Wright wrote in his book and from my experience if your not at your limit yet you should keep trying a higher dosage. So I’d keep testing if I was you.


blackbass July 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

thanks steven for clearing that up..i thought that info sounded backwards…i have always heard of getting probiotics in your stomach first thing in the morning before acid levels rise


hootie August 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Hi Steven – thanks for all of this great information! I suspect I have low stomach acid and will be starting HCl supplements. My question is this: what foods can I eat to rev up my own HCl production? Thanks!


Steven Wright August 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

@Hootie – You can rev up HCL production using fermented foods especially sauerkraut according to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride


Franky August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hi steven,

Is there anyway to contact you through email.


Steven Wright August 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

@Franky – yep please go up to the top of the website and use the drop down menu “About” and then use the “Contact Us” form.


Howard August 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi, I bought some Betaine HCL to help see if I have low some acid and intend to follow you instructions. However, I’ve just realised they do not include Pepsin – will that affect results? Thanks.


Steven Wright August 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

@Howard – It can, Dr. Jonathan Wright recommends using Betaine with Pepsin.


Bijie August 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm


So informative thank you! I have been trying to supplement with HCL since I first heard you mention it at the Real Food Summit. The first week or two I was able to work up to about 5 pills with no problem (of the twinlab HCL so aprox 650mg each). But now after I eat, even if I only take 2 pills I feel GI discomfort. I dont know how to describe it other then pressure, like I am full of gas or something, about 10-15 minutes after eating. I am wondering if this could be more from the foods that I am eating or the HCL. (I have always eaten tons of eggs, nuts and dairy) but the symptoms just started about a week ago. Since I started supplementing, however, I have also had the most regular digestion of my life (almost daily elimination)

I would love to hear if you have any thoughts or recommendations!

Thanks and keep up the great work!!


Steven Wright August 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

@Bijie- Each meal can require a different number of pills due to protein content so food does matter. I’m confused you worked up to 5 pills and had great digestion but now your taking only 2? If 5 was working go back to that. Under dosing HCL seems to either not help or cause mild problems, getting the dosage correct is the key.


Debra August 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Hi Steve, I’ve suffered with GERD, LPR, and a hiatal hernia for over 20 years. I do all of the usual lifestyle modification (elevate head of the bed, don’t lie down for hours after eating, eat small meals, etc) and still have issues with my throat being burned out, hoarseness, chronic nausea, belching, and so on. I’m a small and athletic person, so weight is not an issue and it seems regardless of what I eat, food in general is not friendly for me. I eat quite healthy, organics and whole foods, never eat fried or greasy food. A friend recommended Betaine HCL, and on the first dose I had no burning, but a definite heaviness throughout my torso that lasted for a few hours. When I have heartburn or stomach pain, bitters helps and has always been my mainstay. In fact, it is often vinegary foods or Indian food that makes me feel better, so I thought the HCL might be very helpful. I’ve been put on PPIs many times in the past and while they lessen the pain, I always end up feeling like I can’t digest anything with food just sitting like a brick in my stomach. I’m wondering if the heaviness with the HCL will ease up or if I need to address some other issue first. It wasn’t painful, but definitely unpleasant and I don’t want to do any more damage to my digestive system. Thank you!


Steven Wright August 13, 2012 at 10:51 am

@Debra – I would avoid PPI’s like the plague. It sounds like you need to work with a good functional medical doctor to find the root cause of what is causing your low acid levels. From what we’ve seen there are a small amount of people who need HCL, but cannot handle it due to extreme inflammation. They seem to respond well to Mastic Gum. You might want to try that. Also make sure you follow the correct steps in dosing HCL, it must be a high protein meal and always takes a few meals to get the dosage correct.


Steven August 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Hi Steve, i just stumbled accross your page when doing a google search on HCL tablets, the information has been really helpfull. I have a question or two if you dont mind…
If i just have blended greens for breakfast i shouldnt take any HCL, but i wonder if you would reccommend protein instead of greens for breakfast so that i can get my HCL production going by taking some HCL tablets?
I have worked up to 8 Thorne research HCL tablets which is 8000mg, i wonder how obvious the burning/discomfort is when you reach the dose before you drop down one?
Lastly i wonder how long you were at your ideal dose before you started to feel the need to reduce?

Thank you


Steven Wright August 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

@Steven – I suggest people eat a high protein breakfast. I think you may be miscalculating the Thorne HCL dosage or you have a different product that I’ve never seen. I believe its 2 caps per 1040 mg? so 8 would be 4120mg. It’s pretty obvious heaviness/burning. At my high I was taking about 6000mg a meal for a year or so. Now I’m down to 3500mg or so for a big protein meal and none for a small protein meal. The key is fixing the underlying reasons why your acid production was shut off to begin with.


Steven August 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm

@Steve – Thanks ever so much, i will start eating a high protein breakfast! You are very correct about the betaine serving size i am glad you corrected me as i had not realised that the measurements on the labelling are for “2 capsules” this could of led me to some problems!
I am up to 11 capsules so just over 5500 at the moment and i am feeling no benefit i feel i have a long way to raise still, this is going to be expensive. My BM’s are very horrible and undigested still. I do have underactive thyroid which i believe is one of my causes i am trying to control this at the moment, but i also may have done permanent damage with drug and alcohol use, is there such thing as permanent damage with hcl or is it all reversable?
Should i continue to raise, should there be an upper limit at all or just keep going as my body needs it until i feel the burning/discomfort? I also have candida.
Thank you


Cisco August 18, 2012 at 12:47 am

Do you think its a good idea to start with the NOW SUPER ENZYMES, since it has a low dose of HCL (200mg) i think. I just want to be sure i dont cause any further distress in my stomach than is already there.


Jordan Reasoner August 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Test it and see how you tolerate it. Betaine helps most of us with IBD that have low stomach acid anyway. You might find that it actually helps you better than one without betaine.

In good health,



Cisco August 18, 2012 at 12:47 am

Plus i dont have my gallbladder and was wondering if they would also benefit in that aspect.


David August 22, 2012 at 7:44 am

In regards to teh post by Alan March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm …. stated..
>>>Something that will help the transition to using Betaine hcl for GERD is orange peel extract or d limonene.<<<

A elderly friend with a sever GERD problem, and myself also found the "D-Limonene" – Jarrow Forumlas brand did wonders for us.

I took one D-Limonene, and orange (Citrus) peel extract, twice a day and immediately was able to get off the PPI I was on for over 25 years. After about 4 months at this level, I stopped taking even that.

But I also started eating Grapefruit, once or twice a day… and think the acid helped me stop needing the D-Limonene.

I told another lady about both, and she only tried the Grapefruit. After two weeks she wrote me and said she was off the PPI also.

I believe Grapefruit Juice may work as well as the raw grapefruit.

Recently to help my digestion, I have started taking a variety of Bile Acid Factors (as my gall bladder was removed), Chewable Papaya Enzymes (Natural Factors brand), Bromelain (Now Brand), and of course Betaine HCL (Now Brand) especially with a meal with meat. They have all proven very beneficialy.

Thanks for this website… I am starting to appreciate the Hydrochloric Acid – from Betaine HCL in my digestive system. There are also other health benefits from Hydrochloric Acid in the body, I understand. You might care to discuss these too.


Cisco August 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Why would fermented foods like kombucha and sourkraut help with hcl production?


Jane September 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm


I have been diagnosed with IBS and have suffered for 30 years. My cousin’s doctor recommended Betaine HCL and Pepsin for her conditions and I bought some for myself. I started taking 1 capsule with each meal and it changed my life. I was in a horrible IBS outbreak (for lack of calling it something else…..usually lasts 2-3 months) and the Betaine helped immediately. I have been taking it for 3 weeks and want to know if it’s safe to take long term. I have had every test under the sun except the low stomach acid test (I don’t know how one gets this test). Can you advise.
Thanks for the great information on your website


Mark October 7, 2012 at 11:00 am

Hey Steve,
Im 19 and I have suspected low stomach acid for some time now. I went to a doctor who practices functional medicine and she did a stool test which indicated high levels of H. Pylori and Yeast. I have taken up to 10 Betaine HCL capsules and felt nothing at all but if i drink apple cider vinegar mixed in water and that usually helps. Should I get my doctor to check my stomach acid levels? Are there any other supplements I should take. I know H. Pylori can cause your stomach acid levels to become very low.


Steven Wright October 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

@Mark – I wouldn’t worry about testing the acid you know you have a problem. You need to kill the H. Pylori as you mentioned it’s going to suppress acid levels and in the meantime use HCL or ACV to help the digestion. Enzymes will prolly help too.


Diane October 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

Can’t find where I posted a comment but I will try again. First of all THANK YOU for ALL of this info. It has been tremendously helpful for me. I posted a comment last night about finding that RIGHT DOSE of HCl. I WAS STRUGGLING……… As noted I was NOT taking enough. I DID find that DOUBLE the amount that I was taking was what I needed. I seem to have trouble IN BETWEEN MEALS AS WELL with this feeling of the burning sensation coming up!! Any thoughts on that?? Should I take HCl in between as well?? I just about did myself in taking PRILESEC. I hope that I can get things going and processing efficiently again. I am going to start the SCD diet this week. I KNOW THAT WILL HELP AS WELL. AGAIN ………MANY THANKS FOR INFO.


Steven Wright October 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

@Diane – You’re welcome and if you’re still getting burping and acid reflux in between meals that is a great sign you still need to try more HCL. You can try taking a HCL in between if you get the burning some report that it can really help but just be aware if it’s something different you may get some intense burning. (take a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to help that).


Diane October 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Great…… I will try. What do you mean by SOMETHING DIFFERENT???


Diane October 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I just got some J Crows Lugol’s Solution……… No directions on how to take. Can you advise??


Jordan Reasoner October 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Hi Diane, great work taking action! As you know, we’re not Doctors so we can’t recommend dosages on things like this. I hope you understand.

What I can tell you is that guys like Chris Kresser usually recommend taking Selenium with Iodine, read this:

And here’s some more info from Chris on how to find your dosage:

If anything, with Iodine I always start low and work up slowly over time.

In good health,



Suse October 12, 2012 at 12:28 am

Hi guys!

Thanks again for your amazing website. Ever since I signed up for your emails I have been blessed with great information and encouragement. Thank you so much. I have been on GAPS for a year now for multiple food intolerances and have been stuck for quite a while. I had been taking HCL and pepsin but at the wrong dose (1 350mg cpasule only). Your stomach acid email alerted me to the dosage issue. I know I definitely need the HCl as a stool sample I’ve just had done showed major digestive issues, very low stomach acid, high gut dysbiosis (even after 6 months on a therapeutic dose of a 14 strain probiotic) and a parasite. I’m about to start treatment for the parasite thank goodness. My problem is with the stomach acid though. Betaine HCl makes my stomach bloat like a balloon. This is very similar to a reaction I get with salicylates. The bloating is very uncomfortable and my stomach can get quite sore also. I have wondered if this is a die-off reaction to the HCl killing pathogens and have pushed through each time for a few days. I don’t think it is though as my die-off is usually different. Is it possible my stomach lining is too thin and over-reacting, or is it the salicylates (Betaine is made from beets, moderate in sals)? How do I get the HCl in as I desperately need it? I’ve been wondering about liquid HCl and if it’s any better, but will have to order from USA as I can’t source it in Australia. My other thought is to stop taking the HCL, let my stomach settle (how long?) and reintroduce again very slowly. What are your thoughts (and those of others)? I would really appreciate your help as my diet is so limited and I need a breakthrough so I can move forward! Thanks so much for your time!


Steven Wright October 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

@Suse – Great questions, as you know we are firm believer that each of us presents a slightly different case. In your case the adding abdominal discomfort could be because you are not at the correct HCL dosage. I’ve sometimes noticed that if I under dose I don’t really get many of the benefits of the correct dosage and possibly more gas production. I’d try following the directions in this post to find your dosage for a week and if at the end of the week you’ve tried all kinds of dosages without much change then like you said try going completely off it for 10 days or so and see what happens. let me know how it goes.


Suse October 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Thanks for the really quick reply Steve. My stomach is so sore right now that I think going off the HCL for 10 days sounds like the best advice. I’ll let you know how I go when I re-introduce it. Thanks again!


Doing it the Hard Way October 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm


At middle age- after having reflux/gerd symptoms for about 5 years and being diagnosed with a hiatal hernia I stupidly made the decision to not only get my hernia repaired but to do a gastric sleeve surgery too. (after all– they make the same exact incisions for both surgeries and it cuts the cost way down- right?) So here I am after both surgeries trying to figure out the next step. I still have major acid problems. It isn’t the same pain as before with the hernia.. this pain is in my chest and shoots up into my ears. I also have burping going on NONSTOP… even with water. My throat just aches (not really burns) all the time.
My question to you is that because I had the sleeve I am not eating hardly anything at all. I have lost 42 lb in a little over 2 months. I’m also not eating much in comparison to the liquids I’m drinking. I do bone broth twice daily. I try to eat yogurt at least once a day. Other than that… I barely eat anything. I’ve gone to 4 Dr. who all were clueless with how to help other than meds. (which is why I had the hernia repair surgery anyway- to avoid them). My question to you is this… since I’m eating very little what are the foods I should try to make sure I eat in one day? I am waiting now for the SCD book but ready to get started so that I can feel better. My energy is at an all time low.
Also, I’m not diagnosed with candida, h-pylori or parasites but have been in the past and wouldn’t be surprised if I had them again. What is the chance that just changing my diet to added HCL and SCD will take care of the problems of these three if I do have them? Should I even omit the honey off of the SCD diet with the possibility of the candida??


Jordan Reasoner October 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I’m so sorry to hear that, but so amazed at how awesome you are for taking control of your health.

Have you tried eating any healthy fats like coconut oil or avocado? That might be a good snack.

The betaine HCL is mostly going to help with protein heavy meals, but I would talk to your Doctor before doing anything given your history.

You may have to treat H. Pylori, but in some cases it will go away with diet and supplementation.

Keep us posted. In good health,



Howard October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Hi Steve, I was on a strict diet all summer _ i lost weight but felt constantly bloated. Then I came off the diet for 6 weeks and the bloating stopped. I’ve been back on the diet for 3 days and the bloating has returned. Any thoughts? It seems my stomach is missing something when I diet – could it be acid?


Ana October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

Hi Steve,

I was having mild heartburn (few seconds in a week bouts) and made the wrong decision of seeking help from conventional doctors which prescribed me with PPI. After taking the meds for 3 weeks, it made my mild heartburn a lot worse (several times daily lasting for minutes). Now after endoscopy I was diagnosed with GERD and antral gastritis. I quit PPI and seek help with naturopath and TCM, taking probiotics, L-glutamine, and omega 3. My GERD is manageable now but I still feel frequent acid reflux. I just started taking betaine hcl with pepsin, but it seems that I’m having a mild burning and some pain in my stomach, my question is, is it safe for me to take it? My naturopath isnt convinced I should since it might burn me more. Is it ok to take betaine hcl with pepsin even with gastritis?

Thanks in advance.



Jordan Reasoner October 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hi Ana – you’re doing awesome so far, way to get off those evil PPI’s! First off, we’re not Doctors, so we can’t give you any advice about what’s safe or not, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

What I can tell you is we’ve seen many people go through this taking Betaine HCL even with gastritis. It can take about 3 weeks before you start to feel better, but some things that can help is taking Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) – which can help with gastritis and ulcers. Also, bone broth will dramatically help support the stomach lining, here’s how I make mine:

If you test both of those everyday for a few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you’re feeling better :-)

In good health,



Howard October 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hi Steve, I was on a strict diet all summer – I lost weight but felt constantly bloated. Then I came off the diet for 6 weeks and the bloating stopped. I’ve been back on the diet for 3 days and the bloating has returned. Any thoughts? It seems my stomach is missing something when I diet – could it be acid?

Today I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy done. Result – 5cm sliding heiatus hernia, moderate reflux gastrisis and diverticulosis.

Should I give HCL a go?


Jordan Reasoner October 24, 2012 at 2:21 am

Hi Howard, while we’re not Doctors, we can’t give medical advice, but we can let you know what we’ve read.

In the case of reflux gastritis, etc. you might find taking a supplement called Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) will ease the stomach pains. As for the bloating, HCL could make all the difference and if not, you might look at eating fruits/veggies that are low FODMAP:

In good health,



Jennie Deike November 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

I have had some inflammation issues from a hysterectomy and I was using bromelin with pectin for that. That helped tremendously. Also, had problems from a lower back injury and my muscles weren’t healing. Under the proper chiropratic that is healing now. But, I have had a terrible burning in my guy for the last 3 days. Nothing I seem to do helps.. tried prilosec, enzymes, coconut milk. Now, I have found this site, I did the baking soda test and I didn’t burp till well after 5 minutes. Figured that my stomach acid is way low. I have had several of the sympotms and never paid any attention to them. Now looking back I can see that maybe this has been my problem for a long time and never knew it.
So, I got some HCL with pectin and I took one with my meal last night and I went to bed and still had some burning went to bed, do i worry its not working? Do i worry about taking ibuprofen?



Howard November 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Hi, I’m currently up to 1500mg of HCL w/pepsin 3 times a day with meals (no warm feeling yet). I am also taking 500mg of magnesium citrate for another issue. However, I have read that MC acts as an acid suppressent – should I come off it?


Sarah November 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hi, I’v had acid reflux for about 5 months. I tried taking HCL with Pepsin with a meal high in protein and experienced a burning sensation in my head although my stomach felt nothing. Is this normal?

Thank you


Steven Wright November 30, 2012 at 8:35 am

@Sarah – No not normal but it could also be a one time occurrence. I’d try again and if it repeats itself seek a functional medical practitioner.


Rob December 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Really interesting stuff…I feel like I’ve been bloated for most of my life and I even notice it in pictures of myself when I was really young. I’m 26 now, have played all kinds of sports in my life, and exercise regularly but have never been able to get a flat stomach. I just started taking an HCL supplement and am only up to 3 pills so I haven’t experienced any burning or changes yet. I found this article though and wanted to see how you feel about it because it worries me:



Steven Wright December 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

@Rob – Interesting link, I haven’t come across the arguments that he is making in it. And I see that he included zero links to back up his statements so he’s not scoring any point there. If his theory is right he’d do much better by including the references to it. In the mean time I think Dr. Johnathon Wright’s “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” Is the best explanation of the subject.


markopolo December 12, 2012 at 7:49 am

Hey there,

Thanks for the great info. I found out that i have low stomach acid yesterday and ordered HCL supplements. It takes 1-2 weeks to arrive, so my question is, would changing my eating habits also help ? Should i cut off carbs and eat more protein, like meat and eggs ?

Thanks for the help.


Steven Wright December 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

No I wouldn’t worry to much about the food your eating as long as it’s SCD or Paleo. Instead focus on chewing your food very very well and taking lot’s of deep breaths before starting to eat.


Nichiren December 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I know I need to see a dr. But until that time i am thinking it HCL may help me. I no loner tolerate wheat or dairy. My indigestion came in the form off pain in my chest an esophagus, now I also I get burning in my chest. I am fairly young, no heart problems I am aware of. I am in a very rural part of the country, nearest dr. Or hospital is about 2 hrs away and with no health ins. It just isn’t a reality. My problem may be a little different. I am mostly follow a vegan diet sometimes an egg or fish if we eat with others. I also practice food combining (no protein with starch or carbs, no fats with protein, so on). Plus my first two meals are smoothies the first being just fruit, the second being greens perhaps some chia, etc. then at night steamed veggies or veg soup or salad. I am about to start eating what they mono meals (one thing at a time by itself) it seems I get indigestion from everything lately. I seemed to be able to handle this up until thanksgiving weekend then terrible ever since so I am wondering I this could be bacterial or if turning 40 and not cutting these things out earlier. How long does a bacterial growth take to appear? i haven’t beeen a big meat eater except about 6 monthss ago we had a very rough patch & had to eat fast food but my husband still can eat what he wants he’s fine. A few years aggo i was raw vegan ans wwas hoping tto to eat aabout 70% raw but i ddont know if i am also seitive to salicylates and not sure how to determine this or the bacterial growth. I would hate to give up my raw veggie. The only thing that helps is apple cider vinegar it seems. I know this iris a bit different so any info is appreciated. Thank you.


Arnie March 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I’m a vegan for 35 years. I take vegan enzymes with or without meals. Still am looking into Heidelberg stomach acid test to be sure. There are vegan HCL available. Who knows where the road take us. :-)


Nichiren December 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Sorry, typing on an ipad makes me look like I am 5!


Jenni January 7, 2013 at 7:22 am

Is it a bad idea to take ox bile with HCL? I have hypothyroidism (which often causes gall stones) and have had digestive issues for years starting with some stomach flu I got about 3 years ago. I am terribly bloated and constipated and have general abdominal pain/discomfort. I have read both these suppliments are helpful for digestion.


Steven Wright January 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

@Jenni – nope it’s perfectly okay. All of your problems will also benefit from a diet change like SCD or Paleo if you’re not doing them yet.


Jane January 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Hi, I took the test you recommended about 1 1/2 months ago and confirmed that I have low stomach acid. I have been taking NOW Betaine HCL with Pepsin and have worked up to between 4-6 capsules per meal. I noticed that I can get by with 4-5 capsules after breakfast and lunch. But towards the evening, even if I take a light meal, I need to take 6 capsules. It appears as if my digestive ability weakens as the day goes on. Is that normal? Also, at 6 capsules, I experience warmth, definitely not hotness/burning in my stomach. Is that OK? Or should I reduce dosage?
In the last couple of days, I start to feel a mild spasm/constriction on the lower right side of my stomach about 1/2 hours AFTER I take my capsules. Then, I will sneeze and mucus comes out from my nose. The spasm and the sneezing do not last long though and other than that I feel ok. Do I need to worry about that? Prior to that, I only felt warmth, but no spasm or sneezing.


moe January 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Hi steve,

first of all thank you for doing what you do.

ok, so here’s my problem recently (4 weeks) ago i started having symptoms of GERD, i was so worried – i went to see the doctor. he prescribed me nexium which i took for a week and the symptoms were alleviated, after this i stopped taking the medications but after few days the symptoms came back with vengeance.i rushed back to the same doctor and he told me not to worry as that’s a common occurrence.

i was started having constant acid reflux in my esophagus and abdominal pain, bloating, gas, belching even lost my appetite – living off mainly of fruits and water as my diet, then started to develop symptoms of indigestion probably due to significant stress and PPI’s as the low level acid didn’t digest the food enough – tried going to the bathroom i couldn’t defecate at all – returned to my doctor dismissed my problems and referred me to a “specialist” i put this in quote because this old man was the worst oaf i have ever come across. he also dismissed my symptoms and wasn’t giving any attention at all to my distress – he was real cold bastard, as he couldn’t wait to get me out of his office and didn’t want to answer some of my questions – he was very hasty as it was a busy time.

anyways since then, i started to have conditions of LPR not GERD strangely (btw i’m still on the medications) the lower chest pain started to go up to the upper chest and throat – since i still have indigestion i decided to get laxatives to clear the system so i can give my stomach some space – the laxative didn’t work at all, only couple of little stools black/greys and the effort to get it out was tremendous – squeezing and pushing so hard to get it out – it almost made my liver explode.

now then last night – didn’t get much sleep to because of upper chest heartburn which permeated to my throat, with the occasional regurgitation of stomach contents my esophagus/throat – in fear of this i slept with 6′ pillows went to sleep around 2am.

woke up this morning, with sore throat, coughing and an urge to clear my throat.

i will book an endoscopy first thing on monday to see what’s going with my body – i suspect i will have LPR, throat inflammation and maybe H.pylori.

what do you think Steve? please help – you sweet gentleman.



Steven Wright January 14, 2013 at 8:39 am

@Moe – Sounds like you know what’s going on. You need to lower your stress levels fast and get off the PPI’s after that you need to get checked for GI pathogens that could be lowering your acid levels. One of the fastest ways to see relief is to cut your carbohydrate load. Try our SCD, Betaine HCL and some testing.


DAVE H January 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

Hi, great site, thanks for the info!

I was diagnosed with a slight hiatus hernia years ago, and was on PPI’s for a long while. Went low carb/high fat and came off the PPI’s

For the last few years I’ve had all the symptoms of silent reflex(GORD), persistant sore throat, post nasal drip, wanted to clear my throat all the time, hoarseness in the voice, chest pain at times. No heartburn, belching or bloating though.
Loads of trips to doctors, scans, blood tests etc. nothing showing up.

I have a question if I may, in researching what to help my symptoms I have come across conflicting advice, lots of sites advise lowering acid for silent reflux, taking PPI’s, antacids etc. Like here:

Dr Oz is pushing the dropping acid book, which also recommends lowering acid to help with silent reflux.

On the other hand there are views that this is caused by too little stomach acid, but for me I’m not sure, I have been drinking apple cider vinegar in water most days for the last few years, I now take a NOW Super enzyme with each meal, and still I have these problems.

It’s been getting me down, and would like some guidance as to what route to take.
I plan to visit the doc again, but feel for sure they will just recommend PPI’s.
Many thanks


Erica January 26, 2013 at 1:40 am

How do you suggest taking / what’s the safest method for taking HCL powder? It’s so much more affordable than capsules!

Thank you!


jeni January 29, 2013 at 4:52 am

hai steven ,
steven plz help me. what i am suffering i don,t know. 6 year i am suffering this problem. what all food i eat i feel gas. i don,t feel gas is coming. i don,t feel sensation that i am having gas. when i get it smell i will came to know that i have a gas troble. sometime smell is like burning plastic, rotten egg, what ever i eat food sometimes that smell will also come. \now i show 12 doctors . all of them are saying do endoscope. i done it. but they are telling i don,t have problem .my report is normal. i am really nervous bez i can,t attend the class or to talk to my friend. plz help me what to do. what i have and which medicine i want to eat? i am waiting for your comment.


Jennifer January 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Thanks so much for your site and book. Right now, I’m up to 5 capsules of Betaine HCL and the only symptoms I get are belching and gas, which I have been fighting for months. The gas is better since I started the SCD diet 3 days ago, I have eaten paleo since Mar 2012, but prior to that ate plenty of grains, dairy, and sugar (am always fighting that demon!) Do I just keep upping the capsules until things start improving?

I have never taken any meds for this just tried to cut out carbs or not eat before going somewhere I didn’t want to possibly smell the room up, ugh!


Liz February 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Hi guys, thanks for putting this article together. I am trying to reverse my low stomach acid and have been trying the HCL challenge (as stated above). I am up to 4 pills/meal and have yet to feel anything. However I do feel a bit queazy and my stomach is making a lot of noise. Is this from the pills? Does this mean I should stop and go to 3 pills, or should I keep increasing?

Thanks for your help!


Darrel Stalheim February 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Hi, I am very confused if I am low in stomach acid or have too much. I did the beetroot juice test and my urine turned pinkish/red. But, today I supplemented with Standard Process brand Betaine Hydrochloride which is a proprietary blend at 605 mg. I ate half of my pastrami sandwich and took 2 of the pills. I felt no warm feeling in my stomach so I took one more at a time till I was up to 6 pills all together. At that point I still didn’t feel anything in my stomach, but decided to wait to see what would happen with my my stomach. About an hour and a half later my mouth started watering that was when I knew I was gonna be having some gas and a bit of heart burn. When I finally burped a few minutes later I got very bad heartburn with each burp that I had. While I was experiencing this heartburn I put some salted sunflower seeds in my mouth which seemed to settle my stomach down and didn’t have any more gas or heartburn after that. I don’t think I was nearly as gassy as I have been in the past from eating. So my question is do you think my stomach might actually have too much acid, or did I just take too many mgs of Betaine Hydrochloride? Do you think I should need to take more Betaine Hydrochloride? Do you think the sodium on the sunflower seeds helped to lessen the gas and heartburn? How long does it take for the Betaine Hcl to start working? Thanks for any help you can give


Melanie February 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I took HCL for 3 weeks under the direction of a nutritional therapist. I had not been tested for low stomach acid, but she said that other issues I was having could be helped by raising stomach acid. Unfortunately, I began experiencing heartburn only after starting HCL. Eventually the pain in my chest got better (after many months), but for 2 years, I have had pain in my stomach on a daily basis when cooking or after eating. I had an endoscopy, biopsies, and blood tests, and it turns out I burned my stomach lining taking HCL unnecessarily and now I’m on PPIs to allow it to heal.

Just wanted to add a word of caution that this is a serious choice and you really need to know what you’re doing, or it could cause even further problems. I would make sure you absolutely know you have low stomach acid, and try natural ways to increase it before directly supplementing with HCL.


ralph February 7, 2013 at 9:37 am

I was just reading an articel on WEBMD and it said that Betaine Hydrochloride does not alter stomach acidity. It further states that a federal law that went into effect in 1993 bans it from OTC products as there wasn’t enough evidence to classify it as generally recognized as safe and effective and that is it is now only available as a dietary supplement and they don’t regulate dietary supplements. What say you? Thanks.


Kathy February 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Would like to know if I take too much of HCI, is it possible to get burning in my back between my shoulder blades? I don’t feel the burning in my stomach but in my back like I have something stuck. Can the HCI do that? I think I’m going crazy trying to find
What’s going to work for my reflux!


Natalie April 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi Kathy,

Just wanted to let you know that I also got a “stuck feeling” near my left shoulder blade after 1 pill. Not burning, just ‘stuck.’ It passed relatively quickly. I’ll let you know if I find out what’s going on…maybe gas?


Sharon April 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

I had similar pain with night time painful attacks of terrible indigestion, bloating, vomiting and the feeling that my food was stuck and not digesting. Had a terrible pain in my back. Turned out I was having gallbladder attacks from gallstones. A gallbladder ultrasound diagnosed the problem. Removed the gallbladder. Never had another attack.


Hheinrich February 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Hi Steve,

i would like to know if taking HCl Betain can disturb our feedback system in our body and induce to an even lower natural HCl production when stopping to take the Pills?
Are there some Articles about that?

Best regards.


Steven Wright February 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Not that I’ve seen. It’s unlikely that the pills would inhibit actual body production as they are actually a small amount compared to what the body makes.


LAUREN February 11, 2013 at 12:06 am

Im still having a lot of bloating and gas, and i’m wondering if this is in part due to only taking 1 650mg betaine HCL with meals.

I do have one burning question though (haha…) I NEED to find a betaine HCL that does NOT have cellulose. I’ve recently discovered that fiber in every form causes me bloating and pain. WHY does every supplement for stomach support have non-edible fiber…AKA cellulose! So annoying. Would love any suggestions from anyone!!


scott March 29, 2013 at 1:00 am

Nowfoods Betaine/HCL with Pepsin is cellulose-free. Most of Now’s products come in gelatin capsules and do not include cellulose.


Leila February 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm

HI, I have been recently diagnosed with Ostiopenia which I assume is the beginning of osteoporosis. I have had GERD for a few years. I had no earthly idea what it was until my sister came to the rescue and told me what our hereditary problem was. I had episodes of horrible nausea, vomiting, profuse cold sweats (you would think it was a heart attack) and lethargy, in the middle of the night (usually between 2:30AM and 3:30AM). I never had indigestion or burning sensation so i really had no idea what it was. I tried the HCI off and on with good results and had less bloating after meals. Now I keep soda and water by my bead and drink as needed in the middle of the night. (which usually works very well.) within a very few minutes I burp the nausea is gone and I go right back to sleep.
But my problem now is that I have to take extra calcium and it seem to use up what HCI that do I take. I have been taking 3–650mg lately when I eat and it will work well except when I take the calcium–I usually drink a large glass of raw milk with dinner and we eat mostly twice a day with a small snack before 6pm. If I don’t take HCI with the snack I end up sick at 2:30 AM. How much is a small meal with no HCI? Should I always take a HCI no matter how much or what I eat? I am not in to dieting and do eat sweets off and on but not excessive. It seem that any amount I eat without the HCI in the evening I live to regret it at 2:30 AM.
After writing this out I seemed to have answered most of my own questions. I suppose it just needed to be in print. Maybe it will help someone else.
I still would like to know what a small meal is and what about HCI and sweets?
Thank you in advance. Leila


Steven Wright February 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

@Lelia – Thanks for sharing your experience, yes calcium will counteract the HCL as you’ve found out. Any meal that contains protein and or fat might need HCL, so for many people that will include snacks. To help with the GERD, lower the carbohydrates in your diet (usually sweets).


leila wright February 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Thank you for your response. I have been reading the book: Why Stomach Acid is good for you and I have another question.

Is there a correlation between low stomach acid and high levels of histamine production. I ran across histamine and I assume it is the same histamine as in bug bite reaction as well as food allergies.
I have a horrible reaction to chiggers and ticks. I moved to Missouri 7 years ago and have had very bad reactions to them but now all of a sudden the reaction is incredibly bad for even one bite. The outlying area will grow to 6 or 8 inches round or even more if there is more than one bite. All the Dr said was that I produced too much histamine and prescribed antihistamine pills. I have found that Stinging Nettle works a whole lot better than their pills. But my reasearch does say that it will lower one’s resistance. Stinging Nettle even takes at least a week and by then I have been bitten more. I have been living on it all summers. Those little suckers don’t die in the winter either. I must tell you that I had Valley Fever in 1978 which left me with a rash for 20 years. Does that have any thing to do with it or maybe it’s just low stomach acid and leaky gut combination. I have been watching the sugar and found that the more sugar the more itch. Any way I would like your opinion on the correlation of bug bite allergy and leaky gut and low stomach acid. I’m moving my HCL up to 4 at each meal and at least one to two to snacks. and lay off the sugar. Thank you so much.


Steven Wright February 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

@Leila – I cannot say that I’ve researched the correlation of low stomach acid and histamine intolerance. But this recent podcast I recorded with Chris Kresser will likely help you ->


Ian May 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I’ve been using it for asthma and allergies for about 3 years. It took a while to really take effect but after a few months I was able to stop taking daily Advair (an inhaled steroid). I also stopped taking Claritin in the shoulder seasons, which I can’t believe. I’ve had pretty severe allergies for most of my life. I think there is a correlation with Histadine, which is an essential amino acid, and the regulation of histamines – the chemical that regulates allergy responses. If you can’t break down proteins enough to absorb the requisite amount of Histadine, then you will develope a deficiency. Parietal cells, cells that line the stomach and produce HCL, are also histamine receptors that bind with histamines and produce an allergic reaction. I understand that undigested proteins and long chain amino acids can also illicit an allergy response. Long story short, I have had great results taking pepsin/HCL for allergies.


Wendy February 13, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I live in Canada and am under the assumption that the Betaine HCI does not include pepsin. I can not find pepsin in any of our products. Am I okay with DigestMoreHCI, brand name RENEW LIFE? They are 200mg capsules, so I would start out with 3?


Wendy February 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

Please excuse my last comment. I did find Betaine HCI with pepsin. Apparently, Dr. Oz mentioned it on one of his shows and now they can’t keep it on the shelves. I’m starting the Phase 1 part of the diet because have had great success in the last 4 days stopping the diarrea, due to ulcerative colitis, on the Intro part, but the bleeding hasn’t stopped yet. I’m having constipation, bloating, gas, etc. now. I’ve always suspected low acid but never knew what to do about it. My doctor wanted me to take Nexium, but I knew I shouldn’t do that. I’m going to use the Betaine HCI with pepsin. I am excited to keep going on the diet. It’s my first step to healing. Thank you so much for the help you give to us through this.


Tommy February 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hi Steve,

thanks for providing such valuable information to… well, a distressed but trying GI community, I guess you could say.

Since being diagnosed with IBD in 2011, I’ve worked closely with a naturopathic doctor and my medical doctor. But remain ill with digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, possible food allergies)…

When I was about 13-14 years old, I was hit with reoccurring acid reflux. At that age, I was a complete fool, and only ate what I wanted to. My mom found Prilosec (a proton pump inhibitor) which solved my problems completely. I was never hit with acid reflux EVER again.

When I was 18, I had a lot of teen-age emotions I feel I can attribute to IBS (lots of diarrhea), no blood at this age. When I started smoking to dull emotional pain, all symptoms went away. In 2011, I started noticing symptoms of IBD, and was then diagnosed.

After doing some research, i’ve found that Prilosec (proton pump inhibitor) can cause less gastric acid production. Say hydrochloric acid for example. This acid is used to digest proteins, and if not functioning properly can lead to

I’ve had all of those symptoms since I was in my late teens.
Once this happens, it apparently can lead to auto-immune diseases and other issues.

My metametrix lab test showed yeast/parasite and h.pylori and very low Elastase 1 (which is an important pancreatic enzyme that breaks down protein)

I wonder if these are puzzle peices to help me rebuild my gut. Per my doctors permission, I’m currently taking 2 (400mg) Country Life brand Betaine HCL tabs a day with protein meals. I haven’t really noticed results yet, and I just wanted to check with you and ask,

Is this safe to do so, for someone with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
I’m taking 800mg of Asacol (mesalamine a day), this wouldn’t interfere or exacerbate symptoms, correct?

Sorry for the lengthy message, thanks again, have a good day.


sue February 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hi Steve,

I’ve been taking HCL with Pepsin for over two months now and it has really improved my life, however, I still get some heartburn (and chest pain) around 6:30 pm everyday and during sleep. I’ve elevated my bed so that helps. I was wondering for how long should I keep taking it? I haven’t been very consistent with the amounts and I’m confused as to whether im taking too much or little. I take usually 3,4, or 5 per meal along with other enzymes. What do you think? THANKS for all the information.


Arnie March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Am thinking as a vegan plant food based eater, should we do test with protein shake (meat is a no-no for us). AND what is your opinion on vegan HCL’s (they are available for sure)? PS Am in posture for a urine methylmalonate test to see a FUNCTIONAL B-12 deficiency vs. blood drawn B-12 test. All comments and thoughts are invited please. Love you! :-)


Steven March 8, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Hi Steve and others,

I have recently started trying Betaine HCL tablets as a potential treatment for symptoms of Rosacea, which is appearing as a red rash on each side of the bridge of my nose. The Rosacea symptoms began when I switched to a no-grain, no-sugar diet. (This coincided with a substantial increase in protein intake, which could be the culprit.) The dermatologist wanted to put me on permanent antibiotics. No thanks.

I heard Rosacea could be related to low stomach acid. Did the baking soda test – no reaction. Did the Betaine test – no reaction.

I have been progressively upping my dose as suggested. Now up to 6 x 650mg tablets per meal without any noticeable reaction. Also no noticeable improvement to the rash.

So my questions for Steve and the community are:

– Has anyone else tried Betaine for Rosacea symptoms and did you have any luck?
– Has anyone else gone beyond 6 x 650mg pills and seen results that weren’t noticeable at lower dosages?
– Has anyone got any advice based on things that have worked for them? Such as, timing of dose or complementary treatments for Rosacea?

Any other input welcome. Thanks.



Lillian March 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

i took one 650ml betaine hcl with pepcin and felt great but the second day i took 2 so i can start finding the correct dose for me. For some reason i ended up with a headache and felt very short of breath and heavy chested. Do you think I over did it? I cant ask my doctor because ever since I mentioned low stomach acid was my problem she wont see me anymore and told me I needed to go to another doctor.


LEAH PARKER March 16, 2013 at 8:18 am

Ok I took this yesterday with Breakfast I took 1200 mg and by 11am starting having horrible gas pains and then in the evening had diarrhea, is this normal ?


Linda Zee March 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

This may have been asked before but there are so many comments, I got tired of reading. I have been on Prilosec for probably 9 years and in the past 2 my GERD has gotten worse with bouts at night of acid aspiration which is terrifying. Because of all I’ve read, I would really like to quit the Prilosec. SO … my question is, assuming there will be a period of rebound effect, how exactly does one transition from long term Prilosec to betaine hcl with pepcin without enduring many nights of horrible acid aspiration? I practically sleep sitting up now, eat dinner at around 4:30pm, am careful about what I’m eating avoiding triggers. I have been on 2 Prilosec a day and have cut back to just one at night. Please help, I’m tired of living with the GERD and I don’t want to resort to surgery.


Crystal March 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Steve! I’m excited to report that I’m down to 1 HCL tab per meal and I’m getting the burning sensation with only one pill. Does this mean that I don’t need the HCL anymore? Can I quit this supplement?


Steven Wright April 1, 2013 at 10:42 am

It could be, I’d test stopping it and monitor your digestion for a week or longer if all is well at the other end then hooray!


Jane Mansell March 27, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I had a NutrEval test done which shows amino acids very low. Also low folate and selenium. I have Hashimoto’s and parietal cell antibodies. I supplement with methyl b vitamins also selenium, probiotics, digestive enzymes and betaine hcl with pepsin, although fatigue is my major problem. I assume amino acids are derived from proteins and hcl comes from parietal cells. I have only been taking 3 hcl tablets with each meal, which is probably not enough so i am going to up it to 5 or 6. Do you have any views on supplementing with Parietal cell antibodies?


Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Actually I’ve never heard of it, can you post some studies or links? Thanks!


xania March 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi – my question – how can you find out if you have a ‘thin’ stomach lining (or no stomach lining)? In the last 5 yrs, I have gone from extreme acid reflux – I’ve changed my diet extremely so I don’t have that anymore – but my food allergies are becoming more and more… I can hardly eat food without have some sort of reaction – they’re all different, depending upon how sensitive I am to the food…

The reason I am asking about the stomach lining is because I took one 250mg Betaine hcl + pepsin, (which I found in my research that it would help with food allergies) and I have a heaviness in my gut and my mouth is burning – well, under my tongue… which I find weird… Any ideas that can enlighten me? [SMILE]… Thanks for all that you do!


Steven Wright April 1, 2013 at 10:56 am

I’m not sure, you might need to switch brands of HCL, try a higher dosage or it might not be right for you at all. In other words one test cannot really tell us what we need. With increasing food sensitivities despite diet changes normally with our 1-on-1 clients it’s because of adrenal fatigue and gut pathogen. I’d invite you to come work with us for the best help we can offer ->


xania March 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

oh – and not to sound crude, but I just had a small burp… which is unusual for me… Thanks


Sara April 7, 2013 at 8:57 am

I was misdiagnosed about six months ago. My doctor told me that I have acid reflux and GERD when in fact my symptoms were from another presciption drug. I ate PPIs for five months which made my symptoms a lot worse. Doctor’s reply: higher dosage – result: more symptoms.

I stopped with PPIs a month ago with the help of Betaine HCL, and I am just wondering if the PPIs have made irreversible damage to my stomach? Changed to another doctor and she told me that not I have extremely low acid levels. Will my stomach ever produce sufficient level of acid again?


Pam April 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I have been on nexium for 5 years or more. Decided to start on betaine hcl. Started with 1 tablet after each meal and noticed a burning sensation at the base of my throat. Increased it to 2 tablets and the burning got worse . Any ideas on what is happening here? Really tempted to get back on nexium, am in a lot if discomfort……please help!


sanjay December 19, 2014 at 2:37 am

Did u get relief now from ur burning sensation and acidity, gas. I am also having the same problem as u.

I am sanjay 26 yrs from India. I have gas and acidity problem since 3 years. I have tried Homeopathy medicines and Allopathy medicines but nothing worked out for me. I have indigestion,burping, Bloating so I need to go to bathroom two to three times in the morning for making the shit out of my stomach. So I have started “Betaine HCL Pepsin & Gentian Bitters, 120 Capsules” . I ate 1 maggie noodles in the morning and kep gap of 1 hour then took 1 tablet in the morning, then after 10 minutes I ate whole wheat bread 4 pieces with Kissan Jam. I got sudden relief and in the afternoon time I ate rice and dal(indian Veg curry)my stomach was completely happy till the evening. All of a sudden from the evening from 5.00 clock my stomach started burping and got severe Headache and HeadAche was present till midnight and my stomach got bloated heavily and could not eat anything in the night. So did I get any Side effects like Severe Headache and severe bloating after consuming the betaine HCL tablet or do I have to increase my Dose for reducing the Bloating and Gas.Can you please help me with this problem because I wanted to gain weight as am also under weight and wanted to gain weight by digesting the protein food.



Mary May 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I have non ulcer pain, and have been taking betaine hcl with pepsin 500 mg each for 2 months. I am taking 26 pills with a meal, and still ave no burn. Is this dose too high?


Steven Wright May 3, 2013 at 9:15 am

@Mary – yes that is much higher than Dr. Wright discusses in his book. Please stick to his guidelines and work with a practitioner. It’s likely you have underlying issues like bacteria, hormones or nutrient deficiency’s that are causing this.


Jennie May 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Any thoughts on this with someone who has had a gastric bypass? I am concerned this is what is going on with me…but I am afraid of putting anything in my new stomach…


Carolina May 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hi Steven,

I was wondering if I have to take it with smoothies too… The food is somewhat liquid at this point. I take apple cider vinegar before all main meals but wasn’t sure if I had to before snacks, etc. Thanks.


juan May 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Hi, i recently started taking hcl betaine capsules, and sometimes i feel a little burning in my throat and burping after taking the pills. My question is does that mean that i should continue to up the dosage or to lower it? i don’t feel any burning sensation in my stomach only a little in the throat. Also, is the burning in the stomach like really obvious when you need to lower the dosage? Thanks, much appreciated.


Mysterygirl May 21, 2013 at 9:36 pm

The water agency that supplies Sonoma County adds lye (sodium hydroxide) to our water, making the PH higher 8.5 (!) than ideal conditions for my goldfish pond. They started adding caustic soda to the water in October of 1995.

The purpose of the sodium hydroxide is to raise the pH levels. The high pH reduces corrosion of pipes by making the water more alkaline. This is a popular method of meeting Environmental Protection Agency standards which limit the amount of heavy metals allowed in waste water. Lead and copper are the heavy metals of greatest concern.

I am planning on using the Betaine HCL supplemens to neutralize the lye and turn it into table salt. This will lower my PH levels AND provide a bit of NaCH sodium chloride (table salt) for the goldfish. A bit of salt helps them build a healthy slime coat and does not hurt them.


Arnie Welber May 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Steve, Is there a vegan Betaine HCL w/pepsin you might suggest please? :-)


Ssh May 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I decided to try the Betaine HCL and took my first one right before eating lunch
which did include protein; haven’t had a good afternoon, discomfort in stomach &
coughing….really hadn’t had those symptoms with my acid reflux. Does that mean
I don’t have low stomach acid, or should I just keep up the regiman i.e. 1 before supper then again 1 before each meal tomorrow & increase to 2 the next day?
Wasn’t expecting to feel this way so just wanted to check. Thanks so much!!


Varun May 29, 2013 at 6:30 am

Hi Steve,
I’ve decided to buy Betaine HCL supplement. However, almost in all the brands I checked, milk/dairy is listed as an ingredient. Milk/dairy is SCD Illegal. So I wanted to know if you are taking this supplement with milk/dairy as an ingredient and if it is working for you.


Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I usually use the Thorne Research or Source Naturals brands. I haven’t seen anyone who is milk/dairy intolerant react to HCL caps. Jordan is one of the most sensitive people I know to milk/dairy and he does just fine on both brands.


silvia Juarez May 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Hi Steve I been treat for H pylori twice, last October was my last treatment, also the endoscopy shows up duodenal and esophagus ulcers due to acid reflux, my question to you is if I still can try Betaine HC ?

Silvia Juarez


Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Always talk with a medical practitioner but as far as I know you should be fine to test it.


Patrice May 31, 2013 at 11:46 am

Great job helping people get healthier! Since you are such an HCL fan, you may want to check out Unikey Health System’s HCL formula. They are a smaller company with over 20 year history of making excellent products. I have used their HCL+2 (beataine hydrochloride 540mg) + (pepsin 145 mg +ox bile extract 65mg) for digestive support for years and love it!


Mark June 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Can I take Beitaine HCL with the SCD yogurt or will this kill the probiotics? Maybe take an hour or two before or wait an an hour or two later?

The yogurt mixed with two raw eggs is my largest protein meal and seems to cause more burping then other meals whether I take it early in the morning or as my final meal.

UC 18 Years SCD 3.5 Years. No blood loss 2 years. Just this burping and a mild pain in my lower right quadrant are the only symptons. SCD has worked well for me


Valerie June 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

My husband, now aged 80, took antacids and proton pump inhibitors for many years. (They led to osteoporosis, and a fracture of the fibula ten years ago that still gives him on-going pain, for which he uses an opioid patch.) He also has hypothyroidism, for which he takes T3, and adrenal insufficiency for which he takes hydrocortisone.
A few years ago, I got him off the PPIs and onto a low-carbohydrate diet. He has some digestive system issues which have worsened lately, including nausea, abdominal pain and reflux, and has been referred for a gastroscopy. In the meantime, the doctor (who does some complementary medicine) has him taking slippery elm powder mixed with a pro-biotic, after every meal. It is supposed to heal the stomach. I have mentioned to him that his problems are more likely to be lack of stomach acid than the “too much” everybody thinks it is, but he resists the idea. And I don’t know what to think about the slippery elm. Can you help?


Paul Salafia June 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Hi. I’ve been a long time PPI user. A decade now. Diagnosed with Gerd, eosinophilic esophagitus and a hiatal hernia. I’ve been told PPIs are my only option. Even on PPIs i still get breathrough acid and often supplement with a Zantac to tamp it down. Would love to get off of these. Can I “try” HCL while still on these PPIs or is that just completely counterintuitive. Would love to see if they made a difference and quite frankly am scared to get off the PPIs (it’s bad if I miss a day). Thanks


Terri Malott June 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

Dear Steve,

Thank you for your website. Very interesting. I wish I had read it before ordering the following, NutriCology Ox Bile, and Natural Factors Multi Enzyme High Potency. I hope these we will be helpful for my bloating, and continuous BURPING.

What do you think? Should I also order, NOW Super Enzymes or NOW Betaine HCL digestive supplements. Or will the above information in the first paragraph be sufficient?

Thank you



Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Hey Terri – I don’t like Super Enzymes because they don’t allow you to adjust the dosage of HCL and enzymes independently. Which is what most people need to feel awesome. Go with an HCL only supplement.


Michael July 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Hi, I’m getting super smelly gas whenever I eat anything remotely fatty (i.e. fatty chicken drumsticks, chuck roast etc), and had bad diarrhea after overdosing on fat (unfortunately the coconut oil + chicken sausage recipe on this site didn’t agree). I’ve switched to a virtually fat free diet which has reduced the smelly gas and burping quite a bit but I still get that bloated feeling after lots of meat.

My question is, would I be wise to start with enzymes (for the fat) or HCL – or both? I would like to start one after the other to see which one has the best effect. Is it recommended to take both at once?

Also, would eating salty food impact on stomach acid? I love salt on my food but it is alkaline which means it would neutralize acid, correct?

Thanks for your site… I know I can get through this after reading the countless positive stories here.


Steven Wright July 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

Both! Whenever HCL problems are present it’s highly likely there is an enzyme issue.


Michael July 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Thanks – looking forward to eating fat again!


lyle July 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I cant swallow pills and i found a liquid HCL, but it does not have Pepsin. I do have a Chewable Papaya Ezyme. My question is can i take the Papaya Enzyme instead of Pepsin?




Tina kalvelage August 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

My daughter tested the HCL tonight with success – no tummy ache or bloating. She’s 18. Will test again tomorrow and see how it goes. Then increase dose to the level she should take as per your instructions. My question is how long should she take the hcl? Does she decrease doses after a certain time period? And is there and hcl with pepsin in liquid form?

Thank you


Erin August 23, 2013 at 12:30 am

Is HCL ok to take before or during pregnancy? Thanks for all your help and information! Western medicine has failed me. It’s a lifesaver.


AnnM August 31, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Thank you guys for having this site up. I just found it while doing one of my usual searches for digestive relief.

I’m been on Omeprazole since May because of IBS and GERD and chronic bloating. I want to move away from the Omeprazole, and I’m thinking of starting HCL to see if that helps with IBS in my case. I take probiotics religiously, at every meal. And here is where my question comes up: Can I take HCL at the same time as my probiotics, with the meal, or should I space them out somehow?


Steven Wright September 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

You can take them at the same time. There are 2 main theories regarding probiotic supplementation one with meals and one without.


Debbie September 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Hi – I have seen where others have asked this question but have not seen an answer. I have started taking Betaine HCL with pepsin. I had a burning in my throat each time I took it with my meals. I started with 1 pill after eating for my first meal. The next 2 meals I took 2 in the middle of my meal. Should I stop taking it?


Jordan September 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hi SCD lifestyle. Thank you so much for all the work you put into this site!
I started supplementing with hcl and enzymes around the time i started scd about 8 months ago. The addition of hcl was so helpful (immediate help in digesting, reduction in bloating etc) and a really encouraging step on the road to healing chronic gut issues. I recently got some functional testing which revealed an h.pylori infection and low thyroid activity. for the last month i have been taking an herbal tea + lauricidin + interphase plus for the h. pylori and a daily dose of dessicated thyroid (nature throid) for low T3…last week, seemingly out of nowhere, I started getting really bad reflux and burning after every meal (GERD has not been an issue before – pre or post hcl supplementation). I can’t make the reflux stop :( …. for the past two days i’ve reduced the HCL supplementation at meals but it doesn’t seem to be helping….i haven’t come across any good information on GERD that starts post SCD and HCL and while addressing H.pylori. Any ideas for causes, things to try would be awesome….any known links between thyroid supplementation and reflux? could it be that killing the h. pylori is leading too a return in natural acid production and now additional hcl is too much? why does it feel like my food comes back up into my throat after eating?


Kearsten September 23, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Hi Steve,

I’ve been having digestive issues going on for a very long time now. I’ve tried everything… all the tests, restrictive diets, etc. and nothing has worked. I came across this post and decided to try it out. I just took one HCL pill this evening and have not felt any burning, so I’m ready to try it tomorrow again to verify possible low stomach acid.

If this is the issue, will I need to take the same dosage indefinitely? Or will the amount I need eventually decrease? Will supplementation eventually “fix” whatever is wrong, or should I still work on finding the underlying cause? Also, I know you say I will need to take HCL with high-protein meals, but how high is high? For instance, I eat oat bran with peanut butter every morning. There is some protein between the two, but not as much as chicken/turkey/etc. So should I supplement if there is any protein in the meal at all, or just if there is a significant amount? (I would guesstimate that there is some protein in all of my meals).

Thanks so much for your post.. here’s hoping this is the key!


Daureen October 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Been having chest pressure almost every time i exercise or do strenous activity and sometimes during mild exertion for over three years. pressure stops as soon as activity stops. Heaviness in my arms during heavy exertion. Have had every heart and lung test there is with normal results. my accupunturist recommended hcl so i started taking one with every meal. i feel my pressure has definately improved during exercise though not completely gone. What is the connection here? why would my digestion interfere with my exercise program? should i take more than 1 tab with meals to make it completely go away. please advise. thank you. i feel this is a God send if i can make a full recovery. any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated.


kim November 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Hi what happens if you can’t swallow capsules or pills? Is their any other way of getting the stomach acid up?


Steven Wright November 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Then try digestive bitters which are typically liquid.


Doris Mack November 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Can you take hci with prescription medications? I take Effexor xr , lamictal for depression , I also take estrogen in pill form. do these need to be spaced apart or fine taken together?


Cat November 18, 2013 at 10:26 am


I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on something. I was diagnosed with H.Pylori almost 7 months ago. I also started a gluten fee diet because my intestines were so messed up and my fatigue was extreme. This really helped. The most abnormal symptom that I had and still have was severe hunger. I just couldnt get full. Right now I get more full when I eat meat/chicken. The problem is every single morning, no matter how much I have eaten before I go to bed, I always wake up with a total hollow stomach and severe hunger. I am now taking something called PGX to help keep my stomach fuller longer and it’s not really working. I have been seeing a naturopath and she agrees that I am eating enough. I am just wondering if this constant hunger could be caused by low stomach acid. What do you think? It’s really hard to get an answer online since the responses are always contradictory. thanks for your help


Jazmine November 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Dear Steve,

Hi, I just started taking betaine HCl (has pepsin) with meals and Oh my Gosh! It’s helped me a lot. I feel the extreme fullness, that I get it even when I eat just salads or small snacks, bloating and stomach cramping go away within like 30-45 min., but the weird thing is I get this strong smell of ammonia in my nose on and off. I’m not in any pain or anything, my stomach feels lighter, I feel like I can breath easier, and I feel better in general so should I be concerned about the ammonia smell? Is this normal when you don’t eat carbs and sugars (body breaking down protein instead)?


PomeGranate November 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Wow, great article. I read Dr. Wright’s book, too. It seems a LOT of people have digestive problems. I blame mine on prescription meds.
One important thing to know if your symptoms hang on, is that after a long time of bloating your stomach can slightly protrude through the LES (which is flabby due to low stomach acid). This will cause reflux. You need to push it back in place by massaging it or drink a glass of water and hop off of a step or stool. This was a big part of my problem until I learned how to keep my stomach in place and give my LES time to get strong again. Any comments on this idea? Have you heard of this?


Jed November 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hi guys, thanks for the article! I’ve just received my Betaine hcl today – 600mg tablets. What I wanted to know is if the dosage is per meal or per day? The article confused me and I just want to be sure I’m taking it properly.


Brian Nuttbrock November 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Any one know if you can open up betaine caps and stir the powder in water…I find I often don’t digest the caps.


Daureen December 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Ive been diagnosed with a cluster of ulcers where the esophagus meets the stomach, gerd and a small hiatal hernia. Dr. put me on ppi’s. I was taking hcl before the diagnosis and felt much better during exertion. Dr. says not to take hcl and stay on the meds for ever. Always have chest pain and heaviness in arms when under exertion or exercise. now i can barely walk 25 feet without stopping to clear my chest pain. I need help. Can i go back on hcl and get off the ppi or do i wait till the ulcers clear and how do i know if theyre gone? Also drinking aloe juice every day to help heal them. Please help


Diana December 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm

My local healthfood store has HCL with Fenugreek instead of Pepsin. I am digging and digging and can’t find any info about whey Fenugreek is in there, maybe it works the same as Pepsin?
Any insights from you guys?


LMP January 8, 2014 at 12:24 am

I’m in recovery for anorexia (the purging type) and it causes severely low acid in the stomach. I started betain HCl 3 weeks ago and the first day it was like a miracle but now I’m back to the same delayed gastric emptying and bloating. I started on 1200 mg dose, upped it to 3-4 pills of 600 mg as needed. But my esophagus burns really badly now after meals and I’ve found that 2 pills does nothing anymore. But because of the reflux symptoms I’m scared to take more HCl. I have yet to feel the burning sensation, but i do get painful gassy stomach aches that hurts to breathe because it pushes against my rib cage. I have huge GI history and my esophagus is reconstructed (birth defect) so I don’t want to damage it. I also was taking a digestive enzyme that is now discontinued and the acid reflux symptoms started when I switched so I’m thinking that is the culprit but not sure. Either way my stomach gets incredibly distended and gassy and painful. Small meals not an option because of hyper metabolism from ED. Should I increase my dose?


Laurie January 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm

I usually use digestive enzymes. Should I still take them while trying to find my right dose of HCL?


Courtney January 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I got diagnosed with hployri at the beginning of this year got the triple therapy and when I finished the antibiotics I didn’t take the ppi afterwards. I have been taking hcl 650mg once a day. I still have some stomach pain from the hployri treatment and if it persisted my doctor wanted me to go to a gastrologist, which I cannot afford. I noticed the hcl helps with the stomach pain but I still get it. Does this mean I need to take more hcl? I’ve been suffering with anxiety too so some of my stomach issues are stress related.

I just noticed when my doctor gave me an h2 blocker (since I refused at the time to take the ppi due to bad reactions to it) I was doing fine, it took away my heartburn but the more I took it my stomach had immense pain then the hployri showed up. I personally believe that the h2 blocker made my stomach more susceptible to the bacteria.. maybe I’m wrong but to me those medications caused a lot of my health problems now.


Martin January 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Why would one feel heaviness when taking Betaine HCL ? Wouldn’t it be more likely you feel the heaviness when not supplementing ? I am at 7 pills of 648 mg with pepsin and no hotness, burning, just feeling heaviness in my stomach. In addition, I burp more when drinking water ( tap or bottled, not swallowing air) even on empty stomach ?


user January 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm

On this website:
the user Hveragerthi claims the glands that produce HCl may become atrophied when Betaine HCl is used. I am not sure how true this is, but it makes a lot of sense and I’m not going to supplement much Betaine HCl anymore (HCl seems to be quite extremely low in my case. I drank about 15 capsules of ~650 mg of Betaine HCl and even then didn’t feel the burning. Or perhaps I don’t quite understand the feeling I’m supposed to get.). I’ll instead focus on consuming vitamins B3, B5, folate, B12, zinc.

Another website states that supplementing with Betaine HCl *will* eventually cure hypochlorhydria. However, I’m not sure I trust that website because it doesn’t mention B vitamins and zinc where it’s explaining the ways people should treat themselves. Here’s where you can read about it:

I’ll cite the paragraph that claims what I’ve said:
“The third approach is to take betaine hydrochloride. This is available in capsules, which need to be taken with food and the dose adjusted according to the response. I suggest that people start off with one capsule initially and build up to, maybe, four or five capsules depending on the size of the meal and the response to treatment. Often in the longer term with the correct diet (low glycaemic index, low allergy potential, smaller meals), getting rid of helicobacter pylori, and correct gut flora this cures the chronic gastritis and the stomach is again able to produce acid normally.”


Adele January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I was wondering about the risk with taking Betaine HCL, my question
is regarding taking advil or tylenol 1. I take advil for headaches and
menstural cramps, was wondering is it safe to take Betaine during
these times I need to take advil? I am not taking Advil everyday, just
on occasion for headaches and during menstration. Just worred I dont
want to have stomach bleed.


Steven Lisowski February 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I’ve been struggling for many months now with digestive issues. I’m wondering from the article above: I take high doses of HCL and get burning but in my chest area, not in my belly. I’m assuming that’s just the heartburn. I had a Heidelberg PH test and they said I had extremely low acid output (they stopped during the second “challenge” cause it was taking too long to re-acidify.) I can take as many as 11 pills and not experience tummy distress. Is this okay to take so many? Anyone else have that experience? Thanks! Steve


BillyB February 27, 2014 at 4:18 am

How quickly should I start to see results from Betaine HCL supplementation? I stopped PPIs 5 days ago, and have had a bit of heartburn since but not much, and I think what I had may have been rebound. I started Betaine HCL yesterday, taking two tablets with a meal. I then had three tablets with a high protein breakfast this morning. I have yet to notice any real effect – whilst I haven’t experienced any real heartburn, I am still feeling gassy and burping quite a bit, and I woke with a sore throat again. Is it too early to know whether or not this is going to work for me? Should I continue to up my dose?


Patricia O'Bannon March 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I have recently been diagnosed with Gall Stones.
I suspect low stomach acid as the root cause. What is the best test to diagnose low stomach acic?
Do you recommend Bile Acid drugs such as Actigall, Urso, and Urso Forte as affective treatments for low stomach acid?
Why would HCL with Pepsin be a better choice for low stomach acid. Can a comparison be made?
Thanks for your help.


Kirk March 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I’ve been dealing with sibo and ibs-c for close to 2 years now. I have also been on SCD over this time and been 3 rounds with rifaxamin as well… Unfortunately I’m still dealing with issues – bloating, constipation, etc. The rifaxamin worked great in the beginning but now has no effect, really. I started supplementing with betaine HCL a few days ago. On the first day alone there was a dramatic improvement in my symptoms. I am also supplementing with DGL and the enteric peppermint pills. I am on day 3 and feel great!!! The only problem is now I feel like I have acid reflux in the back of my throat (hours after my meals). I am still only taking a single betaine pill with my meals. My stomach never burns… I just can’t seem to stop the acid reflux (did not have prior). I can actually taste it!! Anyone have any suggestions?


Stacey April 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

I have a patient (with Rosacea) who I put on a trial of betaine-hcl, with increasing dosage to diagnose low stomach acid. She claims that even at low doses, she “gets cold”, ie. feels very cold and chilly. Have you ever heard of this? It is so disturbing, that she is unable to continue.


Stacey Adkins April 9, 2014 at 7:25 am

I have a patient with Rosacea who I put on the Betaine-HCL test trial, with increasing the dose by one tablet each day, 15 minutes before each meal. After two trials, she had the same adverse symptom: she became extremely cold with 2-4 tablets. No heartburn or indigestion. Have you ever heard of this symptom? She refuses to take the HCL because of becoming ice cold. I can’t explain this physiologically.


Carson April 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

What is your thoughts on this Jordan??

It kinda goes against what you mention.

Im confused


Kaytee April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I’ve got a couple of questions:
I tested positive for b12 deficiency which led me to investigate achlorhydria. I started taking apple cider vinegar (in addition to b12). A few months later I tested postive for hypochlorhydria. The options were Betaine HCL, lemon juice or ACV as a treatment. The latter 2 work very well – but betaine after only 1 tablet gave me terrible indigestion. At the time (and up until reading this article) I thought the problem was related to the PH changes in the pancreas – now I’m not so sure. But why the reaction after 1 tablet when I know I have low stomach acid?
Also, in respect of the production of stomach acid – do the parietal cells produce Intrinsic Factor and Acid at the same time or can you lack one and not the other ie they don’t produce acid but do produce IF? I keep seeing conflicting research and it’s driving me a little crazy.
Thanks for a good article.


J Saint May 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

I had horrible pain under the right rib that brought me to the ER 5 times and was always sent home with acid reducers. Endoscopy showed I had excess stomach acid, so they said… The 6th time at the ER tests showed my gallbladder was inflamed with fluid around it. After two doctors said to me “God only gave you this organ for surgeons to remove” I left the hospital with my gall bladder intact. I don’t know who these doctors think they are. That’s when I contacted a holistic doctor. She had me collect saliva and stool over a period of a couple of days. Lab results showed I was insulin resistant, have a gluten sensitivity, bad bacteria overgrowth in my gut, and completely deficient in stomach acid. I started a blood sugar control diet which also starved out the bad bacteria, because they thrive on sugar, along with herbal supplements and within four months the fluid and swelling around my gall bladder was gone. I still take HCL with pepsin every day. I started with 6 650mg capsules. Took that amount for a couple of weeks until I felt heartburn, then decreased to 5 then 4 and so on until my stomach was producing its own. Unfortunately, I am running on sympathetic dominance due to chronic stress in my life and my body is not going into parasympathetic mode which means no rest and digest. My body is always in the fight or flight mode. So I am back on HCL with pepsin and I also take digestive enzymes every now and then, I don’t want my pancreas to get lazy by taking them all the time. HCL is my savior. I don’t see undigested food in my stool anymore, I have normal bowel movements every day, no more pain gas or bloating. I think its crazy how doctors are so eager to diagnose excess stomach acid and prescribe Prilosec and other acid reducers which are known to cause stomach cancer. I have learned that as a person ages stomach acid naturally declines anyway. I’d say take the HCL challenge. Eat a piece of protein and take some HCL. If you don’t experience acid reflux chances are you are deficient. Find a good holistic doctor and stop listening to these doctors who just want to make their quota of acid reducer prescriptions to get that new BMW. Good luck everyone!


Gayle May 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Would it help to take HCL after a meal. I sometimes forget and I have taken it. But the past few days I have really had burning and bloat. The functional med. dr want to to the SIBO breath test. It is $140.00; so I am saving up to send that off. I’m sure I am full of candida. I am gluten free, dairy free. I take digestive enzymes at every meal; even if it is after the first few bites; I just wasn’t sure about the HCL.


Matt June 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Is it advisable to take HCL , probiotics and digestive enzymes to help with IBS and if I have low stomach acid ?


Mary June 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

You said calcium counteracts HCL in one of your replies. I thought you needed the acid for absorption of supplements. So when should I take the calcium then? I need to take it with food and the HCL with food so I am confused. Please explain how calcium counteracts HCL. Just found out I have osteoporosis even though I have taken calcium supplements for years. Thank you


Alexandre June 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Some Practitioner suggest taking betaine HCL 2Hours After The Meal Because of Our Natural HCL Production. But It Seems To Help Me Better When I Take HCL Before My Meals. Should I Continu To Take Them Before Meals or 2 Hours After ?


Kim June 25, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I took 6000mg of betaine straight after a meal and couldn’t feel any burning or stomach pain, any ideas what this means for my stomach acidity.seems a lot already but do I need even more!!!!?


Phil Mace June 26, 2014 at 5:28 am

great article. I need some more info. I have found that taking 3 tablets with meal stops me bloating but also stops pain in my heal. stop the tablets and pain returns. I am on HIV medications and can get no sense out of my dr. I feel my body is telling me something but can not work out what


Kim June 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I upped my dose from last time and took 8100mg and this is the first time I have felt the burning sensation, do I need to keep it this high? At this rate a container of 180 pills will last about 8 meals, surely that ain’t right


Tracey July 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Can betaine supplements cause bloody stools without any other GI distress?


Lisa lowe July 13, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I have suffered from severe constipation, weight gain, hair loss, and low iron levels for years. I recently started exploring the possibility of low stomach acid. I bought some HCl with pepsin 250 mg tablets and took one with my 18g of protein today. I waited to see if my stomach would start to burn or hurt but it did not. It did however start to rumble a little about 30 minutes later. Is this the equivalent of hurting and if so does that mean I do not have low stomach acid? Thank you.


type 1 August 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

What kind of hcl would you suggest for a 4 year old with type 1 diabetes? I have thorne, or should I get a liquid? Any suggestion on dosage for a young child?


Lori Jo Berg August 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm

HI Duane, thank you for reaching out! The kind that we typically recommend is Thorne Research:
We do suggest consulting with your medical provider about a dose for your young child, as we are not doctors and therefore cannot give medical advice.


Jeanette August 22, 2014 at 9:59 am

This is great, thanks so much for all the info! I want to take the Beta… But have just recently started needing a topical corticosteroid for exzema(if only Inhad started 4 months ago). So, can I take it when I don’t need the corticosteroid or do you recommend I see a doctor. If so, how do I find one that will listen and help me? Also, I have tried paleo before and I DO NOT sleep on low carb diet. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.


Steven Wright August 24, 2014 at 12:16 am

Hey Jeanette – Topical shouldn’t be an issue but always clear it with a practitioner first. If you are still looking for one who “gets it” then please check out our recommend page here:


Taylor August 30, 2014 at 1:51 am

Please, any advice would be MUCH appreciated!
Right now I’m down to eating broth, steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini. For two full weeks, three times a day.
I was put on prilosec for two months, due to a doctor assuming I had high stomach acid, but it never helped only made the digestion problems worse. It only got to the point where I would eat 1/4 of a meal and feel a heavy gut feeling and severe bloating.
Ive been off prilosec for about 2 weeks now and cant digest food (except the broth and cooked veggies). Ive tried raw veggies and totally kill. Worse with carbs. And have stayed away from processed foods and sugar.
Ive been ready about leaky gut and candida, and A LOT of symptoms have corelated. Even with UTI’s and yeast infections ive had when i was younger. Could i have had a candida imbalance and the prilosec exacerbated it and have low stomach acid, cycling into leaky gut?
Please any info would be helpful. I want to try hcl but so nervous about the initial protein intake bbecause its been weeks since ive had protein and scared I’ll have a reaction.


Jordan Reasoner September 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Hi Taylor, thank you for reaching out! You certainly could have an underlying condition that is causing you distress. Our best suggestion is to find a practitioner who is trained in functional medicine so you can get some digestive tests done. You can find one here: We need HCL in our stomaach, as it helps keep the bad bacteria at bay and is a large part of our immune system.


Taylor September 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Thank you so much for your help! I bought a few copies of your book as well, and giving them to some friends suffering these same problems.
I had a question about Steve’s journal entries which are amazing because Im moving along with each week with about the same issues. Feels great to relate. But he said he took hcl before the meal and digestive enzymes after a meal, but i was told to take enzymes before the meal and hcl after. Can you explain the sequencing?
And I didnt catch when steve was able to stop taking the hcl and enzymes or does he still implement them everyday?


Simone September 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I started SCD 4 weeks ago, coming from a Primal/Paleo diet. After 2 weeks I started with probiotics (a good brand & species) once every 2 days. The other day I tried 1 pill 2 days in a row, and it went terribly wrong. Started research again, and I see now that I will need to take enzymes and betaine HCL. Which would you suggest I start with? I am still in phase 1 of the diet and can’t yet tolerate pear sauce, pecan milk and some cuts of pork. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a good practitioner in my country. My worst symptoms are severe skin issues (acne and eczema) and since I started SCD my constipation has become worse, coming from about 1.5 times a week to about once a week or less.
I appreciate all information you could give.
Thank you for what you do!


Lori Jo Berg September 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Hi Simone, you can start the digestive enzymes right away and begin testing your HCL levels as well. Perhaps wait a couple days to see how the enzymes are working for you.


Simone September 12, 2014 at 11:59 am

Hi Lori Jo, thanks for your reply! Unfortunately the enzymes I wanted to buy are out of stock (only good option for me), but I will start tomorrow with the betaine HCL. I will wait with envy for the enzymes, since I know I have some issues with at least lactase. So probably also have issues with producing other enzymes.


Chris September 18, 2014 at 1:32 am

I just took a 2600 mg of betaine with pepsin at the start of a meal. However, I became really nauseous all of a sudden. I was unable to eat or do anything. Have I done any damage to my stomach?

There was a burning sensation because I was very, very nauseous but did not throw up. That burning sensation has been going on now for one hour and I’m too nauseous to do anything – I am shaking right now as I type this. I’m too ill to eat baking soda or do anything right now.

This is the first time that this has happened. Normally Betaine helps my symptoms immensely.


Brent Kovacs September 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Hi Chris, sorry to hear about that. Hope you’re feeling better now. Perhaps you took it too early in your meal and didn’t have enough food in your stomach yet. Have you been taking this amount regularly?


Chris September 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Hi Brent, thanks for the reply.

Yeah this is the first time that it’s happened.

I slowly worked up from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 per meal of 650 mg capsules. They are the NOW brand and they come with Pepsin.

Normally I feel a bit uneasy when taking such pills, but it’s the first time I’ve felt nausea upon taking the pills and starting the meal. I essentially had 4 pills on a near empty (ate a bit before feeling nausea) stomach.

Usually I just take the betaine HCL and start my meal.

Right now my stomach feels a dull ache, but it’s otherwise ok. I have not eaten that much today – roughly 1 meal and a small snack.


Michelle September 25, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Hello~ I am brand new here. I have been having heartburn for years and have been using Tums to “help”. Usually the heartburn is right before my menstrual cycle, but noticing it more and more outside of that. I just purchased the NOW brand Super Enzymes and have taken it for two days during my meals (1) pill. Unfortunately my heartburn is worse! Is this maybe because I actually don’t have low stomach acid?


Lori Jo Berg September 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hi Michelle, thank you for reaching out! We recommend starting with a lower dose of betaine HCL to start with and make sure you are consuming at least 20 grams of protein when supplementing with HCL. I noticed you said you were taking enzymes, but these are different than HCL. As you can read in the article, many times people with extremely low stomach acid levels will feel the burn quickly due to a thinning intestinal lining.


jules October 16, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I’m wondering if you can help me understand/decide on course of action.
I’ve been experiencing EXTREME bloating, weight gain, indigestion, loose stools, sudden food sensitivities all of a sudden in the past 12 months.
I have been to 3 doctors, and my naturopath diagnosed me with SIBO and candida.
I took strong anitbiotics which helped me feel ‘normal’ for the first time, but it only lasted a few weeks.
But now that’s gone, feeling crappy again. I suspected low stomach acid is the problem, and started supplementing wtih Thorne HCL with pepsin.
I have worked up to 4 pills with a sushi dinner, and felt immense hotness, slight queesiness and distress.
This has lasted 3 days. Still going on. Since then, my bowels have been very inconsistent, very incomplete. I have taken the dose down to three pills. That does not give me heat/distress, but nothing has improved.
In the mean time I feel very bloated and very much like a have a ‘food-baby’ in my belly.
My bloating ususally starts in the morning, after my BM. my BM are always loose, and has gas bubbles coming out…
Any advice?


Lori Jo Berg October 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hi Jules, thank you for reaching out! It sounds like you may have more going on than just low HCL and it would be best to change your diet, lifestyle and get on the right supplements. Our Solving Leaky Gut program can provide each of these for you and if you are interested, you can find it here: You may also consider working with a practitioner as well:


Roger Benson October 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

“Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20grams of protein (about 4-6ounces of meat).”

15g of protein is only about 0.5oz. Do you mean 150g – 200g of protein?


Lori Jo Berg October 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Hi Roger, thank you for reaching out! Please take HCL with meals that contain 15-20 grams of protein.


Mike October 30, 2014 at 10:36 am


thank you for the great article!
For a long time now, I am suffering with almost chronic bloating.. so I decided to give Betain HCL a go. I was taking 1 650mg capsule (with pepsin and bitters). The very first time I felt a slight warm feeling in my stomach. Then later on nothing.
When I read this article I decided to up my dosage to find my ‘maximum’. Right now I am on 4 capsules with a meal. I only feel very slight difference. Should I continue rising the dose to the point where the burning is much more noticeable (even uncomfortable) ?
I don’t think it is very beneficial to load my stomach with 5-6 capsules before each meal.

Thank you for the advice.


Lori Jo Berg October 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hi Mike, thank you for reaching out! We suggest going until you feel a slight uncomfortableness, and it is here that you have found your max dose.


Jessica October 30, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Hi Jordan&Steve, I just joined your solving leaky gut program, very hopeful. I have been taking the NOW brand you suggest above and went up to 10 capsules (6480mg) of them but felt nothing. I am about to switch to the twin lab brand you suggest so I won’t have to take as many pills. Should I keep going over 6g if I feel nothing? Also the pepsin in much lower in the Twin Lab, does that matter? THANKS!!! ~Jessica


Lori Jo Berg November 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Hi Jessica, thank you for reaching out! Go ahead and try the twin lab brand and see how your body does.


sarah November 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

How can I use this test as a vegan? I’m not going to eat meat, so is any protein source adequate for the test?


Lori Jo Berg November 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Hi Sarah, thank you for reaching out! We do suggest eating animal protein for the test, but you can try other sources that will give you 20 grams of protein.


Irma Fox November 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Hi Steven, I would appreciate if you can give the name of an alternative doctor in the Phoenix AZ Metropolitan area who has experience usin the Betaine HCL with Pepsin for severe Hertburn. My area code zip code is 85251. I went to Naturopath in the Scottsdale area but she doesn’t have experience using HCL. I have been using the recommended dose of one pill for the last 3 years to digest protein and it was working. Some times I am unable to sleep all night with the acid reflux. Now nothing is working, I am losing weight and I am afraid of eating.i am reading Dr. Jonathan Wright book. Thank you so much for your assistance and all the valuable information in your website.


Lori Jo Berg November 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Thank you for reaching out! We are truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with you.
While we are not familiar with any practitioners in that area, please do remember that our practitioners take all appointments via Skype or telephone, so your locations is not of importance here.
If you are interested, you can go here:


Mary November 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Thank you each so much for sharing all of this important information. First of all- it looks like I’ll be dropping my calcium supplementation if it counteracts the action of HCL. Not sure it works anyway. Where do I get a Heidelberg test? FYI: I heard an Eastern medicine MD say that our floppy stomach sphincters can be helped with strong out breaths. Like in Qi Gong. Nice Deep Breaths & Good Health to everyone!


Lori Jo Berg November 13, 2014 at 12:07 am

Hi Mary,
Thank you for reaching out! You will need to check with your doctor to see if he/she performs this test. Other wise, you can just test it out on your own as the article states.


Kenny November 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Steve, I was on ppi for approx 8 months and they stopped working one day without a notice. fast forward two years and now after not taking anything but suffering for two years I started taking HCL and I am now getting some relief however I have not felt the burn yet .. My question is can ppi drugs stop your body from producing acid even after stopping the medicine? Thanks Kenny


Lori Jo Berg November 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Hi Kenny, thank you for reaching out. In your case, it is best to consult with a physician due to the use of PPI’s for an extended period of time. If you are in need of one, you can go here:


julie barkoff November 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Hi you recommended swedish bitters by Gaia and i thought there were illegal ingred. yam root, are you sure its scd safe? Please let me know so i will know to continue it or not. Thanks julie


Lori Jo Berg November 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Hi Julie, thank you for reaching out! Please see a list of what is legal/illegal here:


Ian Mitchell December 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Betaine Hydrochloride supplementation has eliminated my gastric reflux.

One thing that bothers me is conflicting statements regarding age related changes in stomach acid secretion and/or stomach pH levels. Dr Wright asserts that pH steadily declines with age. Some articles in gastroenterology journals indicate secretion increases with age. Merk says “Aging has little effect on the secretion of stomach juices such as acid and pepsin, but conditions that decrease acid secretion, such as atrophic gastritis, become more common.”
I guess that differences in assertions are explicable in terms of secretion v stomach pH, differing test methods and whether microbes which modify acid levels are considered.
Has anyone done the work to clarify these conflicting assertions?


Lori Jo Berg December 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

Hi Ian, thank you for reaching out. We know there can be conflicting evidence, therefore one must look at the quality of research being conducted. Secondly, we must get our information from gold standard sources such as peer reviewed journal articles and you can find them here:


Hanz December 7, 2014 at 2:58 am

Hello and thank you for helping.
Question: Is having a GI distress like burning during normal bowel movement while on HCI pills a sign to limit the dosage? Thanks again.


Lori Jo Berg December 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Hi Hanz, thank you for reaching out! Burning can be a sign that you have reached the maximum dose, so go ahead and back off by 1 pill and see how you do.


Ian Mitchell December 11, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Hi Lori,

Thank you for your response.

I have used many several words (stomach acid,
gastric acidity, achlorhydria, hypochloridia, +0, +age but the only papers that I have found on the subject stomach acid and age are:-

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Aug;98(8):1713-8.
Influence of age and gender on gastric acid secretion as estimated by integrated acidity in patients referred for 24-hour ambulatory pH monitoring.

JAMA. 1997 Aug 27;278(8):659-62.
Gastric acidity in older adults.
Hurwitz A1, Brady DA, Schaal SE, Samloff IM, Dedon J, Ruhl CE

Both of these papers say that there is no decrease in gastric acidity with age.

I do not pretend to be a seasoned researcher and I have no access beyond the abstracts.


Lori Jo Berg December 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Hi Ian, here is a great article that states in the first paragaraph that acidity can decrease with age:
Gastric Balance: Heartburn Not Always Caused by Excess Acid

by on April 22, 2013 ·

in Articles, Digestion, Nutrition Review Archive

by Jim English


Sean December 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I can take really high doses of Betaine HCL (7700mg) on an empty stomach with no reaction. What would cause this?


Lori Jo Berg December 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Hi Sean, thank you for reaching out! We suggest you are working with a trusted practitioner in conjunction with figuring out your HCL dose, as you may have some underlying causes going on at this time.


Ruel December 16, 2014 at 7:26 am

First of all thanks for putting up a very helpful site for people with digestive issues like myself. I’ve been on PPI’s and antacids for laryngpharyngeal reflux for about 4 years with good initial response, but have noticed a decline in their effectiveness, symptoms of post-nasal drip, feeling of lump in the throat have all come back. Until I came across your site and decided to try Betaine, it’s by Nature’s Plus, 600mgs of Betaine with unspecified amount of pepsin and some digestive enzymes. Was able to work my way up to 10 tabs with no burning symptoms but With relief of the above symptoms and bowel movement has become regular but with soft stools. Was pretty satisfied until I began to experience the same symptoms though not as bad as before. Should I continue to increase my dose?



Lori Jo Berg December 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Hi Ruel, thanks for reaching out! It is hard to say, as many times people have several underlying factors that can cause unwanted symptoms. It is important that you are working with a trusted practitioner, as we can not give medical advice. We suggest finding one here if you are in need:


Ollie May December 20, 2014 at 3:13 am

Can HCL be used with Pravastatin? I read in the info with my HCL that it should not be used with anti-inflamatory drugs. The HCL got rid of my heartburn and indigestion the first time I took it with my meal, but now I am afraid to continue it! Plus the heartburn came on about 2 months after I started the Pravastatin. Please advise!


Lori Jo Berg December 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

Hi Ollie, thank you for reaching out! we ask that you reach out to your current medical practitioner, as we are unable to give medical advice.


Anna December 21, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I am so intrigued about this!
I was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago and to this day I am not convinced it’s the right diagnosis. I have found that apart from a few particular foods like onion for example certain foods don’t always give me trouble. My hormones do play a part though I know that much. My typical symptoms are… Within minutes of finishing a meal sometimes hours. I get cramps, go freezing cold, suffer nausea, several trips to the toilet which results eventually in diarrhoea. Then my symptoms clear and I feel warm again and very tired. Usually happens after my main meal in the evening. I’ve been caffeine free for years and lactose free for years. I feel bloated most days and hardly ever have my skinny light feeling I always used to have despite being a very slim lady.
Could this be a result of not enough stomach acid and my poorly digested food fermenting away leading to these episodes?? Would the HCL help me or hinder me if it’s not low acid?


Lori Jo Berg December 26, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Hi Anna, thanks for reaching out! We encourage you to try the HCl as well as work with a trusted practitioner to get to the root of the issues.


leticia December 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Hi Steve, I just finished reading your article, “How to Supplement with Betaine HCL for Low Stomach Acid” and many of the posts in this site. I have a few questions to ask.
I have breast cancer stage IV metas to the bones and I’m seeing a conventional oncologist in addition to a functional physician. The functional physician tested me for SIBO (positive) and instructed me to take Betaine & Pepsin (Ortho Molecular Products). My question is I am at 12 caps, 6,240 mg, and aside from burping right after meal, I still feel no burning sensation. How many caps is too much? Is there a more potent form of Betain & Pepsin so I won’t have to take large amount of caps at each meal? thank you for your reply !


Lori Jo Berg December 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm

HI Leticia, thanks for reaching out! I am not sure what the miligrams is of each pill you are taking now, but we like the NOW brand of HCL w pepsin, so you could try and compare that one to the one you are currently taking. Here are a few paragraphs from one of our articles on HCL supplementation: “t’s very common for people to stop short of their needed Betaine HCL dosage. In fact, in the beginning I was nervous about taking 6 pills at a meal. But trust me. there is nothing to worry about. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage.

Remember a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress (step #3), you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These including burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. For this group of people try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms and for peat sakes go get more testing to figure out what is going on!”

You can view the full article here:


Monica January 6, 2015 at 6:38 am

Hi guys, Thanks for this website!! I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I heard on the pod cast you did with Wellness Mama, that HCL was bad if you had an ulcer. I got diagnosed with “signs of an ulcer” over 10 years ago and when I finally figured out that ibuprofen was the main thing that set it off, it’s been very un-active. I’ve been using HCL (under professional advice, which seems to differ a little from your advice) for over 2 months now – needed 6 pills for over 7 weeks and now down to 4. But my “ulcer” has start to act up with in the past 3 weeks, just slightly but enough, after I eat. I’ve stopped talking them over the past 4 days and my “ulcer” is still a little active. Going to talk to my practitioner about this too, but like I said, your advice is a little different so I would like to get your insight as well!! Many Thanks for your time- Monica


Lori Jo Berg January 8, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Hi Monica, thanks for reaching out. We certainly suggest continuing to work with your practitioner, as we can’t give medical advice. Here is what Jordan had to say about those who should not take HCl with our professional help: ”
It’s important to understand the risks of Betaine HCL supplementation. It’s generally safe for most people, however, in the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” Dr. Wright recommends doing so under the guidance of a physician.

People that are “high risk” shouldn’t take Betaine HCL without supervision. You’re high risk if you’reconsuming any anti-inflammatory medicines. Examples of those are: corticosteroids, aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other NSAIDs. These drugs can damage the GI lining and supplementing with HCL could aggravate it, increasing the risks of bleeding or ulcer.”


Leah January 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm

My daughter is 5 years old and has been suffering from reflux/GERD for two years. Her gastro wanted to put her on Prilosec for 3 months to “heal” the problem. That didn’t sound right to me, especially given what I’ve been reading about low stomach acid. I have 600 mg Betaine Hydrochloride with Pepsin. Do you know if it’s safe to give this supplement in this amount to a child?


Lori Jo Berg January 8, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Hi Leah, thanks for reaching out! Please do reach out to your practitioner about this subject, as we are unable to give medical advice. If you would like to change her diet or incorporate any dietary principles to address the issue, please read on:


Amy January 19, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Hi – I was diagnosed with GERD years ago and have been on Nexium and then Prevacid for about 10 years now. I’m very concerned about staying on these and am looking for a more natural way to treat my symptoms. I don’t have any other issues and there was not an ‘event’ that seemed to start my acid reflux issue. How long do I need to be off the Prevacid before starting the Betaine HCL test? I’m concerned about this because if I go more than a day without taking a Prevacid, than I experience extreme pain. I also eat very healthy and have for some time. I rarely eat anything other than fruits, veggies, meat, and very little dairy and only in the form of plain greek yogurt. I have not been able to identify what causes my acid reflux, and often it will begin at a time when I haven’t just eaten – so it seems to only react to not taking the medication on time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Lori Jo Berg January 21, 2015 at 9:47 am

Hi Amy, thanks for reaching out! We are unable to give medical advice, so please communicate with your doctor about any medications you are on, first off.
Secondly, you may consider some functional medicine testing, as there is some underlying cause as to why your HCL is so low. You can also speak with your doctor about this and possibly lowering the dose of the medication so you can eventually test your HCL on your own and supplement naturally.


Lindsay February 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Hi there, I’m looking for some advice from the UK and am very grateful for helpful sites such as this. After on and off periods of GI discomfort over a period of a few years, mainly nausea, I had an endoscopy. It revealed a small area of ‘reactive gastritis’ in the gastric antrum and a small are of oesuphagitis which is causing some discomfort when swallowing food. The Consultants solution was, yes, you’ve guessed it, PPI’s to heal the area of erosion. I was very much against this initially being aware of the challenges of taking PPI’s but 2 months on I have now started to take a course to hopefully allow the area to heal. Prior to this I tried many of the solutions suggested including eliminating gluten, reducing carbo-hydrates, Betaine HCL, digestive enzymes (still taking), DGL, d-Limonene, even melatonin which had been used in a trial of 300+ people with good results. However none of this seemed to be making a difference to the discomfort in my sternum and I was concerned that the erosion was not healing. I intend to stay on the PPI’s for 6-8 weeks which is the time recommended for healing and then to reduce the dose to 10mgs and gradually come off them. I am looking for any help or advice from anyone who may have done this as I need to make sure that the erosion heals and I don’t end up with a recurrence and/or rebound acid reflux that is difficult to manage. I may have low stomach acid but am not sure, I have lost weight although not overweight in the first place, I don’t smoke, I keep fit etc but have had a fairly stressful time over the past few years and am convinced this is part of the reason for my GI problems. Thanks in advance, Lindsay


Lori Jo Berg February 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Hi Lindsay, thanks for reaching out! Stress can certainly cause GI symptoms, just for the record. Secondly, we suggest testing your HCL levels and this article can help you do that: We also suggest consulting with your doctor about changing any medications you are on, as this is important.


Patrick February 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

I think four people have asked this question over the years with no answer that I’ve seen: the Betaine seems to help my stomach, but it is causing a persistent sore throat. I suspect that when I burp (which I still do sometimes), excess acid is entering my throat and irritating it. Do you SCD folks have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.


Lori Jo Berg February 18, 2015 at 10:03 am

Hi Patrick, thanks for reaching out! It is hard to say what the burning could be from, but it is not our experience that the HCL supplements are causing the throat to burn. Go ahead and play with the dose a little and see if this changes anything for you. It is one of the goals of taking HCL that the burping will decrease as a result of proper digestion.


Juliet February 25, 2015 at 1:38 am

Hi Steve!

I have had low stomach acid for years (it took 7 years to recover from serious adrenal fatigue), and one tablet seemed to do the trick until recently, when I started burping almost non-stop all day, and losing weight (coincided with a stressful time). I wake up with my upper abdomen ‘stuck in’ and can’t take full breaths until I get the burps out!

I found your website and was so heartened, and have been increasing my HCL/Betaine tablets as suggested. Today, as I got up to 4, I now have warmth in my upper chest after I burp, but still no warmth in my stomach. Does that indicate I might be near my maximum dose? Will the GI distress in my stomach/belly button region be obvious when it happens?

Over the past year, my ability to digest red meat and fats had diminished, so I think I could have benefitted from increasing my supplementation earlier… I can’t even digest salmon at the moment without difficulty, so am finding it difficult to get any healthy fats into my diet. Am doing some gentle work for my liver/gallbladder to try to stimulate them to work better, as I think they have gotten congested after years of eating low fat due to not digesting them well… (20ml of olive oil and lemon juice each morning, which causes huge belching and gas 6-8 hours later. I am hoping this will improve as my liver/gallbladder remember how to work/cleanse)

I would be grateful for your thoughts.

Kind regards,



Lori Jo Berg February 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Hi Juliet, thanks for reaching out! Try staying at this dose for a while and monitor your symptoms. if increasing by 1 pill is uncomfortable in the stomach or chest region, you have probably reached your max dose and should back off by 1 pill, as directed. You should also consider addressing your diet by looking into the SCD diet or something similar. this is a great place to start:


Juliet February 26, 2015 at 4:06 pm


Thank you so much for your reply. I am addressing my diet, and have been on the AIP for 4 weeks now. With my inability to digest fat though, and reduction in carbs, I am concerned about further weight loss. I am wondering if a temporary stint with ox bile could help me get some weight on while I get my liver/gallbladder working better?

Kind regards,



Lori Jo Berg March 11, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Hi Juliet, you can certainly try this but we always suggest working with a practitioner to oversee your health decisions.


Juliet March 7, 2015 at 6:33 pm


I reached out the other day about supplementing with HCL. I have kept increasing the tablets by one more each day. The slight warmth in my upper chest after burping (after 4 tablets) did not replicate, and the symptoms of excessive burping has continued. I am now up to 13 tablets (which seems crazy) with no warmth, and no relief in burping symptoms. What is the upper limit of how much I should take if burping persists? (Of course if symptoms stopped and I still didn’t have ‘warmth’ I would stop increasing.) What is the most anyone should ever need? What stops the stomach from producing acid? It seems like mine must almost not produce any at the moment.

I have been on the auto-immune protocol diet for 5 weeks now, and have had great relief from all other digestive symptoms (flatulence), but I suspect my stomach acid was reallllly low. I have deep ridges in my fingernails, and have mineral deficient for ages. I have no doubt that once I get the stomach acid level right, everything will turn around. I know the burping could also be from SIBO, but because I clearly have such low stomach acid, and have trouble digesting fats, and am underweight at the moment, carbs are really important for me, so I can’t try the SCD at the moment… and thought I’d see first if supplementing with HCL would improve the symptoms.

Kind regards,



Lori Jo Berg March 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Hi Juliet, thanks for reaching out! “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.

– Dr. Wright notes in his book that “paradoxically adverse symptoms are most likely to occur in individuals with the lowest levels of stomach acid. This is because these people are most likely to have atrophic gastritis (a thinned-out stomach lining), which makes them much more sensitive to even small quantities of HCL than a normal, thicker stomach lining.” This makes sense because a super inflamed stomach lining won’t have its normal protective barrier intact to contain the strong acids. In this case, it is wise to start with digestive bitters or get smaller dose Betaine HCL pills (think 350mg or less).

– If you have low stomach acid and you can’t supplement with Betaine HCL, there’s a few natural methods to help with symptoms. Start by taking a shot of lemon juice or vinegar before a meal to help the symptoms of indigestion. But know that these don’t actually help the digestion of food only the symptoms. A supplement that can help the digestion is digestive bitters.
I Need to Take How Many Betaine HCL Pills?

It’s very common for people to stop short of their needed Betaine HCL dosage. In fact, in the beginning I was nervous about taking 6 pills at a meal. But trust me. there is nothing to worry about. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage.

Remember a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress (step #3), you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These including burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. For this group of people try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms and for peat sakes go get more testing to figure out what is going on!”


Juliet March 14, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Hi, thank you so much for your reply. It seems my levels of stomach acid must be very low if I feel nothing with 14 capsules, and symptoms are not reduced at all! However, lots of practitioners say do not take more than 6 capsules as it can cause problems further down the intestinal system. Is that true? It seems crazy to take more than 14 capsules with a meal – and it will get expensive (and can the body process that many easily?)! Are some of your practitioners experienced in treating extreme cases like me, and if so who shall I make a Skype appointment with – I am in Australia. I would be so grateful for your assistance and advice. I am sleeping really badly due to the gas in my upper abdomen…

I think my adrenals are depleted, as I am having those symptoms as well – vicious cycle when you aren’t digesting properly!

Kind regards,



Lori Jo Berg March 16, 2015 at 10:42 am

Hi Juliet, thanks for reaching out! We recommend searching here for a practitioner:


Carolyn Johnston March 10, 2015 at 1:20 am

I started to read the comments and some of the issues sound similar however I really didn’t find any answers to my personal situation. I have had AF , crashing first time three yrs ago. I have been on Protonix for many yrs, for Gerd / heartburn. My FD wants me to wean off these while adding HCL w/pepsin. I am taking it slowly. After a month i am down to 3 protonix a week and one HCl a day at meal. However I have and still am experiencing pain, bloating and severe diarrhea the entire time. Do I continue gradually? Or up the dosage or stop?


Lori Jo Berg March 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

HI Carolyn, thanks for reaching out! You may have not reached your max dose yet and thus you won’t see the benefits until you do. Please consult with your physician about anything to do with your medications as well.


Juiet March 15, 2015 at 1:31 am


There are so many differing views on whether to take your HCl before, during or after meals. What do you recommend and why? : )

Kind regards,



Lori Jo Berg March 16, 2015 at 10:31 am

HI Juliet, thanks for reaching out! We recommend taking them just before a meal, as this helps to stimulate your bodies own cells to produce HCL and the timing also allows for the food to be reaching the stomach when the HCL is present.


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