3 Tests for Low Stomach Acid

by Steven Wright

Did you know stomach acid is actually good for you? Dr. Jonathan Wright wrote a whole book on the topic because he felt it was so important for overall health. In fact, most people I talk with who think they have high acid levels actually have low acid levels. This is why it is so important to test and find out for sure.

Proper stomach acid production is vital to unlocking perfect digestion. The digestive process downstream from the stomach is controlled chiefly by pH changes. When the food (chyme) in your stomach reaches a pH of about 2-4, the valve at the bottom of the stomach (pyloric sphincter) starts to slowly release the stomach contents into the duodenum. From here, the pH raises up and down as it travels through the intestines and out the other end.

If the pH is wrong from the beginning, everything downstream from the small intestine to the large intestine will likely be compromised. Think of it like this: chewing your food is the first crucial step to perfect digestion and stomach acid is the next most important.

Low stomach acid can cause diarrhea just as fast as it can cause constipation so don’t think that it’s only confined to one or the other. If you have any digestive problems at all, this is one problem you must rule out or you may never unlock total health.

There are 3 different tests you could do to find out if you have low stomach acid.

Remember, not all tests are created the same. In this case, the more time and money you invest the better your results will be. However, most people won’t need to break the bank to figure this out.

The Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test

The gold standard medical test for low stomach acid available right now is called “The Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test.” This test is the most costly of the bunch, but it will give you exact, non-biased results you need to analyze your stomach acid. It usually costs around $350 and unfortunately most insurance plans won’t cover it. But always call ahead because prices change and so does insurance coverage.

The Heidelberg test works by using a small capsule with a radio transmitter that records the pH of your stomach as you drink a solution of Sodium Bicarbonate. The result of the test is a graph showing your pH levels at regular intervals of time.

It really doesn’t get any more descriptive than this. Plus, there have been more than 140 scientific studies to back it up.

The Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test Protocol

  1. Fast for 8-12 hours and no acid suppressing drugs for at least 4 days prior to test
  2. Swallow a small pill-sized capsule
  3. Drink a solution of Sodium bicarbonate
  4. The test will continuously record the pH in your stomach for as long as needed

Upon conclusion of the test, you’ll have a graph showing your specific stomach response to the challenge solution. From this test, the doctor can determine if you have any forms of hypochlorhydria, hyperchlorhydria, or achlorhydria. This is the best test for all stomach acid related problems.

The Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test

This test works by drinking baking soda and creating a chemical reaction in your stomach between the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and hydrochloric acid (HCL). The result is carbon dioxide gas that causes burping. Ingesting baking soda is an old school natural home remedy for upset stomachs. This test will only cost you about $3 if you need to buy a new box of baking soda. Many people choose to try this test first because it’s very safe, low cost and you can get started tomorrow if it is in the cupboard.

But, there are problems with this test. Overall, there are a lot of variables to control. Trying to minimize all the variables can be tough and I would recommend performing the test 3 consecutive mornings to find an average. By doing this, you’re looking for more of a pattern than a one time test of “yes” or “no.” Also, to increase accuracy of the test, you must do it as soon as you wake up in the morning before putting anything in your mouth.

For the record, I’m unaware of any scientific studies that prove this method of stomach acid testing is either reliable or accurate. The results of this test can vary widely and it’s up to your interpretation, both of which are not ideal.

Here’s the Quick, at Home Way to See if You Have Low Stomach Acid

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
  2. Drink the baking soda solution.
  3. Time how long it takes you to belch. Time up to five minutes.

If you have not belched within five minutes, stop timing.

In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution). Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.

Because the time frames can vary person-to-person, as well as how they drink the solution, this test is only a good indicator that you might want to do more testing to determine your stomach acid.

This test is not accurate enough to rule out low stomach acid. To rule out low stomach acid, you will need to try the Heidelberg test or Betaine HCL challenge test.

Betaine HCL Challenge Test for Low Stomach Acid

The most reliable test you can perform at home is the Betaine HCL challenge test. In fact, if you do enough searching on the web, you’ll find several health websites who will try to sell you a kit to perform the steps below (don’t fall for this, duh). This test can be performed safely, if you follow the directions below. It will cost you around $20 or less to do this test.

Note: NSAIDs and Corticosteroids increase the chances of ulcers in the stomach and, together with Betaine HCL, increase the risk of gastritis. Consult a physician before trying this test or supplementing.

Each case of low stomach acid is unique and will require a custom dosage of HCL. But one way you can find out if you have low stomach acid is by using Betaine HCL supplements. Dr. Jonathan Wright suggests using (1) 650mg or less pill that includes Pepsin.

To Perform the Test, Do the Following:

  1. Buy some Betaine HCL with pepsin (I like these)
  2. Eat a high protein meal of at least 6 ounces of meat
  3. In the middle of the meal, take 1 Betaine HCL pill
  4. Finish your meal as normal and pay attention to your body

There’s really only 2 outcomes from this test:

  1. The first is that you won’t notice anything. As you go about your normal life after the meal, nothing will change. This means it is very likely you have low stomach acid levels.
  2. If, as you go about your normal life, you start to feel stomach distress characterized as heaviness, burning, or hotness – then these are signs that you don’t have low acid levels.

This test isn’t completely foolproof either and should be repeated at least one more time on a different day to confirm the first test. One of the biggest causes of false test results is the amount of protein eaten at the meal, so make sure to eat a chunk of meat with the test. If you do get some burning, don’t worry it will pass in about an hour. You can also mix up a ½ teaspoon of baking soda and drink it to help stop the discomfort.

After getting 2 positive tests, it is time to start supplementing with Betaine HCL to get your stomach acid levels where they need to be for good digestion.

I Have Low Stomach Acid, Now What?

If you do find out you have low stomach acid, the prescription is pretty simple. In the short-term, you need to supplement your acid levels to allow the rest of the digestive process to work properly.

Natural supplement options include apple cider vinegar and digestive bitters. But most people will usually need to supplement with Betaine HCL as a replacement for the low acid. It is thought that Betaine HCL will retrain your stomach to get to the correct pH levels over time. What is known is it will allow your digestion to work correctly in the interim.

Long-term, you need to work on finding the root cause problem and taper off the supplements.

With that in mind, Jordan and I have put together a dedicated, 3-hour presentation on how to heal from the damage of low stomach acid naturally by addressing the root causes of acid reflux.

I urge you to check it out here: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

During this presentation, we’ll help you understand the most important short-term and long-term strategies to start naturally taking control of this condition.

What We Cover During the ‘Getting Rid of Heartburn’ Presentation:

  • The 3 steps, “rest, repair, and reset,” to unlock your body’s natural ability to heal from the damage of years of antacid pills
  • How to break free of the dependence on pills holding you back from life-changing restoration of healthy stomach acid levels
  • The sneaky little root causes that keep your stomach acid low – even after you’ve stopped the pills – and keep the cycle of heartburn raging
  • What you MUST be avoiding in order for your stomach to heal (or the symptoms will come right back)
  • The step-by-step process we’ve used to naturally get rid of heartburn and restore normal stomach acid levels (even if you’ve been on PPIs for 20 years)
  • Why food is critical – and not so critical – for your long-term success getting rid of heartburn
  • A simple method for cultivating normal stomach acid levels that trigger great digestion… even for some foods you couldn’t tolerate before
  • Specific supplements to take – and other ones to avoid – on your road to healing the stomach and fixing your heartburn
  • Why H. pylori, SIBO, Hormones, and other root causes could be the REAL reason you’re still suffering from heartburn, even though you’ve done everything else right
  • Plus, much more…

Click here to get this life-changing information: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

Betaine HCL supplementation is a safe way to have great digestion and make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need from your foods. Have you tried it yet? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.



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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 SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 476 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin Mineah May 24, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Hi Lori! First off, let me say how totally impressed I am that this thread has been going on for so long! Obviously it was a really great article that a lot of people needed to read.

I have a couple of questions… I’m allergic to raw beets and I know that often betaine HCL is derived from beets. Have you heard of anybody having allergic reactions to betaine because of a beet allergy?

I know that HCL is contraindicated for people who use chemical anti-inflammatories on a regular basis. What about occasional use of something like Tylenol? More importantly, is consistent use of curcumin also problematic in conjunction with Betaine HCL?

I don’t have much of a problem with acid-fast stomach issues… occasional heartburn, acid reflux a couple of times in my 63 years. That being said, I don’t have a gallbladder and most GI distress I experience is lower GI. My naturopath wants me to do an HCL challenge so my concern about the beet allergy is kind of on the table. Any feedback from experience with this particular issue?

Thanks so much!

Lori Jo Berg May 29, 2018 at 10:02 am

Hi Kristin – I can’t say I have heard of anyone having an allergic reaction to HCL due to beets. Circumin should likely be fine w HCL as is the very occasional tylenol – but please confirm and double check that with your physician. You may want to try digestive enzymes or gall bladder/bile support as well.

Bentleygirl7 May 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Hi Steven,

First off, let me say.. Thank you so much for posting this article to help so many ppl like myself who are suffering from acid reflux & heartburn symptoms. The detailed information you’ve provided in this post to help us understand what might be going on with our bodies and your continued follow through is so greatly appreciated!

Now, I’ve never had never had any major health issues. But, in the last few years, I have gained a significant amount of weight due to extreme personal stress and poor food choices which I’m sure have contributed to less than perfect health..

Most recently (last two months), I decided to make drastic changes improvements in my eating and exercising habits.

I started with a seven day detox, then took a ten day as alkaline & detoxifier, then started my daily green smoothies along with at least two meal a day. Everything felt perfectly fine until I added supplements to my routine..

I started taking a daily probiotics, a daily digestive enzymes, a daily trans-fermented resveratrol and a “women’s” probiotics with occasionally drinking a vinegar/lemon/honey drink to assist with my weight loss goals.

While it is obvious to me that either the combination of supplements or one in particular is the reason for the onset of acid reflux and heartburn; it has been very difficult for me to determine which path to resume without further damaging my health.

After reading your article and following a few of the links and comments, I’ve continued the acv drink at night but unfortunately it still comes back whenever I eat food. Please advise!..

Lori Jo Berg May 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Hello – it’s possible the probiotics are not right for you. There are many choices and it’s all about finding the one that works for you- you can read more here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2011/08/scd-probiotics-what-you-really-need-to-know/ I would remove all supplements and introduce them one by one (3 days apart) to see if you can get a handle on which one isn’t working for you.

Bentleygirl7 May 20, 2018 at 11:22 am

Dear Lori Jo Berg,
Will do! God Bless & Thank you so much!

Kelly May 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm

My question is for after we have determined what our correct dosage of HCl is with a high protein meat meal. Should I also be taking HCl with my morning smoothie. Its has about 15-20 grams of protein powder wih a lot of greens. Should we be taking HCl with meals that are protein rich, but not necessarily meat proteins?

Lori Jo Berg May 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm

Hi Kelly – we normally only suggest taking betaine HCL w pepsin when eating meat. Have you tried digestive enzymes? those may work better for you!

Kelly May 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Thank you for your reply. Do you have any suggestions as far as digestive enzymes would go for my morning protein smoothie?

Lori Jo Berg May 14, 2018 at 11:12 am

HI Kelly – Here are some recommendations for you – http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/07/who-needs-digestive-enzymes-and-how-to-take-them/. Let us know if you have questions!

Monique Iris April 27, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I was diagnosed with gastritis 2 years ago. I had initially been taking nexium but after an endoscopy my Doctor in passing mentioned that I was suffering from low acidity gastritis and changed my meds. I was well on my way to recovery after 2 months. Ive been more or less able to tolerate most foods for the last 2 years..A few days ago however, I got a relapse after taking a lot of alcohol on two successive weekends. My main symptom was an irritated throat and dry nosal passage probably from acid reflux. I went to a GP who prescribed nexium for 2 weeks.. two days after taking the nexium my symptoms became worse with a very bitter taste at the back of my mouth and in my throat..so uncomfortable I wasn’t able to sleep. Could this be a side effect of nexium when you have low acidity since it probably worsens the problem. I’ve decided to stop the nexium and try another relief for My uncomfortable throat.

Lori Jo Berg May 2, 2018 at 6:53 pm

HI Monique – it certainly could be as these types of drugs work to lower stomach acid even more (which typically isn’t the issue in the first place). We
d suggest diet and lifestyle changes to attack the heartburn, starting with our free quick start guide here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/

Michele April 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

I am presently taking nexium. Can I try the baking soda test?

Lori Jo Berg April 26, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Hi Michele – Please consult with your physician, as we aren’t able to give medical advise.

Zobair Alawia April 25, 2018 at 10:32 am

Hi. Im going to try the baking soda method, hoping i will find some answers from that. I’ve suffering for years from burping and acid reflux. But not all the times. Then last year Nov 2017 maybe. I ate spicy beef steak so oily, then i feel abdominal pain just 2inch of my right side of my belly. And that was the start of abdominal pains. Sometimes left side. And in different areas of my abdomen. I dont know what is the cause of abdominal pain. Not so painful. But something like discomfort. 3 weeks or 2, i got diarrhea for few days. I was also taking pantoprazole and antacid. The pain slightly go away. But not fully. Then after 1 month i started eating again oily fried foods. And the pain slowly go back. Then 1 day i go to someplace where my relatives lives. I drink soft drinks. Maybe 3 12 ounce for 1 day. And the pain goes back. Like an ulcer. But the pain is in my left of my belly some times in the right side of my belly. I dont know i’m low acid or high. So i dont want to drink apple cider. Which i’ve read a lot of reviews about this product. Now im taking pantoprazole again. Which i dont really like. I want to stop taking it. But i also want to get rid of this not so painful abdomen. Because sometimes im getting stressed thinking that i might have ulcer or something else

Lori Jo Berg April 26, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Hi Zobair – we’d recommend doing the at-home baking soda test 2-3 different times and that should give you a good indication of what to do next.

Phil April 22, 2018 at 9:29 am

I recently taken the baking soda test, but did not burp within the five minutes. Does that indicate I have low acid?

Lori Jo Berg April 23, 2018 at 11:42 am

It can – but we’d suggest doing this test 2-3 times, to get a better measure of where your stomach acid levels are.

Dimitra March 20, 2018 at 5:18 pm

I started Betaine hcl with pepsin with 2 capsules in lunch but I did have reflux again, that is because I need to increase my dose? Or it’s a side effect of Betaine hcl

Lori Jo Berg March 21, 2018 at 10:27 am

Hi Dimitra – we’d suggest increasing the dose unitl you feel an uncomfortable burn in the stomach region (you can take baking soda to get relief from that). Most the time, people stop short of their full dose and the HCL is then not as effective.

Richard March 24, 2018 at 11:05 am

Hi Lori, I’ve now reached 8 HCL pills (with a high protein meal), but still had zero burning/warming sensation. I’m guessing this is indicative of low stomach acid? If so, how many pills can I safely go up to? Thanks, Rich.

Lori Jo Berg March 26, 2018 at 11:34 am

Hi Rich –
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.

AA February 5, 2018 at 2:39 am

Hi, I have a question. I’ve been taking Hcl betaine with Pepsin for a few weeks now.
I took 6 pills yesterday and I didn’t feel any heartburn etc.. But I have noticed that my stomach is really bloated and I have gases (really bad ones) so I’m wondering is that a sign that dosage of 6 pills is too much for me or is that normal?

Sorry for my bad english 🙂
Thank you in advance for you answer.

Lori Jo Berg February 7, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Hello – if things have got worse (and those are NEW symptoms as a result of the HCl) then you can try backing off of one. If those were symptoms present before teh HCL, then you can test a higher amount and see if that changes anything. Try paying attention to other signs as well, such as stool quality.

Harman March 6, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Hi Lori i suffered from acidic reflux when i was pregnant in2012.I was ok after hemopathy remedy but still if i eat fried, beans,rice and acidic food or mix food burning starts,and in midnite severe pain in rite chest and back.it goes for 2-3 hours.Bitter mouth taste.pls give me some suggestions.Thank you

Lori Jo Berg March 7, 2018 at 11:59 am

HI Harman – getting rid of heartburn is going to take a multifaceted approach of diet and supplements. WE’d suggest first starting with your diet here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/. You can then test out supplementing with betaine HCL and here is an article on how to do that: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

June April 10, 2018 at 12:03 am

Hi Lori, my son has a similar situation. He took HCL-pepsin (650mg per tab) and increased 1 per day. He reaches 5, acid reflux symptoms seem to worsen. So, we back it down to 4, it has gotten worse. So my question is, why does he seem to feel better at a lesser dosage? And why are his symptoms similar to acid reflux type at 4, 5.. there’s no warm ness felt. Many thanks

Lori Jo Berg April 10, 2018 at 12:02 pm

HI June – first off make sure he is taking the HCL with at least 15 -20 grams of protein. Too much betaine HCL can give him an acidic/heartburn type feel, so that is why he is experiencing that. More isn’t necessarily better – we all have to find the dose that works for us. IF he feels better on a lesser dose, than that is just fine!

aysha December 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

hi, I know this post is a couple of years old now but I’ve just come across it after suffering for the past two most with what I think is acid reflux, although I’m not too sure. I wake up stupidly early every day with a horrible sicky feeling in my stomach, almost like I haven’t eaten in days. Every time I eat and drink I burp like crazy, especially after coffee! I’ve had no heartburn but I’ve been taking Rennie as I’ve assumed its reflux.. after reading around a bit more I now think it could be low stomach acid so I stopped taking Rennie and have tried the bicarbonate of soda test for 3 consecutive monings.. After I drink the mixture.. nothing happens, no burping.. just my stomach making noises and a few gurrgles and I feel a bit of movement in my lower stomach. I’m at a loss, any thoughts? Thanks!

Lori Jo Berg December 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Hi Aysha – the baking soda test isn’t totally, 100% accurate and we’d suggest moving on to the HCl challenge test in the article:)

Mike December 1, 2017 at 5:40 am

What kind of doctor could I see to check for this.

Lori Jo Berg December 1, 2017 at 2:14 pm

HI Mike – you can try asking your regular medical doctor, but it’s likely they won’t know what the heidelburg capsule test it. This is why we encourage the at home test.

Courtney Kempert October 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I was diagnosed with gastritis, esophagitis and GERD in April. I tested positive for SIBO in September. I also now have histamine intolerance/mcas. I was on PPIs and high live culture probiotics from February until July (I believe this caused my SIBO). Once I stopped both, the LPR/reflux symptoms disappeared. My reflux problems have recently returned, along with waking up with bloating and burning pain. I’ve still had undigested food particles in my stool, burping/bloating/flatulence immediately after eating/drinking/taking vitamins, weight loss, and difficulty digesting everything. I’ve assumed low stomach acid this whole time but have never been tested for it. I tried the baking soda test this morning and burped 38 seconds after I finished quickly drinking the mixture. I burp immediately after consuming anything, though 5 minutes or longer should indicate low stomach acid. Could this still be low stomach acid? Vitamin C seems to help when I take it after eating.

Lori Jo Berg October 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hi Courteny – It could still be. Go ahead and perform the baking soda test for 3 mornings in a row to get a better judgement. You can also perform the HCL challenge test, as this is more accurate. It does sound like you’re suffering from low stomach acid, so we’d suggest continuing to test it out.

Kerrin November 22, 2017 at 5:32 am

Hi Courtney. Did you try again with different results. ? I also have LPR and will try the baking soda test in the morning

Jimbo October 13, 2017 at 12:13 am


I’ve had GERD for 12 years. My weight has gone from 155lbs to 220lbs (some likely due to age oh and more sederary lifestyle).
I’ve been on PPIs off and on and currently taking Nexium. It doesn’t always work so I supplement with zantac.
I had an endoscopy 10 months ago, they said everything looked normal but I had H. Pylori. After antibiotics to get rid of it, the GERD remains. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Would love to get off PPs!

Lori Jo Berg October 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

HI Jimbo – diet and exercise are going to be huge for you! GERD is what results when we have a malfunction in the area between the stomach and esophagus. A number of things can cause this but diet is one of the biggest culprits.

Also, when it’s safe (as noted in the artile) you can test your stomach acid levels and supplement – http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/3-tests-for-low-stomach-acid/

How and what Betaine HCL to supplement with: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Katie September 29, 2017 at 10:12 am

Hello! I had heartburn for years and ended up taking 100mg of omeprazole daily to control symptoms. I thought that there had to better way, so after some research, I came across your site. I did the at home baking soda test, and because of my results along with many symptoms I decided to supplement with Beatine HCL and follow the ketogenic diet. I have had amazing results and am now free of antacids, and am beginning my journey of healing my gut. I also want to help my mother, who has terrible GERD, but her case is unique. We would consult her physician, but we know he’ll recommend more PPI’s because of everyone’s belief that we all have too much stomach acid. Here’s her situation:Because of many years suffering from very painful GERD, she has had the capsule PH test, which indicated high levels of acid. I’m wondering if it *could* be because of low acid causing bloating, AND the fact that she’s had gastric sleeve bariatric surgery. The surgery removed about 80% of her stomach, and a lot of the acid producing cells along with it. Because of her altered anatomy, previously high carbohydrate diet, and years long use of various antacid medications including PPi’s, I’m thinking that the capsule Ph test could be registering as high acid ( because of bloating pushing the acid that IS there up to the esophagus)when in fact she is lacking enough acid at all. I’m wondering if weaning off of antacids slowly, along with healing her gut and supplementation could restore her health. What are your thoughts on the low acid theory despite the high PH reading, given the facts of 80% stomach reduction and decades long antacid use?

Lori Jo Berg September 29, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Hi Katie – first congrats on your success! We haven’t done any research on that specific test and all the details around it reading high. In our opinion, testing HCL levels with the baking soda is a basic level thing to do but can have a huge impact. If she isn’t still on PPI’s she can test out how she does on the HCl but a doctor’s guidance may be necessary due to her procedures. Sorry we can’t be of more help in this case.

Jennifer September 12, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Hi, thank you for sharing this information on your site. I have a question about doing the stomach acid test. I’m currently taking carafate suspension and Zegerid twice daily. Do I need to stop taking them (and for how many days) before I could do any of test?
Thank you!

Lori Jo Berg September 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm

HI Jennifer – I apologize but am not aware of what those two things are. Can you elaborate?

Gary August 30, 2017 at 2:17 am

I have tested positive with SIBO (it started with B12 being low ) and now having what it looks like early gastric dumping ( that comes and goes). The DR is going to have do a number of test to validate dumping. I was wondering if anybody has insight to this and could low stomach acid be a cause of this. Thanks for any help and direction on this.

Lori Jo Berg September 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

HI Gary, it’s likely that low stomach acid is playign a role to some degree – whether indirect or direct. We’d suggest testing it out as the article explains and then supplementing if necessary.

Fred Holtmann August 13, 2017 at 2:06 am

I am a 70 year old Australian male Vietnam Vet. I have a number of health issues varying from PTSD, AF, Apnea and severe stomach pain, reflux, constipation/diarrhea, chest pains. I have had Endoscopy and Colonoscopy and several stool tests and a angiogram stomach. Have been on Pariet and somac for about 18 years. GP diagnosed IBS and prescribed Nexium. I am on a Vets fitness program and have lost 18 kg weight since February 2017. do 3 days per week a minimum of 2 hours per day plus waking on other days.
I am in dire straits with pain and discomfort. Any help would be appreciated.

Kind regards


Lori Jo Berg August 14, 2017 at 5:36 pm

HI Fred –
After reading your history and questions, it sounds like you need a comprehensive program that will address diet, lifestyle, supplements, and root causes. While we are not doctors and can not give medical advice, we have seen many do well with this program that are in your same shoes.

The best place to start is by taking the personalized quiz, which will help you sort through some of your issues and give you direction: http://solvingleakygut.com/quiz/my-health/

We also highly recommend you register for one of our free Solving Leaky Gut Webinar’s here: http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/live-qva/

Avdhoot June 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

@Steve : I was suffering from upset stomach ,acidity,Acid Reflux for almost a 1 1/2 years so went to a gastroenterologist and he suggested for a endoscopy .After endoscopy he said that i have stomach infection of E coli and H pylori and gave triple drug therapy to eradicate the infection.After eradication i was feeling great for few days till i was taking medication.After the triple drug therapy he gave a course of acid reducing drug for next 15 days.During the acid reducing drug course i started feeling the symptoms of stomach pain , acid reflux ,heartburn ,difficulty breathing again.So i went to my doctor and he gave PPIs for next 15 days .While taking the PPIs stomach pain was gone but i suffered from acid reflux a lot.I have stopped taking PPIs and the reflux have reduced a lot but stomach pain has returned.My question is : whether i have low stomach acid or i still have the infection in stomach?

Lori Jo Berg June 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Hello – it’s hard to say but you can always retest and see if the infection is present. I recomend doing one of the low acid tests and seeing how you do. You can also experiment with HCL and see how that affect you: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Maleana May 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm

So, I just found this site and I hope I’m not typing my question in the wrong space.

Steve, I have been having stomach pain and burning in my throat ALL the time since November. My doc diagnosed me with reflux and GERD. I have been on pantoprazole and ranitidine up until Jan. In Jan I had my gallbladder removed. About day 4 post removal my stomach and throat burning were unbearable. They switched me to Prevacid. Still having same symptoms. I had an endoscopy done on April 7th. The doc Saud he could not find any physical cause for my problems. I was diagnosed with gastritis. I AM still having the same problems. I have completely changed my diet. Today May 4th 2017, I stopped my ppi ( last dose was morning of May 3rd.) I did the baking sofa test no burp. Then I did the HCL TEST at dinner. No stomach distress. My throat and chest started burning within 15 min of finishing my meal. My chest is warm, but no stomach issues. Do I have high acid then??

Lori Jo Berg May 8, 2017 at 9:43 am

HI Maleana – please shoot us an email at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help you. Sometimes we need more information and it’s easier to converse there:)

Lauren February 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm

What do you eat

Vanessa Deen April 3, 2017 at 9:31 am

I suffer from diarrhea, gas & undigested food in my stool. I’ve taken antibiotics a few times in the last few years. I did the baking soda test with no significant burps.
I do not eat meat or chicken. How can I test the Betaine hydrochloric acid on a plant based diet? Would fish or eggs work?

Lori Jo Berg April 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm

HI Vanessa – We typically suggest taking betaine HCL with pepsin for higher protein meals. IF you don’t eat meat at all, you could try an HCL product with out pepsin.

Julia March 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Hey I know that I have low stomach acid. I have abdominal cramps as well due to less bacteria in gut which is again due to low stomach acid. My question is will my body recover to producing acid or is there a chance that my body will never produce acid again ? Has that happened to anyone you know whose body stopped producing acid.

Lori Jo Berg March 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm

HI Julia – I can’t say we’ve ever heard of someone who’d body stopped producing HCL. The HCL helps to stimulate the body to start producing it again and this is what we find to happen in nearly everyone.

Kristy February 11, 2017 at 7:17 am

I have had all the symptoms of silent reflux since October. Having just learned about low stomach acid, I have taken the baking soda test for three days, and have not burped at all. However, it has relieved my extremely sore throat. With this indicate low stomach acid? And, if this is the case, will the H CL with pepsin be recommended with all meals, or just high-protein meals?

Lori Jo Berg February 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Kristy – we recommend the HCL with pepsin for High protein meals. You can find more details here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Holly February 1, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Does the HCL have to contain Pepsin? My local health food store only had it by itself

Lori Jo Berg February 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

Hi Holly – we prefer it does and so does the research:) Pepsin helps to directly break down proteins so they can be properly digested and absorbed. You can order some off amazon as well: http://amzn.to/1UzLn37

Adam October 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Hello, I’ve done the HCl stomach acid test using the NOW Foods brand Betain HCl, which has 650 mg HCl. I got up to 14 capsules and I still didn’t notice anything. Do I need to keep increasing the dosage?

Mariel Heiss October 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Hi Adam – not necessarily. Some people never feel the “burning” feeling. Instead what you need to look for are other improvements like less bloating, better digestion, etc. You want to take the smallest dose that brings you relief of symptoms

Jimmy September 2, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Hello –

I just wanted to check whether inability to digest protein in meat could be because of low stomach acid? Because of this reason I’ve resorted to a 95% vegeterian diet with the occasional meat only on the weekends in low quantity. I’ve been suffering with this for the past several years.

I always used to notice that after eating chicken breast or any other lean protein, I would feel bloated all over my body not just in the stomach. This would persist for a couple of days and then would go away (assuming I ate no more meat at all). I even measured my weight afterwards. So for example, my weight on the day after I ate chicken would be higher than 3 days after I ate it (eating veg food). People used to say I looked bulked up, except the problem would disappear after I stopped eating meat.

Finally -More recently I’ve been having very severe bloating with almost everything and then LOTS of chest pain/burning in the chest. No other symptoms (no pain in the stomach just chest pain). I’ve tried everything and the only thing that worked to relieve this is digestive enzymes. I’ve been having them with every meal and they have made life more livable.

Do you guys think I can benefit from Betaine HCL?
Thanks in advance.

Mariel Heiss September 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Hi Jimmy – thanks for reaching out! The biggest sign you might be low in stomach acid is an inability to digest meat. The other symptoms you’re describing are in line with low stomach acid, too.

HCL can be used with digestive enzymes – we suggest you give it a try!

Make sure you talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing pain in your chest, though.

Jimmy September 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for the response. Much appreciated. I will try the betaine HCL supplement and report back.

Lesley Marin August 30, 2016 at 9:57 am

Hi there.
I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, GERD, hiatal hernia, and duodenal ulcers years ago when I was 19. I have always suffered from stomach issues of vomiting after meals, excessive bloating for days, nonstop burping after every meal, fatigue and constipation. I’m a firm believer my symptoms are due to medication I was on for 8yrs for asthma, slo bid, which I believe to be a steroid.
I have tried everything from Western medicine Prolosec, prevacid, to holistic approach oil of oregano, probiotics and liquid chlorophyll. I do not eat grains, oats, wheat, corn. I do not drink sodas or coffee. I mainly stick to a paleo diet, clean eating and fresh fruits and veggies if my stomach can tolerate it. As of right now, I have been bloated for the last two weeks to where I look like I am 4 months pregnant. I constantly feel full even when drinking just water. I have had to take laxatives as I hadn’t had a bowl movement in 4 days. I’m at a loss of what to do and am refusing to take prescribed medications any longer for the side effects make me feel worse. I stumbled upon this sight and am desperate to see what can get rid of this severe bloating. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Would my symptoms sound as if they are low acid?

Mariel Heiss August 30, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Hi lesley – I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through.

I suggest giving this article a read and trying Betaine HCL (as long as you aren’t one of the people described in the article who shouldn’t use it)

I hope this helps!

Linda August 27, 2016 at 12:39 pm

I can not burp, even when I drink carbonation. Does this indicate high or low acid? I can make myself gag and bring up air (no food) but this can’t be good for damage to my esophagus. Any insite? I have been miserable for years. Slow digestive system too

Mariel Heiss August 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Hey Linda – it sounds like you could be dealing with low stomach acid. Have you tested the HCL as we outline here yet? That would be a good next step

Diane August 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Hi Steve, could you please answer my concern?
I take Betaine HCI or organic ACV with every meal.
I keep burping during 1 hour more or less after eating (and usually it tastes the herbals I take), but don’t have any stomach burning.
Does it mean high or low stomach acid?
I’m confused.
By the way, I’m positive for SIBO-C.
Thanks a lot for you help!

Mariel Heiss August 17, 2016 at 11:59 am

Hi diane – have you tried increasing you HCL to see if this improves the burping? We see the average dose of HCL people need around 3,000 mg – that can be 5 or 6 pills.

We suggest increasing by 1 pill until you feel the burning feeling in your stomach OR you don’t notice an improvement in symptoms – i.e. if you feel the same at 4 pills as you do at 5, stick at 4 pills.

We can’t tell you if you have high or low stomach acid – only your doctor can diagnose you – but burping is usually a sign of low stomach acid not high.

Ria Poliana July 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm

I am sorry if my previous comment looked like intended to promote a specific brand of supplements, that wasn’t my intention. I really needed some help to know how many pills I should take considering the HCL/Pepsin dosages in those? Thank you again!

Ria Poliana July 24, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Hello, guys! I want to do the HCL test asap and the only product I have in the house right now is NOW Foods – Super Enzymes that contains HCL and Pepsin. How many capsules should I take for the test? Thank you in advance!!!

Mariel Heiss July 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Hi Ria – we wouldn’t suggest trying the HCL challenge with Super Enzymes. We suggest getting two separate supplements – one Betaine HCL and another, different digestive enzyme- more info on digestive enzymes here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/07/who-needs-digestive-enzymes-and-how-to-take-them/

I hope this helps!

Raj July 7, 2016 at 2:10 am

I did try the Baking soda test today and bloated almost immediately. Is it a sure shot indication that I have high acidity?

I have been taking PPIs for years but low acidity seems like the real reason, not high. But how can I be sure? Maybe I indeed have high acidity, not low?

Mariel Heiss July 7, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Hi Raj – definitely not! The baking soda test has a lot of variables to control and it can’t be used as anything more than a suggestion.

First, we recommend making sure you complete the test according to directions for 3 days in a row. If you gulp a lot of air while drinking the solution, it can skew your results. If you burp within 2-3 minutes it MAY indicate you have adequate stomach acid.

If you’re uncertain, we encourage you to seek out a doctor or practitioner for more accurate testing – this baking soda test is just a place to start

Adimla April 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm

My son is 6 years old. He has vitiligo in her fingers since a year ago. He has GER also. Are connected these with eac other? He doesnt have any complain. But he doesnt eat a lot and i think he has a low acid in stomach. Please advice me to do something for my child! 🙁

Mariel Heiss April 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease and research is indicating that all autoimmune conditions are linked to the health of the guy – we really hope you’ll join us for a free webinar to learn more about this connection and what you can do for your son: http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/internal-autoimmune/

Sharon April 19, 2016 at 10:31 am

Please help. I have been on Prilosec for 8 yrs. I am 39 years old, recovering from Breast cancer. I have over the last 3 or 4 years had failing digestive health which I believe contributed to the cancer. I am cancer free now but my gut is in worst health ever. I eat a whole foods diet, very little meat, gluten free and dairy free. For about the past 6-8 months I have this fume or gas feeling creeping up my throat. It’s worse after I eat but it’s mostly ever present. My Gastro doctor said he has no idea what I’m describing and my oncologist wants to send me for allergy testing. After stumbling across an article on the web, I think this feeling I have is food fermenting in my belly. My breath is always yucky and I cannot gain any weight. I am 98 pounds. I feel like the supplements I take are not going to help me because I’m probably not absorbing them due to poor guy health. I need calcium and vitamin D because my levels are low. I’m sure I can attribute this to taking the Prilosec for so long. I need help in trying to wean off the Prilosec and advice on when to take the HCL Betaine. I just want my life back and not be afraid of food. I once loved food but every meal scares me. My doctor won’t hear of me stopping the reflux medication and I can’t afford a natural health doctor.

Mariel Heiss April 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Hi Sharon – I’m really sorry to hear you’re struggling right now! If you’ve been taking Prilosec, it is important to work with your doctor to wean off it. Remember, your doctor has an opinion about your health, but so do you. Don’t be afraid to have a tough talk with he or she about why you want to stop the medication and make sure you go in prepared with some research. You can ask for a second opinion, too. You can try digestive bitters or ACV right now to help promote better digestion, too. Here’s more info: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

I also really recommend you sign up for one of our free webinars on how to solve leaky gut: http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/live-qva/

jan Janssens April 19, 2016 at 6:27 am

hello, i live in Belgium and i went to the university hospital of Ghent for my stomach problems. I told him that i think to have low stomach acid by doing the test by baking soda on an empty stomach. He says that this test is very unreliable because everyone haves in the morning after wake up low stomach acid. He says: do the test with your wife and children and looks what the result will be. I did the test and everyone of my family did no belching after the baking soda test, even my brother and sister did test and they don’t belch. So i think this test is not reliable. The doctor says that low stomach acid isn’t any dangerous only if you are very ill.I did many test gastroscopy, bloodtest,stooltest, all was normal. The doctor says your stomach is ok , he asked me did you eat very fast, yes i said. thats your problem. You have to mix your foot with plenty of saliva in your mouth , also chew your foot so much as i can 20times, and gueuss my stomach problems are solved.By the way i asked him about hcl and pepsine supplementation, don’t take he said when your bloodtests and stooltests are ok. It can do much harm than you think.

Mariel Heiss April 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Hi Jan – thanks for commenting! As we mentioned in the article, the baking soda test is only a place to start as it isn’t scientific. (Also – was the baking soda you used fresh?) We also suggest you repeat the test 3 days in a row to compare your results.

Eating slowly and mindfully is critical for good digestion as well and we’re really glad to hear you’ve found what works for you 🙂

Todd March 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm

I really appreciate all of the awesome insight you guys provide! After years of using Prilosec, Prevacid, antacids, etc., I truly believe that I actually suffer from low stomach acid which has now manifested itself in chronic stomach problems. I suffer daily from trapped gas, bloating, and dull stomach pain, all of which begin shortly after eating and persist for hours thereafter! It makes sense that it literally feels like the food is just sitting there doing nothing. My question/confusion is the old chicken or egg debate. Does low stomach acid create fungal and bacterial conditions like SIBO, Candida, Dysbyiosis etc., or do those conditions create low stomach acid? As a result, would I need to rule out and or treat the bacterial and fungal conditions before working on restoring my stomach acidity? Thanks in advance!!

Mariel Heiss March 28, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Hi Todd – thanks for reaching out.

It can go either way in our experience. If you use HCL for a few months and see little to no improvement in your stomach acid and digestion (i.e. you can’t lower the amount of HCL you need) then it is time to start looking at a potential root cause for your low stomach acid like an infection.

Sarah March 14, 2016 at 7:35 am

I have acid reflux especially at night which causes an irritated throat but no heartburn and was told to take Zantac at night and it’s helped my throat. I take a NSAID (relafen 500mg) twice a day for psoriatic arthritis and when try to stop I get such swollen joints and hair falls out that I can’t stop them. I read NSAIDs cause high stomach acid. I have cut out all wheat, dairy, corn and sugar. I did the baking soda test and burped after 3 mins. But everything I’ve read about my digestion problems (bloating, poor absorption of iron, feeling of heaviness in stomach) and hypothyroid suggests I have low stomach acid so I’m confused as what to do?

Mariel Heiss March 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Hi Sarah – we understand your confusion! In a situation like yours where you have multiple conditions that need treatment, the best choice is to work with a skilled practitioner who can help you figure out the best plan for treatment. Practitioner resources: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Debbie February 18, 2016 at 7:37 am

I have constant burning in my throat and chest. Not like heartburn but just burning..hard to explain. I stopped taking my ppi of 10 years no change at all. I tried 2 hcl with enzymes with a protein meal and had the worst heartburn ever. I burped acic in my throat. The crazy thing is that it helped the other burning I was feeling. I’m confused..because I read that if you get heartburn it means you have enough Hcl. Is it possible I don’t have low stomach acid or does it mean Hcl is too strong for me? I felt better as far as the other burning I feel everyday, so it’s doing something, but the heartburn it caused was too intense. I’m at a loss here, what to do about this. My GI Dr. thinks it’s possible I have sensitive esophagus and wants to put me on a low antidepressant, which is very scary to me. I’d like to get to the bottom of what could be causing burning all the time. 🙁

Mariel Heiss February 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm

@Debbie – you may try a smaller dose of HCL (just 1 pill) and see how you react to that – typically burning is a sign of too big of a dose.

Raymond February 15, 2016 at 4:26 am

I have done the baking soda test a few times now and every time I do not even belch. I do not drink or eat anything before I do the test but, after the test, 6 or 7 minutes after drinking the solution, I drink some water and then maybe 30 second later, I have belched once. I was just wondering if I should drink before I do the test?

I also feel a bit sick about 10/15 minutes after having the solution which last for about half the day, but somehow feel physically “cleaner” or “clearer” – any idea why that might be?

Mariel Heiss February 15, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Hi Raymond – please don’t drink before the test. Remember though, it is not a scientifically proven test and is just a good starting point – if you’re still worried we recommend trying one of the other tests.

Connie February 12, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Thank you for your response! Sometimes, I feel my time is running out. I’ve felt sick as a child, family and friends avoiding me as I looked sick. From terrible constipation, hives, tummy hurting and rotten teeth were my young years. Migraines, cystic acne, terrible periods my teenage and 20’s to heavy periods and diarrhea in 30’s and diagnosed with celiac and IBS in my 40’s and 50’s. the diarrhea was horrible trying to work and carry on a married and social life. I usually would be looked down at for looking sick or now for my crazy diet which most think I’m just an attention grabber or a health freak. The food intolerances are almost impossible to travel, especially when you’re the only one in a group who always needs special food that’s impossible to find. My marriage has suffered from this disease and I am scared for my future, I just want to be like everyone else and enjoy life without worrying about what’s in this or suffering after eating the wrong food. I appreciate all the info available. I think I’m o the right track to heal and then something else gets in the way like this reflux. You’re supposed to avoid stress and find I have stepped back and wanted whatever offered to me whether drugs, diets or supplements will bring me to a healthy, calm to normal state. you have people around you LIVING, laughing socializing, partying which all involves food. I don’t fit in and I fear the next travel or family get together where I have to cook these foods That makes me sick as I have to taste, or weddings we have to travel, or holidays where everyone loves to eat that turkey or beef roast I can’t eat. I love the tranquil feeling my tummy has when I eat my bison meat and liver or my secure group of veggies and fruit, but the next day I’m hurting cause I made something for family you have to taste and end up sick. I’m in this vicious cycle and feel like I’m not gaining a way to effectively heal. I’ll step back again and again, I pray that my illness will stop or find the strength to be happy as there’s worse things to suffer from. Maybe I’m on a sympathy rage, but I just don’t have a close friend or family member to just sit and talk things over. It gets stuffed in your mind with no reassuring or comforting words. People are mean and thoughtless. So you’re getting some of it right now. Maybe more meditation, but I have three heads of cauliflower to make cauliflower bread with, and it’s delicious. I’m glad it’s a cold, wintery day! I sure appreciate your response, and feel you do understand. Thank you so much, Connie Heller

Ninu February 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

Hello Connie,

your story is so similar to my own!
I’m a little bit younger, also diagnozed with cealic (I HATE it!!), always sick from food like sugar, fruits, meat … nearly anything!
And my husband doesn’t understand, that I really feel ill every single day! And not a day of … I don’t know the feeling of being healthy.
And my and my under-eye circles are as dark as ink – I even was ask, if I was hit!
A very “healthy” nutrition doesn’t changed a bit …
I feel with you.

Tomorrow my Betaine HCL pills are coming and I set so much hope in them! I hope, I will experience health for once in my lifetime …

Teresa March 31, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Hi Connie,
I can relate to most of what you are experiencing. I have been struggling to get answers and slowly getting there through lots of research and going through oodles of doctors and supplements. Have you ever looked into SIBO? I have SIBO and underlying issues like Candida and Intestinal Permeability to name a couple. The list goes on but from what I have learned is that you have to treat the SIBO first in order to heal the rest. I have been on a Paleo/low fodmap diet and am taking HCL and enzymes. It’s tough though because I am also histamine and glutamine intolerant so it limits my food even more…..but if it gets me better then it’s worth it all.
Anyways, just a thought for you. Hope you find some relief because I do understand how I isolating this can be.

Mariel Heiss April 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm
Scott February 12, 2016 at 4:53 am

An incredibly helpful thread! I’m certain I have low stomach acid and HCL is v helpful. I have a couple of questions…

– Is there a test for having a leaky gut as I’m wondering if I have that too?

– For the low stomach acid, I’m taking one pill of zinc, magnesium, B12 every day. Should I stop when I’m feeling better? I don’t know how often or how long I should be taking them. Is there a test to know if I have the right amount of each in my body?

Any info would be much appreciated!

Mariel Heiss February 15, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Hi Scott – your doctor can test your vitamin levels – but you can also test yourself (non-scientifically!) by going off your supplements for two weeks and seeing how you feel – this can help you decide if they are contributing positively.

There is no perfect test for leaky gut – but we’ve put together a quiz which can help you figure out if you might have leaky gut: http://solvingleakygut.com/myquiz/

Connie Heller February 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm

After being diagnosed with celiac and IBS in 1990, I’ve tried numerous diets, tests, drugs with no answer to my diarrhea and leakage. I have researched your SCD diet and trying a leaky gut program. But I started in December of 2014 the SCD B complex, A, E D3 and K2 from the Freeda company. Over time I had problems and talked to Freeda and determined that the B, A and E are derived from corn(I’m intolerant to corn) and could be the problem. I continued with D and K and in August of 2015 started their magnesium chelate. I noticed a fluttering feeling in my upper stomach soon after starting in Dec. and contributed it to nerves due to retirement in Feb.2015. This increased and by Oct2015 this pounding in my upper stomach was keeping me awake, got checked out resulting in reflux. I don’t do their drug suggestions and just worked with baking soda and ACV, with a terrible episode this past week thinking it was like a gallbladder attack. I stopped the D,K,mag, and fish oil(just started this two months ago). But during the week my reflux pain can to an end. I’m guessing the still continued D and K might be a problem since my symptoms started in Dec 2014 and progressively got worse. I didn’t know this fluttering was a symptom of reflux( usually had no pain) up until this month. I am intolerant to wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, soy, some nuts, rice, tapioca, artificial flavors, colors, sugars, HFCS, dairy, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, venison
(I feel maybe these meats are grain fed). I eat bison, wild caught fish, organic eggs, veggies, some fruits, quinoa, amaranth grain, almond flour and coconut products. I try to use some organic produce. I think I may be intolerant to beets, and will figure out soon. I had good results in changing to RO water for now and have had significant improvement in diarrhea and leakage, that no drug could ever stop. So many of the healing programs for the gut involve products that have one of the food intolerant items in them. I was looking into betaine HCL with pepsin, to learn that pepsin is derived from pork, and betaine from beets. My reflux symptoms have improved greatly since stopping the supplements. Since I retire I did gain weight, as I don’t excercise as much( on site fitness center at work). So I’m gaining weight, but not sure what’s going on with my stomach. I don’t go to gastro’s here anymore, as they don’t understand what leaky gut is or basically don’t understand why I don’t agree with their treatments. Ive doctored with various gastro’s with no findings, always a clean colonoscopy, endoscopy, for over20 years. I’ve been eating mostly grain free for over 10 years. I’ve done a food journal with a dietitian and she could not come up with anything. I make my bison bone broth, make my food from scratch. I started an iodine supplement two weeks ago, npbut stopped for now, I’ve taken it before with no problem, but read of its importance and started it again and luckily it is not a gelatin capsule. So I’ll introduce back some of the supplements over the week, with the D and K last. I feel since this fluttering thing started within the month of staring the Freeda vit, and continued after stopping B, A and E, it might be D and K. I feel so much better, especially with no pain at night. But these minerals and vitamins are a key to healing the gut, and feel my intolerances are hindering my opportunities. Finding a naturopathic gastro or even affording one is out of the question. I follow summits that are offered me and am trying a leaky gut program. I’ve read that the fluoride that I was exposed to since I moved to the city in 1978, could have caused the food intolerances. I have never been healthy, sick as a child, underweight, other problems in youth and childbearing years, up until 1990 starting to with the celiac diagnosis and also had a Giardia infection. I was treated with antibiotics often throughout my life, birth control, over the course get drugs, plus drugs for treating IBS. My gut flora has been bad from day one. I also make my own kombucha, fermented sauerkraut and have tried Prescript Assist probiotics. It sounds so simple to just heal the gut, but these many years of sickness may be almost impossible. I don’t know if I’m absorbing essential protein or minerals, and am tired of eliminating this and that. I also have to make my husband and family their food, which is almost impossible without me getting sick because you’re subject to tasting or just temptation. A miserable spot to be in, and most family members think my clean eating is an obsession or mental issue. H-E-L-P!!!!!! Thanks for taking the time, Connie

Mariel Heiss February 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Hi Connie – I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling right now.

Steve got a really powerful piece of advice once from one of his practitioners – to stop.

Basically, Steve had gotten to a point where he was trying everything out there, spending a ton of money on diet and supplements, and had been trying to heal for more than 4 years with essentially no results.

His practitioner’s advice was to take a step back from trying to heal for a little while (days, weeks, even a month or two) and catch his breath. When Steve did, he found himself ready to come back to healing with a renewed energy and a clear head – and he finally got results.

You might be at the point too, where you would benefit most from taking a step back. You’ll know when it is time to dig in deep again. And when it is, we feel that you’ll have better results than ever before.

I hope this helps, Connie.

gema February 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Hi. I am new to this website and I was wondering that if I do the HCL with pepsin test about eating a meal and then take one HCL pill and then finish the rest of the meal. Would this can hurt my stomach in some ways. Because I read that to some people it causes them pain. I have alot of gut problems. I get yeast infections all the time and when I take probiotics I get really really sick to were sometimes I feel like they get stuck in my stomach like I can’t digest them and sometimes I can’t digest even regular foods. I can’t even drink a protein shake because I get really bad pain in the middle of my stomach and then I can’t use the restroom. I also can’t take enzymes because they hurt. I was treat it for h. Pylori 5 years ago and since then I never been the same. I told my gi specialist that I felt like I couldn’t digest my food and he did an end occupy and he say I was fine. That need b it a low food map diet. But I came to the conclusion that. Maybe I don’t have enough acid in my stomach for digesting this foods. Or even pribiotics. My stomach gets duper bloated and I am so fat now. Before having h pylori my digestion was normal. I was skinny. So I bought a HCL supplement that has 1,200 mg with pepsin of 600 mg. It also has papain, pepsin and bromelain. So I don’t know how high the dose have to be to make that test. If anyone can point me to the right direccion. Please thankyou. And if I can use half of the pill because I really don’t want my stomach to hurt really badly again.

Mariel Heiss February 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Hi Gema – you can start with a low dose of 650 mg of HCL. Take it when you start eating a full meal. If you start getting the burning sensation, you can drink water with some baking soda in it to make the sensation go away.

I hope this helps!

We explain how to do it in detail here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Kevin Cardinal January 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm

From OCT 2015 to late-DEC 2015m, I ate alot of things I usually don’t eat – overeating and drinking alcohol, lots of coffee, and sometimes late at night. One meal that seemed to be a tipping point occurred a few weeks before Christmas w a friend in Brooklyn. We split a huge porter house steak, spaetzle w/ gruyer cheese, roasted potatoes, watercress salad, frisee w bacon lardons and a fried egg on top + wine, whiskey, chocolate desert w after dinner drinks. It was the high point of almost 2 months of eating rich foods like dry-aged beef burgers loaded w marrow, cheese and friend fries w/ beer, things like that. Typically, my diet is low-carb, low alcohol, lots of fresh leafy vegetables and salads w olive oil and lemon, lots of water.

A few days after that porter house steak meal, I started to have severe reflux, coughing, phelgm, a bloated stomach. It got so bad I had a hoarse voice, coughing, phlegm, trouble sleeping. I saw a gastroenterologist who said I had reflux and prescribed 40 MG once a day of Omeprezole. (NOte, in August 2015, he was the dr. who performed both a colonoscopy and endoscopy on me. Results of which were removal of a few benign small polyps and some redness around the LES, and a small sliding hiatal hernia), nothing serious he said, but I should watch my diet due to redness of the LES. He said I was tested for H Pylori and it was negative.

I started the PPIs on Friday, DEC 18 (18 days ago). It did get better, and I drastically changed my diet to be 4-5 small meals a day of boiled eggs or a lean meat (chicken, fish) and steamed leafy vegetables (baby spinach, chard), cauliflower, and turnips, and salads. I did not eat 3-4 hours before sleeping, I raised the bed 8 inches at the head, drink water, chamomile and ginger teas, slippery elm tea w/ marshamallow and licorice root, chew sugarless gum w no mint. No Diary, no high fiber, no caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar or refined flour at all. Also proBiotics (Culturelle Digestive Health ProBiotic), and DGL. I since have added L-glutamine powder in water (I weight lift), small amounts of raw honey, aloe juice, and EFA (Essential Fatty Acids liquid form). IT’s gotten better mostly and yet I still have a bloated stomach, some coughing from reflux tho not nearly as bad as when it started, and feel like eating anything other than what I have been is a dangerous detour. I am married, 53-year old male 6 foot, 180 lb and very fit. It looks sometimes esp after a meal, like a I have a beer belly.

I had 1-day set back a few days ago when I had quinoa w a sweet potato in the late afternoon and a protein shake (I hadn’t had 1 since I started the PPIs on DEC 18) which has sunflower oil in it + maltodextrin. I had really bad bloating and reflux and kept waking up every time I started to fall asleep coughing. What settled it down late in the middle of the night, a night of very little sleep, was a single apple then a cup of chamomile tea. It really did the trick.

Since then I have been ok, not 100% good, but slowly it feels like I am getting better.

I saw the gastroenterologist again yesterday and he said to stay on the PPIs and keep on it for 8 weeks, he thought I would be fine.

I am just not used to being sick or having problems, and I want to be in charge of my health and not rely on a drug.

Does anyone know of an excellent physician in NYC who might be more holistic then my gastroenterologist (very nice man, but believes in pharmaceuticals and surgery).

Also, Can you do the Betaine HCL Challenge Test for Low Stomach Acid while taking a PPI? Won’t the PPI mask the results?

I want to be healthy, free of reflux, and happy again.

Mariel Heiss January 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Hi Kevin

So sorry to hear what you’ve been going through the past few months.

You can search for a functional medicine doc near you at functionalmeidicne.org

PPIs lower your stomach acid – so yes they would alter the result of a low-stomach acid est. We don’t recommend you take HCL if you’re taking a PPI.

Janie April 19, 2016 at 12:22 am

How about if I have an ulcer or leaky gut? Can I still use the HCI for relief while I heal?

Mariel Heiss April 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Hi Janie! We think it is Ok (safe) to use HCL if you have an ulcer but it may cause discomfort. If it is uncomfortable, you’ll want to focus on healing your ulcer before you start with HCL – we explain all the steps here: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com/

Kathryn December 4, 2015 at 4:01 am

Hi, I am a recent subscriber, thanks for a great article. I would like to take the HCL test but I am pescetarian. What fish would be best to try with this test? I haven’t eaten meat for many years especially red meat which I never liked in childhood. So I don’t even know how my body would react normally to it. I had a suspected stomach ulcer a couple of years ago completely out of the blue and was on omeprazole for 10 months. I then stopped taking it against doctors orders and cured the ulcer with cabbage juice in under a month. However I have never been quite the same since. I am permanently constipated and fatigued, have always been very gassy, and recently think (due to v dark stools) I may have more internal bleeding from the ulcer site. I have just started on cabbage juice again, do you think HCL tablets would be wise if I have internal bleeding? Many thanks.

Mariel Heiss December 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Hi Kathryn – we’re so glad to have you here! HCL can help you digest any kind of fish, but for some with ulcers and gastritis, it can cause discomfort. In those cases, it is better to heal the ulcer first before beginning the HCL. If you think you have internal bleeding, you should see your doctor right away as that can be a very serious issue!

Have you tried the baking soda test yet? That is a great starting point- though it isn’t as definitive as HCL.

When you do try HCL, try it with any kind of fish, but have a whole meal (an entire serving of fish, not just a bite or two!) and have some baking soda on hand in case you feel the warm, uncomfortable feeling.

Hope that helps! Let us know how it goes 🙂

nebulae November 28, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Oh, and I also have very dry mouth most of the time, but especially after eating protein, and, I think, soy especially. Thank you so much for reading.

nebulae November 28, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Why isn’t anyone mentioning side effects of taking HCL? Three days ago I started taking Betaine HCl with pepsin (by Bluebonnet). I took one with a smoothies that contained nuts, then at lunch took one with a tofu and kale dish – and thought it was a miracle that my stomach remained completely flat after the meal. But I did feel a little bit warm and also somewhat tired, which surprised me because I thought since the protein got digested apparently so easily, I should be full of energy. Then at dinner I took two, because the first worked so well for digestion, and I dismissed my warmness and tiredness. The next day I wake up before my usual time with a horrid headache. I tried to get up – only to feel so exhausted that I literally was only able to stay upright for several minutes. I did not eat anything all day because of nausea and total lack of appetite. I resisted taking ibuprofen because of how it damages stomach lining, but eventually took it, and the headache somewhat subsided. I also had muscle twitching in the legs, sore shoulder muscles, Today I again wake up too early and with a headache, and no appetite. Still made a green smoothie (spinach, banana, flaxseed, a bit of almonds, ginger, turmeric). Took one HCL capsule. Barely finished the smoothie, felt more nauseous, had the urge to poop, pooped a little bit of some blackish, watery substance with undigested small bits of, I think, nuts. Felt so very fatigued, went to bed. Headache increased, so I took two ibuprofens, drank coffee (for its magnesium content, as I read online), fell immediately asleep for a short time. I had similar headaches, now I remember, when I tried taking L-glutamine months ago, so stopped using that after a week.

I read only a few accounts of similar reactions online. Most reviews are glowing. Read a comment somewhere that magnesium is being pulled out of blood to counteract the acid, hence the twitching. Can someone please comment? I know some will say that it may be a die-off effect, but how do I tell whether this thing is damaging my body or the candida/bacteria/whatever. Should I also take the liver support supplements? Magnesium? Or discontinue, and try out bitters or apple cider vinegar first?

My digestion is bad, especially of plant proteins (I don’t eat meat). I get diarrhea, undigested food, sensitivity to dairy (gives me tonsil stones) and gluten (makes me achy and worsens breath even more), bloated belly, have bad breath, bad skin, keratosis pilaris.

I hope this helps someone, and I hope someone has thoughts on this.

Mariel Heiss November 30, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Hi Nebulae – thank you for commenting!

I’m so sorry you had a negative experience with HCL. I think negative reviews online are scarce because most people have great experiences with HCL! However, everyone is unique and no one supplement works for everyone. We don’t encourage you to continue any supplement you feel like you’re reacting poorly to.

You can learn more about what to expect with a die-off reaction here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/06/5-die-off-myths-everyone-needs-to-know-about/

You should also know that HCL helps specifically with the digestion of ANIMAL PROTEIN – we don’t recommend you take it when you aren’t eating meat. This might be why you had such a negative reaction to it.

Kyle November 24, 2015 at 10:58 am

After trying the baking soda test I felt moldy burpy, like I would soon burp, at around the 2-3 min mark but didn’t have a real belch until just about 5 mins, and that was the only significant belch of the trial. Should there be more than one? And how would that result be interpreted?

Mariel Heiss November 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Hi Kyle – we recommend you complete the test on three consecutive days to get a better idea of your average results.

If you’re feeling uncertain the best test is the HCL challenge!

Hope this helps!

Karolina November 11, 2015 at 12:54 am

Hi, I’ve got ulcerative colitis and I’ve been on GAPS diet for about a month now. Since I started, I haven’t been taking any medicines, but I used to take Salofalk before. I started to loose my weight before I went on GAPS diet and I keep shrinking though I don’t have diarhorhea. I didn’t feel good when I tried drinking apple cider. I’m wondering if it’s safe for me to take Betaine HCl?

Mariel Heiss November 11, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Hi Karolina – we recommend you talk with your doctor before trying HCL since you recently quit a medication.

We hope you’re feeling much better very soon!

You might also be interested in this article: http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/08/5-easy-ways-to-add-calories-to-the-scd-diet/

Beryl Marklew November 10, 2015 at 4:51 am

I take Co-Codamol I take 6 a day can I take Betiain HCL pills

Mariel Heiss November 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Hi Beryl – we recommend consulting with your doctor before beginning HCL in your case. You can learn more about who shouldn’t use HCL and who should only use it under the supervision of a doctor here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Camile October 27, 2015 at 11:10 pm

I have been on Betain HCL pills for 3 years and had been told that the pills would help my body relearn to make the necessary acid. I haven’t found that to be the case so far. Do you have any idea what would cause this problem to start in the first place?

Mariel Heiss October 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Hi Camile – thanks for reaching out to us!

Most people do find that they need less and less HCL and eventually don’t need it at all. Some people don’t experience this, however and need to continue using it.

If you haven’t been able to reduce your dosage, you may have an underlying cause for your low stomach acid that needs to be addressed. H. Pylori infections are a common cause of low stomach acid. Your doctor can test for h. pylori.

I also recommend you check out Steve and Jordan’s heartburn program – it addresses causes of low stomach acid ad well as treating the symptoms: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

I hope this info helps Camile!

Tiffeny October 21, 2015 at 5:43 am

I am having an issue that hasn’t been listed here. However on a forum someone commented that my symptoms, as theirs, may be caused by low stomach acid. My main symptom is vomiting after meals immediately. I have constant mucus in my throat. The doctor prescribed ompezarle and gaviscon (sp?) I had a scope done last month and was told besides GERD, I have gastritis and a hiatal hernia. They cannot figure out why I have the constant mucus and also choking and vomiting after I eat. Does anyone have this and have any suggestions on what route to take?

Mariel Heiss October 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Hey Tiffany – we’re so glad you reached out to us here.

Some lesser known symptoms of GERD are water bresh and constant throat clearing/persistent cough – this sounds a lot like what you’re experiencing.

Steve and Jordan have a specific program that addresses GERD as well gastritis.

You can see the program here: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

I hope this helps and you’re feeling much better very soon.

rahmat August 28, 2015 at 6:13 am

Hi…im from malaysia..was dx with hp and put on antibiotic + nexium..was okfor a few mth and it came back with heartburn +sour mouth+tightness in throt..was again given ppi which i tookon and off for few mth…now im on pariet 20mg..for about a week…is my symptoms due to low acid..and do i need to take meat with hcl..and the dosage…appreacite if you could help me…as it is very difficult to get any advise in my country as health practicener are non exesistance,.thanks

Mariel Heiss August 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

Hi Rahmat, great questions 🙂 Thanks for reaching out to us!

There are two good ways to know if low stomach acid is a factor for you on your own:

1. Follow the baking soda test in this article
2. Try supplementing with an HCL supplement and see how you react

You can learn more about exactly how to supplement and which brands we recommend in this article here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

You don’t have to eat meat when you take HCL but HCL aids in the digestion of protein, so if you’re eating a small snack that doesn’t contain protein (like a piece of fruit) you may not need to take any HCL. Different meals may require a different amount of HCL too (more for meals with a lot of meat and protein, less for those with less – you’ll find this out by testing different doses with different meals)

Everything is explained in the article I linked to above.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us too, at [email protected]

Kris August 24, 2015 at 6:03 am

I am very excited about “magic pill” because I am tired (and my wife too) of this fight with unvisible enemy… I have IBS symptoms and several inhalant allergies and usually when they active I loose 10-15% of my weight which is below normal. I feel underfed. In the result of endoscopy I found I have chronic atrophic gastritis (low intensity) without ulcers. I would like to begin experimenting with betaine hcl but I am afraid of having ulcers. Any suggestions in this case would be very appreciated.

Mariel Heiss August 24, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Hi Kris, thanks for commenting!

You may consider beginning with ACV rather than HCL to see how you tolerate it if you’re worried about ulcers. You can take a shot of unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water before meals.

I also recommend this article: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Finally – I really recommend you check out the heartburn presentation Steve and Jordan have out together as it addresses healing the stomach lining before HCL supplementation: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

Mw April 7, 2018 at 4:32 pm

I had h.pyroli treatment 20 years ago but the damage to stomach lining had been too far gone and diagnosed with strophic gastritis and since then the intestinal cells have replaced most of my stomach lining. It is called intestinal metaplasia – precancerous cells according to my specialist. I take HCL when I feel that unpleasant pulling or empty sensation in the stomach area. I never feel hungry. I miss hunger pain I used to get as teenager. Since my stomach lining is virtually non existent, I assume I don’t have natural acid nor intrinsic factor. It amazes me doctors still prescribe acid suppressing meds without determining the acid levels. I understand acid level declines as you get old. I am not sure if taking HCL supplement helps. Drs. said no, but offer no alternatives. Like a lots of other chronic conditions, this condition seems to be ignored by medical world, as it’s “not immediately life threatening”.

Vicky Wilson August 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

Could you tell me ACV makes my bowels work within an hour, with stomach ache? Then I’m fine. This happens with just one teaspoon, yet I feel better in myself. Having VEGF salivary test for low stomach acid next week.

Mariel Heiss August 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Hi Vicky, if ACV helps with your symptoms, you could have low stomach acid. The test will confirm that 🙂

Michael July 27, 2015 at 5:56 am


I started to supplement with betaine 650 mg and experienced from the first tablet some burping afterwards, but I did not feel any burning sensation or any other type of discomfort. I decided to up my dosage and I am currently taking 3 tabs of 650 mg and still do not feel any type of burning sensation but the burping persist. Is the burping caused by an overly acidic environment ? Should I drop the betaine ?


Mariel Heiss July 27, 2015 at 11:30 am

Hi Michael, thanks for reaching out to us!

In Dr. Jonathan Wright’s book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” – he sees something like 4500mg per meal as the average HCL Betaine dosage. For a 650mg pill, that can mean taking anywhere from 6-7 pills. However, that’s an average, meaning many people take more and many people take less. We recommend people start by taking the smallest dose and work up with each meal until they feel the “warm” sensation in their stomach or notice symptom improvement. If you get the warm, burning sensation, decrease by one pill at your next meal.
Also, only about 50% of people get the burning to let them know they’ve taken too much. So in some cases, people have to use their symptoms as a guide in the case where the burning isn’t present. 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.

I hope this helps!

Jason King July 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Hi, I struggle with bloating after meals all the time and it’s a horrible pain. It’s a lot worse when I eat meat. What are the chances of having low stomach acid at the age of 23?

Mariel Heiss July 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Hi Jason, thanks so much for commenting. Based on what you’ve written, it sounds like you could have low stomach acid.(Learn more here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/06/hypochlorhydria-3-common-signs-of-low-stomach-acid/) The best way to find out is to use one of the tests in this article or to buy some HCL Betaine and try taking a capsule with your next protein-containing meal. Start with the smallest dose and add one more pill at each of your next meals until you feel a warm sensation in your stomach – that’s a sign to back off by one pill at your next meal. If you need more support, check out this article: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/ Hope this helps! Let us know if you need more support on this 🙂

Bilgin June 27, 2015 at 3:50 am


Got some severe indigestion problems for 5 months. I feel nauseous/fatigued/bloated after eating. Specially nausea is really annoying. Had endoscopy and found nothing. I’ve used Nexium for 3 months but decided to give up it. It did not help me.

I find the solution/relief in digestive enzymes. They really help me but not enough. May I have low stomach acid? Should I be supplementing with HCL?

Mariel Heiss June 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Hi Bligin. The best way to find out if supplementing with HCL will help you is to follow the advice in this post and try it out! Many people benefit from digestive enzymes and HCL together.

Lorretta June 20, 2015 at 6:49 pm


Thanks for your article, it was very useful. im not sure if this sounds like my problem or not, although the symtoms are very simular. I suffer with awful heartburn at all times of the day& night. I have really bad stomach pains that are a cramping sensation that dont always effect my toilet. I have had blood tests and they have come back showing infection/inflamation. So currently having more done! And stool, is this what the doctors test for low acid?


jack June 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

Am taking a drink every morning of Braggs ACV, lemon juice, patriot greens, broccoli, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed, goji berries, chia seeds and water (all mixed in ninja blender) am wondering what you think of this cocktail (any ingredients you would add or subtract?) and also can you overdo it with the ACV? Should I discontinue using the ACV after a few months?

Lori Jo Berg June 2, 2015 at 11:15 pm

Hi Jack, thanks for reaching out today. ACV has many beneficial properties and if it is working for you, there is no need to change. If you are feeling great and the cocktail drink does not cause you any digestive issues, then this is a sign it is working well for you.

Bryan g June 1, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Are u saying that in order to feel a burn, one must eat protein?

Lori Jo Berg June 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Hi Bryan, we suggest eating protein )15-20grams) when you take the HCL with pepsin as you may feel the burn a lot sooner if your meal does not contain protein.

Kevin A May 26, 2015 at 11:45 pm

I need some help. I feel super sick 2-3 hours after I eat. I get crazy rushes of energy when I lay down which leads to insomnia. My guy sticks out like a balloon after eating. I burp constantly and when it gets really bad undigested food comes up. I feel cloudy, tired, and just unwell. My left side area hurts quite a bit. I have times where I am constipated often as well. Any suggestions?

Lori Jo Berg May 27, 2015 at 9:48 am

Hi Kevin, it sounds like you need to start by addressing your diet and the SCD diet is a great starting point: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/ You may also consider some functional medicine testing and the help of a practitioner to oversee your health decisions. If you are in need of one, you can go here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/ You may also want to read this article on constipation, as the SCD diet can also help in that area: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/07/real-food-tips-constipation/

Bryan g May 12, 2015 at 9:34 pm

I bought now HCl w/pepsin. took 1 pill wen first getting HCl. Felt a burn. I then upped the dose (because I was eating more protein) to 2, felt nothing. Next meal 3 pills, felt nothing. I continued upping the dose and now at 11 pills with no burn. Why would I feel a burn initially with one pill but afterwards get no burn at 11? Is this common?


Lori Jo Berg May 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Hi Bryan, it can certainly take some time and tweaking to find the correct dose. You may not have had consumed enough protein the first time you took it.

Tom McGohey May 12, 2015 at 10:05 am

Is it ok to combine ACV and Betaine HCL, either for a single meal or in the course of a day, or any other scenario? I have variety of digestion problems — chronic constipation, in particular — due, in part, I think, to reflux and low gastric acid, and as a result have serious trouble maintaining, much less not losing more weight. I was always a little underweight even when healthy, but after a shingles virus, developed all sorts of food sensitivities, forcing me to give up bread, dairy, peanut butter, all the high caloric foods that kept my weight stable. Nonetheless, I still eat a fair amount, focusing on consuming protein and “good” carbs. Now I’m about 40 lbs underweight, and experiencing severe weakness and fatigue. (and I’ve had all the “standard” practice tests, ruling out major diseases, etc). Thanks.

Lori Jo Berg May 12, 2015 at 11:02 am

Hi Tom, thanks for reaching out. It is important that you are addressing your diet and not only eliminating certain things, but getting on a plan to actually heal the gut- like SCD or something similar. Secondly, we suggest sticking with either ACV or HCL when choosing to supplement for low stomach acid.

Kate May 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm

In the past year, I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue, gastritis, celiac, interstitial cystitis and double MTHFR mutations. Went from 108 to 86 pounds and bedridden for 4 months. Currently I’ve gained back 14 pounds, have a little more energy, take DGL and aloe, on a strict gluten-free diet and receive methyl b-12 shots and take methylfolate…whew. Now I’m dealing with reflux which may be due to acid or bile, not sure. Gallbladder removed in 2006-never the same after. Took Sucralfate for years. May also have high histamines and am on a low histamine diet as well. Mainly proteins and vegetables, no nuts and minimal grains. I am worried about this diet causing weight loss again. Am I on the right path? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Lori Jo Berg May 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

Hi Kate, we suggest following the SCD diet to heal the gut first off and then test for low stomach acid as well. There are things you can do to keep your weight up on the diet and this article may help: http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/10/the-scd-lifestyle-solution-podcast-3-how-we-survived-the-intro-diet/

Also, here’s two articles Steve wrote about the SCD Diet, calories, and losing weight:



Kate May 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Thank-you Lori!

ali May 5, 2015 at 10:38 am

Hi sir,i have been suffering from stomach problems from 8 years approx. I usually have constipation or diarrhoea, i am hypothyroid, if i drink milk,i get loose motions, i have acid reflux,my gastro doc. Recommended probiotics,antibiotics, and acid suppressing drugs. But nothing helped, can low stomach acid be the problem?

Lori Jo Berg May 6, 2015 at 10:57 am

Hi Ali, The SCD diet has helped many people in your same shoes regain their health.
The best place to start is with our Free quick start guide here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/
From here, we highly recommend following the directions in the eBook for best results: http://scdlifestylebook.com/

Beth May 2, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I did the baking soda test for 3 consecutive mornings, and I did not burp at all in the 5 minute timeframe. Actually, I didn’t burp at all until after I ate breakfast. 🙂
I do not do well with swallowing large pills, so the Heidelburg test would be a no-go for me. That pill is way too big! I would be having some type of heightened anxiety before I ever left the house for the test, and that would not work for this test.
Would the best next step be to try some of the natural options first or go see my traditional GI doc? Or should I consider a Functional Medicine doc? So, doc first or supplement first?

Thank you!

Lori Jo Berg May 4, 2015 at 10:35 am

Hi Beth, we suggest trying to supplement with Begtaine HCL to see how that test works for you. We also suggest a functional medicine doctor if you feel you need more support and your an find one here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Ellen May 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Great site… You may have answered this in your comments, but want to be clear with patients…
As a dietitian, before recommending your SCD diet and books… would one first test for low vs high acid? SCD recommends Meat, however if one is low acid, would one want to avoid Meats (protein) until the issue corrected, either with HCL and/or digestive enzymes first?
Is SCD recommended for GERD, IBS, SIBO or All of these?
What is the BEST way to test for the above (thank you for the acid/base test) Are the others through Hydrogen breathe tests? Stool?
Wonderful site and great information…Thank you

Lori Jo Berg May 4, 2015 at 10:39 am

HI Ellen, yes we certainly suggest testing for low HCL by utilizing the information here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/3-tests-for-low-stomach-acid/ SCD is definitely suggested and proven to work for those with GERD, after adapting to a new diet and supplementing (if needed) with the info provided here:

How and what Betaine HCL to supplement with: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Linley May 1, 2015 at 6:54 am

Hello. I just had a few questions. Would taking too much tums cause low stomach acid? I have eliminated diary, but it doesn’t seem to help. I had such horrible heartburn and ate tums like candy for around four months. Then came the bloating, gas, sulfur burps, slow digestion, nausea, and stomachs pain. I stopped taking them and all that’s really subsided is the sulfur burps and then I started having other symptoms, like vomiting and muscle spasms. Whenever I eat, it feels there’s is a rock just sitting there. My doctor believes it to be digestive issues caused by stress. Could low acid be my issue? If not, would you happen to know something I could do to help my body? I’m taking frankincense oil, and when I do I sort of feel better. Because of the way I feel when I eat, I don’t want to. And when I do, I mostly throw it up. I have not lost much weight from it, in fact this is the heaviest I’ve been. That being another reason I’m not sure if I do.

Thank you in advance for your time.

Lori Jo Berg May 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

Hi Linley, The SCD diet has helped many people in your same shoes regain their health.

The best place to start is with our Free quick start guide here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/

From here, we highly recommend following the directions in the eBook for best results: http://scdlifestylebook.com/

Stephanie April 23, 2015 at 8:00 pm

What if I don’t eat meat but want to do betaine HCl test?

Lori Jo Berg April 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Hi Stephanie, you may need to take the Heidelburg capsule test and we suggest consulting with your physician about those options.

adrian April 12, 2015 at 3:42 am

when i kept taking apple cider vinegar i started getting a stabbing pain in my right ab. but i know i have leaky gut. Would it be okay to take the hcl, because it digests with the foods so it shouldn’t be the same right?

Lori Jo Berg April 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Hi Adrian, thanks for reaching out. You may need to see a functional medicine doctor to determine if you have ulcers or not. Typically, taking HCL is very similar to apple cider vinegar. http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Vero April 3, 2015 at 7:22 am

Hi Steve, thanks for sharing interesting resources – I realise that the use of antacids lowers stomach acidity and it is a vicious circle… I was considering using betaine HLC – however we consume a Low meat diet – what would you suggest for low digestion specially at night? would certain enzyme help digestion if there is not necessarily of signs of low acidity? thx

Lori Jo Berg April 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Hi Vero, thanks for reaching out! You can use digestive enzymes to help with digestion: http://scdlifestyle.com/recommended-products/ We recommend not eating right before bed either,as this is not optimal for digestion.

Michelle McClane April 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

So I’m just turning 40, last 6 +\- months I’ve noticed changes in my digestion. Last July i was on an antibiotic for a sinus infection,,the changes started about last Sept./Oct. after a late August long weekend vacation with the family at lazy river resort. I started waking up most days feeling a little nautious in my stomach with a soon thereafter morning trip to bathroom for diahrea and some over night sweats. A few days I felt foggy headed.

Coincidentally, just prior to this we started eating gluten free for two of my children (one with constipation/behavioral issues and the other tummy aches and bloating).

This went on and off and I thought I got better at one point around holidays, then soon into new year, the waking up nautious and morning diareah started up again.

Just recently, I’ve noticed in early morning before getting up a sloshing in the stomach (I hadn’t noticed the sloshing months before but the same upset stomach feeling for sure) and almost immediately a nautious feeling sets in,,,sometimes it turns into a need to run to toilet for diahrea and sometimes, just lingers as an upset feeling turning the thought of eating off, especially in morning-no appetite.

The last two days I noticed that early morning slosh, nautiousa set in and morning bowl movement (usually soft), but yesterday that upset feeling stayed all day, I did have two loose stools (one in am before breakfast and the 2nd after lunch). I ate dinner and for the short time the food was in my stomach, I couldn’t feel the nautious feeling, but then it came back and stayed all night and woke me several times and I felt like I could have thrown up (but was sleeping elevated so maybe that’s why I didn’t). Early am, nautious was already there, like it never went away, soft bowl movement, and I can hear (when laying still) liquid/bubbly sounds on mostly my left side (significance?). Phone upset stomach is like that pit in stomach feeling, but what is the sloshing or spray like sensation that set it off to begin with? During this time I pave seen a chiro for some hip pain, one of the pains I was feeling he adjusted but we saw a little arthritis on hips and I can feel a little sensation during weather changes and hormonal times.

I had some apple cider vinager in water twice yesterday.

This am did the baking soda test,,burped after about 6 minutes.

I have a friend recently diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer so my anxiety is through roof and I know doesn’t help.


I was thinking of sleeping elevated consistently, and trying a multi-enzyme chewable,,but according to test, I have plenty of acid. I’m scared of going to doctor and discovering cancerous precursors or cancer itself. I have 5 children.

Thanks so much!

Lori Jo Berg April 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

Hi Michelle, thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you need to address your diet and lifestyle for starters and a great place to start is right here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/ Please also see this article on stress: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/04/could-stress-be-keeping-you-sick/

Natasha March 31, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Thanks lori I took 7 tonight no difference the indigestion acid always seems worse with meat my chicken dinner I have contacted a skilled practioner off your website now think I am going to need more tests and advice on increasing it much higher and someone to guild me thank you for your help

natasha March 30, 2015 at 5:10 am

Hello again thank you for replying for my email I am now on 6 HCL pills and still no warmth in my stomach and no improvement in the excessive gas and the indigestion I get I have read many say no more than 6 with HCL capsules but surely if you feel no warmth would you not continue to add more till you do??please let me know your thoughts on this

Lori Jo Berg March 30, 2015 at 10:50 am

Hi Natasha, yes, we suggest increasing until you feel the symptoms describe in the article: :http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Lori March 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Lori I am on 5 now with my main meal of meat with my dinner I still feel no warmth or burn shall I continue to go up??I keep reading you should not take more than 6 but surely if 6 does not help you continue to up the dose??I am taking thorns HCL and pepsin they were recommeded off here

Lori Jo Berg March 30, 2015 at 10:53 am

Hi Lori, yes, we do recommend increasing like the article explains here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

katy March 25, 2015 at 11:49 am

Thank you will check it out one more thing is it true that your digestion will not improve until you get up to the right dose of HCL?I am taking 4 now and still no change or no burn warmth in my stomach yet still full of gas and burping a lot

Lori Jo Berg March 27, 2015 at 10:31 am

HI Katy, it is important that you are taking the correct dose or the HCL supplements will not be effective.

Katy March 25, 2015 at 9:44 am

Thank you can I ask when is the best time to take HCL Because some say beginning or after a meal could you suggest the best time??I take it half way through should I take it earlier ??

Lori Jo Berg March 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

HI katy, please read this article for instructions on how to take it: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Katy March 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

Hello taking hcl at my main meal of meat up to 4 now and not feeling any burn yet or warmth I am taking them half way through the meal is that right??wanted to take them at the beginning but scared to take on empty stomach in case I cause burning can you please give me your opinion on how to take them?Thank you

Lori Jo Berg March 25, 2015 at 9:38 am
natasha March 24, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Hello when is the best time to take the HCL i take it half way through a meal should I take it before then or not??

Lori Jo Berg March 25, 2015 at 9:39 am

Hi Natasha, please read here for directions on how to supplement: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Arthur March 7, 2015 at 7:34 am

I’m 30 years old. I have a unique story and unstopable heartburn, gerd over 2 years. It began very strange. First of all I felt strong burning sensation in my anus, prostate place (I made all possible sexual disease tests, they are good). One week later I was diagnosed with candida in my genitals. After three weeks I felt sour taste in my mounth. My tongue became white/yellow. More water I drank, more burning I had. After two months of candinda treatment with flukanazole, drinking a lot of water and candida diet stuff, and clinical tests didn’t show that I have candida anymore. But my organism felt not good, I still had burning sensation in my “lower” body areas which became more well when I droped candida diets. From the begining in three months I lost 1/4 of my body weight. But my tongue looked not good, I had terrible gerd and very big burning in my mouth. Gastroendoscopy showed nothing exept one healed erosion in the stomach. H. pylori test was negative. I have never eat a lot of junk food in my life (usaly: breakfast – oatmeal, lunch – soup, meat, vegetables, dinner – pasta. Maybe 1 hamburger or pizza, bottle of red wine once per week…)

Today my conditions getting worse and worse and run out of money on various medical tests and consultations. Nearly all the symptoms remains the same as it was from begining. I sent my saliva couple times to laboratory for candida testing, and results were negatives. But if I do “home candida test” spitting saliva into the glass in the morning, I see big mass of white cloudy content. Actually my saliva white cloudy all the day. I can’t gain weight, sleep 5-6 hours and wake up but sleeping is not deep because of burning, so feel tiried. Even drinking a glass of water provocate big heartburn. On February this year, my stomach was tested one more time. So today, after a year results: several erosions in esophagus, gastritis and erososion in stomach, intestinal metaplasia, H. Pylori – negative, and A LOT OF STOMACH ACID MIXED WITH BILE IN THE STOMACH (!!!). BEFORE GASTROENDOSCOPY I DO NOT EAT ALL NIGHT AND HALF OF DAY(!!! how can a lot of acid be there???). I was prescribed omeprozal 20mg twice per day, but I think it gives just 20% of releaf. All these 2 years I just feel a bit better after eating – then burning stops about 80% for 2-3 hours. And I feel better after bigger meal (pizza, several pankakes, pasta). Diet food makes me feel much worse. Spicy food affect me not much I think, but i try not to eat such things.

My question, is it possible that people can have a big quantity of acid in their stomach, but this acid is not strong enough to make proper digestion. But it is strong enough to make hearburn, esophagus damage, and burning mounth and other of my symptoms? My own theory is that if acid is not strong enough, stomach generates it more and more to digest properly. When I said that to doctor, he just laught at me. The last two tests I made was for Iron and Vitamin B12. Results: Iron = 26.5 (normal rate 10.60-28.30). B12 = 136.8 (normal rate 141-489). As I understand food absorbtion works quite well (???).

It’s not possible to do acid stenght test in my country. I tried the morging soda test, I hade a very small belch after 15minutes or so, next time after 6 minutes. But is it worth to try HCL in my situation? And any other thoughts about my desperate situation would be very very appriciated. Thanks.

Lori Jo Berg March 11, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Hi Arthur, thanks for reaching out! First off, we highly suggest working with a functional medicine practitioner and if you are in need of one, please go here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/. Secondly, it is up to you as to whether or not you’d like to try the HCL, but you could try it and see how it works for you. If you feel anything abnormal or it just doesn’t feel right, you should stop.

RAP March 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

I am so far gone that it is almost absurd. I’m a 67 year old man who has coughed up enormous amounts of phlehm and undigested food shortly after eating anything, and I mean anything. Believe it or not I’ve lived with this problem since I was about 16 years old. I always wrote it off to smoking (ages 18-36) and/or a deviated septum.
After I retired I began seeing an ENT and had my septum straighten. I also have gone though so many tests with a Gastrologist and my ENT it is silly. I have been on PPI’s on and off for six years and been treated by a “swallowing therapist” and an acupuncturist. Nothing has helped at all.
I’ve changed my diets, flushed my sinus’ religiously been treated by and done so many other interventions they are all to hard to recall. I plan to see a hypnotist in the near future since doctors are now looking me with nothing to offer. I can see behind their eyes that they want to say, “it’s all in your head.” I know my wife and my kids feel likewise.
I have been on the Internet constantly for a week now and explored countless “post boards”, and LSR, LSN, GERD and other writings that seem to pertain to my difficulty. I’m going to try these tests for low acidity in my stomach, but am wondering if any of you have had any success with symptoms such as mine.
I’m rather sure that I’ll never live long enough to find a cure to this condition but I welcome any input whatsoever.

Lori Jo Berg March 11, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Thank you for reaching out! We are truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with you.

The SCD diet has helped many people in your same shoes regain their health.
The best place to start is with our Free quick start guide here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/
From here, we highly recommend following the directions in the eBook for best results: http://scdlifestylebook.com/

Gwen Walsh February 22, 2015 at 6:43 am

I have been taking Omeprazole for around 10 years. Firstly 20mg per day and increased to 40mg per day about 5 years ago. During that time I have had substantial weight gain with fluctuations but have been unable to lose the extra weight I was advised to by the practice nurse at my Doctor’s surgery. I have suffered bloating, gas, constipation and been unable to wear many of my clothes. Recently the local pharmacy made an error on my prescription and only gave me half of my usual Omeprazole prescription. Rather than complain, I tried taking a single 20mg dose per day instead of the 40mg. Amazingly my clothes are starting to fit again after only one weak and I only suffered discomfort for a coupe of days. I feel that my bowel is being cleared out as if I have had a real detox. I am going to try to reduce the 20mg dose further for a couple of weeks before trying the HCL with pepsin. I strongly suspect that low stomach acid has been causing me many health problems recently including fatigue, I want to come off the PPI’s completely and hopefully live a normal healthy life. I will be buying some apple cider vinegar along with HCL tablets tomorrow but I understand that lemon juice in water first thing in the morning also helps.

Mika February 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I need some advices to find my healing path. It is now 9 months, I have seen many specialists: otolaryngologist, respirologist, endocrinologist, rheumatologist, allergist….nobody gave me a diagnosis yet. I cannot take any drugs for GERD, it makes me very thirsty and my throat gets tighter. My PH paper test for saliva and urine are never acidic (7.5). My symptoms: burping, no heartburn or bloating, hoarseness, burning airways, night sweat, pain in the neck (left). My blood results came out positive for Rheumatoïd Arthritis, bordeline hyperthyorïdisme and bunch of food allergies. I am on alkaline diet and free gluten and dairy. I am now trying some herbs from the traditional Chinese medecine too. I am taking Betaine Hydrochloride (2 pills 1x/day) and it doesn’t seem to give me any stomach pain, so is it possible that I have low acidity?

Lori Jo Berg February 10, 2015 at 11:57 am

HI Mika, thanks for reaching out! In conjunction with working with a practitioner, we suggest testing for low HCL as directed in the article. Secondly, starting the SCD diet to address dietary needs is a great start as well and you can view the quick start guide here: http://scdlifestyle.com/scd-quick-start-guide/

Mario February 3, 2015 at 6:25 am

Hi there!

I have a big problem, and it seems that doctors have given up on me because they have no idea what to do. I was diagnosed with gastritis when I was 15. I would get heartburns, but that was about it. The number of tablets I took for it is unbelievable, but they would stop the heartburn. After a while I started thinking that so many tablets cannot be good for me, and I actually found a way to deal with heartburn – one apple first thing in the morning, and I’m set for the rest of the day. So I thought GREAT! I found the solution. Baking soda would also help.

But 4 years ago I started to get thin strange metallic/acidic/salty/sweet taste in mouth, and it just won’t go away. It is literally driving me insane. It also affects my breath. I started getting this taste after taking a lot of antibiotics for another problem (urinary tract), and I always thought that triggered it, but it doesn’t seem likely. I had an endoscopy again, and was diagnosed with a small hiatal hernia, but the doctor wasn’t to concerned, and said everything else looked fine to her. I lost around 10 kg, I eat small meals, try not to eat 3 hours before I got bed, I don’t drink too much alcohol etc. I started going to the gym over a year ago, but was told to stop as it would only make things worse. So I don’t do heavy weight lifting anymore. I do everything by the book, and this taste is still here. They are trying to give me Lansoprazole, but I am refusing to take it as it does absolutely nothing. I go to bed hungry, and wake up with acid in my mouth. How could this be? When I eat something I can feel the taste of that food for hours after a meal. I have been doing research, tried so many supplements, but it is not working. I am on the edge here. I have never tried Betaine HCL, so I have just ordered some to see what happens. If this doesn’t help I have no idea what to do anymore. But this condition is nothing something one can just deal with. It is having a very bad effect on my life.

Thank for reading

Lori Jo Berg February 3, 2015 at 9:59 am

Hi Mario, thanks for reaching out! I am sorry to hear of your health struggles. From what you have said, it sounds like you need a comprehensive program that addresses the root of the issue while using diet, lifestyle and supplements to heal. It would also be a great idea for you to find a trusted functional medicine practitioner to assist you in this journey. Here is the link to a practitioner: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/ and here is the link to our comprehensive Solving leaky Gut program: solvingleakygut.com

ingy February 13, 2015 at 8:58 pm

hi Mario sounds a lot like me and with all antibiotics you had try looking up about candida amongother places it also affects the mouth and throat also you may need more than 2 hcl per meal I was up to 6 per bigger meal didn’t hurt me and helped didn’t need it for a few years but having to go back on it again ive been rollercoasting for years low acid causes malabsorbtion and deficiencies which all cause different problems read up on candida see if these are some of your problems good luck

Serena January 30, 2015 at 10:20 pm

So i am utterly at my wits end here.
At the end of September i had a really bad case of Gastro and my eyes were yellow for a week. So i went to see the doctor and we did blood test and they came back negative. Then the burping and not being able to process proteins and dairy began and everytime i would eat either one of those i would burp. My doctor put me on acid reflux meds and that just made the burping worse i burped more often and sometimes after eating i would burp up my food. So i decided to try having soups for lunch and supper for about 2 months and it ended up blocking me up so i had to stop that.
More recently i had a craving for smoked salmon and well that did not go over well i had rrally bad heartburn and i tried all sort of over the counter medicine and it made it worse but then i read online if i take a 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and my reflux goes away then my stomach acid is low and if it continues to get worse its to high. Well i took the teaspoon of lemon juice and everything was great.
Sadly i kept getting sharp abdominal pains and i had a sharp pain in the middle of my chest right below my rib cage so i went to the hospital and they said it was acid reflux and gave me another medicine to try and it made me nauseous and more bloated and it made e burp alot more and it made me burp up my food.
I was sent to see a GI and thus far I have done 2 test 1 came back negative and the other revealed Acid reflux. If it were acid reflux would the medications ive been given work??
I am supposed to speak to the GI Tuesday are their any test you can suggest I ask to take ??
ive done an upper GI (the one where you drink barium) and i submitted stool samples .

I am going to try a new diet for the time being with BIO K probiotics and PrimeZyme (full spectrum plant & bacterial digestive enzyme with Betaine HCL)
anyone else have any other recommendations.
thank you…
wishing i could go back to the time before that nasty gastro where i could eat anything without any stomach issue

Lori Jo Berg February 2, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Hi Serena, thanks for reaching out! We suggest a comprehensive program that addressed diet, lifestyle and supplements to attack this issue. Also, you can speak with your doctor about tests for low HCL, or you can test your self as the article explains. If you are interested in a program that will help you get to the root of your issues, it is best to start with the quiz here: solvingleakygut.com

Michelle January 27, 2015 at 10:09 am

When I eat meat I get heartburn (in the morning) which lasts the whole day, and do get the typical symptoms of heaviness bloating, in bouts after eating if my stomach had become especially irritated. I have been meat free for a week with great results. When I found this site I decided to take 1 NOW brand betaine/HCL/pepsin capsule and eat meat at dinner last night. My belly felt fine all night but I awoke with terrible heartburn. How do I figure out if I need more capsules when eating meat or if the capsule in addition to the meat made my heartburn appear with a vengeance…..in the morning!! What is confusing is that meat is acidic as opposed to alkaline so I was convinced that avoiding meat was what was keeping me heartburn free. I might add that I have multiply food allergies and sensitivities including gluten, dairy, egg, soy, corn so I do not eat these.

Lori Jo Berg January 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Hi Michelle, thanks for reaching out! In order for our bodies to digest meat, we have to have the proper amounts of HCL with in the stomach. Secondly, you may have eaten to close to bed time and this affected how you feel in the morning. Go ahead and increase by one pill, as directed in the article here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/ and see how you do with that. It is also necessary to address the underlying cause of the food allergies by changing your diet for starters, to one like the SCD diet.

Ashley Jones January 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm


I’ve been suffering with digestive problems since I had my first pregnancy over 5 and a half years ago. I would feel dehydrated, and extremely nauseas, I would have swelling of my stomach, diarrhoea, I wouldn’t really feel hungry and when drinking water it would sit on my stomach. I also would sometimes have pain in the middle of my ribs which when picking up my daughter it would become breathless pain. My nausea was the worst part as it was every day mostly all day, it was truly, awful. I was unable to eat any wheat, dairy, fruit, onion, some vegetables, some meats, sugar…. etc.. so basically most food

The doctors said I had IBS, and told me to stop coming back as they can’t help me. I wasn’t once referred to a dietician or any form of specialist, I am shocked how poorly I have been treated.

Anyway I have researched a lot of things and I have been on a lot of different diets.

Finally I found greek probiotic yogurt mixed with pure maple syrup helped my bloating, by boosting the good bacteria but my nausea was still here.

After a long time of more elaborate diets I found information on PH levels, I took gluten free out of my diet and followed this diet harshly, I lost a tone of weight even though I was already small to start with… But there still wasn’t constant relief from my nausea, I honestly lost my mind feeling like this, not knowing what it was.. if it was serious.. was I just waiting for myself to fall apart or it was just a minor problem…

Then I came across taking bicarbonate of soda, a small amount with water everyday. And so far this has cured me! I can’t express how it feels to be given my life back, to be able to talk without feeling sick, move around and play with my children.

So my question to you is do you think I had low acid to begin with? And if not what do you think it may have been?
And finally do you know any negatives to taking half a teaspoon of bicarbonate every day?

Many thanks,

Ashley Jones

Lori Jo Berg January 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Hi Ashley, thanks for reaching out! It is really hard to say, as we encourage those who think they may have low stomach acid to do the at home test. It is always a good idea to also consult with your practitioner about your health as well and communicate to him/her your concerns of taking bicarbonate each day.

Eben December 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Hi Guys, About a month ago I started to get a burning pain under the left side of my rib case and felt my abdomen to be rather bloated, even when eating small meals. I went to a GP, who tested me on an ECG, but my heart seemed to be perfect and he then suggested that I needed to use Omeprazole 20mg capsules for 14 days, which I did. I had a very while/cream hairy colour on my tongue, which feels like “acid”

A Friend of mine had the same kind of thing and got Betaine Hydrochloride with Pepsin from a friend in America and after using it for about 10 days, the problem vanished. I bought a bottle of 100 capsules, but so far only had one with a meal yesterday, but was a bit scared about whether it is the right thing to do. I also do not agree with taking drugs for anything, as it will not solve the problem.

Is this by any chance a sign of too little acid in my stomach?

Please let me know soon. Thanks 🙂

Lori Jo Berg December 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Hi Eben, thank you for reaching out! You can safely test for low stomach acid on your own and if your symptoms improve upon supplementing with HCL, chances are you may have low stomach acid.

Kelly October 29, 2014 at 10:07 pm

HI guys,
I just started looking into this low stomach acid thing, and all signs point to me having it. I started with the baking soda test, then moved on to the Betaine test. First test was last night with a chicken breast- took the 650mg capsule as recommended, and felt, well, sort of warmish I think. Today, tried again, with a salad and a can of tuna- felt not much really. Then about 8 hours later, am getting very painful pointed stomach pains, located on the left side, right below the rib cage. I was thinking it might be the HCl, so I tried some baking soda. Didn’t go away. Tried some lemon juice- still not going away. Ate a piece of salmon, and am debating whether or not to take anymore Betaine… Are symptoms hours later normal? Oh, I also tried the beet test (a while ago), and signs point to low acid there too!
Thanks so much,

Lori Jo Berg October 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Hi Kelly, thank you for reaching out! You will typically feel the burn about 15-20 minutes after you consume the HCL. You may want to consult with your physician if you are concerned of other possible causes for these reactions.

Charles Tooraen October 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I wonder if I may have caused an ulcer? I have been taking 1/2 of 600mg BHCL with meals for about 6 weeks. Along with 1 GI enzyme pill. This seemed to be helping with GI issues I was having (constipation and malabsorption and undigested food in stool). Now I am having really bad pain in between meals. So much that it keeps me up at night. Those are signs of an ulcer. I originally tried HCL before an it did cause some burning pain, so I that is way I backed off to 1/2 a pill. That seemed to work and not cause any heartburn or pain after meals. It’s only been this last week that the stomach issues have cropped up. Any thoughts?



Lori Jo Berg October 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Hi Charles, thank you for reaching out! IT is probably best to consult with your physician about your speculations of an ulcer, as we are not doctors and are unable to diagnose people.

Mary October 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

Wow…Thank G-D for the internet and pioneers like yourselves! I need to come back in the a.m. and read more. My Tibetan doc said I had low acid and recommended the Betaine HCL. I do think he is amazing but have been anxious about taking too much. Reading your input has calmed my thoughts about that. Have had Type 1 DM for >45 years so the belly is a bit sluggish. That said- my only s/s are a persistent acidic taste in my mouth, post nasal drip in the a.m. a cough and gas. Silent reflux is what I have read it to be. Have been taking 2-3 caps of the B HCl each meal and am wondering when the acidic taste will go away? Also, I think I saw DGL mentioned- how do I know which to use? Should I incorporate both maybe? Also have some bitters to try later…One thing at a time I think. Thank you all so very much! What a gift to find you Steve, Jordan et al!!!

Lori Jo Berg October 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Hi Mary, thank you for reaching out! It is always a good idea to consult with your practitioner about any symptoms you have. As you have read in the article, we do have many people that need varying amounts of HCL tabs. Some may only need 3 while some may need quite a bit more.

Darren August 30, 2014 at 7:18 am

Hi SCD team

Hi SCD Team

Great article and great comments – I’ve learned a lot.

Question: Do you have to NOT like eating / or have issues eating meat to have low stomach acid?

I don’t have any issues with consuming chunks of meat or any foods.

However, I’m up to my 3rd day of testing, now 3 x HCL tabs[650mg+pepsin] and no burning or problems. I’m taking the tablets in the middle of the meal and is usually the first meal of the day [lunch]. I am having these with a large bunch of non-starchy veggies, fat and ~400g of meat [today chicken].

Is the large meal diluting the HCL? Should I just eat the meat and try the HCL?

FYI. The only health issues I have is food intolerance to gluten/salicylates/amines/lactose [recently discovered over the last few months through RPAH Elimination Test procedure], that leads to ezcema and dry skin [but only minimal on 2 fingers]. I did have asthma all my life but cured that a few years ago with a ‘liver cleanse’, followed by a 3 day fast [I’m not kidding!]

Thanks in advance for the response

Lori Jo Berg September 2, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Hi Darren, thank you for reaching out! There are a number of reasons for needing HCL and here are 3 common signs you may have low acid levels: Hypochlorhydria: 3 Common Signs of Low Stomach Acid. We suggest following the guidelines here on how to properly supplement with HCL: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Ingrid Walker August 27, 2014 at 2:57 am

Hi Steve, I love your article. I suffer from Fibromyalgia and find betaine HCL helps boost Methylation, which is always deficient in FM (MTHFR def) and many other chronic health conditions. I have practiced Applied Kinesiology for more than 25 years and find Thompson’s Betaine HCl consistently AK tests very well for me and everyone I test. It only costs $3.42 for 90 Tabs at Interestingly, I always test best to take HCL 20 to 30 minutes after my protein containing meals, never before, during or right after. It’s my understanding that if one takes HCL too early, they could dilute (or diminish) the ability of other enzymes (amylase, lipase etc.)to work efficiently. Taking HCL has made a massive difference for me and my health. Hope this helps someone. God Bless!

Jenna June 12, 2014 at 12:01 am

I have always been a bloaty type person, and never really paid attention, as I thought it was just the food and not me. As I have got older I have got sicker, now I have digestive upsets, reflux, upset stomach and almost immediate bloating when I eat and and lower bloating for the rest of the day. I am new to SCD, and hope to resolve whats going on. I decided to do the test with bicarb with no response, not even one burp. I have since got digestive bitters which really releived the discomfort. I am now have an aversion to meat(was a big meat eater) and worried about protein, as I have been told I am protien difficient along with anemia. So I would really like to try the Betaine, and see how I feel. I am so over stressing about what I should eat on a daily basis due to how it might make me feel. Thank you for you very informative site 🙂

mpho June 6, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I need help, I can’t eat anything with salt,acid,all fruits,raw carrots and raw cabbage,apple make my heartburn worse,is like I ate poison,and feel hot in my stomach,no spices,citrus etc. Ant acid like Gaviscon and omeprazole make the condition worse. Is this a low acid or high acid. Doctor please help me.

Jade June 6, 2014 at 6:22 am

Hi Guys, thank you for this its interesting. However with the amount is it 1/4 level tsp or 1/4 heaped tsp…would really appreciate to find out. Thank u, Jade

DJackson June 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I am going to take the Betaine HCL test this wkend. Ive been on the SCD for 6 mths now It started out excellent but, Im having diarrea again. (doing 4 Horsemane to find problem). However, If I eat or drink even water my stomach cramp so bad I have to stop working or whatever I’m doing and let it pass. It cramps up right after I ingest anything then goes away. I thought it might be fruit/honey so I stopped eating that then I drank water and the cramping is intense. My stools are watery again so I decided to start the SCD Intro all over. I’m desparate to get on track because I know the SCD iwill work for me. If you have any advise please write back. Thank you

rhina May 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

hi my son has acid reflects glutein problems thyroid he is a dowm syndrome child he can’t communicate he can’t sleep coughing and burping doctor only given protonic Prilosec what can I do to helping a put ing in a diet for glutein and acid please help

pina May 24, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I’ve been following Paleo diet for a while and overall I feel great. However, I’ve been getting bad heartburns after eating anything with coconut oil or coconut milk. Before I went Paleo, I hardly ever got hearthburns, and if I did it would be from rye bread, pizza or pineapple. But why coconut? I have been reading, that saturated fat should help the heartburn- not cause it. Could low stomach acid be the blame???? I don’t have problems eating meat. Should I stop eating coconut or try HCL?

Holly May 2, 2014 at 6:42 am

I went to sleep one night and in the middle of the night i had some massive stomach pain i have not felt before then shortly followed a fever of 105 that lasted a day and now my stomach wont even digest water i have to make myself regurgitate and i am not sure what to do now cause drinking a half a glass of water will keep me full for a week but i get dehydrated so i have to force an emtying so can drink more water. I dont visit doctors

Jeff April 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

Diagnosed with Hyporia after oral medicine taken for rash on chest caused from yeast infection, followed by very strong antibiotic taken for acne, while taking ibupropin for sprained ankle. I’m guessing the above combinations brought on the hyporia. Doc wants to start me on suitcase of meds/antibiotics – do I need to take all that and not sure if I have low acid or high but they are treating me for high – prolasec,etc. Horrible heartburn, burping, neck burning, have to sleep sitting up, hurts to eat. If I take the medicines prescribe, I will take probiotics 2 hours before I take the antibiotics (4 of them), if you think that is a good idea? Eating grilled fish, chicken, eggs and fresh fruit and veggies, cranberry juice. So, is the above the best way to treat hyporia and get rid of it? Thanks, Jeff PS, my dog had ghardia, don’t think I got that from him though.

Brenda April 24, 2014 at 2:52 am

Update on my post of yesterday which suggested I had plenty of acid in my stomach: I did the baking soda test this morning and I didn’t burp once in twenty minutes, which tells me I don’t have any (or enough) stomach acid! None of this is making sense… ????

Gabby Friedman April 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Hi, I’ve been suffering from GERD for years and have answered “yes” to your low stomach acid questions. I stopped my Pepcid and want to try HCL, but have been on asthma steroids for years (Advair). Is it safe to take HCL while taking inhaled steroids? I’m taking bitter herbs, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice right now, which help a bit, but not entirely. I still feel heartburn. I really want to try HCL, but am worried about the steriods. Any advice is much appreciated. Many thanks!

Brenda Boyce April 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I am delighted to have found this info on Betaine HCl, although just a day late!

I have had problems with food sitting in my stomach overlong, sometimes waking with a foul taste in my mouth, presumably from rotting food that hadn’t yet been digested. Yuk. Because of this, I had assumed I had low stomach acid. My assuming was mistake number one! I took the Betaine HCl and Pepsin last night prior to a meal (HCl 648mg Pepsin 130mg) and woke up this morning having burned the inside of my upper lip. Not nice! The extra acid had obviously made its way up my esophagus whilst I slept. I didn’t connect this with taking the HCl initially so tried another with a protein meal today and my stomach was literally burning!

I am 70 years old and had always assumed that acid levels decreased with age. This doesn’t appear to always be the case.

So what could be causing food to remain in my stomach? I have been taking digestive enzymes for a month and don’t appear to have much of a problem when I do. I wrongly thought that extra acid would help as well.

Any comments greatly appreciated.

Thanks and blessings to you both for this info turning up just in the nick of time. 🙂


Marissa April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I decided to quit soda. I never had all that much, about 3-4 a week of regular soda. I quit at the begining of March, by March 11 I had horrible reflux/heartburn and had to go to a walk in clinic. I thought I was having gallbladder attacks. I did not have gall stones. I have been prescribed prilosec (since I could not afford the Nexium I was prescribed) I have started a few sodas again because I found when I drink one, it relieves my heartburn rather than making it worse. Is this crazy talk? I am still only at 3-4 a week but since I started drinking them again, I havenot had severe reactions like I was having when I quit.

Dick March 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

Interesting stuff. I just did the soda test and guess what? I did not burp whatsoever. Instead I have had liquid coming back up my throat. Granted this only the first test but it seems telling to me. I was always told I had GERD and put on proton pump inhibitors. I’ve been off them for a long time but had some bad acid attacks and lots of frothy white liquid that kept coming up my throat (I have had this before many times). I think my stomach sphincter is not closing properly anymore and allowing the stomach contents to come back up because of the pressure from the bloating. I also have lot so pain in various regions of my bowels and have IBS symptoms. I also had my gall bladder removed a few years ago. But I had the stomach problems before that. I’ve seen a gastro on a few occasions and all they did was a camera down the throat and a sample taken. I have had gastritis on a few occasions. Can you get gastritis on low stomach acid? It’s all very frustrating.

Clair March 30, 2014 at 4:36 am

I have severe reflux and an endoscopy revealed a hiatus hernia. It also revealed that my stomach was full of breakfast that I’d eaten 7 hrs previously. I have been thinking about HCL but I’m concerned that the hernia will allow too much acid through. I recall the doc saying everything looked sore and inflammed and that he could see a lot of acid. Any advice? Many thanks, C

Cynthia March 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

I was wondering if I can continue with my apple cider vinegar pills and the Betaine HCL?

Dominik March 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Dear Steve!

My diagnosis is:
Gastritis peptica
Ptosis ventriculi
Bulbitis erosiva

Can I take the HCL test or not due to erosions? Thank you!

gaurav March 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Sir,whenever i take my meal my stomach filled with gas plus i dont even get burps and fart..it create a lot of problem for me sometime i could not talk properly then i take a pill which help me to digest my food then i get some relief this problem continues after every of my meal…please help me out

Jessica March 14, 2014 at 3:05 am

Hi Steve, I do not eat meat, but do eat fish…would salmon suffice for the at home Betaine HCL test?

Peleg March 11, 2014 at 3:18 am

Steve, I will try to make this short.

September 2013, I got diagnosed with Gastritis/GERD/IBS. I didn’t know much about this stuff. The Doctor put me on PPI and H2. I lost 40 lbs in 4 months since I couldn’t eat solid foods. I healed the Gastritis with GastroVen.

After I fired my Doctor and the constipating drugs he gave me, I went with another Doctor who put me on antibiotics and anti-spasmatics, I fired him too.

I got tested for food allergies via IgG, IgA, IgE blood tests. It turns out I’m allergic to casein, gluten, beef, egg yolk, sugar, honey and coffee. I changed my diet, the heartburn is gone. The GERD used to make my throat constrict, but that’s just about gone too.

The IBS is the toughest one to beat. I’m waiting on the results of my comprehensive stool tests (bacterial, parasites and yeast) I have a feeling it’s yeast. I get bloated and constipated. My descending colon is bloated and painful. Can yeast overgrowth cause these symptoms and cause low production of stomach acid? I can take 3-4 HCL pills after a meal and not feel much.

By the way, the Rhizinate 3X DGL is a great product.

Also, would food allergies go away, or do I have to depart from dairy/bread for good? I was kind of bummed about it, although everyone tells me I look great.



Teniel March 6, 2014 at 6:49 am

Hi, I have so many questions for you guys. I love your page and am learning so much.
Can you use a vegan protein to do a test with the HCL tablets? Something like quinoa or chia etc… If so how much?

Are the digestive bitters also known as swedish bitters? Because I have a huge bottle of that in my cupboard but it has a strong alcohol content. From what you have written Im under the impression this can be used instead of the HCL tablets as it helps with the digestion of the food. Correct? I guess then I have to work out how much to take. 10ml 15ml???

When should you take HCL tablets before a meal/on empty stomach and how long before?

How much Pepsin per HCL capsule is needed? What do you think of the NOW brand?

Is it safe to take HCL and also digestive enzymes with a leaky gut? IM in Australia so cant get a hold of all the brands you recommend.

Thanks so much, Any questions you can answer will help me out tremendously.

Matt February 28, 2014 at 6:56 am


I tried taking Betaine HCL with a meal and I only took 1 tablet. Straight after I had a lot of wind and was constantly belching as well as feeling a bit hypo. Does that mean that I don’t need to take HCL and that my stomach was already producing enough acid? I also gave up alcohol 1 week ago so i’m not sure if that has a role to play.

I look forward to your guidance on this.

Kevin February 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I have a question is this is under the case of low stomach acidity. I present with constant bloating, gas, and occasional constipation. I’ve been taking enzymes for the past 2 years and it has helped a lot, but now they seem to be working only minimally. I rarely get heartburn, but I do get the feeling of food still being in my stomach all the time after I eat. I have a couple nights of regurgitation of food even hours after my meal. I can’t eat a lot in one sitting, and end up being hungry in an hour or so. And its a constant cycle of eating multiple times, taking enzymes with my meals, and feeling full all the time in my stomach, but constantly hungry.
I do not know if trying HCL would be beneficial since I don’t have heartburn symptoms.

Camille February 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm


I have had digestive issues most of my life. I was diagnosed with IBS about 20 years or more; but, have been able to control it or it disappeared…up until this past month. I have been miserable the entire month of January. I have been researching supplements/herbs to try. I am extremely constipated and I bloat up from just about anything I consume. I have a burning sensation in the middle of my stomach, right under my rib cage and nothing takes it away. I take a dairy free keifer probiotic every morning and a digestive enzyme with meals and they don’t seem to be helping. I used to drink apple cider vinegar; but, I can’t seem to tolerate that anymore; so, I stopped. It seems to make the burning worse. Do you have any suggestions on what it could be and what I should do or try? Much appreciate it! Thank you!

Jasmine January 26, 2014 at 6:56 am

Hi Steve,

I have been diagnosed with inflammation of the Esophagus… My problems all started with a sore throat.. which I was told must be due to reflux.. I tried to take PPI’S and was very ill with severe stomach pain just below the sternum, also as soon as I started taking them I was burping every couple of seconds.. it was incredible.. I was even burping in my sleep! and I have never suffered from wind. What I would like to know is, is it safe to try the HCL supplements for the acid test if I have inflammation in the Esophagus.. could this make it worse? Thank you for your help and the good work you are doing!

Steve January 17, 2014 at 8:44 am

Finding it somewhat of a chore to swallow so many capsules at once. Along with the other supplements I am taking, it adds up to a lot of capsules and namely the necessity of swallowing quite a lot of fluid to get them down, which I understand to be counter-productive for digestion on low stomach acid. Might I possibly dump out the contents of the Betaine HCL capsules into a glass and mix them all together with a little water and take them that way? Any reason not to?

Courtney January 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Hi Steve,
Thank you so much for writing this article. I have found it very useful in my attempts to regain my digestive health.
I an 24 years old and have been suffering from chronic constipation (we’re talking 3 weeks – month long bouts of constipation) for 2 years now – basically since incorporating more protein into my diet. I literally tried everything for 2 years and nothing/nobody could help me.
I recently read your article and began taking HcL pills (the Thorne brand with pepsin) under the supervision of my naturopath. I started with a low dose at first and instantly say digestive improvement. I then did the loading test and took 20 pills without feeling much. I slowly backed off before the holidays (gradually down to 1 pill) but then experienced the same symtoms all over again. I did drink some coffee and wine which I don’t normally have, and at a bit of gluten and some dairy as well as spicy food.
I’ve since gone back up to 20 pills and still don’t feel any burning. It has been a few days at this dose and I finally had a somewhat normal bowel movement today.
My question for you is is it strange that I nee this much acid to have a normal bowel movement? Should I be worried that there is a serious underlying cause to my problem?
I am so worried. Just when I thought I found the anwer to my digestive distress my symtoms came back and I am at my wits end. Any advice, insights or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Kelly September 3, 2014 at 8:18 pm

It’s been a while since you posted and I hope you have improved. I’m certainly no doctor but from everything I’ve read, if you don’t experience the burning or warmth you should take approximately 7-8 capsules with meals. You may need to keep with it for months before your body starts to produce enough HCl so that you notice warmth and slowly back down a capsule at a time. I’ve been taking HCl for over a year now and still need it. Definitely avoid gluten and possibly dairy too.

Brent Kovacs September 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm

We talk more about finding your correct dose of Betaine HCl here, as many people do not experience the burning: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

PAMM January 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Hello I Take Steroids for a Adrenal Disease 5 years now, So I was always scared to take HCI. However I Had all the signs of Low Stomach Acid Over The Years. On the Baking Soda test I wouldn’t burp any. Hair Loss, Constipation & Peeling Fingernails, Can’t Tolerate Supplements, Fatigue, Hair Loss, Hard to tolerate Protein. But these symptoms can overlap so much with other issues. My Main Issue Now Is I have Experienced a Extremely Tight Feeling under my Breast Bone all the way across more so on left side & My Ribs are Very Painful to touch. With Bloating. The Pressure Is all the way through to my back. It came about when I got Stomach Flu. Right after the Stomach Flu I was burping alot & had acid reflux for 2 weeks. I don’t have those anymore, just the tightness and sore ribs. I don’t Burp after meals either. Could this be low acid or candida or high acid? I just feel more tightness under chest after eating. Grapefruit Seed Extract Has Helped a Few Times. I Have Developed Low Blood Sugar After Supplements & Eating started about 9 months ago. I am Desperate For Answers. Especially With The Sugar Problems. By Reading this Do you think I Have Low Stomach Acid & If So Do You Think It Could Cause Low Blood Sugar Issues? thank you very much…

Theresa December 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Thank you for this! Can I substitute eggs or plant protein for the meat in the Betaine HCL test? If so, how much?

Karla December 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Hello Steve,

I came across your article about low acud in the stomach, which I find interesting as it may be what I’m suffering from. I realize that you cannot diagnose me, however, you could provide me with an opinion, here are my simptoms:

I have suffered stomach issues for the past 10 years
8 years ago, I had my first endoscopy. They said I had acid reflux and started taking Prevacid…It did not treat/cute my situation. I’ve also had the ph test, where they but a camera thru your nostril and is in for 24hrs(very painful!) it was inconclusive, as another dr. Said that the dr. who had me do it had me on Prevacid while I did the test and he told me that I should’ve been off for at least 2 weeks! I’ve had endoscopy at least 4 times in the past 10 years, had colonoscopy at least 3 times as well..cat scans/blood work/X-rays and so on… All have been normal..through the years my condition has gotten worse; now, every time I eat my right side hurts, my stomach is bloated, I can’t seem to pass gas and constipation has always been an issue for me. I have been told I have IBS…last June, I had an endoscopy, which he said there was nothing wrong, other than a little gastritis…he said no concerns at all..I had a colonoscopy November 2012. He said all is well, just a lot of bloating/gas. I keep having pain on my right side if the stomach, I was thinking its my liver, they say liver is working well and that is due to gas bring trapped…I need to release more. I loose about 5/7 pounds when I’m going through this, also I feel the acid in the back of my throat and even a bitter taste in the mouth. Dr. Doesn’t seem concerned at all! He just prescribed reglan to help the spasms in the intestines. On my own, I’m taking probiotics. I blood work shows my digestive enzymes are low, so I’m taking digest gold. My stomach is always making sounds, it’s embarrassing! I always have that bitter taste and I feel I need to eat something sweet to counter that taste. I’m trying to eat gluten free, mainly fish and chicken. Red meat seems to hurt by stomach and it constipates and makes me feel bloated…I need help and I feel that the dr.s have discarded me and feel I just need to deal with it! I have been to 3 dr.s and they’re done with me..please help me! Sorry for the long version. I have also done a 2 week course for antibiotics for treating possible bacteria in the gut. Thank you.

James Brown December 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Hey guys, I’m writing you for some insight and hope on my quest to find a solution. Back in 2005 I began experiencing a constant burning in my throat almost everyday. I went to my doctor and was told I had acid reflux. Not a single test was performed and I was given a prescription and sent about my business. I took Prevacid for several years and it seemed to help. I still had the burning sensation on occasion. I later switched to Nexium. I didn’t last long on Nexium because of the horrible effects it caused me. Each day before taking my pill I felt great. No burning, nothing! Then after I took it I had the worst burning sensation. It would last all day until it worked itself out of my system, I was miserable. So, I switched back to Prevacid and I started feeling better. However, I still suffer from that burning sensation in my throat on occasion. I can eat something and immediately feel the burn. Perhaps that is from the irritation of reflux? Something else that confuses me is that I can eat certain foods that should bother me but don’t. Like something spicy. Also, I eat things that I would consider not bothersome but they do bother me. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I don’t produce enough stomach acid. I’m usually really gassy and often feel bloated. I especially feel this after eating. Also, if I go all day and don’t eat much I can expect gas and burning in my throat. I’m getting tired of playing this game and want to get it under control once and for all. How do I ween myself from Prevacid and try taking HCL with Pepsin? What should I do to get myself feeling like a human again, thanks!!

Mike November 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Great information on this HCL – definitely worth taking the test. Ive been on Omeprazole for several years now for AR. Along with the this struggle with heartburn Ive also had chronic headaches and migraines. Ive tried numerous avenues pursuing the migraine treatments and prevention but the after repeated trends the headaches seem to come after meals – especially heavy meals. Defintiely seems digestive related. So I tried a test and stopped the Omperazole for several days and started up on a Probiotic / Acidiophilus supplement and also some Enzymes during mealtimes. I went over 10 days without a headache! Coud it be the lack of acid in my stomach and poor digestion after meals that is causing the headaches? Drinking Coke or Dr Pepper during the meals has also helped with preventative. The problem is that Ive started back up with Omeprazole because Ive been getting bad hearburn again – now the headaches are starting to comeback! Im considering the alternaitve remedies and preventatives for heatburn including this HCL test. Any thoughts / suggestions?

Lyn November 24, 2013 at 12:02 am

Is it ok to take HCL when pregnant? I started taking it and it has helped me but I recently found out that I’m pregnant. What do you recommend?

Limi November 21, 2013 at 7:19 am

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the great article. I did the soda test and did not seem to pass (didn’t belch in the first 5 minutes), so I am now trying the HCL test. I took one pill during a high-protein meal. My issue is that, due to some acidic issues I am probably suffering from, I am used to experiencing some hotness and heaviness after a meal anyway. So how would I know if the HCL is doing this or if it’s just my “regular” digestive system? Should I be looking out for more severe symptoms than I usually feel?


tambecka November 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I have a dysbiotic gut with many worsening health problems.
When I tried the baking soda test–I belched about 10 minutes later and then began sneezing many many times. This is some type of allergic reaction, but does it mean I have low stomach acid. I’m going to see a functional medicine doctor that specializes in gastro problems.

nan March 22, 2015 at 12:08 am

Where do you live to find a functional gastro doc ? Nan

Lori Jo Berg March 22, 2015 at 10:18 am

Hi Nan, You can search for a practitioner here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Kelly C. November 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I’ve found this site (and Chris Kressler’s) very informative. I’ve had a horrible cough for 2 years and was diagnosed with acid reflux a couple months ago. I was put on Omeprazole and even asthma inhalers, both of which worsened my symptoms and weakened (in my opinion) my immune system. I took myself off all meds a month ago and started a gluten-free, relatively low-carb diet, and my cough improved substantially. However, now I’m starting to get frequent heartburn, a symptom I didn’t have before. I guess a gluten-free diet wasn’t the cure-all I was hoping it’d be.

I want to try taking HCL but am slightly apprehensive because I was on Flonase (a corticosteroid) for six weeks – been off it for six weeks now – and drinking apple cider vinegar or kombucha or taking vitamin C drops burns my throat and makes my throat hurt for 1-2 days. I’ve taken DGL licorice tablets for a few weeks but am still getting the sore throat and now heartburn….What to do? I’m afraid the HCL tablets are going to burn/irritate my throat; should I try them anyway?

Collin November 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Hey there
my doctor recently prescribed Prevacid for me – just started taking it only 2 weeks ago – doctor thinks I have acid reflux… basically I don’t have pain in chest or burning in the throat (unless I drink starbucks on an empty stomach) BUT what I do get in the evenings about 1 hour after supper is an occasional burp where I can feel a small amount of liquid (or even tiny bits of food) in my burp – don’t know if that makes any sense… this was what I did tell my doctor about before he prescribed the prevacid. He sent me for some blood work too (high cholesterol, low vit D) as well as the H pylori breath test (which came back negative). Im not really sure if I do have reflux or if im just paying too much attention to something that could actually be normal (I tend to be a bit of a Hypachondriac, which doesn’t help my stress – sometimes I panic over things like this!!). On the other hand my mom owns a healthfood store in town, she thinks it could be low stomach acid that’s cause my burps with the ocassional tiny food and liquid particles coming up, my older brother actually told me the same thing – he worked in healthfood for a bit too. I feel a bit concerned about taking the PPI’s too just because of what ive seen on the internet… I tried an acid test that Dr Brenda Watson suggests involving apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach in the morning, basically I didn’t feel a warming sensation until my second or third teaspoon (which she would say means I have low stomach acid). What advice could you offer me – not sure that I want to be on PPIs for the rest of my life, which my doctor is suggesting… but then again if it is reflux and I don’t take the PPIs he says it can lead to esophageal cancer… need advice here

Sincerely, Collin

Steven Wright November 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Well step one would be to change your diet to SCD or Paleo and then step two would be try some of the tests above. Let me know here how it works in a week or 2.

Marcus October 19, 2013 at 10:17 am

Steve and Jordan,

First of all I’d like to say thank you. I appreciate the work you do and the information you provide. I started having digestive issues shortly after age 25 and I’m now 31. Never realized that low stomach acid was one of the culprits, but after testing myself and finding my dosage at four 650mg capsules, I’m feeling much much better after meals.

I had a horrible diet back in college which I’m sure contributed to this whole issue but I’m researching now to find out what steps the body uses to actually create stomach acid. I had already assumed that a deficiency of nutrients and minerals was the cause, but three things in study that were specifically named as thing needed are zinc, thiamine, and B vitamins. Is this true? I’m thinking that if it is true and I have confirmation from experts like yourselves, supplementing with those may give my body what it’s missing so it can start creating it’s own HCL again. I’m also thinking an SCD diet would be the right way to go for me as well so I’m going to give it a try. Thanks again.

Tanya October 7, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi, Steve,
there is another method to measure the stomach acidity. This method was widely used in Europe (still my grand mother was diagnosed with her hypoacidic gastritis 50 years ago, in Belarus). This year, I surprisingly knew from my neighbor, former nurse, that she and her colleges regularly used this method 10 years ago while working in a children hospital to diagnose the level of stomach acidity by children with GE issues. Finally, I found this method on-line. It calls “Stomach acid test” or ”Gastric acid secretion test” alternatively :
“After not eating for a period of time, fluid is all that remains in the stomach. This fluid can be removed via a tube inserted into the stomach through the esophagus (food pipe).
To test the ability of cells in the stomach to release acid, gastrin may be injected just under the skin, into a muscle, or into a vein. The stomach contents are then removed and analyzed.” (50 years ago insteed of gastrin doctors used meat broth or cabbige juice).

This test is used :
“To check if anti-ulcer medications are working
To check if material is coming back up from the small intestine
To test for the cause of ulcers”.
On-line sources (the content is similar, from one sourse):
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/test/stomach-acid-test/ etc.
I don’t know if this test is still alive or already became a history? If it is still alive the patients schould have the symptoms of ulcer to be diagnosed. I’m going to ask about it my GE- (works with Blue Cross Blue Schield insurances inside of a Medical Group). I have an appoin. in one week.
About the Heidelberger test. In Illinois there are only two chiropractor have this device. Cost is $500. Guess, how many people come to them to measure they st. acidity?
There are doctors who perform this test in U.S. :


sydneyguy October 4, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hi, I have question, I hope you can help me with this, I have been suffering heart burn since 3 weeks ago, the heart burn is not very bad, but it is there everytime, and morning is the worse. I decided to take my first HCL today. I ate it after my first bite of the food, then until I finish eating, nothing really happened. But 1 hour after, my throat is hot inside and my tummy feels warm even I touch it from outside. Does it mean that I have enough acid? so HCL is not for me? What should I do then to get rid of the heartburn?because it really annoys me and sometimes I had to take day off.:(

I hope you guys can help me with this problem, really appreciate your reply.

rat1928 September 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Hi. Thank you for all of the good information. I have had stomach issues for about 3 months. I have had a history of GERD, and have taken omeprozole and pepcid off and on for years. I had an endoscopy and no signs of an ulcer. The pain comes and goes, but seems worst after eating meat. I have very little gas or bowel problems, but the stomach pain continues and is getting worse. I am starting to think maybe I have low stomach acid. Is this possible, given my only symptoms are stomach pain and VERY rumbly stomach? It seems my stomach is constantly gurgling, which it never used to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much

rat1928 September 26, 2013 at 11:46 am

I just got results from the doctor saying the biopsy from the endoscopy shows chronic gastritis. Could this still be low acid? My heartburn issues seem to be improving but not the stomach pain. I am afraid to try the HCl if it will cause worse gastritis

Heather September 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Hi Guys! I have your book and your protocols, I bought and read through your package. I have completed the indepth food allergy test – no allergies. I have done hormone testing twice, levels of E in range, Pg slightly low and I supplement with bioidentical progesterone, Vitamin D levels in the optimal range. I have had a colonoscopy and endoscopy- no Celiacs, Chrohns, etc. and gallbladder is fine. I had Hpylori 6 years ago, I was tested again this year and it was negative. I have cut out sugar and grains, hoping it was SIBO, no improvement. My only issue is extreme and excessive bloating- intense bloating that makes me look 6 months pregnant- to the point I have to take my pants off. I do not have diarrhea or constipation, just super extreme bloating. When the bloating occurs I often have an almost “allergic” reaction–feeling super tired and needing to lay down. I stay a little bloated all the time, but after I eat ANYTHING it gets worse.

I give you this long history to ask if the 1 hour counseling would still be beneficial?
PS- I am taking Betaine HCL and digestive enzymes. I took probiotics in the past, but stopped, they seemed to make things worse.

Thanks- Heather

Heather September 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I left out a huge piece- my doctor thinks I may have Fructose Malabsorption–I definitely have extreme reactions to fructose, but without fructose I still stay bloated and bloat after meals that are all protein..so..

Heather September 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Thank you for the informative information. I have been suffering with GERD for the last five years, controlled for the most part with 80mg of nexium per day, except for a few weeks of flare ups here and there (which I am having now). I would like to do the HCL test but am wondering if it can be done while on my PPI? I’m quite concerned about coming off of it given how bad the flare ups can be sometimes even when on it. Your advice/clarification would be most appreciated. Thank you

Anna September 21, 2013 at 12:37 am

Hello! I am a 22 year old female who just had her first experience with acid reflux as I mixed stress with an early morning coffee with a mid day snack which had tomato paste undiluted. I thought I was having a heart attack, I really did. I am overweight by 50+ pounds and I have no insurance to see a doctor. What should I do?

Lynn September 12, 2013 at 11:25 am

I don’t belch from the baking soda test, so maybe I have low stomach acid. But then why do I belch after drinking a carbonated drink??

Kim September 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm

The Betaine HCL tests says to take it with meat. I’m vegetarian. Does that mean the test won’t be accurate? And if there’s discomfort before I take it, and after I take it it’s no worse or better, do I still increase it the next time?

Amanda September 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Glad I found this page – I feel like my symptoms fit very well with the smptoms of low stomach acid.

Question – could a long round of steroids (prednisone for 2 months) concurrent with 2 months of constant NSAIDs use, along with 2 rounds of antibiotics (all together over the course of 8 months) possibly cause (or at least partially cause) low stomach acid?

Thanks for your time!

KELLY BATTISTA September 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I have abdominal swelling ( I refuse to use the word bloat since my stomach looks 6 months pregnant). This has been going on for nealy 9 months.. and 11 doctors later. Right now I am on the second week of Amitiza and Miralax and I am still having the swelling every day. I have tried a gluten free and dairy free diet for three months. At once point they thought maybe SIBO, so I followed that diet of just water, chicken, spinach.. and still continued to have the same swelling. I did try for two weeks digestive enzymes (digest gold) and pancreatin and HCL. I did see some ok days, however still had swelling at night or in the morning.. it would come and go. My question is what HCL do you reccomend and how much would be in a 1 pill dose? The one I have is Unikey Health HCL+2 and contains Calcium 35mg, Phosphorus 30mg, Betaine Hydrochloride 1.08g, Pepsin 58mg, OxBile Extract 130mg. I know the health food store near by carries one, this one I ordered online. I only took two pills after a meal for two weeks so Im thinking that maybe I didnt take enough. My second question is an article I read suggested to take it a half hour before a meal, the directions on the bottle says during or immediately after a meal. And my last question, is the same for digestive enzymes, before during or after a meal? I just want to feel better already ……

James September 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I still have this question I can’t find the answer to. If someone has low stomach acid and something like apple cider vinegar helps it, then why wouldn’t it make sense to ingest other acid producing foods and drink- like citrus fruits, coffee, even alcohol? They increase stomach acid and isn’t that the goal? Can anyone please answer this? Thanks!

Anne August 30, 2013 at 11:19 pm

After beginning supplementing with HCL how long before your digestion begins to straighten out?

Steven Wright September 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

That all depends on the severity of your problems. Follow the my Betaine HCL dosing article to make sure you get the right HCL and also try digestive enzymes.

James August 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I have a question I can’t find the answer to. If someone has low stomach acid and something like apple cider vinegar helps it, then why wouldn’t it make sense to ingest other acid producing foods and drink- like citrus fruits, coffee, even alcohol? They increase stomach acid and isn’t that the goal? Can anyone please answer this? Thanks!

Lee August 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

Steve, 2 questions please about the home test. Does the amount of water with baking soda affect the outcome? i.e. would one be more prone to burp if they drank 4oz vs 6oz? (I read somewhere to drink 8oz). And, if someone has adequate acid levels, should they belch several times within 3 minutes? I had a small burp just once and wonder if that’s considered enough… thanks you!

Steven Wright August 7, 2013 at 9:51 am

I’m sure the water amt might slightly affect the test. But that’s why I advocate to try it 3 times. The burp should be a belch. Not small.

Dale August 4, 2013 at 1:52 am

I was dx in 2009 with UC and prescribed sulfasalizine for it.
About two months later I started noticing that I was having a lot of “heartburn” and was prescribed a PPI for that problem.
I have since determined that I don’t want to be on a PPI for the remainder of my life and have discontinued it. Is it possible that I am simply allergic to sulfasalazine, and/or not producing enough HCL?
I haven’t done any testing for stomach pH at this time.
I also haven’t discontinued the sulfasalazine (yet).

Alison July 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hi Steve – fantastic info! Suddenly this year, I’ve experienced fullness up to my throat and in my chest/stomach, pain under right rib (thinking gallstones?), pain under left rib that travels around to my back and areas are sore to touch. Currently, I have persistent lower back pain (not sure if this is related). Anyway, I am trying Betaine HCL + Pepsin; was up to 8 tablets but am pretty confident I got the “symptoms” as you describe, so have dropped down to 7 with every meal. Very early days, but already I think I’m feeling better. What I want to know is, should I keep fluid intake to a minimum when eating meals and if so, is it just a case of drinking enough to take the tablets? I’m thinking too much liquid will dilute any stomach acid? Is this true, or is it a good idea to take plenty of fluid when eating, does this encourage acid production? I’ve read many conflicting ideas and it’s confusing! Thank you 🙂

Beverley July 25, 2013 at 11:18 am

Hi Steve,

What are your thoughts? I did the baking soda test and did not burp at all and it’s now 10 minutes since I drank the solution. I did it first thing in the morning nothing to eat or drink. Last week I started the Betaime HCL test and started at 2 pills went up to 4 pills and experiencing constant symptoms burning etc. So, I had stopped it and now taking Beta Carotene to hopefully give the mucosal lining a bit of vit A. I was going to do this for a week and then give Betaime another try.

Thanks for your help,

Steven Wright July 29, 2013 at 10:32 am
Michael July 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Interesting stuff Steve… I did a search for Chris Kesser and found this:


No word on it’s relation to stomach acid, however.

Michael July 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Thanks for the answer – nothing really like scientific research – but I did stumble across this link: http://www.modernherbalist.com/betaine.html, which states:

“Unfortunately, much misinformation regarding the use of salt in the diet has been circulating for the last three decades or so. The body needs salt (NaCl) and cannot function adequately without it. Low salt diets can make it very difficult if not impossible for the stomach to produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid. The problem is not salt per se, but the quality of the salt. Using unrefined, highly mineralized sea salt is perfectly safe and healthful to the system.”

So how reliable it is I have really don’t know – but I would love to know more about this area too. Since on the SCD you’re making 100% of what you eat, it would be great to have some guidelines as to how much should be used. 10g/day is suggested for an adult male – I’m now starting to wonder if that sort of regulation does more harm than good?

Steven Wright July 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

Hey Michael – My thoughts are that people on SCD and Paleo are typically eating too little salt. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a reliable amount to shoot for but Chris Kresser has a good series on it. Also the CDC is now finally admitting they made a mistake in recommending a low salt diet http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18311&page=R1

Michael July 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Just a quick question – could eating too much salt with meals be responsible for low stomach acid? I can’t seem to find an answer to this simple question anywhere.

Thanks for your help.


Steven Wright July 10, 2013 at 11:22 am

No I don’t see how salt would lower HCL. But if you’ve found a article on it I’d love to see it.

Alvin Leung July 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Hi Steven,

All these symptoms started suddenly after a massive Superbowl meal (hot fried wings, pizza, ice cream) I had. The next day I was constipated and belching severely, and I continued to drink coffee, lots of water.

Thank you for your response. I will test out the supplements and I am seeing my GI doctor tomorrow.

I forget to mention that my symptoms seem to get worse in between meals and at night before bed. I do not have symptoms while I eat. Have you ever encountered this? Does this still point to low stomach acid?

Thank you so much for your help

alvin leung July 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Hi, happy that I stumbled across this.
I’ve been dealing with constant belching, deep burping, and pressure in my throat area since February 2013.
Tested negative for H Pylori, tried PPIs, all haven’t helped me.
I have changed my diet to eliminate all the irritating foods like spice, chocolate, caffeinne. Those foods seem to make my symptoms worse. It hasn’t eliminated my symptoms.
My doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with me. They think it is gastritis.

Could I have low stomach acid? When burp, I can faintly taste the food I ate. My symptoms get worse at night before I sleep, I do not eat late at night.

I hope I could hear back. Thank you so much for your help!

Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Yep the burping is probably the strongest signal I know of. Test the supplements and let me know what you notice. Read this to begin http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Randi Hacker July 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm

You say betaine HCL can help in cases of hypochlorhydria but it is necessary to find the “root cause” of the problem. How? What might it be? If there is a root cause for low stomach acidity, how do you resolve it?

Thank you.

Donna June 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I first want to say thanks for your website. I too am frustrated with my GI specialist. When I mentioned the possibility of low acid, she said it’s not a problem, and if anyone has it, we don’t usually treat it..WHAT?? (Is there no pharmaceutical drug for low acid, so they are not interested in this theory?lol) I’ve always preferred natural remedies and getting to the root of a problem, not covering it up with drugs that have serious harmful effects. I’m 51, not overweight, began having a burning feeling in my stomach 2 1/2 months ago..assumed it was an ulcer, doctor put me on Prilosec, which I expected immediate relief, but not much difference, then was tested for h.pylori..negative, then had endoscopy, and it showed stomach lining was ok, but had some irritation in esophagus.Then she actually wanted to up my Prilosec to 4 a day instead of one! Against my gut feelings on this(after reading many websites explaining the negative effects)..I tried it for 3 days, then stopped completely on Sunday..and threw them out. So, I’ve come to my own conclusion that I either have low acid(for whatever reason) or my lower esophagial muscle is weakened and causing acid to rise up into esophagus which I don’t believe you can strengthen? I’ve been drinking ACV for 2 days and seem to feel a little better, and have been drinking Aloe Juice since this started to heal lining. I’ve decided that my drinking for many years finally relaxed my muscle too much and caused the acid to come up, otherwise wouldn’t I have an ulcer if I had too much acid?..So, I’m ready to try HCL, but wonder if it will hurt if I still have some irritation and make it worse.How can I heal the irritation with food still fermenting in my stomach? I was feeling really light headed last night and am guessing it’s from being nutrient deficient now. I know..lots of questions, and now I am worried about any bacteria that might be thriving now since the acid has been low. Asked my GI specialist about the Heidelburg test and she says they don’t do anything like that. More propaganda? Ok..thanks for letting me vent. I do realize that our bodies are made to heal themselves if we take care of them. I just miss fresh fruits and chocolate sooo much! I actually have no desire to EVER drink again. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

chuck May 24, 2013 at 7:38 am

Hello, I have had Rosacea since 2009 and am wondering if there could be a low stomach acid correlation? In 2007 I had really bad burning in my throat. the doc said I had GERD and put me on Protonix. 1 a day for a year, then maybe once a week for another year. I also had SIBO 2 years ago after a month of antibiotics from the dentist after wisdom teeth were pulled. the gastro doc gave me Cypro(antibiotic) to help it. The GERD and SIBO symptoms are much less now maybe only once a week with burning feeling, but the Rosacea remains constant. Overall I eat a fairly healthy Mediterranean diet and feel ok otherwise. The Rosacea is a constant bright redness in my cheeks, nose, and neck. I dont have any of the normal trigers except heat and exercise and i love to work out. Please help, the dermatologist is useless and just says more antibiotics. Could this be low acid or any other thoughts? Your site and info are great and very refreshing. Thank you

Kay May 21, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi, love your site, thanks guys!

I’ve tried the baking soda test, and I don’t burp, but as soon as I start drinking coffee after the test, I belch. What’s the difference between the cause of these burps? What can I learn from this? I think black coffee is pretty acidic?

NEVILLE STRINGER May 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

if betaine HCL works can I take this supplement for LIFE without any serious side effects?

KristyS May 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

This may be a new one for you. I am a 3 year BC survivor. Right before my diagnosis my mouth broke out with hundreds of mouth ulcers. Mostly on the back of my throat and along my tongue and my mouth literally tasted like I had been sucking on aspirin!. I never had chemo or I, just a lumpectomy and my ovaries removed and am now on an anti estrogen pill. Anyhoo, about 1-2 times a year this will happen. They would last 2+ weeks and were accompanied with belching and severe fatigue. All my docs say aphthous ulcer. Stress induced, possibly vitamin b issues. I have tried Pepcid. hi B vitamins. PH Buffer, L-Lysine, probiotics, acidiphelus, etc. Well my last episode lasted 2+ months. I have researched extensively and finally read about low stomach acid. My question, can low stomach acid cause severe mouth ulcers? It seems like everything I am able to eat causes that horrid taste in my mouth, like I have acid all over it and it causes my soft tissue to “burn” resulting in the ulcers. My throat literally looks like it has been peeled away when this happens. I have dropped 12 pounds this last episode. I quit taking all supplements for now. I have been oil pulling and rinsing with a hydrogen peroxide wash. The sores have eased up a lot, but after I eat, I still get that taste in my mouth and slight burning in my stomach. What do you think? Could it be low stomach acid?
Thank you so much!!!

Trish May 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I have food allergies to wheat/gluten/grains, egg and dairy too. All,have been removed from my diet for some time now.

With no grain, I have less fiber in my diet. I drink a green juice daily, and meals are typically steamed vegetables and some protein.

I have a small ulcer at the base of my esophagus. I wanted to heal it naturally with diet and supplements. Turns out two times the ulcer bled when I took a supplement and I coughed up clear mucous with red streaks. I was at first taking an enzyme capsule with digestive enzymes and hcl, but it wasn’t dairy/gluten free. I was recommended raw enzymes, high in protease. I’ve read both hcl and protease should be avoided if one has an ulcer.

I also have loose stools, which I thought was from no grains/low fiber in the diet, but now I’m seeing that loose elimination may be due to low stomach acid.

Since I’m already restricting allergens, and drinking healing juices, how can I heal an ulcer and digest foods well??

Thank you 🙂

Betty Hook May 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I am 80 yrs old, have had diarrhea for almost 2 months, started after upper resp. virus in March, Labs and stool cul. o.k. Taking Keopectate per doc, goes away, then comes back when stop taking. Had a paraesophageal hernia with Nissen wrap repair in 2008, have had loose ish stools ever since, now all of a sudden after the virus, daily diarrhea. Do have bruning in the throat at times before eating usually in the a.m. Am wondering if I have too much or not enough HCL? What to do next?

Thanks for your help, Betty

joshua May 12, 2013 at 4:45 am

Hello…for 3 years i have had chest and stomach pains….no burning in chest just pain which is sometimes worse when breathing hard….get very full feeling if i eat a normal size meal and cramp up….sometimes hours later i can taste it again in my mouth and burp alot…..sounds like low stomach acid but i dont understand the chest pains? got a ct scan and no hiatal hernia

fred May 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

As an infant I developed an unknown infection and was placed in the hospital on an i.v. until I appeared better. My mom told me that I was never quite the same baby after that incident. For the next 30 years I suffered with digestive issues and never felt really well. Melancholy, tired, symptoms of every vitamin deficiency I read about. I surmised that I had contracted a stomach ulcer that over 30 years, had done some serious damage to my stomach lining that greatly reduced my stomach acid production. I discovered your book concerning stomach acid deficiency years ago. It gave me back my life. Thank you and best of luck to all the sufferers.

Edward Powell April 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Wish to start Betaine HCL w/pepsin just stopping Pepsid AC 20 – should I allow some time to lapse or begin.

Mike Smith April 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Thanks for this post! I’ve been suffering with mouth issues and I believe it’s low stomach acid. I have a couple red bumps on the back of my tongue with a white coating, not thrush. Also, it feels like there is always something in my throat.

Just started taking Betaine HCL 600 mg for 3 days now and no stomach pain.

Think I have low stomach acid?


Debbie April 22, 2013 at 10:40 am

I am trying to find a way to help my daughter (age 22). She is a singer and is struggling with huskiness of the voice and a sore burning throat, (that gets sorer when she sings). She is B12 deficient, (pernicious anaemia) and has regular B12 injections, (hydroxocobalamin), and has an allergy to dairy products. When she first became ill, twenty months ago, she had trouble carrying on with normal life getting sicker, with more throat and stomach trouble. The acid was a problem, she continually complained that her stomach felt nasty and left her weak and with a sore throat. As we’ve brought her jabs closer together she doesn’t get quite as ill as before, but the symptoms do flare nearer the re-jab time, and the acid is causing problems. We recently went through over four months of no burning and nasty churning stomach pains, but then it started up again. She had been to Italy and found it near impossible to refrain from dairy products, which cause respiratory and stomach problems, and that may have kicked off the problem, I don’t know; but for the last two and a half months her acid reflux has been continual, and she is having problems with her voice. She’s tried raising the bed, drinking plenty of water, avoiding dairy, avoiding acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus, and now is trying to cut out gluten thinking that may be bloating her, (she is not celiac). I have a ENT referral, but the doctor insists that my daughter has high stomach acid and want to prescribe a PPI, (she is also testing for H Pyloric Bacteria). I suggested that my daughter may have LOW acid and tried to explain what I knew, but she insists that acid reflux is caused by too much acid and she’d never heard of low acid causing it; when I suggested a test to confirm it I was told it was not pleasant and too expensive, (for the NHS I guess). My daughter is that desperate about her voice that she’s considering the PPIs to help her throat heal, (although she doesn’t want to, and was quite irritated at the doctor). My questions are;
Could the B12 deficiency or jabs be one cause of the acid problem, because the symptoms and severity change?
What is DGL? (I’m in England)
She can’t risk making her throat worse, so will adding HCL cause more problem to begin with? She’s scared about it.
How does she add the acid and protect her throat allowing it to heal at the same time? (I read that it may take some time to get things right.)
Will apple cider vinegar aggravate the sore throat?
How can she tell whether the acid is too high or low? She did the bicarb test when her stomach was settled and it took well over 5 mins to burp…she barely did. But recently with the acid flaring up it was almost immediate.
We don’t want to make this worse and the throat is of paramount importance to her urgently as she is recording at present. If we try the acid, should we take something to stop the acid hurting her throat..bicarb? But wouldn’t that defeat the object. But it seems the best thing to let the throat heal.
Please help us know what to do for the best here..and I’m sorry for the length of this post.
PS; I remember that she often complained of burning as a child, which I interpreted as heartburn, and gave her milk, being unaware of the allergy at the time.

Jeff April 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

I drank the baking soda mixture. In the first 30 seconds I had a very small burp and then nothing after that.

Too high? Too low?

Steven Wright April 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

My experience is the burp you are looking for is a BELCH! like a man burp for a lack of better way to describe it. Try the test a few more times.

Mickie January 15, 2014 at 8:52 am

I’d like to try the baking soda test, but honestly, I have never belched in my life. It’s kind of a standing joke in my family, but the best I can manage are little throat noises/gurgles. I have frequent pressure, that a nice belch would relieve, but all that ever trickle up are little tiny “burps” or bubbles.

I guess it won’t hurt to try it.

Anneh April 8, 2013 at 7:52 am

I heard about low stomach acid from a friend who also gave me an HCl capsule to test myself. But here’s my question: I’ve been vegetarian since 1993, and nearly vegan for the past three years. I have no interest in eating meat again, or any other animal products other than butter (it just tastes too good!). What plant protein sources, and how much, would you recommend in place of 6oz of meat for the HCl test?

berealyoga May 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I’m a vegetarian too, and have all the symptoms of low acid (also type A blood). I too would love to know more about how betaine would benefit me.

Dawn March 29, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I had gastritis last September and a gastrocopy in november showed that my pyloric valve is not closing problem. tested negative for h pylori.

My stomach is constantly gurgling/growling/groaning very loudly before, during and after meals….for hours and I get a lots of wind.No burning pain. My bowels are sluggish. I asked my gastro consultant the other day about low acid but he dismissed it. I had a lap nissan fundoplication in 2006 for acid reflux. How can I do the self low acid test, would it still be of use if I did?

thank you

Steven Wright April 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

@Dawn – If you can do the baking soda test I’d start there.

Barbara Fletcher March 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hello, I have been reading your site and it looks very interesting. I am at my wits end about my stomach, and fed up with traditional doctors. I was diagnosed with hyplori over 10 years ago now. I took rounds of powerful antibotics. My stomach has never been right since then. At some point I developed “acid reflux” and took acid blockers for many years, but I still have troubles. I have bouts of gastritis with burning stomach and bloating fairly often. Veggies seem better to eat than meat. I eat very lightly, my stomach seems to get somewhat better, I incorporate more food and then the trouble begins again.I have wondered if I still have some bacteria but have been tested for hyplori since and it was negative. I have had two endoscopys and was supposedly tested for acid, which was normal. I was taking prilosec when tested re the doctors orders. These doctors know nothing! I just took an enzymedica PH test strip using urine and this shows I have high acid. So, I am confused and need help. Should I try HCL? I have tried various things like Aloe juice etc. DGL seems to help but the stomach issues linger. Could I still have bacteria! I dont want to end up with stomach cancer. Thanks for you help!

Angie March 20, 2013 at 7:54 am

I have been experiencing gallbladder pain and sickness for three years now and have received no help from the medical community. With the pain is large amounts of gas and it’s continuous – starts as soon as I get up and continues until I go to bed at night. It also comes with stomach pain and severe bloating, as well as burping even after the first cup of coffee (no food!). It’s worse with protein, but still very bad with any food at all. I’ve started taking HCL and it helps but the supplements I’m taking are 1300mg each pill. I’m up to 4 tablets, with no burning or other sensation, and I’m afraid to take more – it seems like a high dose. And, it would seem as if I need it for everytime I eat, regardless of protein. How important is it to only take with protein?

I’m assuming that low stomach acid may be linked to gallbladder issues somehow, but not sure how. I’m on a quest to keep my gallbladder but not sure how much longer I can take being sick. Any advice at all would be much more than I’m getting from my doctor!

Jeff C March 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Please help. Being a typical male…I have kept a troublesome health issue from family / friends / and doctor. I thought maybe I developed bulimia through body image issues. I throw up almost daily. I have never used my fingers to purge. It just happened one day when I was in my mid twenties. Ate too much and the stomach simply rejected the food. I Stand over the toilet when I feel it coming on and the retch just happens spontaneously. I am now 43 and I am fed up. I have noticed that it almost always happens when I eat gluten rich foods. However it has become a reflex whenever I overeat anything. I naturally have a large muscled frame even though I have not exercised regularily for years, so it would appear as though there is no malabsorption going on with most proteins. The weird thing is I never experience a burning during or after a purge and rarely have your typical acid indigestion symptoms even though it would stand to reason that I am exposing my esophogus to stomach acid daily (for 18 years). In fact my esophogus feels as if there has been no damage done to it at all. When the food comes up it us usually within 15 minutes and it simply looks as if it were food that was in a course blender (no bile). Typically this only happens late in the day. Maybe I have 2 stomachs…one which screens foods that I am allergic to and only the 2nd one has acid. Obviously I am joking…but that is what it feels like. I am going to seek medical help…do you have any sense as to what is going on. It cant be ciliac….my skin is extremely healthy and have all my hair…I look more like 33 than 43. Given the above history..I should look 53.

Lillian March 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Oh one other thing I forgot to mention I had my gulbladder removed 3 years ago do you think that had something to do with it?

Lillian March 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I asked my doctor to do a ph test and she refused because she insists I have ibs she put me on 40 ml of prilosec and 300ml of zantac and it made me feel worse so i stopped taking it. I show all the symptoms of low stomach acid,nausea, vomiting , feeling of rotting food in stomach and several trips to the E.R upon many other symptoms. I have been so sick for about a year almost to the point of not being able to eat. I have now started to take hcl with pepcin and i can finally eat again! Thanks to this website and my research. It irritates me that my doctor wants to put me on anti depresants to cover up the problem instead of fixing it, guess im on my own. I’ve stayed away from coffee any other suggestions of food I should stay away from.

Steven Wright March 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm

@Lillian – I’m very happy you found us and can eat again! If you want to take the next step to figuring out the root causes of the IBS come join us here http://scdlifestyle.com/consulting/

jay March 11, 2013 at 4:20 am

im 36 male had lpr and was on om. for 6 years it did work for symptoms but made them worse if not taking, then originally! that tells me it was low stomach acid all along or a muscle valve issue, i had to stop om. , lost insurance and i somehow was cured maybe with diet of low fat, now i have ibs-c, fungal formed candida, maybe dysbiosis, sick and losing weight fast 2-3 pounds a day! eating scd. and im up to 7 pills and noticing burnt throat also, nothing in stomach! Should i feel warmth by the left ribs or the belly button small intestine area ? Also does any one now of a organic hcl source please?

Heather March 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Would taking a supplement be necessary or recommended for those with type A blood whose acid levels are naturally low? Can you still have good digestion with low stomach acid while eating mostly vegetarian?

berealyoga May 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm

That’s my question too, Heather!

Panagiotis December 1, 2015 at 8:05 am

Exactly the same answer!
How would a vegetarian use bromelain HCL test

Kate Donald March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Sorry that is meant to release ‘my theory is ‘ sorry!

Kate Donald March 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Hi Steven, I’ve been chronically ill for nearly 4 years with severe digestive issues. It started in my first pregnancy when I developed nausea that never went away. My gallbladder then started to dysfunction and was removed about a year ago in the hope it may help my symptoms but unfortunately it seems to have made them worse. I feel constantly nauseated, especially after eating and have a constant sour/bitter taste in my mouth. I have tried everything from medical to alternative. I’ve even water fasted to no avail! Tests show there is some kind of motility issue and in my last endoscopy bile was seen in my stomach. I also reflux my stomach contents spontaneously which is totally out of my control. This started before the nausea. There is never ever any acid in the reflux and I never get heartburn just nausea and fullness. Do you think low stomach acid could be my problem? My but is I have little or no acid to neutralise the bile which is then refluxing upwards causing nausea and bad taste? I have tried betaine hcl and it seems to make sour taste worse but no burning so no improvement in nausea. Wondering if I need to take much more but am a bit scared to. Would you agree with my theory that lack of stomach acid could be the cause of the terrible nausea and sour taste? This has ruined the last 4 years of my life . Any advice would be much appreciated. Kate from uk

Steven Wright March 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

@Kate – hmm could be, I’d get checked via Biohealth 401h and metametrix 2105 for any gut infections that are suppressing acid function. Likely at this point you have low amino acids in the body which can lead to neurotransmitter problems you can check that via a metametrix organix test. I think the answer is more testing honestly.

NEVILLE STRINGER March 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

Hi Steve
HAD A VAGOTOMY AND PYLOROPLASTY OP 33 YEARS AGO, AND HAVE LIVED WITH PROBLEMS WITH MY STOMACH EVER SINCE WOULD TAKING BETAINE HCL HELP? AND IF I TOOK IT FOR LIFE WOULD THAT BE A PROBLEM? also can you advise on this question, when i take different health supplements most are in vegi cap form or coated to protect them from acid while in the stomach, now with my vagotomy and pyloroplasty operation will the tablet/capsule dissolve in time for me to reap the benefit as it enters the intestine much sooner than normal or will it just breakdown later further along the digestive tract and be wasted?
hope you can help

Steven Wright March 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I would ask your doctor but usually it wouldn’t be an issue and might be a good idea for you to test it.

Sharon Napier February 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hello! After reading these comments I’m wondering if this is possibly what I might have. I was dianosed with acid reflux 2-3 years ago and is yet to find a medicine that takes control of my acid reflux. When they try to go up in the dose of prevacid or etc. it seems to aggrivate my condition more. I can have burning when I’ve just drank water or just sitting in a wrong position or etc. It goes and comes sometimes I don’t even have to take anything extra it goes away. I have schlerderma which is a auto immune disease which as right now I only deal with the crest part of the raynaud’s in my hands and these crazy stomach issues of gas, acid reflux, pain in left rib cage either front or back, roasea, sometimes fatigue. I feel alot of time that I’ve got alot of water in my throat and holding it in my esphogus or something then it goes away or you could explain it has holding a burp for awhile and then it releases. Lately have had issues with a dull pain in left side or in the rib cage right behind that comes and goes. I had a CT scan and nothing showed all my doctor did was up my dose of prevacid. I had read about low acid in stomach before and was wondering if this could be causing my problems since I do have some of the symptoms. P.S. One time I did try apple cider vinger and it caused my throat and stomach to burn.

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Davis February 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm

got a quick question, I read your post about finding out acid level in stomach wether low or too much. I have been suffering gastritis for past 5 years and been put on several acid reducer medication by my GI Doc. but with no luck. my question to you is can i have low stomach acid and can low acid cause gastritis. in my case I don’t have H.Pylori bacteria, I had done my upper Endoscopy year ago and doc. told me all is fine just redness and mild gastritis, but burning sensation just does not go away, every single day i have this. sometime immediately after eating or sometime after couple of hours of eating my meal i see burning sensation in my stomach. any guidance will be greatly appreciated.

Rosie Marie February 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I have nausea shortly after eating often, not every time but a lot. I also suffer from bloating and gas. The only thing that relieves it is burping and the burps are smelly and nasty. Sometimes it feels like my food sits in my stomach for a long time and feels really heavy. I’ve had many doctor visits and non invasive tests but my doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong. FIrst they thought it was GERD so I took omeprizole but it did nothing. This is really affecting my life and my mental health. I’ve lost a lot of weight due to not wanting to eat because of my symptoms and I’ve developed this anxiety to food. Does this sound like low stomach acid?

Steven Wright February 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

@Rosie – Yep, your story is pretty much the same as mine and most of my clients who have low stomach acid.

Lauren February 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Hi Guys,

Hoping you can help. I have celiac and cant absorb iron to save my life. I have been getting infusions so my iron levels are good now but I am beyond tired. I follow a strict gluten free diet. I just cant find my energy! Do you think this is due to low stomach acid? I dont know what to do anymore, I feel like I have tried everything. I am so tired of being tired! Any input would be appreciated on where to start here..

Binda February 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi Steve / Jordan, great site.

Can you help? I have never had a severe or even mild case of sinus infection but right now i am suffering terribly with one! Also recurring bouts of ear infection / athletes foot!! Sounds like candida / leaky gut?? Feels like food is just fermenting and not passing through or being absorbed well! I have had anti-biotic treatments over the last few years without following up with pro-biotics! My diet is very healthy – 3-4 fruits a day and 6-8 veg a day! I have severe bloating / belly distension issues! This has all but destroyed my life! 🙁 HELP pls!!

Raf January 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Hi. I’ve been diagnosed with GERD and acid reflux when i was trying to find the source of my digestive problems. After a course of antibiotics seems like h-pylorii got cleared but i am still experiencing bloating/gas. I am only 33 and normally i wouldnt expect low stomach acid at this age. i’ve started taking hcl and took as much as 3 for each meal. i felt better for a few days but then I ate beef and had a gas attack. I am a little reluctant to increase the dosage as i have been diagnosed with gastritis. is it safe to take hcl with gastritis?

Jordan Reasoner January 31, 2013 at 3:29 am

Gastritis and Ulcers can be very aggravated by HCL.

Consider doing a few weeks of DGL first to calm down the gastritis and then test HCL.


Will January 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Hi Steve,
Thanks for this post! After reading it and performing the baking soda test, I suspect I might have low stomach acid. However, I must also add that I had friends without symptoms perform the baking soda test as a control group, and it took them way over 3 minutes as well. So now I want to test Betaine HCl, but when I look at the available supplements I see a great diversity, particularly in the ratio of Betaine / Pepsin. The Thorne you recommend has 20mg Pepsin on 520mg of Betaine, while Solaray has as high as 162mg Pepsin on 650mg of Betaine: 6.5 times as much Pepsin. Some others don’t include Pepsin at all and mention Pepsin as a product of Betaine. What do you suggest an ideal ratio to be, and what effect would a higher/lower amount of Pepsin have?
Thanks again!

Andrea January 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm


Here’s my history. I stopped taking Prilosec OTC a little less than a year ago. Prior to that I was on Prilosec (or something prescription strength during two pregnancies) for about 5 years. I have done a barium swallow/tilt table test and was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. At that point I was told I would have to be on PPI’s forever.

I’m currently following a Primal Diet and have no heart burn when I follow this diet. I do however still have problems on occasion with eliminations, I’m prone to constipation. I also sometimes see food that is not digested in my stool.

I would like some clarification on the HCL test. So far today I have taken two (650 mg) HCL w/pepsin pills with lunch and three pills with dinner. I get a brief heaviness and feel a little fuller than normal and then I get some light burning in my throat. Should I keep upping the dosage? I haven’t had any burning feeling in my stomach.

Thank you in advance for your opinion!!


stu lonsdale January 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm

sound like galstones issues to me the bile isnt getting into ya stomache to netralise the acid

carol walker January 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

hi…i am having so much pain…it feels like acid but it may not be…i have drank a full bottle of gaviscon which hasnt helped and am now on rennies…but the flux of pain is unimaginable…i drink milk to cool down…then burning sensation was so bad this morning it made me sick…its constant…just wondering if u know what it could be…hurts when i eat…sometimes the pain actually feels like its running up the back of my neck…

Jordan Reasoner January 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm
Marcus January 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I’ve been having some pretty bad stomach aches (beneath the belly button area) for the past few months. My stomach only seems to hurt when I’m hungry, it’s definitely not just hunger as I’m eating the same amount I always have. Taking Now Super Enzymes (has 200mg Betaine HCL per pill) mid-meal seem to alleviate the symptoms somewhat but not 100%. My doctor said I have IBS but I find it kind of strange that all of a sudden I’ve become intolerant to many foods I’ve eaten all my life and I’m thinking maybe it isn’t IBS at all.

I tried the baking Soda test and waited for about 15 minutes to burp and then gave up, does it sound like low stomach acid to you ?.

Jim January 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I just ran across this site and have to say it is very informative… I have a question I read somewhere that Aloe Vera juice is supposed to help with the healing of acid reflux can you give me any feedback on this… it would be very much appreciated.
thank you…

Steven Wright January 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

@Jim – haven’t heard this or researched it.

Diane January 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Has anyone had chronic hives for many years that is connected to low stomach acid? I have been treated for chronic hives with Zantac paired with either Claritin or Zyrtec morning and evening for many years.

A couple of years prior to the first occurrence of hives, (at age 47; I am now 63) I had a diagnoses of chronic fatigue syndrome. Again, I am wondering now if there is a connection to low stomach acid.

I also have had increasing digestive problems, and have been taking Beano and Lactaid with just about everything I eat. They aren’t very effective anymore.

I saw in Dr. Brenda Watson’s book, “Gut Solutions” that chronic hives and chronic fatigue syndrome are diseases that could be a result of the low acid problem. Has anyone had this experience? I am excited to know that I may be on to something.

Steven Wright January 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

@Diane – Could be related to a GI pathogen I’d get some advanced testing to rule out infections.

Alejandra January 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

@rachel…have you figured out your dose yet??.
Hi Steven…im having the same problem as Rachel…i get a warm feeling in my stomach everytime i take the hcl and it goes away very fast..i think maybe the difference could be that when ive had too much the feeling stays??? Also shen the feeling stays i feel a lot of gas and noises in my stomach..is that normal??
I know its low acid what i have because i can feel improvement..
I just have a question.. Even at the right dose (warm fast feeling i think)…does the hcl takes some time to take away all the symptoms???
Should i take the warm fast feeling as a sign of too much even when it goes away quickly?. Thanks and greetings from mexico!!

Steven Wright January 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm

@Alejandra – It could be the timing of when you are taking them or the brand. Try taking them after you eat. The warm feelings you describe aren’t the same that most point report. The normally last for an hour or more.

Nakita January 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I stumbled upon this site after typing “Why is my chest heavy when I ate 5 hours ago?”. I can say that I have had many digestive issues and have never known quite why and always chalked it up to both of my parents having plenty of digestive issues. My mother- rheumatoid arthritis, appendix removed and was on prilosec for years. My father- gallbladder removed and what seems to be IBS. I have never went to a doctor for my problems but am considering doing so after reading this, just hoping that they will listen and not blow me off. Over the past 6 years I have gained 80 lbs, 40 lbs of which was in the past year. My doctor ran tests on my thyroid and couldn’t find anything wrong. Aside from me quitting smoking 2 years ago it really doesn’t make any sense to have gained that much weight. Also I have digestive problems- gas pains, gas in general, constipation, diarrhea is even more common, what I call burp up’s because you can taste the food you ate and a little bit seems to come up, most recently nausea when I wake up (I am not pregnant I have been tested), I get full after eating very little. Then today I didn’t eat anything until 2pm, I ate a hamburger and 10 french fries, which I don’t eat greasy food often at all because it makes me sick to my stomach almost immediately, I have been nauseous and heavy chested ever since. I mainly drink water because it seems if I drink anything else I get sick to my stomach…. I do hope you see this and maybe have some suggestions….

rachel January 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hey Steve,

I’ve been reading through your posts and have learned a lot about digestion, so, thanks! I’ve been dealing with Acid-reflux for about a month, treating it naturally—after taking a 2-week does of Prilosec, which didnt work—for a week.
My symptoms are annoying for me—tightness in sternum, feels like food in chest, mild heartburn, but relatively mild compared to other people and I do feel that after some major diet adjustments (no sugar, barely any carbs, greens, enzymes, probiotics) is improving. I’m pretty thin (not sure if this is relevant, but I’m wasting away! ha)

BUT, I been taking HCL with meals for the last few days and having a hard time determining if I do, indeed, have low stomach acid levels. I’ve been trying to figure out my dose. I do always feel some warmness in my belly when I take it, but it disappears pretty fast. It definitely takes longer when there’s less food in my stomach. In general, I think taking is making my stomach feel a bit more ‘normal’ except for some light heartburn instead of that over-stuffed, no movement feeling. I’m worried that I am going to hurt my stomach if I’ve got it backwards. Any suggestions?? Your help is much appreciated.

Rachel Garber

Janet Browning January 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I had been misdiagnosed as having excess acid rather than low acid nearly a year ago after getting really bad bouts of heartburn. It was only after reading about low acid and trying the Betaine HCL that I found the pain went. My question is, more recently I am getting a mucus cough with a bitter taste in my mouth again especially at night like Acid Reflux. Should I be increasing the tablets? I usually take either 1/2 at each meal. (I take Swanson Hydrochloric Acid with Pepsin. I am also suffering with terrible hot flushes with the Menopause.

Steven Wright January 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

@Janet – sounds like it would be a worthwhile idea to test upping your dosage. See this post -> http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Jennifer January 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the helpful information. Any thoughts on if HCL + pepsin will help w/ LPR rather than GERD? I have tried HCL + pepsin several times but felt it made my throat burning Sx worse. I had been on PPIs and H2 blockers for 3.5 months, just stopped them several days ago. Still having throat burning Sx but getting better w/ paleo diet. Thank you.

Steven Wright January 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm

@Jennifer – where you trying the HCL at the same time as taking PPI and H2 blockers?

sandra October 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Sooo glad I found this page!! I have suffered stomach issues most of my life, I’m 56, I have a nervous stomach… Had scopes not long ago, Dr said producing to much acid. Put me on 40mg of prilosec 2 times a day, didnt seem to be helping much! I have spells ever so often ( like right now) Soo nauseated, dizzy, bloated ( stomach swelled a lot and firm), belching loud and a lot. Can’t stand for my stomach to be moved,get really nauseated!! I NEED HELP!!! Still have my gall bladder.

Lori Jo Berg October 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm

HI Sandra, thank you for reaching out! Please do test your HCL levels as suggested in the article and then go ahead and supplement as directed if your levels are low. It is always a good idea to consult with a practitioner you trust as well.

Jennifer Scott January 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I was diagnosed with colitis a long time ago and more recently a hiatal hernia. With a hiatal hernia will the same treatments work that do for typical low stomach acid? My doc has me on dexilant and when I don’t take the drug my nausea is even worse. I tried stopping it and sticking to SCD, but the nausea came back even worse and had to use the med again. I’m afraid to stop the medicine.

Bet December 30, 2012 at 11:08 am

Hi Steve, this is my second go-round with HCL. I have a long history of IBS and GERD and now gluten intolerance. A few months ago, I had some kind of stomach ailment that put me in the hospital for 4 days on IV only. Nothing was found with three CT scans, an ultrasound and blood tests. After that I had a persistent pain in my left side, right under my rib. I followed up with a GI and had an endoscopy. The only thing that was found was stomach inflammation. Biopsies and blood tests for pancreatic enzymes were normal. The GI prescribed Omeprazole, but I’ve been down that road before and I don’t want to go back.

The first time I tried HCL is when a routine blood test said I had low B12 (my level was at 100). Since I was already taking a supplement, I began investigating and found that low stomach acid could cause malabsorption, and many of the GERD and IBS problems I’ve been having. So I started on HCL. I never felt any burning even with 3 tabs with meals. I tapered it down, thinking I was ‘cured’.

So now I am back, convinced I have low stomach acid again and have been taking HCL the past few meals. I’ve started with one tab with each meal. I can say that I still have the occasional pain, but in taking the acid pill, I don’t have any increased pain or burning, which you would think I would have, if I indeed had too much stomach acid which was causing the pain and needed an acid reducer like Prilosec.

I am now convinced that the low stomach acid has caused an overgrowth of bacteria in my digestive system that is causing a lot of my problems. I am hoping that a longer time on HCL will help resolve this issue.

I do believe that it was gluten intolerance and damage from that that has helped cause this problem. Going off gluten did help with a lot of the gas and bloating I had, which was mostly in the lower intestine. I also think I had/have leaky gut syndrome which could have caused my Hashimoto’s and other problems.

My overall experience with HCL is positive. I think this is an easy and inexpensive and HEALTHY way to solve GERD, IBS and a host of other problems. And it gives me hope that they way to be healthy is not prescription drugs that work counter to the body, but the intake of foods that are natural and good for us and that don’t cause harm.

Steven Wright December 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm

@Bet – Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s going to help so many people. You have no idea how common your story is. I hear it all the time. Betaine HCL and low stomach acid is the tip of the ice berg for someone like you. Please work with a local functional medicine practitioner or work with Jordan and I 1-on-1. There is a root cause for your issues and it is likely a pathogen of some type. The diet and supplements will not kill it. They will however give you a much better quality of life than you were having. Please send us an email if your interested in 1-on-1 help.

JB February 19, 2013 at 3:06 am

>>I had a persistent pain in my left side, right under my rib.

This caught my eye– I had the same symptom, and they found no cause for it on an ultrasound. My doctor thought it might be an ulcer, even though I tested negative for H. pylori.

Later I had a plasma amino-acids panel for an unrelated problem, and it showed below-range levels of most amino acids. Researching low aminos led me to protein malabsorption, which led me to hypochlorhydria. Three or four tablets of Betaine HCl with protein meals, and resumption of occasional red meat intake, seem to have fixed the problem. A follow-up amino-acid panel shows all aminos are now in range. My long-standing GERD is almost gone, and I’m not as fatigued. I also don’t mind eating meat as much as before (I was semi-vegetarian).

The odd thing? I found several references on the web to a “HCl reflex point” for hypochlorhydria. Guess where it is? On the bottom of the ribs, just left of center. This reflex point actually seems to be accurate for me, as the spot used to hurt noticeably, but now I have to really press to feel any discomfort. Here’s a sample article on the reflex point; there are others. http://www.townsendletter.com/April2006/digest_2_0406.htm .

I had also been on a gluten-free casein-free diet in the past, but find I can now tolerate small amounts when I use the Betaine HCl. Perhaps the gliadin, gluten, and casein wasn’t being broken down enough before (?).

Sharon Napier February 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

If this is my problem the low acid and i try the betaine HCL i know from this information that i may have to take something for the acid reflux so what would you suggest i take if needed. Do you need to go off of the prevacid or etc. a few days before you start HCL?

JB March 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Sounds reasonable, but I don’t know. :-\ Have you found any other info on this?

Vicki December 8, 2012 at 7:14 am

I had an endoscopy yesterday and they found gastritis and polyps. What do you suggest for treating/healing gastritis?

Jordan Reasoner December 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Bone broth and DGL do wonders.


Francisco December 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I agree that the hcl is low in this product but my question is would that cause my throat to feel sore and irritated after a couple of hours. I want to try a higher dose capsule but i am worried that the burning in my throat will only get worse. Have you ever seen this happen to anyone before. I know you cant give definite answers but i am just looking for ideas so i can have a better idea of what to try next.

Kim December 1, 2012 at 2:39 am

Hi…..I have a question I am a little confused about. I read your article about determining low stomach acid and I’d like to at least start with the apple cider vinegar method. However, a few months ago and for a couple weeks I took ACV in water right before I took my daily iron supplements because I was told it would help absorption. Then I would eat dinner (always with some sort of meat protein) and got awful burning stomach aches that would last for hours. I would also get these stomach aches before I ever started the ACV, but I got the pain every single day for the 2 weeks I used ACV. Finally determined it had to be the ACV giving me the stomach pain so I stopped using it. The stomach aches went away for awhile and are now back…..most days but not all. So, its really hard to tell if I have low stomach acid or not since the ACV didn’t seem to help the pain (meaning, if I do have low stomach acid then the ACV should have helped when I ate protein meals). Like I said, now I still get the pain and usually within 2 hours after eating a high protein meal. I’d like to try this method you suggest but afraid the pain will come back worse than ever. Not sure if this makes sense…its confusing to me too. Thanks so much for your help…Kim

Jordan Reasoner December 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hi Kim, that must be frustrating. It sounds like you might have some gastritis or inflammation of the stomach lining. You could try a supplement called Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and see if that doesn’t help the pain.


Kim December 1, 2012 at 1:13 pm

thank you Jordan…so does this mean I probably don’t have low stomach acid, but high? And would the DGL eventually heal my stomach lining? Thanks much!

Jordan Reasoner December 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Not necessarily, it just means that if you have gastritis or ulcers you need to heal that up before supplementing with HCL because it tends to make it painful. That’s where the DGL comes in, then you can test HCL again later.


Francisco November 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Hey Julie,

I seem to have the same problem you do. I take the Now brand Super Enzymes which contain a small amount of HCL. It seems to help with digestion but after a couple of hours i start to feel like i have a sore throat. I can only equate it to the way it feels when i use to get acid reflux. I dont really feel any burning sensation in my stomach at all. If i stay taking one capsule at every meal it gets very bad to a point where i have to stop taking them. I cant understand why this is happening and would really appreciate any feedback from anyone who has had this same experience.

Jordan Reasoner December 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Hi Fancisco – the amount of Betaine in those supplements is usually relatively small. You could test out on without the betaine and see if there’s a difference. We like these as well: http://www.giprohealth.com/prozymes.aspx

In good health,


jeremy November 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm

How do you feel bout coconut oil?

Julie November 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Hi Steve and Jordon, SCD ‘cured’ my UC 5 years ago (off all drugs) and since then I’ve been following it about 80% of the time. (Oddly, this is how I ate even before UC). I was dx with GERD a few months before being dx with UC but took medicine very rarely and instead avoided foods that bothered me.

Fast forward to today, my GERD is unbearable and my UC is back (mucus). My problem is this…I know I need to go back to a 100% protein diet for a few weeks to clear up this mucus and then slowly add in the few veggies I could tolerate, BUT protein gives me horrible acid reflux. On the other hand, eating well cooked veggies and smoothies gives me no reflux, and it’s nice to not have that constant burning in my throat, but my colon can’t handle these veggies right now. I do not know what to eat.

I know this must be low acid (and not having enough acid is causing this SIBO that my Dr has labeled “UC”) that is causing these issues and I have tried HCL in the past but still got burning in my esophagus…maybe one just wasn’t enough? So I tried 2 pills tonight with dinner. No burning in the stomach or esophagus and no heartburn!! I thought I was home-free…but 1.5 hours later, and I can feel it in my throat (as usual). Am I to assume that this burning is my same ole’ acid reflux that I experience after eating, or is this from the HCL? Your blog mentions to be aware of burning in the ‘stomach’ as a signal that either one does not need to supplement with hcl or that one has ‘hit their limit’ and needs to taper back one pill with the next meal, but you don’t mention about burning in the throat/esophagus.

Your suggestions are greatly respected. It’s nice to find a blog written by people that suffer from the same issues as I and have tackled it with diet (SCD).

Brian November 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I’m up to 6 Betaine HCl capsules so far. Still belching. I believe it’s helping bring my ammonia level down, which I believe was causing cognitive difficulties and stimulating my adrenals into the “adapted to stress” range on the usual saliva test. Undigested protein feeds pathogens that produce ammonia.

See comment #1 here:
Butyrex is used to help a subset of autistics fight elevated ammonia. It seems logical that the root problem is low stomach acid. Elevated ammonia levels will pickle your brain. I had high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. Between healing my gut, chelating mercury and arsenic with Andrew Cutler’s protocol, and now getting ammonia under control I’m not doing too bad now. I don’t know what caused low stomach acid but mercury does very bad things to the digestive system. I’m still taking AKG to help with ammonia but going after the root of the problem with HCl seems to be a whole lot more effective.

I hope this made sense. Your instructions on how to properly use HCl have been a big help.

Jordan Reasoner November 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Awesome Brian, that’s great news!


LEISA BEHRENDORFF November 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hi Steve,
I am at my wits end this has gone on so long I don’t know what it is like to feel normal anymore. I suffer from a feeling of choking in my throat after I eat tightness in the chest due to excessive gas constant burping pains in my back . Three years ago doctors told my that I had seven ulcers after an endoscopy, the put me on nexium 40mg made me feel worse yet they couldn’t understand why. I threw them out . Thought it may have bee thyroid related saw a specialist said I was iodine deficient put me on that. Have had fluctuating bouts of this for years trying to stay off meds. But has become really bad lately and have got back on the medical roller coaster have a stress test booked another endoscopy & colonoscopy booked. Just sick of it. The pain I have in my chest and blocked feeling in my throat and bloating and gas is terrible. Are any of these symptoms linked to low stomach acid. I also have a very severe case of candidia in my breasts when feeding my first child and have suffered with candidia since. I am at my wits end my whole family is now starting to suffer because of this.


Jordan Reasoner November 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

It does sound like low stomach acid Leisa, please read this great article by our friend Chris Kresser:


In good health,


Rebecca November 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Hi Steve,

I was hoping you could help me, I started with 1 HCl (504mg + pepsin) with no burn so increased my dose with every meal until I got to 20! I thought this was an unsafe and expensive amount to take so have since stopped. I tested negative for H pylori and was also laughed at by my Doctors for thinking I have low HCl (32 yrs) and they thought I was crazy when I explained what I did.

Main symptoms are belching after meals, gassiness, bad breath, white coated tongue, poor cognitive function, fibromyalgia and fatigue.

Look forward to any suggestions you may have?


Jordan Reasoner November 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Hi Rebecca, that’s not too uncommon. I think in Dr. Wright’s book he talks about some patients taking 10,000mg at meals as being the high end. Steve also experienced no burning and that does happened to some people. I think you just have to pick a dosage that’s affordable for you now and stay there and see how your symptoms do. I wouldn’t go crazy and take so much at every meal everyday, that’s probably overkill.

Also, don’t be afraid to fire your doctor and find someone that will work with you about low HCL.

In good health,


chet November 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I got diagnosed with GERD two years ago and after taking Prilosec for two years I am lactose intolerant, very gassy and get bad stomache pains and everything keeps getting worse and worse. Do you think that is because of low stomache acid? And do you have to go off of Prilosec to do the baking soda test or to start taking Betaine HCI?

Jordan Reasoner November 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Hi Chet, if you’ve been on Prilosec you have very low stomach acid. Those were only approved by the FDA to be taken for 8 weeks or so. I wouldn’t take Betaine until you’re off the Prilosec for a few weeks. It’s not going to be easy to transition, but it will be worth it.


chet November 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

so do you think that is the cause of being lactose intolerant

Becka November 8, 2012 at 12:35 am

I’ve read the entire article on Stomach Acid. My question is in the case of not having a gallbladder I’ve been told that now all the acid that my gallbladder used to break down for my body is at this point dumped into my stomach and liver. So, I would think that my severe reflux is due to having too much acid in my stomach all the time. Which causes severe GERD, reflux, burning, burping….all those frustrating issues. Am I correct to think this or have I been told wrong info? I only use tums to help with indigestion at this point. I haven’t wanted to take prescription meds for this and I had never heard…until now about Digestive Enzymes. Do u have an article about what happens to our digestive system and gut when we loose our gallbladder and how to work the SCD Diet the right way when dealing with these types of issues? Thanks.

Jordan Reasoner November 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

As far as I understand it, the lack of gallbladder would be dumping bile salts, which aren’t the same as stomach acid, they are very different. If you’re wondering about it get a Heidleberg test done and you’ll know for sure.

Also, you could test Betaine HCL for a few weeks.

In good health,


Jennie Deike November 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

If I have such terrible burning, when will I notice a difference taking the HCL? Is it immediate? I took one last night and this morning… still feel it in my throat.. not in my gut anymore, or yet.

Jordan Reasoner November 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm

It can take weeks for that to calm down, even with HCL. If you’re not feeling it in your stomach that’s a good sign. You might try taking a supplement called DGL to help calm down the burning.

Don’t give up yet.

In good health,


Janie April 18, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Will the burning sensation from taking the HCI be different from the burning that comes from having GERD?
Do you recommend that I take myself off of the nexium I’ve taken for the last 10 days before trying the HCI test?
Thanks for your reply

Mariel Heiss April 19, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Hi Janie – because people experience different sensations with GERD it is hard to say that it will definitely feel the same at heartburn, but for many people the warm/burning sensation of too much HCL is very similar to heartburn.

We don’t recommend using HCL if you’re already using a PPI or other acid-blocker, and you should work with your doctor to wean off any medication they’ve prescribed.

debbie vick October 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Thanks so much for your response. I have spent one small fortune on my health in the last eleven years. Not once did anyone mention low stomach acid. I can distinctly remember the year I started living on acid reducers, 2001. I was a overworked middle school counselor, writing major grants, and putting out any and every “fire” that came my way. My desktop, consisted of a blotter, pens, Mylanta, Tums, Pepto Bismol, and Prilosec. It was the joke of the building, in fact when I was promoted to Principal, no one would apply for my job. My first year as Principal, I came down with what my doc says is the worst Epstein-Barr titers he had ever seen, 20,000. Not once did I know low stomach acid could have been the culprit. From that point on I have had lowered immunity, have fibro, chronic fatigue, etc, etc. This morning I did the acid test, ten minutes after the baking soda, still nothing. I took the HLC with my breakfast, 2 eggs. Had a protein, and the HLC, and this afternoon I have felt wonderful. No burning of the throat, GERD, etc. I am also sipping on ac vinegar.

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart,


PS: I had a upper GI in February, the works, cost me $1,000.00. Why didn’t anyone mention low acid to me, then? I received an everything is fine, and a prilosec prescription for 1 year’s worth. (duh) Is there any research about hair loss and low stomach acid? All I really want to know is, will my hair grow back???

Jordan Reasoner October 24, 2012 at 2:22 am

That’s so amazing Debbie, I couldn’t be happier for you. Congrats on taking control of your health, woohoo! It’s a shame low stomach acid isn’t talked about more with western medicine.

Stop by and let us know an update soon.

In good health,


debbie vick October 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

It is 6:12 a.m. and I have been up most of the night due to acid reflux, and a severe burnng in my throat. I have endured this of and on since 2001. I thought is was one of the symptoms of high epstein-barr titers, but lately I believe it is due to low stomach acid.

My GP sent me to have an Upper GI and the doctor prescribed daily prilosec. Due to my hair literally falling out, I started researching this issue. During the process, I keep finding articles about low stomach acid.

My questions are: could my hair loss be related to the low stomach acid issue? What should I do when I have nights without sleep due to the burning, I am taking the HCL with pepsin during meals.

I did eat ice cream tonight, during the Presidential debates. Needed some comfort food to combat the stress this election is causing me!!! Could this cause the burning in my stomach.

I stumbled upon your webpage and I think what you are saying makes more sense than anything I have read so far. Any suggestions or advice will be appreciated.


Steven Wright October 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

@Debbie – Yes, hair falling out could be the result of years upon years of low acid levels resulting in low nutrient status of the body. I’d suggest you check out Dr. Johnathon Wright’s Stomach Acid book. In the meantime, If your having acid reflux you can try some apple cider vingear to relieve it. And you should stop all foods that can trigger it, mainly all grains, starches, dairy and sugar.

Thomas December 11, 2012 at 6:17 am

Zinc absorption is dependent upon HCL in stomach. So, low stomach acid causes zinc deficiency which causes hair loss. You might want to have a test…

Alexandraseattle February 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

I was very low in iron (11 out of 22) and low in hcl acid (I went up to 11 pills before each meal before I got better) and my hair was Falling out a lot. My integrative doctor told me if u’re low in acid, you don’t absorb iron. I supplemented for a while and a year later I have a brand new set of hair!

Kishaunna February 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm

you took 11 HCL pills? and what do you mean by supplementing?

Mariel Heiss February 18, 2016 at 2:21 pm

@Kishaunna – some people need higher doses of HCL but a higher dose isn’t always better. Find the right dose for you using this info: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

By supplementing she means taking an HCL Betaine supplement like we talk about in the article I just linked to

Elle June 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Maybe it would be helpful to read up on magnesium and perhaps zinc also. If you aren’t absorbing the nutrients from your food due to low stomach acid then a mineral deficiency could account for some of your symptoms.

shirl October 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

iv been wondering if anyone has really bad sweats when lying down & heart racing, i get this if i don’t take my tabs, doc sayes i have high acid currently on ranitidine 300mg a day…

Ans March 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm

is it worse when lying on your left side?

Ask your doctor about roemheld syndrome / gastrocardia syndrome

Serena B. October 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I tried the baking soda test 3 consecutive mornings and I didn’t burped until after 7 minutes, each time.. I never had acid reflux nor bloating problems in my life. My stomach fells totally healthy to me. Gas after eating, maybe.. However I lost so much hair due to telogen effluvium and I’m currently suffering from rosacea. I’m from Italy and I eat fruits, veggies, fish, olives.. Never eat junk food. But still having these problems. I wonder if I might have digestion problems, even though I don’t feel like it. Next, I will give a try to Betaine HCl test. Thank you so much for the information.

Steven Wright October 11, 2012 at 10:27 am

@Serena – It could be low acid levels will cause poor absorption of many nutrients which over time can lead to a whole host of health issues. Let us know how the test goes

Elle June 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Being Italian, I am assuming that you eat bread and pasta. You may want to check out the book wheat belly by Dr Davis. He makes reference to rosacea.
He also has a website.

Terri R. October 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I’ve been wanting to try the Betaine HCL but a little nervous about taking it. Since I’ve been eating a lot more meat, I’ve noticed that my heartburn has gotten worse. Aren’t meats high-acidic? And if they are, wouldn’t adding Betaine make me worse? I don’t have an ulcer but do have a little area in the lower stomach that’s a little red and irritated. I don’t know if I’m reacting to all the acid in the meat or if I’m low on acid. I want to ask my doctor but won’t see him till the end of the month and honestly, he’s a total jerk. Any advice? I’m supposed to be on a low-acidic diet but eating all this meat is starting to worry me since I’ve read that meat is high in acid. I sure hope I’m wrong about that. Thanks!

Steven Wright October 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

@Terri – What your reporting is exactly what I would expect anyone with low stomach acid to tell me. When they eat more meat (protein) they have more digestion problems. By eating more protein you would need stronger acid levels and more pepsin to break it down. Which doesn’t appear to be happening because you report more heartburn symptoms. That would indicate to me that your food is sitting in your stomach even longer, fermenting, raising IAP and possibly causing your problems. If I was you I would test something to raise my stomach acid levels.

Daniel C. September 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

So, about 4 months ago I think i had a stomach infection with H. pylori, my doctor never really confirmed what it was but i took two medication in a 1 month period. One was some antibiotic that is common and the other was metronidazole. After i finished the medication, I’ve had stomach acid problems since then. I took nexium and a few others proton pumpers for 2 months but decided to stop because first i didnt want to be on them for the rest of my life, and second i wasnt getting that much better. Since i stopped i havent been taken anything just eating healthier and exercising. But i still have some acid problems with tight throat, sometimes soar throat. I tried the baking soda test and didnt even burp. So do you feel i have low stomach problems?

Anita September 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

“There’s really only 2 outcomes from this test.

The first is that you won’t notice anything, as you go about your normal life after the meal nothing will change. This means it is very likely you have low stomach acid levels.
If as you go about your normal life and start to feel stomach distress characterized as heaviness, burning, or hotness – then these are signs that you don’t have low acid levels.”

Could you clarify the above statements? I’m totally confused (and I’m a physician). 1. If one has low acid, then “nothing will change” would mean burping, pain etc. as “normal” for low-acid condition. 2. If one has normal acid, one betaine HCl pill should not cause all those symptoms, right? Plus, in the post on betaine HCl supplementation, you say not to give up on a lower dosage (but to increase until symptoms disappear), so what would 1 pill show? Am I missing something?

I think my daughter may have this, and your site is very informative. I have not taken her to a GI doc because I don’t want
her to take Prilosec or similar meds as a first intervention. Thanks.

Steven Wright October 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

@Anita – Sure so to clarify. If you have do not have low stomach acid meaning you have good acid or high acid levels (not likely) when you supplement with Betaine HCL you should get a deep like middle of abdomen area hotness, burning or heaviness. This also happens when you have low acid and are trying to find the perfect dosage. Sometimes 7 pills causes the pain but 6 results in perfect digestion.

For the same person above if they take 5 pills they are likely to keep experiencing acid reflux pains but not deep abdomen (stomach location) pains.

I wish there were better words in the English language to explain this but I can’t think of any. There is a distinct difference between acid reflux / GERD burning and the kind that results from having too much acid in the stomach. The intensity and location is much different. Also when testing betaine hcl if you go too high my experience has never been the throat/esophagus problems that are normally thought to happen with reflux. It’s always much deeper and doesn’t come up towards the mouth for me. Does that help?

Mike L June 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm

I have a question. I just followed up with my GI doctor because of silent GERD issues and because an endoscopy last year showed two very shallow ulcers in my esophagus along with a little gastritis. I asked if he did the stomach acid test and he said he didnt know what it was but that he tested the acid that was *aspirated* (i think thats what he said) and that the pH was 1. The year before it was zero. My question is…does this mean my acid LEVELS are good, or just that the acid is strong enough? Should I try to supplement with betaine, or does this mean my digestion is already strong enough? The main complaints I have are terrible gas and bloating, lessened bowel movements and bad breath and feeling a bump in my throat when I swallow when I am laying down in bed. Doc wants me to either take tums or zantac with/after dinner. Should I do this or not? I am confused. Also trying to get SIBO test as well.

Mariel Heiss June 10, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Hey Mike – we aren’t qualified to help you interpret test results – that is something only your doctor or practitioner can assist you with. If you’re looking for a second opinion on your test results, we recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner who can look at your body as a whole system. You can check out our recommended practitioners here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Carrie September 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I believe supplemental HCL might be helpful for me, but upon researching a few products I discovered it is often porcine derived. I have an odd allergy to most meats, so I am glad I discovered this fact. I have found a Betaine HCL + Pepsin product that is plant derived from beets. Do you think it is as effective as the products derived from pigs?

Steven Wright September 26, 2012 at 9:40 am

@Carrie – Not sure you’d have to test and find out. I doubt you’d have any problem with the normal Betaine HCL. Sounds like you have a very leaky gut.

Sarah September 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

What happens if you do the Betaine HCL test and even one pill makes your stomach burn? I’ve done the test a couple times and gotten extreme burning in my stomach. I have heartburn/GERD and wonder if I may actually have high acid. However, I also know I have SIBO caused by taking acid reducers. Any input is appreciated!

Rebecca September 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Hi Jordan and Steve
I currently take Betaine HCL but havent really worked out my dose as I eat varied amounts of protein at each meal but I was just wondering is there a way of reversing the effects of proton pump inhibitors and making your stomach produce its proper levels of acid without supplementing Betaine HCL? Is the only solution supplementing with Betaine HCL for life?


Terri A August 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Just found your website from a youtube video you guys did a while back. I have thought for some time my stomach problems might be from too low stomach acid, but my gastro. dr. looks at me like I’m crazy….(he claims it only happens to people in their 80’s, I’m 54) I have had two endoscopies within the last year (different doctors) and a peptic ulcer was found in the first (now healed) and an esophagus ulcer found in the second along with a small hiatial hernia. Was put on Omeprazole and it killed my stomach..I felt it was twisting it dry like a rag!! I took half a dose for a few weeks and gave up, and just take DGL (I really believe it heals them) H. Pylori test was negative.

The only relief I have had is DGL before each meal, and it helps, but I can’t eat hardly any meat without feeling like it sits there all day long. I have tried the baking soda test a few times, but I question if it works for me, I get a few tiny burps at first and then nothing for the rest of the time.

Anyway, I was wondering if you knew it was okay to do the HCL-betaine with having an ulcer that I think is healing or healed. I had read somewhere that you shouldn’t take it if ulcers were present. I’m thinking of just starting out with a low dose and working up.
I would love to get the Heidelburg test done, but can’t find a doctor in my area.

The dr. took biopsies from the duodenum and I have low disaccharide levels and lactose level is 0, but no celiac disease. So I have just started the SCD diet and hope to see some improvements with my intestinal-track symptoms. My biggest complaint is my stomach and how careful I have eat. I live on eggs, chicken broth, and avacados. Sorry this post turned into a book, but wanted to share my story, and hopefully get you imput on the HCL .

Jordan Reasoner August 26, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hi Terri, I’m so glad that you found us!

The best advice I can give you is to read Dr. Jonathon Wright’s book, “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” which we have a link to in our recommended product page:


If it were me and my ulcer was healing, I would test a little HCL and see how it went. But we’re not Doctors, so I can’t make any recommendations for anyone. It’s a decision you’ll have to make on your own after doing more research. It might take some more time healing the stomach lining before you can tolerate HCL, but it sounds like you’re a great candidate.

Keep us posted on how you’re doing.

In good health,


Cisco August 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm

can low stomach acid cause slow stomach emptying?

Jordan Reasoner August 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Yes it can. The stomach looks for a certain PH level to get the signal that it’s ready for the next stage of digestion. If you’re not producing enough HCL naturally, you’ll never get the PH to the right signal that ships it along and proteins will ferment in your gut.

Try the HCL challenge and see if it improves.


Simon August 13, 2012 at 1:16 am

Hi All:
Do you know if radiotelemetry-Heidelberg test is a common procedure at GI doctors offices. I can’t find anything on it around Los Angeles area
Thank you

Cisco August 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Can damaged receptors heal, with things like glutamine and dgl? also can an imbalance of gut flora cause low acid.

Steven Wright August 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

@Cisco – As far as we know the damaged cells can heal, but the key is what caused the damage? You have to find the root cause and get rid of it for full recovery. There are gut flora problems and infections like H Plyori that will suppress acid production to live. So it’s very wise to get extensive stool testing for all parasites, bacteria and yeasts.

thandeka July 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

Is it good to eat too much starch such as bread and pap

Steven Wright July 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

@thandeka – If your suffering from Heartburn, GERD or acid reflux it is usually a bad idea to each starches and grains. It usually makes the symptoms worse. There are a few books on it and some posts on our site about it. Try going grain-free or even SCD for 30 days and I bet you’ll feel better

Elle June 11, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Try getting the book Wheat Belly by Dr Davis from your library.

Karl July 3, 2012 at 8:24 am

So I’m trying the baking soda trials and have come into a curious twist. What does it mean when drinking the solution makes you feel nauseated? Also, Had a “warming” sensation in the esophageal area but no “burp” other than the air I accidentally swallowed while drinking the solution.


B Mitchell June 27, 2012 at 3:57 am

Hi Steve

I was so pleased to discover your article. It’s brilliant!

For several years now I’ve woken up in the mornings with huge pockets of trapped wind, and sometimes have sat for 45 minutes to an hour stretching and twisting to release it. Apart from causing stomach problems the trapped wind also aggravated the dizziness I’ve experienced since I suffered from labrynthitis three years ago. My balance has been really affected.

Recently I’ve experienced a lot of pain and discomfort in my stomach and so went to see the doctor. I did ask her if it could possibly be low stomach acid, and straightaway she discounted it. So she put me on Lansoprozale, and I took this for a month, and it really helpd with the stomach problems and the vertigo and dizziness virtually disappeared. However, round about the third week I sarted getting vauge pains in my arms and back, and somedays it was even an effort to put one leg in front of the other, so I stopped the Lansoprozale and the pains went away. Then, of course, the stomach problems and dizziness came bck. So I tried the Lansoprozale again, and this time started with an irritating cough. It wasn’t like a regular cough, so I stopped the Lansoprozale again and the cough has improved, though not gone away entirely.

A few days ago I went to see the doctor again and told her what had happened and she’s put me on Omeprazole! I took two of these and went for a lie down, because I wasn’t feeling too good. When I woke up my throat felt as though it was swollen, my chest felt tight and inflamed, and I could hear myself wheezing slightly. Up to then I’ve never had problems with breathing and am not subject to coughs and colds. Could this be a reaction to the Omeprazole?

I’m now waiting to hear from the hospital to have an endoscopy. However, yesterday evening after reading your article, during my evening meal I took sips of apple cider vinegar and obtained almost immediate relief. So this morning I did the acid test using the bircarbonate of soda, and it actually took 5.1/2 minutes before I gave a burp.

But why do pump inhibitors work when there’s no acid to suppress?

For just over a week now I’ve been taking two heaped teaspoonsful of Bentonite Clay just before I go to bed to detox and to help with my stomach problems. But is this a bad idea if I have low stomach acid?

Sorry to go on for so long, but it’s good to communicate with someone who understands. I really do despair of the medical profession.

B Mitchell

J April 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

PPIs work by making the stomach less acidic. So when folks take PPIs, they still reflux but they don’t feel it as much because the liquid is less caustic.

Cheezeman3000 October 1, 2017 at 1:59 am

Hey B Mitchell, did you ever find a good solution for the congestion in the throat? I started getting worse and worse congestion after taking PPI’s for a while, so I stopped taking them and the congestion persisted. It went away, mostly, after taking Betaine HCl with meals, however it’s still there sometimes after the meal. Does that mean I didn’t take enough HCl, or did I take too much? I also noticed apple cider vinegar removes the congestion almost immediately, but I feel sick afterwards… so I’ll need to try taking it with a snack next time. That may be a temporary solution.

I’m pretty sure the congestion is from pepsin buildup. Certain things can trigger the pepsin reaction in your body, and I will be trying high alkaline water to deal with the issue as well; supposedly that kills the pepsin. Will try to remember to update with results.

yolzy June 24, 2012 at 6:05 am

I have taken Digestive Plus it has Betaine HCL with Peptin as u said to take it. About 20 minutes later my throat became tighter than usual, i have had squeezing sensation on the right side for a year now, but it got worse after the test, WHY IS THAT??

Jordan Reasoner June 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm

That’s a tough one. You should probably check with your Doctor about that.

If you have really high Intra-Abdominal Pressure from low stomach acid, it could be that’s what is causing the pain. In some cases, it takes a few weeks of supplementing for those symptoms to subside.

Hang in there and keep working hard to take control of your health.


Brad June 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

I’d love to do a Heidelberg test but where would one even go to get the test done? I’ll probably stick with Betaine HCL supplementation testing for now. Thanks for a great post! Informative and helpful for someone like me with severe arthritis and gut issues. I feel like I eat as healthy as possible but may still have malabsorption problems.

Jordan Reasoner June 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Hey Brad, many GI doctors can do the test.

They have to have the testing equipment. Many hospitals have it as well.

Call around in your local area based no insurance coverage, etc.

In good health,


PAMM January 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I asked my Gastro doctor to do this test and he said they didn’t do them. So not all doctors will do them 🙁

Lidd March 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Ive Been having a lot of health issues for a year I feel full with no food or very little. I have burning in my stomach most of the time. I have dizziness when I stand. I am extremely tired all the time. I have nausea and sickness everyday. I’ve lost a lot of weight. My symptoms are every day. I tried lanzoprozol for excess acid but they did not help. The doctors don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s my acid levels. I had my gall bladder removed several years ago. Im 26 years old female. Any suggestions welcome thank you.

coral March 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Hi, have you been tested for iron deficiency anemia? You have a lot of the symptoms and from what I’ve been reading, low stomach acid levels stop certain minerals/vitamins being absorbed properly. Just a thought.

AlexJ October 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Lidd how did you fix your problem?

Diana September 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm

The day before yesterday (Sept 1) or the Friday before that) Dr. Oz said something about a consequence of having your gall bladder out but I don’t recall what it is. Unless you’re up on all of this as I suspect you are, you might check his website. I’m sure there’s a way for you to return to good health. While you’re hanging in there, visualize yourself healthy. Our imagination and intuition are
our greatest gifts. Diana

Jacqueline April 19, 2016 at 4:09 pm

I was diagnosed with low stomach acid by mydr with endoscopy biopsy inherited metaplast atrophic gastritis no stomach acid I’m nauseous all the time my stomach feels as though it’s burning,fatigue sick. I take HCL with pepsin when. I eat protein meals. I wish I wasn’t nauseated all the time.

Bruce March 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I watched a 1 and 1/2 hour presentation by Dr David Brownstein who got fed up with his MD and went the holistic route when he learned iodine is lacking in most people and has since cured cancer and many other problems with 50 mg supplimentation using lugal’s or iadoral. I started on 50 mg and read that low acid will slow down the iodine/iodide breakdown so I will be testing myself tomarro and getting some betaine hcl. Thanks! Also he says the stomach needs iodine to make the acid! How about that angle!

Steven Wright March 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm

@ Bruce – thanks for the comment, Dr. Brownstein is very smart. Just be careful jumping into 50mg a day, many report reactive hypothyroidism because it is such a change in what was happening in the body before. Most people recommend you slowly ramp up your iodine to these levels and supplement with Selenium. See these posts for more info. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3621 and http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3650

Elle June 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I think Dr Brownstein is the Guru on Iodine and I have been taking Ioderal, but now have switched to kelp with the kelp capsules coming from the north Atlantic and not Japan (nuclear contamination).

Rich Shuey, DC January 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm

I am not sure about the iodine being important and that is an interesting angle that I’d like to look into, however I do know that the body needs zinc and B1 to make HCL. So, deficiencies should be addressed. Is it low in the diet, or is it not being absorbe? Also, H pylori infection can commonly damage the stomachs parietal cells that make your HCL, as well as inflame the jejunum, the upper part of your small intestine, where the majority of your Zinc and B1 is absorbed. So if you have gastritis and/ or other SBIO symptoms, get tested for HPylori and make sure your zinc and B1 are not low.

Rich Shuey, DC January 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm

I also wanted to quote this: “Dr. Alan R. Gaby, who writes the literature review and commentary section of the Townsend Letter has stated the following; the use of mega doses of nutrients is an important component of n
utritional medicine. Many nutrients can be administered safely and effectively in large doses. However, certain trace minerals are dangerous and can even be fatal when given in very large amounts; these include 1 selenium, copper, zinc and iodine.”
Please be careful when supplementing iodine! Get checked first, make sure you are one of the many who are iodine deficient and then supplement carefully and cautiously, especially if you have possible thyroid issues as Steven has mentioned above.

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Taking a few drops of iodine a day made me *hyperthyroid*, which was actually worse! The psychiatric symptoms were unbearable.

Venugopal March 22, 2012 at 4:29 am

Thanks Steve for great article.

I have been dealing with following issues for last 2 years without permanent remedy from DR’s yet. I have tried antiacids, stool softeners, increase in fiber intake, changing food habits..etc..

Hard stools
Severe insomnia
Wind passing
Dizziness/confusion/memory issues after eating food.
My mind feels good in empty stomach.

1 month ago I had a viral fever, DR had suggested Antibiotic (ciplox az), my fever went away and along with that I see all the above mentioned gastro issues were also cured for 2 weeks and gradually the symptoms are returning back.. I went Gastroenterologist, DR says, its overgrowth of Bactria in smaller intestine which needs to be flushed and I am on 1 month medication but not helping.

At this point I have really lost hope on DR’s and going through the internet to see what could be the problem. Could it be low stomach acid may be causing the above issues? Please comment at your leisure.

-Thanks for your time and help

Steven Wright March 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

@ Venugopal – Yes you could have low stomach acid, try the test and find out. But along with it you likely have more problems like SIBO. Best of luck let us know how you do!

Krista June 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm

What is SBIO? I have been put on PPI (Zegerid) for GERD symptoms so bad that it feels like I can’t breathe. I have a little gastritis according to GI doctor who did endoscopy. I got tired of PPI idea, so I tried Betaine with Pepsin on my own. About 10 minutes after taking it I had a very brief bout of dizziness, flushing feeling and anxiety. It subsided after about 30 minutes to one hour. I had no stomach burning, though. Is this normal? I feel that it’s most likely that I have low stomach acid. Any thoughts on this are appreciated!

Mariel Heiss June 13, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Hi Krista – you can learn more about SIBO here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2014/01/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sibo-small-intestinal-bacterial-overgrowth/

You can read more about how to use and what to expect from HCL here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

We don;t recommend you use HCL and a PPI at the same time, but you’ll need to work with your doctor to wean off PPIs first!

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

It sounds like the Betaine HCL might have killed some of the bacteria and you were experiencing die-off. That’s the feeling I got when I took antibiotics and oregano oil: chills, anxiety, increased gas. I also have SIBO, btw.

Trisha August 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I have the same thing. If u figure out any thing please let me know….

Kathy Lowery September 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I have SIBO and it does sound like that might be what you have. Ask for a hydrogen breath test to confirm. I went through 5 doses of antibiotics before it cleared after I was diagnosed. However it is common for SIBO to come back after medical treatment. It did about 3 years later so I decided to use SCD to treat it this time. I have been on SCD for over a year now and have no more pain or bloating. I also treated my low acid with HCL because I had taken acid reflex medicine off and on for 30 years. I have read those meds can cause SIBO. I now do not get acid reflex. I used the HCL pills for about 6 months and then decreased and went off of them. Good luck to you!

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Which antibiotic eventually killed off your SIBO? I tried Rifaximin twice with no luck, only to find that several lactobacillus strains are resistant to it (my SIBO is lactobacillus overgrowth — thanks, probiotics!)…I’m thinking of trying erythromycin or amoxicillin now, but my doctor won’t prescribe it.

Mariel Heiss August 22, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Hey Erica – thanks for reaching out! Rifaximin is unique in that it works specifically in the small intestine – other broad spectrum antibiotics would not work in the same way and we don’t recommend them (this is also probably why your doctor won’t prescribe them).

I recommend checking our siboinfo.com for more info on other treatments

Cindy December 8, 2016 at 9:29 pm

What is SCD an SIBO!

Lori Jo Berg December 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm

HI Cindy – SCD stands for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet http://scdlifestyle.com/about-the-scd-diet/ and SIBO stands for Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth-http://scdlifestyle.com/2014/01/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sibo-small-intestinal-bacterial-overgrowth/

Mike January 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

You might also look at articles on Mercola.com for SIBO/chrones, even if you don’t have chrones. My condition has improved but not completely by eliminating preservatives, GMOs, sugars; and eating and juicing vegatables, eating organic and grass fed beef, free range chicken. I’m going to try the HCL now as Istill have some problems. Way better than before. Highly recommend you look into the food you eat.

Barbra Thompson February 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Couldn’t help replying, I dealt with all the same issues you have and much more before I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010. I was tired of all the medications the doctors kept prescribing to treat the many symptoms I had without finding out what was causing them. I requested an indescopic procedure to fine out what the problem was. All my issues are gone with a gluten free life style except heartburn, as soon as I lay down in the evening (which I take one Zantac for). After research, I suspect low stomach acid for the heartburn (I do have hypothyroid, another symptom of celiac).

Elle June 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I too have been dealing with that. I am up to 1000mg of magnesium malate.
Am trying a 200 mg of potassium now and thinking that is helping with the being tired part. But I really think that I just haven’t been absorbing the nutrients. In the past I tried betaine HCL and got up to 7 capsules at a meal with no discomfort but didn’t understand as much at that time about nutrition. So now I will go back to that and see if I can use less magnesium and not have constipation. Hopefully I will also benefit by absorbing more nutrients from my food as well as supplement and thyroid med. I had wondered if I was getting maximum benefit from my naturethroid, since low thyroid will really keep you tired.

Mark Solomon August 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Just had to say I can related to the dizziness/confusion/brain fog. The reason I’m commenting is that something that really worked to clear this up almost immediately–no kidding–is oil of oregano (it’s wild oregano in olive oil–not the essential oil–which works also but requires mixing with olive oil due to strength). It was like Christmas tree lights turning on in my head.

I believe it’s also killing the bad bacteria in my gut. I’m doing on off cycles with probiotics and oregano oil.

I believe the type of Oregano really makes a difference. So far the super strength Oil of Oregano from Vitamin Shoppe capsules work. But you can buy other better ones on Amazon for cheaper–I think there’s a 2oz one (same price as the 1oz ones from other brands) that comes directly from Greece which is supposed to be the bomb. Wild Oregano is best. And the oil is derived from a different Oregano plant than the leaf Oregano you put on Italian foods…

—-I know it’s off topic–but it might help some of you—

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm

For me, dizziness was a result of histamine overload. I believe due to an abundance of histamine- producing bacteria in the small intestine. I take Benadryl to cope with it. Hopefully Betaine HCL and eradication of SIBO will prove to be the cure.

Sandy May 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I also have histamine overload. I stated with silent reflux, now I have a leaky gut and histamine intolerance. Hope you are on a low histamine diet.

Rich Shuey, DC January 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I know that this is 2+ years after this post! but i had to respond anyways. I hope you have found an answer over the years since writing your post. If not, there are certainly routes that you should look at. First, yes, digestive issues can cause the problems you mention. It is said that B12 deficiency can cause the mental issues and your bodies absorption of B12 is dependent upon good HCL production. It is logical to look at your digestive system for dysbiosis and hypochlorhydria with all the digestive complaints you have. Another area you should look into is thyroid and adrenal function. Our you stressed out and waking up at 3am all the time. This is a classic sign of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue can and often does disrupt both the thyroid and also SigA, which is the protective portion of our mucous linings. This can cause leaky gut and can lead to all the complaints mentioned above. If you are still suffering silently with these problems, I recommend that you find a great functional medicine practitioner who will do a great work up on you and use that to hone in on any special tests that are appropriate like a comprehensive stool analysis, a salivary adrenal stress test, and or a full thyroid panel. These tests can really spell out a logical treatment plan that is not based off of guess work but hard data. It is the most logical thing to do. As I said, I really hope you have already found your answers already, but if not, I couldn’t just leave this heart felt plea for help without offering my two cents. Good luck and may the blessing be!

Terry March 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I was wondering if low acid could cause weight gain due to not digesting properly?

Steven Wright March 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

@ Terry – I can’t really see a way this would be true, because usually low acid levels cause malabsorption of the foods. You will notice this because most people with low acid levels are prone to creating a lot of gas. This is the bacteria fermenting the foods instead of it being absorbed into the body.

Low acid levels might contribute to obesity due to creating low nutrient status which will drive disease but that’s the only connection I can draw at this time.

Bob Smith August 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hypothyroid has two common symptoms

1) low stomach acid
2) obesity/inability to lose weight

Arletta March 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Yeast overgrowth causes weight gain – low stomach acid contributes to yeast overgrowth.

Low stomach acid can cause allergic reaction in foods, which, for some people clear up once they can properly digest those foods. Allergies can lead to weight gain.

Low stomach acid tends to cause illness, because, the food is putrefying inside you, instead of moving on through. This can lead to sluggishness and, also, your body shuttling some of the poisons that result into your fat cells. Equaling, of course, weight gain.

There are other things I have read, about how your adrenal glands, pancreas, liver and thyroid are affected by low stomach acid.Your body is a system and that system relies on proper nutrition as fuel. When it doesn’t get it, because of malabsorption, it 1) drives you to eat more 2) becomes unbalanced and starts craving things that produce quick energy (carbohydrates) 3) fails to properly kick off all the reactions that are necessary to keep all the various bits of you in working order.

If your thyroid is malfunctioning due to low stomach acid it is always, or almost always, in the way that makes you gain weight.

So, yes, low stomach acid can, does, and, almost certainly will make you gain weight. That does not mean that if you gain weight that you have low stomach acid, of course.

When I was taking the Betaine HCL and I was eating meat, so that they actually worked for me at that point, I lost a lot of weight, rather quckly, and, I was not dieting, at all.

As I mentioned in my other comment, the HCL does not work for me, most of the time, as I eat mostly vegetables and grains. Then, Apple Cider Vinegar is much more effective.

When I am eating mostly vegetables, the fact that I have low stomach acid is not as painfully important, as meat is harder to digest. However, I still have a far better time of it when I use Apple Cider Vinegar – and, when I do use it, I lose weight, without making any other changes.

Elle June 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Thanks Arletta that was helpful.

mary May 29, 2015 at 5:57 pm

thanks arletta…..very helpful indeed….that sounds like me.
i have tried digestive enzymes….but maybe i’ll try this betain HCL.


Beth September 1, 2015 at 5:32 pm

How much acv, and how often . . . before every meal?
I have been doing just 1 TBSP 1st thing in the morning with warm water for about a year. Cannot say that it’s helped with the GERD symptoms.

Mariel Heiss September 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Hi Beth, thanks for reaching out!

We would recommend the ACV as you’ve been preparing it before every meal.

You may also consider an HCL supplement as discussed in this article: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

Hope this helps you! Let us know if you have more questions.

Kishaunna February 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Hi Arletta. how do you use the Apple cider vinegar?

Moose August 4, 2016 at 1:01 am

Does low stomach acid cause lpr reflux ? Just wondering ..

Mariel Heiss August 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Hi Moose – low stomach acid can absolutely cause the symptoms of “silent” reflux – we suggest giving the baking soda test or HCL challenge test a try and seeing if it helps you out

Dina A September 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Yes absolutely!! I suffered from LPR 15 years before I myself diagnosed myself beacuase no doctor could! I know your pain. I started taking HCL Betaine with high protein meals and I try my best not to mix food groups such as carbs and protein. I eat protein with veggies and carbs alone. I have noticed a great improvement in my symptoms (hoarseness,post nasal mucous etc). I hope that helped.

Tarun September 20, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Thanks arletta I am quite sure I am suffering from law stomach acid but whenever I take Apple cider ( one spoon in water) before meal I feel burning sensation in stomach and chest on second day and on third day it becomes pain in chest . I am not able to gauge what causing this problem . Is it ok to have these symptoms.
And one more thing I am vegetarian can I take betaine HCL without adding protein in my meal.

Mariel Heiss September 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Hi Tarun – burning after ACV can be a sign of an ulcer or gastritis. We suggest you see your doctor before you try HCL

Kim June 29, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hope you see this reply, how do you use apple cider vinegar? Before meals and how long before? Thanks so much

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Hypothyroidism can also cause weight gain in the form of edema. I once watched a television show where they were, well, to be honest making a freak show out of obese people. there was one woman who was around 600 pounds, and they were trying to put her on a low calorie diet, and she wouldn’t lose weight. Well, then they pointed out how her legs were so filled with fluid that the fluid would weep out of her skin. So yes, hypothyroidism definitely involves low stomach acid and weight gain.

ryan March 7, 2017 at 9:54 am

Low acid can cause leaky gut. Leaky gut is connected to weight gain

Maureen March 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

I did the baking soda test. I barely burped after doing it on three different days. I did the test after stopping priolosec, which I had been taking for the last 8 years. My stomach acid is extremely low and I was taking 10 650 mg Betain HcL for a few months and I am now usually at 9 pills depending on the amount of protein in the meal (almost 8 months on SCD!). I actually was having a lot trouble adding foods on SCD until I finally upped my dosage.
It has been hard for me to determine what is a good dosage for me. I actually went as high as 11 pills. I didn’t have any burning, but just some discomfort and I figured that taking 11 pills with each meal is just plain ridiculous so I decided to stay on 10 pills and them moved to 9. I am not sure how long I will have to be taking Betaine HcL and I am not sure how to go about looking for long term solutions. The only help I have received from doctors is a diagnosis of GERD and to take Proton Pump Inhibitors for the rest of my life. In the past I have not had success with naturopaths, but I have thought about trying a naturopath who was recently recommeded to me. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Steven Wright March 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

@ Maureen – Your doing great so far, Keep it up. You were on acid suppressing drugs for 8 years… so you may need to betaine at least that long or forever due to damaged receptors. Don’t worry about taking 10 pills you will be fine. The fact that your symptoms got better and you were able to add foods after you upped the dosage. That means you made a good move!

tama August 30, 2013 at 11:03 am

have you tried homeopathy ? It sounds like its worth a whirl…better than mega pills or proton pump inhibitors…

Carlos Rodriguez November 1, 2017 at 2:50 am

Hi Tama, have you tried? I couldn’t find a good homeopath myself

Beata May 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Hey you sound like me except I’ve lost so much weight n am at 98lbs. Doctors aren’t helping. I just hate having diarrhea, dizziness, nauseau, muscles cramping and the list goes on. What else can I do?

missy February 2, 2015 at 11:24 am

Beata have you been tested for celiac disease? my sister in law suffered for years and wasn’t diagnosed until she was hospitalized for severe dehydration which caused low bp making her dizzy from all of the vomiting and diarrhea. gluten free diet changed her life

Jamie March 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thank you for another excellent article. I can take THREE 650 mg Betaine Hcl/Pepsin tablets/pills. Yeah, I know I have low stomach acid. @[email protected] I have tried apple cider vinegar, I think it’s an excellent overall tonic, and helps stomach upset too, but just not as effective as the Betaine Hcl pills.

Steven Wright March 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

@ Jamie – I agree and actually apple cider vinegar is not a substitute for HCL, it won’t give the health benefits of using Betaine HCL with Pepsin.

Kelly July 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm

THREE betaine HCLs? That’s nothing. I have to take NINE to get any warmth in my stomach. Frustrating and debilitating…

Roger Elliott March 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

Hi Steve

What do you think to the ‘string test’ for stomach acid, Where you swallow a length of ph-sensitive string after eating protein and then pull it out?

Steven Wright March 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

@ Roger – I think your most likely referring to the Heidelberg Test above, the old version of the test used a string tied to the capsule and they had to pull it out (not too pleasant). New versions of the same test don’t use a string. But I believe both ways of doing the test are still in practice around the country.

Short answer – yes great but not fun – try to find one without a string.

Roger Elliott March 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

HI Steve – I mention it because it’s a much cheaper alternative, and there’s nothing attached to the end. And actually, it’s really not too bad – I’ve done it twice, once with poor results, once with good (acid wise). It doesn’t make you retch, or at least it didn’t me. I was asking just to see if you reckon it’s a reliable indicator.

Barb July 26, 2016 at 9:26 am

I started to take Betaine HCL with pepsin for my low stomach acid issues and it helped a lot but caused a big increase in uric acid levels. Has anyone come across this and any suggestions how to deal with it? Thanks

Erica August 18, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Hi Steven,
thank you for this valuable information.

I did the baking soda test twice and the result was low stomach acid. I tested positive using the lactulose breath test for SIBO (which was exacerbated ten-fold by attempting probiotics). I was a vegetarian for over a decade and also had heavy metal poisoning, and I think both of these contributed to my SIBO.

Anyway! I bought some Thorne Betaine HCL and I’m very excited to try it. I’m also doing a fecal transplant enemas in order to balance the bacteria in my colon — I lost my cravings for junk food and eating between meals thanks to the FMT!

That said, I need to acidify my stomach in order to eliminate the bacterial overgrowth before continuing with these treatments.

I have rumination. I used to have acid reflux (as a child!), but now whenever I uncontrollably regurgitate my food, it is never acidic! Bad sign!

I also went to the doctor and they said, literally, that my urine was the most alkaline urine they had ever seen! I know some say being alkaline is good, but I feel as though this points to my low stomach acid. Would that be possible?

Thank you!

Mariel Heiss August 22, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Hey Erica – thanks for reaching out. Low stomach acid can cause all sorts of problems. We suggest addressing it with an HCL supplement, like we describe here: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

TARUN September 21, 2016 at 2:12 am

Thanks Mariel really appreciate your advise.Are ulcer or gastritis same thing

Mariel Heiss September 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Hi Tarun – not they aren’t Your doctor or practitioner can help you figure out which (if either) you’re dealing with

Leslie Perez November 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

What have the doctor said to you? I just took ACV and currently in burning pain same exact feeling as you
Please help me
Been suffering for 12 days
20 year old

Lori Jo Berg November 11, 2016 at 9:53 am

Hi Leslie – sorry to hear you’re suffering. IF you’ve been suffering from heartburn for the last 12 days, We’d suggest implementing one of the test in the article along with changing your diet. IF you’ve discovered you do have low stomach acid, we suggest the HCL challenge. If taking HCL or ACV is very painful for you, you may want to consult with your doctor about a possible ulcer or gastritis.. In case of either of these, we’d suggest changing your diet and taking digestive bitters to aid in digestion.