How to Supplement with Betaine HCL for Low Stomach Acid

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

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

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

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

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Before Supplementing With Betaine HCL Read This

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

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

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

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

How to Figure Out Your Betaine HCL Dose

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

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

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

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

A Couple Points to Clarify:

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

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

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

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

I Need to Take How Many Betaine HCL Pills?

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

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

Best Betaine HCL Supplement Brands

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

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

Now Betaine HCL

TwinLab Betaine HCL

Thorne Research Betaine HCL

Additional Support: Overcoming Heartburn, Acid Reflux and GERD Naturally

After overcoming this issue myself and helping 100s like me, Jordan and I decided to do a dedicated 3-hour presentation on how to heal from the damage of low stomach acid naturally.

I urge you to check it out here:

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 they’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-saving information:

Hope it helps!

But getting back to Betaine HCL, tell me about your experience in the comments below.


Steven Wright

About Steven Wright

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

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591 thoughts on “How to Supplement with Betaine HCL for Low Stomach Acid

  1. Thank you for this awesome website! I’ve been on HCL + Pepsin for a year now. I started at 7 pills and am down to 3-4 pills (650mg). My heartburn reflux is gone as is the unrelenting bloating (except when I forget to take the pills). I had realized I was gluten intolerant about 5 years ago. So I figured I’d destroyed my stomach from eating foods I couldn’t tolerate. I do find I have to take 1-2 pills even if I don’t have protein.

    Question- should I be taking vitamins/supplements with the HCL? I’ve been borderline low in Vit D, B and iron. I also take supplements for perimenopause. If I don’t take it with HCL, will my stomach absorb it properly?

    Again that’s for this life changing site!

    • HI Mary – you can and should still take your supplements. The goal is to build your HCL back up (which it sounds like you are doing) and this will provide for better absoroption of the supplements. YOu don’t have to take the supplements at the same time as your HCL pills in order for them to be absorbed.

  2. Hi, I’m in the process of finding out my betaine dose and am at 4 pills with no symptoms so far. I was wondering how many pills you would take when you are eating a meal with nuts and seeds as a protein source, maybe about 1/2 your dose or being a dense, concentrated source of protein should you do your full dose? Also, is it a good idea to use bitters with the lower protein meals/ carb meals or is a little betaine better? Can you use the bitters and betaine together? Thank you!

    • Hi Kim – it’s OK to use less HCL when consuming lighter meals…although bitters would work to. Do what works best for you in those situations. I can’t say using both HCL and bitters at the same time is an absolute no no – bu I don’t know if there’s any research proving it’s really that helpful, either. We’d stick with one or the other for specific meals.

      • Thank you for getting back, I just saw your reply after I sent another message with similar questions! One more thought, I was wondering if betaine supplementation is just as good for people who eat a VEGAN diet where one has very low stomach acid when bitters and acv dont help enough? It just seems this protocol is geared toward meat eaters and this is not really clarified. Thanks again!

        • Hi Kim – you’re correct in that it is geared toward meat eaters. The pepsin in the HCl is designed to help break down the amino acids in meat. You could try HCL with out pepesin and see how that goes, but I can’t say we have any direct protocols for that.

      • I am sorry i couldn’t find a way to post my message so i had to reply on yours.
        I need help! i started with NOW HCL with pepsin and i gradually increased till 11 capsules before meal and i couldn’t feel anything better. i doubted that product and ordered from DRs BESt and the same thing happened. i was not getting any results then i saw a video on you tube, a lady advising it to take after meal, so i gave that a try, i took 10 pills at my lunch and felt a burning sensation and heartburn and in an hour i felt very light it feel like my stomach is empty and i had the energy and i dont even feel hungry. so considering that my max dose, at the dinner time i took 9 pills after the meal, i dint feel any burning sensation but i was bloated and since then i have been taking 9 after meals and i am very much bloated and feels that the food still sits in the stomach it stays like this for whole days. i just want to know am i doing it right? is there any other way to figure the right dose? what are the symptoms of too much acid?
        my situation has gotten worse.
        Thank you very much!

  3. Kristina Tyler says:

    Thanks for such great advice in this article! I have been taking HCL with my meals that contain protein. Obviously that would mean foods like chicken, beef, eggs, lamb…but should this also include bone broth? Does bone broth have enough protein in it to require acid for digestion and would that need to be supplemented if I have low stomach acid? I am asking because I haven’t been taking the HCL when I eat soup made from just bone broth and veggies, (no other protein added to it) but sometimes I get minor reflux, stomach gurgles, or gas.

    • I Kristina – you should take your full dose of HCL with 15-20 grams of protein. It’s hard to say how much protein exactly is in the bone broth (and I’m not sure how much your eating) so you can start with your full dose of HCL and see how you do when you eat the soup.

      • Kristina Tyler says:

        Thanks for your advice! I am having some trouble interpreting the symptoms after taking HCL with a meal. I am at the highest dose recommended for my particular supplement, but I am still getting slight reflux after eating. Sometimes I even feel a slight warm feeling at the same time. I always though reflux was too little acid, and the warm feeling was too much acid. So my questions are:

        1.) I am correct in thinking this?
        2.) How should I adjust dose when I only have reflux?
        3.) How should I adjust dose when I have both reflux and the warm feeling?

        • I Kristina – Here is what I’d suggest. Firs off, make sure you’re consuming at least 15-20 grams of protein when you take your HCL. You’re correct in that the majority of heartburn is caused by too little acid. However, HCL isn’t the only factor to consider with heartburn/reflux. Diet, gut infections, lifestyle all play a role as well – HCL is just one aspect. As far as the HCl goes, it takes some adjusting to find what works for you. I’d suggest backing off by one pill if you feel the burn and see how that goes. Look at things like energy, bowel quality, etc. to also make your decision if it’s too much or not enough.

  4. Hi , i am new to scd and when i take betain hcl, do i even have to take it when i eat fruits with much yogurt or when i drink much kefir? Because of the proteins in it, but i would destroy the beneficial bacteria in it, right?

  5. Hi, I’ve been taking HCL & Pepsin for 1 year now. I did the test April 2017 and was up to 8 pills per meal w/no symptoms/burning. I had to drink almost 2 glasses water at each meal just to get 8 pills down along w/ other supplements which I felt was defeating purpose of taking HCL. Naturopath docs told me just take 2 650mg HCL/Pepsin at each meal. I’ve never had symptoms described, EVER. I’m going to try and titrate up again as I am frustrated to still be on a restrictive diet for 2 yrs, nails still brittle, cortisol high, many mineral deficiencies, and past 3 weeks have extreme & excessive bloating & gas after meals I’m guessing caused by low stomach acid? Also, no one has ever told me NOT to take HCL/P w/non protein meals. Ugh! I’ve been doing this for a year! My question is, how soon after I take HCL/P w/each protein meal should I feel the burning symptoms? 2nd question is what ARE the other symptoms one might have when they have reached their max. I’m afraid I will not feel any symptoms again bc I hadn’t in the past and 8 pills each meal is a lot for a 103lb body! Also, how long does it typically take to not need as many pills once I reach the total amt.

  6. Thank you so much for the helpful article. I am anemic and believe that my low acid might be at play. I have done the HCL test and am able to feel warmth with a high protein meal with 2500mg (5×500mg pills). Am I to only use HCL with protein derived from meat? If not, do I use HCL with a high protein shake for example? What about snacks such as with nut butters? Am I to assume that smaller portions do not need any acid supplementation?

  7. Hello! I know HCl is good for those with GERD, but is it okay for those with Esophagitis? I have heard that HCl may cause more damage for those with Esophagitis, but I’m looking for a natural treatment. Thank you!

    • Hi Ashely – that is a tough question. GERD is often the reason for espohagitis…and the reason for GERD is often low stomach acid. So, in theory, it seems as if taking HCL would help the esophagus heal. However, it may aggravate it in some cases. For this reason, we recommend first an antiinflmmatory diet such as SCD/GAPS, etc. Second, you can try some demulcent (coating) herbs to help heal the esophagus, such as DGL and slippery elm.

  8. hello.i have severe IBS and apparently some mild fatty infiltration which I believe are definitely related due to a dyfucntional gut. I struggle to keep on and gain weight and very athletic thin low body fat but would love to gain some weight. should I take betaine hcl with pepsin at every meal containing protein whether animal or plant? also if I take the Betaine HCL at beginning of meal can I also take a digestive enzyme at same meal (I usually sprinkle on my food one capsule). also, I take TMG as part of a methylation supplement before breakfast I assume that could serve to increase stomach acid for that meal. I only take TMG once before breakfast. I can’t imagine then taking a bentaine HCL in addition to it during meaL?

    • Hi Amy – digestive enzymes and HCL can both be taken to support digestion during a meal. You can take the HCl a few minutes before the meal to prep the stomach and then take the enzyme closer to the first bite of food. I’m not totally sure about the TMG prouct, as you’ll need to consult with your physician on when/how to take that. I don’t know of any contraindications with HCL or enzymes, but we’re unable to answer medical questions of that nature. We recommend taking the HCL with 15-20 grams of animal protein. you should need less with plant based proteins.

    • Hi Alice – it could just mean you haven’t reached your max dose yet. If you haven’t felt an uncomfortable warmth in the abdomen are and your sympotms haven’t improved, you can continue to increase the dose until that happens.

  9. Deborah Huffman says:

    Hi Lori, I want to thank you for taking time for each of us. I have been very sick for about 4 months now, SIBO positive. I have not been able to eat anything without almost immediate reactions…experiencing all over internal tremors, a shakiness that won’t go away rather eating or not, and body aches. I found an article linking SIBO to low HCl. I decided to buy some, 250mgl. I took my first dose last night along with 3 papaya enzymes. I woke up this morning for the first time in months feeling normal in comparison. Prior to symptoms I was eating a high sulfur/acidic diet and taking lots of aspirin. I have confusion about how eating a high acidic diet doesn’t fix the low stomach acid problem. I think I’m on to something fixing my gut problems with HCl, but I think I may need higher doses after years of stress, induced vomiting, and tons of antibiotics and poor food? I appreciate any feedback or encouragment you can offer <3 -Deborah

  10. Hi
    I take 4×650 mg betaine hcl with gentian root before meal and sometimes one pill of Dr Best digestive enzymes some time after meal. This treatment helped me a lot during last year.
    However, recently I observe much more belching, directly after meal but also between meals, especially when I stand up. Should I worry?

    • HI Kris – you may not be at your max dose, which is where HCl is really effective. WE recommend increasing the amount your taking by 1 capsule (w protein meals of 15-20 grams only) – and also make sure it has pepsin in it – until you feel discomfort or burning sensation. You can see if reaching your max dose helps with the burping and then go from there.

  11. Hello! Looking for some support around HCL supplementation. I started the test Nov 27 and got up to 15 pills and still never felt the go distress – heavy stomach and burning around the belly button. I didn’t think that seemed right and I was experiencing pretty strong indigestion in my chest and throat. So I backed down until I wasn’t experiencing those symptoms anymore and am currently at 7 pills. I am confused about what I should/should not be experiencing. When you talk about the other symptoms do you mean to use those as a guide just like the brinkng belly button sensation? I am currently belching after eating and am not sure if that is an indicator that I should be taking more pills or if I should step down. How long does the process take? Also I am currently treating SIBO-D. My hands are on fire and inflamed with eczema. They are worse than usual and wondering if that could be a side effect of HCL supplementation? Thanks!

    • Hi Britany – there are a few ways you can tell if you’re at the right dose. Bowel movement, gas, bloating and the burning sensation talked about in the article. What we’d recommend is that you keep your diet the exact same for 3 days, go back down to 5 pills and start from there. Make a journal of all your symptoms and what happens when you take 5, 6, etc. Keep your supplement intake the same as well so the only variable changing is the HCL. This will give you abetter idea of what is going on. It’s hard to say how long it will take for your stomach to normalize, but taking the HCL should help. Also note how the eczema does when the HCl dose changes. I know it can be frustrating…hang in there!

  12. here is what he had sent me “Dr Nigel Plummer has done outstanding research on HCL needs in hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria patients. In hypochlorhydric patients around 600-1200 mg of HCL is needed per meal. That’s what a human would make if they had a normal HCL production. For achlorhydric patients they need around 2200mg per meal. He has done the measurements of HCL formation and how low patients truly are in hypo/achlorhydria and uncovered the science showing what it takes for supplementation”

  13. My naturopath told me not to go over 2200mg because thats the maximum someone with achlorhydia would need. I was very curious about where he was getting his information because every other source I found was similar to what you guys said in this post. He told me he got his information from a Dr. Nigel Plummer and that he had done quite accurate/well done testing to come to those numbers. I have been looking and looking for anything about this but can’t seem to find any information on it. I was wondering if you guys had heard/seen anything from Dr Plummer about this?


    • Hi Jeremie – I can’t say we have but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t well researched. Often times, the reasoning behind going over that amount is to stimulate the stomach to actually start producing the right amount. A similar example is that of D3. If someone is deficient, they’re going to need well over the desired level to actually come out of the deficiency. Also, we often go by symptoms….if your symptoms are not improving on 1,000 mg then we suggest going up until you feel that burn and symptoms are improving. Hope that helps!

  14. Hi

    I have had stomach problems for 21 + months. Hair loss and thinning hair for same length of time. Hair everywhere on body is thinning and shedding
    A month ago finally diagnosed with h pylori. Received treatment so far burbig pain im proved. I burp a few minutes after eating. Can i take the tablets so soon after h pylori. Burning pain from it was wnough to send me to emergency room. Would this be the cause of my thinnig hair. ? i want to just die over this hair loss. Wish my life would just end. 21 months of torture miserable life not worth living if it cannot be fixed and stopped. It is abnormal shedding and thinnin. 65 percent of hair gone. Remaining hair thinned way down. Can i take the tablets to increase stomah acid
    There is some undigestes food in bowel movements

    • Hello Judith – sorry you’re feeling so down. It’s likely you have low stomach acid, as the acid is what helps us to break down and utilize protein which is what’s needed for healthy hair. First we’d recommend a protocol to get rid of the H. Pylori ( you can find that here: If you’ve already tried the HCL supplements and had extreme pain, you may have some gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and aren’t ready for HCL yet. In this case, you’ll need to let the stomach heal and we’d suggest you try sweedish bitters, DGL (licorice) and baking soda can help. Hope that helps!

      • I tested myself with baking soda. I didnt burp at all. I had my protein levels tested they said it came back fine. 68gl range 63 – 83.

        This made me think protein absorption isnt the problem. Every part of my body where hair grows the hair follicles thin and fall out in high numbers.

        I am devastated by it. My life hasnt been a life anyone would want for 2 years

  15. Hi,
    taking betaine is it normal a blazing feeling at the top of the stomach after the digestion? My tongue burns a little too. I don’t feel heartburn or any other reflux symptom.

  16. My soon to be 14 year old daughter came home after school one day in May and said she was getting stomach aches after drinking milk. So I put her on lactose free milk and things got a bit better for a while and she was avoiding all lactose containing foods. We took her to the MD and he recommended Pepcid and a visit to a GI. The GI put her on Prilosec short term and did an upper endoscopy which came back negative. We also had blood work for crohns and all was ok. Stomach pain still getting worse after eating. No other symptoms such as bloating, burping or gas just epigastric pain . Took her to an allergist where everything came back negative (dairy, wheat, beef,chicken, corn, soy) Stomach pain never goes away but does get worse after eating especially protein foods. could this be a low stomach acid issue? Any recommendations on how to approach this for a 14 year old would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda – yes testing her HCL levels would be a great place to start. And even though those test said she is not allergic to dairy and wheat, she can still be intolerant to them and likely is. We’d recommend, at minimum, eliminating all grain, sugar and dairy from her diet as well as testing the HCl levels and see how she does.

      • We did the baking soda “burp” test this morning and it took her 5 minutes and 40 seconds to burp. We will do this “ experiment” again for 2 more mornings if the findings are consistent should I start her on some HCl? Should I also try some digestive enzymes? Will she ever be able to eat wheat and dairy again? Thanks for your help.

        • Hi Amanda – that’s a tough question and one that depends on a few things. in the big picture, these items are inflammatory and generally not good for the gut. So you can see how simply returning to consuming them whenver she wants will most likely only lead to the same issues. It’s a delicate balance and in general we say no, these foods shouldn’t be consumed. However, you/she can choose to customize the diet that fits her needs.

    • Hi, have you checked for a gluten problem? You might want to check out Entero Read the essay there. A blood test won’t answer the question but their stool test will. It changed my daughter’s life. The cost was about $130 and it was so easy to do from home. Take care

  17. Hello,
    Do you know How much mg should I minimally increase to make a difference in digestion process? I take 300mg and I usually feel fine with that. Only sometimes in heavier meels I feel some heaviness at the beggining of the meal.
    From 300mg to 350mg would be enough or it should be higher?
    Thanks again.

  18. Hi! Thank you for this great post. A doctor told me to take Omeprazole to heal GERD, H. Pylori and hiatal hernia what was a big mistake because now I see I have low acid levels. I took it for several years what just masked the symptoms.
    Two weeks ago I started with HCL 300mg and I noticed what you said in step 3. Initially some burning feeling and now the heaviness at the bottom of the stomach. Do you think I’m on the right path? Do you think someday I will eat without having to take HCL?
    Thanks in advance!

  19. hi there,

    i bought your course about acid in the stomach and really saved my life. I am now in the last stage and am taking betaine. WHat I wanted to ask is if im taking phosphatidyl choline can i take betaine. I mean can I take them both at the same time or is it not good. i really recommend your transcript. YO uare geniuses. YOu saved my life. thks again.


    • Hi Jessye – we do recommend it if possible, as pepsin helps to break down protein more efficiently. I’m not sure exactly what role the fenugreek plays there, but it could be worth a try…and then get a bottle with pepsin when that runs out.

  20. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the info!
    So I just purchased betaine hcl/pepsin from Lamberts. It is a low dosis of 325mg betaine and 5mg pepsin. Really hope this will work!

    Do you actaully recommend using betaine hcl with pepsin or?

    Greetings Sara

  21. Thanks for a great article – it has been very helpful. I have been suffering with acid reflux for the past 6 months. I always thought that this was due to my stomach being too acidic however, the more I read the more I am sure that my stomach in actual fact does not produce enough acid (will do the home test today with bicarbonate soda). The doctor prescribed me ppi’s which I took for a month and then stopped due to reading the adverse effects of this medication. I tried apple cider vinager but found it quite harsh in the throat so stopped. My weight has dropped from 48kg to 45kg which was quite upsetting as I did not want to lose weight. I am always tired and out of breath, I guess due to my food not digesting properly the nutrients from my food intake are not absorbing in my body.

    I have recently started to take papaya digestive enzymes. I have not yet felt the full effects of this but hopefully over time I will see a difference.

    I also bought calcium citrate as I read that this will help digest nutrients from food more effectively.

    Along with the above, I bought the hcl capsules. Can you please advise if I can open the capsules and take these with yogurt as I have a hard time swallowing any size tablets.

    Thank you and I really look forward to your reply.

    • Hi Arijana – we don’t recommend that as the capsule will protect the tissue (throat, tongue, etc) that is NOT meant to come into contact with the this acidic substance. You could try purchasing a lower dose and perhaps the capsules will be smaller.

  22. Hey,

    I wanted to leave my experience supplementing with HCL. Hopefully it helps someone.

    When I Began using HCL I slowly worked my way up to six pills. I got burning in my stomach and thought I was at my dosage. I then took 5 pills and began to have burning. So I took 4 pills and got burning. This continued all the way down to 1 pill and burning. So I think “well, this is good my stomach must be making enough acid now” but all my symptoms returned.

    Well, long story short I discovered the fish oil supplements were causing what I call a false positive. I removed the fish oil and am currently taking 10 now pills with no burning.

    So I guess the moral of the story is to look out for false positives. Something in your diet that when combined with acid may cause that burning and make you think you have reached your dosage. I thought I was doing right as far as my diet but failed to consider that my other supplements may interfere.

    Hope this helps someone.

  23. Good morning!
    I’m doing my research into alternative healing and found this post. I’m thinking of taking HCL but not sure yet.
    I was diagnosed with GERD, gastritis and having a hiatal hernia a couple months ago. These issues came about from being prescribed too many antibiotics and told to take ibuprofen at least 4x a day.

    I was prescribed Protonix 2x a day for next 2 months
    Ive already incorporated a better diet plan, but I don’t eat much meat. When I do, I eat chicken or Ground turkey. I don’t need to lose weight, I don’t smoke or drink.

    I’m open to your opinion and insight. I do not want a band-aid fix (taking PPI’s) for my issues.

  24. I am taking Betaine HCl with pepsin, one capsule before meals with protein. The pills are 1.04 grams of HCl for 2 capsules and 208 mg of Pepsin. Started taking them on June 7th and today is June 13. Since starting them I am really bloated, more so than usual and it has affected my stools, they are more loose. The last couple of days I have noticed a small burning sensation after eating, but then it goes away after a while. I was thinking from reading your articles that maybe my stomach acid wasn’t very low. I have had Acid reflux in the past, but that is under control now.

  25. Hello-

    I’m 27 and I’ve had chronic digestion problems my whole life. 6 months ago I tested positive for SIBO. Was prescribed Rifaximin and Neomycin and that (seemingly) eradicated all my problems. The catch is that the relief only lasted a few days. I’ve since been supplementing with HCL and have reached 16 pills (10,368mg) with no burning sensation but a huge amount of relief. I’ve read this whole thread and have seen where you guys recommend stopping at 15 pills. Just curious about your thoughts. I’m considering another round of antibiotics (since they helped so much) and immediately following that up with HCL supplementation (and digestive enzymes, probiotics, etc.) Anyways, I really do appreciate the article and all of the replies.


  26. Hi! I am trying this with Thorne product and up to 6 pills. I haven’t had burning or anything like #3 but I did suddenly get constipated which is a common problem for me. But I did also try changing my diet (dumb!). Is constipation a #3???

  27. Hi, I just logged on here for the first time, so excuse me if my questions have already been answered, there was a lot to read through and I might have missed something.

    1. I’d like to try Betaine-HCL with meals, based on all the great reviews. I’ve already been taking one teaspoon of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) before meals. Is it generally OK to take both at the same meal?

    2. How do I take a test to measure my stomach acid level? What’s it called?
    Do you have a link?

    Thank you!

      • thanks, still need clarification after your reply.
        1. I want to take ACV before my meals, and am wondering if it’s OK to also take Betaine HCL at the same meal?
        2. In previous posts, it seems that the workshop leaders were referring to an actual external test one could take (perhaps a lab test) to determine the amount of HCL the body is producing, and whether there is need for supplementation. Is there such a test, and if so, what is it?

        • Hi Barbara – I believe you should consider taking one or the other, but not both ACV and HCl at the same time.

          Doctors can perform the heidelberg capsule test to determine the actual level/ph of HCL and you can consult with your physician about getting this done.

  28. “Start by taking 1 pill (650mg or less) of Betaine HCL during the beginning of the meal.”

    Would this be, taking pills before your first bite of food? Or would this be, taking the pills after a bite of food?


  29. Hi,
    I was diagnosed with sibo, and test myself for low stomac acid with betaine HCL with pepsin
    I am now using 3-4 pils with meal.. it helped me with digestion significant.
    My question is when i use 4 pils i have like dry throat, like I’am gonna get throath inflammation but I dont get burning or hotnes.. should i try 5 pils?
    And sould i use them when i drink my egg protein shake after workout?
    I use 2 pils for my first meal.. gluten free instant oats 1 banana litle L-glutamin and one scope of egg protein with lactose free milk.. are 2 pils ok for that
    I just dont know if i should use them with every protein meal or just for meet meals?
    And I’am using origano oil and grapefruit seed extract for sibo.. is that ok with betaine HCL?

      • So even gluten free oats and lactose free milk are not ok?
        What about egg protein shake after my workout? Do i have to take betaine hcl with that to?

        I tried 5 pils and again only throath even more this time.. bit not burning or hotnes

        • HI Kiki – no grain or dairy is allowed (except SCD legal homemade yogurt). I’m not sure what is in your protein shake but do check the ingredients for added sugar, dairy, soy, etc. WE recommend taking HCl with 15-20 g of protein.

          • Hi.. i try 7pils i cant get that burning feeling in stomach. But i relise if i use more then 3 pils i get like throat inflammation feeling.. like very dry and hot throat, even with high protein meal i try 4 pils and had that throat problem

          • Never mind..
            Now i am getting realy bad feeling in my stomac and if i eath something or drink water it goes away.. so i back up on 2 pils now with every protein meal.
            My question
            Is my acid level getting back? Because at first i had to take more then 4-5 pils and i dont take them long.. now its about 3 weeks since i begin taking betaine HCL

          • Hi Kiki – the goal of taking the HCl is to stimulate your body to start producing the right amount of acid on it’s own. So back off by 1 pill if you feel that signature burn. It’s great that you’re needing less and less;)

          • Well now i realy dont know what to do.
            I am getting heavy discomfort in my stomac ( around belly button and above it) and if i dont use HCL at all i get bad digestion, gases and lose stool
            I use twinlab betaine hcl with pepsin.

            Is it posible i did some damage to my stomac??
            Should i completely stop using HCL or just use 1 tbl??

  30. Hi,
    I was diagnosed with sibo, and test myself for low stomac acid with betaine HCL with pepsin
    I am now using 3-4 pils with meal.. it helped me with digestion significant.
    My question is when i use 4 pils i have like dry throat, like I’am gonna get throath inflammation but I dont get burning or hotnes.. should i try 5 pils?
    And sould i use them when i drink my egg protein shake after workout?
    I use 2 pils for my first meal.. gluten free instant oats 1 banana litle L-glutamin and one scope of egg protein with lactose free milk.. are 2 pils ok for that
    I just dont know if i should use them with every protein meal or just for meet meals?

  31. Hello,
    I have been having severe indigestion for months that has caused shortness of breath. I started taking Betaine HCL a few days ago and noticed a change (about 2 pills) after my meals. I felt much better than normal after my meal and experienced no burning. I noticed for the past two days that about 3 hours after taking it, I get bad heartburn and regurgitate my food (has that acidic taste yuck!). Does this mean my dose is too high? Help!

  32. I bought the solving leaky gut program, and have been taking the tough case and the GI supplements for 6 weeks now, it has been a while since I went through all the material… Is low stomach acid also being treated with the program? I am wondering if I should test for low stomach acid, because I still have low energy. I will also take the adrenal fatigue supplements soon, I guess that will help with my energy level, my hormones are out of balance. I don’t have any bloating or acid reflux though, but as low stomach acid is such a common issue, i thought it might be part of the leaky gut program, and maybe i won’t need additional supplements besides the many that i already take xD

  33. I suffered from heartburn for some unknown reason for quite sometime. It disappeared mysteriously for sometime and then returned with a vengeance. The heartburn turned into gastritis. I got tested for h-pylori and it turned out positive. I took the antibiotics (which practically killed me) and the tests came back negative. However, I still suffer from mild gastritis and killer heartburn. Is HCL right for me?

  34. Hi! I Hope I get a reply to this question. I think I am reacting to the “vegetable cellulose” capsules. And being that we have to take so many, with the SIBO that just too much of that “indigestable fiber” for me to handle. I know that’s what it is because I am doing a MEAT ONLY diet. I have animal protien and up to 6-10 pills of the Thornes. I know that they can’t be opened and in order to get the HCL into the stomach is needs a safe carrier to get it down the espophagus. I saw a few others who has asked about a liquid form of HCL that is more concentrated. After all if I could get an 8-pill dosage in perhaps two capsules, then MAYBE my reaction to the cellulose would not be so bad. I’d like to know if you guys have ever seen this problem in your practice and if you have any suggestions for a non-pill form of HCL. I’m actually thinking of slicing my meat paper thin- and just dumping a bunch of HCL pills in it and swallowing. There are so many conundrums with the gut, but I am determined like everyone else on this forum to find an answer and make it work, even if that means thinking out of the box– sometimes we have to get creative, and not be afriad to ask questions. And keep asking until we find answers. I just want to say God Bless Jordan and Steve and the SCD Staff and all the people on this forum who suffer. Keep that Spirit of “not giving up” alive! Thank you! 🙂

  35. Is it possible that after taking these for awhile the body can begin to rebuild and then not need as many? I started October 2016 and had to take the hcl by the handful at every meal. Then lately i get very trembly all over and have to be dashing to empty the bowel tract if I take just 3-4 with a meal. Maybe needing to taper off?

      • Thank you. I took your advice and tapered them off. Over the last several days I’ve not had any. I continue to be able to eat full meals and snacks without needing anymore, even tho a few months back I needed 7-8 per meal even without protein. So now, if I don’t eat between dinner and bedtime, I start shaking and having a lot of symptoms of hypoglycemia, which resolves as soon as I drink and eat. So bizarre! Am curious to know if you think it’s possible that the HCL levels have been rebuilt enough that now food is really moving thru at a more rapid rate than before?? Thanks….this site and input is super helpful!

        • HI Tanya – it’s hard to say. HCL does help to break down protein, so I guess in theory it’s possible that the whole process is happening a bit quicker. We suggest just going by how you feel! IF you feel better taking less, than stick with that.

  36. One more question,

    I follow the Blood type diet and I am a B blood type. I cannot take Pork on the Blood type diet. HCI usually is paired with Pepsin. Is pork the only source of pepsin? I have a heard that HCI works better when paired with pepsin. What should I do.

    • HI Laura – we do suggest HCL that contains pepsin but if this is something you can’t do then you can go with out. I am not aware of any non porcine versions but you could do a quick search to see if there is a product out there.

  37. If I take one betaine HCL, one tablet with 648 HCL with an animal protein, say, .25 lb beef or lamb and I become hungry shortly after eating, sooner than I would normally get hungry without taking the HCL, could that be because the HCL quickly digested the protein, and I am no longer “full”. I have noticed this happening with frequency. I do not feel a burning or sensation in my stomach, so I know the HCL was not too strong. If so, I assume this means I really don’t need the HCL for that specific meal and quantity.

    • HI Laura – it’s hard to say why that occurs. As far as taking the HCL goes, we’d recommend going by your symptoms. If they are improved with HCL, then continue finding your optimal dose (stop when you feel the burn and one less than that is optimal). You can also stop it completely and gauge how you feel then, as this will be the most effective way to find out.

  38. Okay I started this, and already one pill helped me greatly. I can’t even believe how much.

    But I had a pituitary tumor and am on daily steroids and will be for life. Now I’m afraid to continue, but I know I need Betaine HCL and Pepsin.

    Can anyone give me any insight here? Is there really big risk? Is there something else that is as effective? Are all steroids “cortico”steroids?

  39. I have SIBO and get a LOT of belching after meals and Reflux. I have started HCL and am up to 2 capsules with protein meals. How do I tell the difference between my existing symptoms and the symptoms of too much HCL? I’ve still got masses of gas pretty much all the time and some heart burn. The gas feels worse than it was before. I don’t feel like my stomach is on fire though. Thanks!

  40. I have low stomach acid – I also have a bacterial overgrowth of klebsiella that I have been trying to eradicate for over a year. I have come a long way but still feel it’s in overgrowth. Can’t afford another stool test right now. But I can tell symptoms wide that my bad gut still remains.
    I am mostly plant based vegetarian cause meat is fermenting in my gut and I have lost the taste for it – only to realize this is a symptom of low stomach acid. Along with a few other symptoms I have.
    I haven’t had meat in months and don’t care for it at the moment. But I read I should be still taking hcl with meals.
    Is this true?
    Anyway I started hcl a few days ago and my stomach is so bloated and I have gained three lbs in less then five days. Why is this? My diet caloric intake is same.
    Is it possible the hcl is killing off bad bacteria ? And in turn causing this odd looking bloat. Can hcl cause bloat and weight gain?
    Also I have no burning when I take hcl at all.

    • HI Tany – the HCL will not directly kill the gut infection, but rather provide an acidic environment that is able to ward off such infections by taking away that alkaline environment bacteria love to thrive in.

      We do recommend HCL with at least 15-20 g of protein. IF you’re not eating meat at all, you could try HCL with out the pepsin but again the steps in the article are for those who are eating animal protein.

      There are other ways to increase your stomach acid – and using Apple cider vinegar is one of them so that may be an option for you. Make sure you’re taking digestive enzymes as well.

  41. Hello guys! I am currently taking two capsules (about 1,2g) betaine hcl -one during, one after meals. I am still bloated and I have now bought digestive enzymes (multi-komplex)- does it make sense to use them as well, and when, before or at the same time as betaine hcl?
    also is it safe to take betaine hcl over several weeks?
    thanks so much from austria! 🙂

  42. Hi I suffer from chronic gastritis, gerd and a hiatal hernia. I took hcl with pepsin which had 650mg hcl and 31.5mg pepsin for two days. And it made my stomach so much worse. I had burning myself in the pit of my stomach and nausea and pain. What I would like to know is would it help to try taking a smaller dose then that? Or would it affect the gastritis the hcl and that’s why my symptoms were much worse? Am I still able to take hcl with my conditions? By the way I’m on ppi’s and have been on them for 5 years. Could I still take the hcl and my ppi’s? My acid reflux is so severe that it aspirated into my long causing aspiration pneumonia. I was want to feel normal for once and stop struggling everyday. I have no appetite to eat and I’m really underweight. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

  43. Started betaine hcl 4 days ago and felt mutch better for the first day.(before I couldnt live a day without ppi).But still had some very mild heartburn and some belching. With every meal I uppered my dose up to 6 pills with high protein meals and its seemed that my heartbur got even worse as I uppered dose .I tried a few meals without betaine hcl and i felt better than taking it.How to understand it?How to know the right dose if I still have some hearthbur after every meal no matter i take or dont take betaine hcl. Im a bit afraid to do very high dose becouse I’m only 18 year old and dont think i couls have so low stomatch acid at this age. Btw I’m suffering from acid reflux about 4 year.

    • HI Marco, thanks for reaching out! It’s important to up the dose by 1 pill with high protein meals ONLY – not every single meal you eat. I’d go back to trying 1 pill and slowly increase it as noted in the article. If you feel a burn with 4 pills, then back off by 1 to find the right dose. It’s a process that can’t be rushed and it just takes some time to figure out that sweet spot.

  44. I have been taking betaine HCL and slowly increasing. However if I experience a headache, excedrin or ibuprofen is the only thing that helps, Tylenol is not effective. Will it be a problem if I take 2 excedrin one time for a headache if taking the betaine? Thanks!

    • Hi Karlene, thanks for reaching out! In general, we don’t recommend doing this because where do you draw the line? If you were to have one headache a year or something minimal like that, it may not be an issue but my guess is they occur more frequently – so how many times is too many? I hope you see my point there:) I’d be curious as to why you’re having these headaches in the first place, as getting to the root of it would be our first goal. You could try natural pain relievers like curaphen, essential oils like peppermint and/or physical and massage therapy to see if it’s structural.

    • Hi Max, great question. The amount of HCL you’ll need depends upon each person’s current HCL production. The fact that you do need more HCL with higher protein meals is very relative. For example “more” to one person may mean try up to 5 where “more” to another may mean 15 pills. Thus, I’m not sure that type of chart would help you much.

  45. Hi Mariel

    Thanks for answer.

    I’ve just started with the HCL after eradication of H.Pylori, and whith a positive indican (+2) and 57 yrs old. I was convince that I could take at least a million in the beginning. I really haven’t had any symptoms during or after meals at any time. So it’s not easy if they (the symptoms that are not existing) are relieved, but due to not converting proteins I’m malnourished and am so much looking forward to start getting nourished by my meals.

  46. Hi!

    I’ve just started on HCL. I can take 4 which make a lot of rumbling and a burp or two. When I read your comments it’s sounds as if it’s to little HCL. If I take 5 or 6 a warming sensation in my whole body starts not only in the stomach. I assume that 4 is the correct number then eventhoug it rumbles and I burp a couple of times?

  47. Vanessa Webster says:

    Hi, I’ve been reading your website with interest for a number of months now. I determined I have low stomach acid (I have hypothyroidism and coeliac disease) and I started taking Betaine HCl a while back. I have been introducing it slowly to try and determine my correct dosage, but I’m now up to 10 capsules of 650mg each per meal with still no heartburn feeling (at all), and my symptoms are still not resolved (burping, flatulence, constipation with undigested food etc). I haven’t gone beyond 10 capsules because not only is it becoming unmanageable with every meal (and spoiling my meals quite frankly), but I’m also having to consume a lot of liquid to swallow all those capsules (which must be diluting it all and defeating the purpose?!) and also it’s becoming unaffordable. I don’t know if this stuff is cheaper in the US but here in the UK it’s equivalent to about $15 for a bottle of 120 capsules. I’m taking 30 a day so do the math.

    I’m not sure where to take it from here. Do I keep increasing the dose seeing as I have no relief from my symptoms?! I also take DGL to help, but still no difference. I did a 60 day course with glutamine, 40g a day, which I tolerated really well, but I’m not sure it’s helped the overall problem. Any suggestions would be very welcome. Many thanks.

  48. hello,
    I am Sofie from Belgium and i’m suffering from digestive issues all my life. I am also underweight (45 kilo for 167 cm) . I’ve read many of your articles and they are very clear and well explained. I have alle the symptoms of low stomac acid, also have problems with gas, constipation, bloating, belly pains, nausea, …. i eat gluten, dairy and soy free for four years now and that has stopped the excessive weight loss, and the horrible diarrhea. But stil I don’t feel great. I’ve recently started with the fodmap diet and that diet seems to bring great relief (less pain, less bloating, more energy) but certainly not all my issues are gone. Is it wise to start Hcl supplementation, probiotics and digestive enzymes? Should I start them apart from each other or all the things together? Or is that too much? I’m sorry t ask you alle these questions, but it is very very hard to find a doctor or therapist in Belgium that will actually be open for any type of diet and supplementation and give you wise advice and support. Usually they laugh with it and say there is ‘no scientific proof’ for any kind of diet . But I really feel that food is a very important trigger for me and that I can’t tolerate lots of foods. Thank you very much for reading this post. Sorry for the bad english.

  49. Hello!

    I have been taking Betaine HCL with Pepsin for a while now, but at a low dose (2 700mg caps/meal). I don’t normally getting a burning sensation with meals, but it does come around an hour after eating or so, continuing for a couple hours at times. I recently upped to 4 caps with a meal this evening and experienced the same thing – no burning during the meal, but sure enough, about an hour later. Do you think this could be caused by a lack of stomach acid, causing incomplete digestion? And would you recommend going higher with the HCL? Does the burning and other sensations usually happen during eating, right after taking HCL?

    Thanks a bunch!

  50. Christer Aastrand says:


    I just started taking Betaine HCL 3 days ago (648 mg from Now Foods). Strangely almost every time I get a heartburn from the pills. I’ve tried taking just one pill both before or after the meal to see if there’s any difference, but doesn’t seem to matter for me. From what I can understand Betaine HCL should PREVENT heartburn and not cause them; any hints here?

    Chris, Norway

  51. I’m mystified. Lemon juice and HCL with pepsin (even one quarter of a capsule: about 125 mg HCL and 11 mg pepsin) makes GERD symptoms worse. Baking soda test showed with zero burping. Apple cider vinegar with or without honey brings relief. Hum. Do I have too much or too little stomach acid? Any thoughts?

    • Hey Jon – unfortunately no at-home test can tell you definitively if you have high or low stomach acid. Many people who react to very low amounts of HCL actually have an ulcer or gastritis. We suggest trying to heal your gastritis by drinking bone broth twice a day and using a DGL supplement for 2 weeks – then try HCL again.

      I hope this helps!

  52. Hi!
    Thanks for your work and research. I have supplemented with Betaine HCL before without many noticeable results, good or bad. However, I recently ran out of a supplement containing a fairly small amount of Betaine and Pepsin and began getting clear symptoms of low stomach acid again, so I bought more Betaine and Pepsin. I took three capsules the first meal, expecting no trouble since I had taken two in the past with no adverse effects. My low stomach acid symptoms seemed to leave. However, the Betaine and Pepsin triggered silent reflux symptoms— lump in the throat, food coming back up, ear pressure, etc.– that have lasted even after stopping the Betaine and Pepsin. If I have ever had these symptoms before, they were subtle. Have you ever seen this before? Do you think I caused permanent damage? How can I restore low stomach acid if acidic things are making my throat act up?
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Carrie – thanks for reaching out!

      First, no we don’t think you caused permanent damage. The stomach is designed to withstand very high amounts of acid.

      Did you buy more of the same supplement you were using before or a different Betaine HCL? If you were using a blended product before like NOW Super Enzymes you could possibly be missing the other digestive enzymes that product provided or have just taken too much HCL. The amount of Betaine HCL we need to supplement with can vary day to day and based on meal. Some proteins may be easier for you to digest and require less Betaine HCL.

      Some alternatives to try aside form HCL are a shot of lemon juice or ACV before meals, digestive bitters, or digestive enzymes.

      If you’re still experiencing a sore throat or pressure in your ear we recommend you go see your doctor, as it is possible these could be symptoms of something else, as well

  53. Hi all!

    Just want to know if it’s normal to take 11 pills during a meal? I don’t feel any burning sensation or maybe I misguided in what to look for … Just seems like a lot of pills!

    • Hey Mathias – great question. We think an average dose is 5-6 (650 mg) pills. Since thats the average, it means some people use a lot less and some people use a lot more. Some people do need 10 or more pills per meal. However – it is important to remember that not everyone gets the “burning feeling” to tell them they’ve taken too much HCL. Since you’re not feeling the burning feeling, you need to pay attention to your other symptoms like cramping, bloating, gas, undigested food in stool, etc. If you have the same improvements at 9 pills as you do at 11 (even with no burning) you can just use 9 (or 3 or 5 or whatever number works). You want to take the smallest dose possible that gives you symptom relief.

      I hope this helps!

  54. Hi- It seems I have had stomach issues always. I am now 54 years old and it seems to be getting worse. Recently, I have started having discomfort in my right side just under my ribs. I had steak for lunch yesterday and am still paying for it today. It feels like I have a heaviness in my stomach and that it is just not digesting. Do you think the discomfort in my side could be a symptom of low acid?

  55. Hello- first I have to say THANK YOU! I took omeprazole for 13 years and was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue, fibro and depression on top of hypothyroidism (I have no thyroid). I began realizing that not having stomach acid for that long was insane, but all doctors told me not to worry about it, and had no options for treating my life altering fatigue. I finally took myself off omeprazole (no easy task!) gradually. I went from taking 40 mg omeprazole daily, down to 20 mg ranitadine daily, with extra Tums or baking soda to help. I want off all the acid meds, and want my stomach to learn to work again! I have been taking hcl with pepsin for 5 days, without a doctors help. I am not at an optimal dose yet. It works magically all day but I need to pop a Tums or ranitadine at about 6pm. Is this due to doseage all day? How do I manage during this trial period? Also one more question: I understand that you do t absorb vitamins with no stomach acid… How about my thyroid medication? I take a natural dessicated version rather than the typical synthetic replacement. When I take the hcl, is my body absorbing the thyroid meds better? Oh, I lied… I also need to know how people manage headache pain while on hcl. I stopped all excedrin and advil. Thanks so much! This feels lke a lifesaver and Ive only been on it a few days! -Teresa

    • Hi Teresa!

      Thanks so much for reaching out and congrats on your new approach to health 🙂

      I really recommend you take a look at our program just for heartburn and GERD:

      For teaches, we recommend you try essential oils – they can really help. Here’s one we like:

      We can’t know if you’re better absorbing your medications due to the HCL – that is a difficult question to answer and would likely depend on how the medication is delivered (in a pill, capsule, etc.) We encourage to to keep your doctor informed about all these changes and never change or stop any medications without talking to he/she first.

  56. Hi Mariel and Steve,
    I have a low stomach acid and i have started taking HCI with pepsin for 1 month. Could you tell me that when i can stop using then HCI supplement? How do i know it?


    • Hi Bat – most people find that the longer they use HCL the less they need but there is no definite time frame. If you get the burning feeling in your stomach, that is a good sign it is time to lower your dose. Average time we see people use HCL is around 6 months. If you’re not making any progress with lowering your dose of HCL even after several months, you may have a larger root cause of low stomach acid that needs to be addressed!

  57. Hello Steve,
    Can you tell me how I can find a dr to oversee use of the HCL? I am thinking I may be in the group that has a thinned stomach lining. I have suffered with these issues all my life and the last 2 years have been severe. I always explain that it feels like my food is literally rotting in my stomach and my stomach never feels empty even if I skip meals or do not eat for many hours. Any advice or help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I have been to numerous Drs and have had every test that the average dr gives with no real diagnosis other than hypothyroid. And in the last two years I have had unexplained weight gain even when I was on an elimination diet for food intolerances. Thank you.

  58. Hi Mariel,
    Thank you so much for your reply and for the link to those great articles.

    Just to clarify – is the average 5-7 650 mg pills per day or per (protein filled) meal?

    Thanks again for everything!

    • Hey Lauren – some people need 5-6 pills per meal. We don’t recommend taking any HCL unless what you’re eating contains at least 15 grams of protein though.

      HCL is really a supplement that requires tweaking based on what you’re eating and how you’re feeling that day. Typically, the longer you’re using it the less you need, too – so don’t think that just because 6 pills works for you today it will next week too! You have to keep playing with it 🙂

      Good luck!

  59. Hi there,
    Thanks for the great post! I’m trying to treat a host of health issues, including candida, hashimoto’s and possibly lyme. I just started on Thorne Betaine Hcl capsules (520mg Hcl and 23.5mg Pepsin each). I’m slowly increasing my dose and so far have not experienced the stomach warmth/ burning at all. I have however been experiencing more belching and acid reflux than usual. Could this be part of the healing process? And is there a maximum amount of capsules that should be taken per day?

    Many thanks,

  60. Hi there
    Thank you for all of this information, it has been most useful!
    I suffer from severe belching and I just purchased digestion plus which has betaine hcl 650 mg combined with pepsin 31.5 mg and Gentain at 20 mg.
    Is this good enough, can you recommend anything else that could help with this belching I have…which has also caused many other issues such as intestinal inflammation.
    Thanks again, looking forward to more info!

  61. I have Barrett’s Esophagitis and my doctor says that I’ll be on PPI’s the rest of my life. I don’t agree and feel God made our bodies to heal if we give it what it needs. That being said I have got to get the heart burn handled. I started taking Dr. Clarks HCL only because I recognized the name because I take his Iodine. I’m just now reading about the pepsin, will do that on the next bottle. I am having heart burn at night. My question is– Can I take HCL on an empty stomach or should I take more at my last meal? I can usually get rid of the heart burn with a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

  62. Hi guys great article on hcl supplementation. I was a long time ppi user for over 6 years until I stopped last year as I noticed I was needing higher and higher doses to control my problems. After initial rebound I’m now nearly completely heartburn free. The problem I have now is my abortion of vits and minerals is very low and my my digestion is poor. I found and started taking thorne research bio-gest enzymes a while back and they work a little. Ive noticed tge bio-gest already has skme hcl with peosin in it (around 250mg). My question is can I take the hcl with pepsin along with the bio-gest pills or do you recommend a different enzyme supplement?

  63. Hi,

    I stopped taking omeprazole only a few days ago. I started supplementing with HCl. I purchased Country Life Betaine HCl with Pepsin. Each pill has 600mg. I have been taking 2 with each meal and am getting heart burn. I know this sounds dumb but how do I know if the HCL Is causing the heartburn or if it’s low acid? I read that if it’s causing heart burn I should stop taking it but I knew that I would have heartburn without the omeprazole. I have taken the omeprazole for over 4 years. I started taking the birth control pill and then my doctor prescribed an anti depressant. The anti depressant caused the GERD. I have stopped taking all the other pills but can’t seem to stop the acid reducer. I see where most people are taking quite a bit more than the 1200mg I am taking. Do I need to keep upping the dose? Oh and i also had to have my gall bladder removed a couple years which I believe is probably a result of the pill, anti depressant, and acid reducer. Sorry that’s so long I am not sure what to do from here.

  64. Riya Bharadwaj says:

    Hello Steve,

    I’m 31 and taking betaine HCL with pepsin since 1 month, and get benefited. Now I came to know that it’s mainly for protein. My meal is mixed rice, daal, fish/chicken. Is it works for other food element also like carb and fat? Another product of now foods has “super enzyme” contains all enzymes along with betaine HCL. Which one is better for my food habbit and what will be correct dose for me in case of super enzyme? I am taking 4 caps at lunch and 2 for dinner, in dinner I take only 2 roti and sabzy. It’s vary the dosage for me for lunch and dinner because I am taking less food at dinner.


    • Hi Riya – thanks for commenting. We are glad to hear HCL is helping you 🙂

      We think you could add a digestive enzyme in ADDITION to HCL, but the NOW super enzymes are not our favorite. One to check out is Enzymedica Digest Gold. This will help you digest carbs and fat in addition to protein.

      Many people need HCL and digestive enzymes.

  65. Leslie cline says:

    Do you have recommendations for poor fats digestion? We are using hcl, and bile salts but are unable to consume the meat stocks recommended by the gaps diet we are trying to follow. Earlier in the intro stages it went better but now on full gaps sensitivity to fats has become more of a problem.

    • Hi Leslie – as your gut is healing early on, digesting all that fat can be hard. You’re already using the right supplements. We recommend skimming off the fat early on. Later on, as your gut continues to heal, you can skim less and less fat from the top of the stock.

  66. I just started taking HCL. I went to my local health food store to purchase and forgot to write down the recommended brands before I left. I ended up purchasing a brand Solaray 250 mg. when I got home and checked the brands I noticed that this brand has glutamic acic HCL. Should I not use this brand. I am not sure what that is. Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Amy – we recommend a BETAINE HCL rather than a glutamic acid HCL. A glutamic acid HCL might help with your digestive symptoms some, but we aren’t experienced using it and can’t offer recommendations like we do with the Betaine HCL. We recommend looking for the NOW brand Betaine HCL in the orange and purple bottles – it is easy to find! Hope this helps.

  67. Hi There,

    I have been supplementing with HCL for a while now and really noticed a difference as I increased to about 5264mg – or 8 NOW HCL Betaine pills per protein meal. I was not getting any burning but noticing my BM’s were improving.

    However now I notice that I am down to 5 pills with burning as soon as I eat. The pain dissipates in about 15 – 20 minutes – I have only been on the 8 pills for about a month – does it usually happen that your body bounces back that fast? I am nervous to cut down any further so my digestions suffers again.

    Thanks for your help!

  68. Dear Mr. Wright,

    You are the angel! And you ShouLD GET A REWARD for thia article. I have been fighting with Reflux for over 2 years and consulted more than 5 different doctoes. Nobody has even mentioned that could have too low acid in my stomach. Bursting was so annoying for me and it lowered very much the quality of my life. The only medicine doctors recoended to me was Omeprazol which didnt help at all just made the whole situation even worse. I started taking Betaine HCL with pepsine 3 days ago and right after 1 pill all my symptoms disappeared. I am so thankful for You!! I think I was born one more time!!

  69. Hello,

    I have had GERD for the past 5 years. My regular medical doctor wanted to put my on PPI’s and have refused since she recommended this medication about 5 years ago. I have been trying natural methods and am intrigued with the low-acid concept of my problem. I am trying the Betaine HCL approach and am up to taking three 600 mg Betaine HCL tablets with each meal. I am hoping for good results. However, most of the acid feeling comes when I sleep, and I have used a bed-tilt with no lessening of the acid feeling in my chest/throat. (Yes, I have had endoscopies which showed nothing abnormal, and am scheduled in early 2016 to undergo the Heidelberg Capsule Test.)

    If I wake up in the middle of the night with that burning feeling, what can be done? I have already tried going into the kitchen in the middle of the night to take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar which did not help. Also, taking baking soda did not help much either.


    • Hi Kevin – no, you probably shouldn’t.

      More isn’t better, and you might be one of the people who doesn’t get the “burning” feeling (Steve mentions these people in the article). If you aren’t you have to watch carefully for other signs of improvement at lower doses – maybe less bloating, less burping, better stools, etc.

      If you don’t have ANY improvements at even 15 pills per meal, you probably have some sort of underlying problem that is causing your very low stomach acid – you need to treat that issue because no amount of HCL will be able to help something like a parasite infection long-term.

      One good choice is to work one-on-one with a practitioner (check out a few we recommend here – and definitely tell your doctor what is going on too. I hope this helps Henry!

  70. I’ve heard that HCl protonates/changes enzymes if HCl and enzymes are taken together. Is this true? Is this an either/or proposition? Should we be taking either HCl or enzymes, but not both?

  71. Hi Steve,

    I hardly ever have bloating(except if I have gluten) or burping, and never any heartburn. I have a leaky gut, high AnA (anti nuclear antibodies), and food intolerance. My now have a very clean diet, (Myers Way diets) My comprehensive stool test came back; extreme high fats in my stool, so the doctor says I have a major absorption problem. I also have candida issues ( I know, I’m a mess!) Myers clinic suggested I take Bile, which I have started, but the bile that I am taking ( Thorne – Bio-Gest) has HCL in it, 240mg per…I am taking one per meal because taking more than that, I have a weird sensation in my head, kind of like a build up of pressure and warm. I’m wondering if I fall into the category that Dr. Wright mentions, of paradoxically adverse symptoms. Can you talk about that a little bit? And, when I do take the bile/HCL, I actually start burping!?

    Thanks very much,

  72. i teresting. i bloat sometimes when i eat and have anxiety symptoms . my toxic readings are high and my mineral readings are low. Doing the hcl test will be fun. does it mean have to take 5 pills each meal the rest of ur life if thats ur level?

    • Hi Kevin – thanks for asking 🙂

      No, you likely won’t need 5 pills per meal forever. Most people’s stomach acid returns to normal level after supplementing with HCL for a period of time (different for everyone). You’ll likely need less and less the longer you use it, and eventually none at all.

      If you don’t find yourself naturally weaning off HCL, you’ll want to see your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying cause of your low stomach acid that needs to be addressed (like a h, pylori infection, for example).

  73. Hi there
    I have been recently diagnosed with achlorhydria (no stomach acid) and almost complete atrophic gastritis (I am a 45 yr old otherwise healthy, active male).

    In these circumstances is it safe to try HCL?

  74. Been experiencing acidreflux for over 3 weeks straight Non stop except for 2 days when I went off Prilosec Otc but it came back, the Prilosec didn’t t fix it , I still had symptoms , 2 days after I stopped the Prilosec I ate almonds and I think it triggered the heart burn again, I was told to stop eating wheat but that hasn’t helped really, idk what to do, I wanna try this HCL but don’t know how to go about it? Please help me, I’ve changed my diet, I’m 28 years old 6feet tall and under 200 lbs and dropping more because of this , I’m active so I know Im in decent shape and feel like I shouldn’t be having these problems , low stomach acid is the only thing that makes sense to me after reading several articles, thanks for you time

  75. I would like to take the HCL test to see how many HCL/Pepsin tablets I should take with each meal. The issue is that with the mess my stomach is in, I can’t tolerate animal protein. So how do I do this??? Tkx.

  76. I recently started taking betaine hcl with pepsins. I achieved 2600 mg per meal with at least 15-20 g of proteins. My general fettle is better but recently I feel a slight pain below the navel. I don’t feel burning or warm in stomach. However, when I took a baking soda it helped me and I had a burp short time after that. Does it mean I take to much betaine?

    • Hi kris, thanks for asking, as this is a really good question.

      Most people find they need less HCL as they progress because HCL promotes the secretion of stomach acid by your body. The goal is that eventually you’ll not need any supplements- your body will produce all the HCL it needs. Try cutting back by a pill next time you eat and watch your symptoms. Taking baking soda to counteract too high of a dose is a great solution while you’re finding your optimal levels.

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Germain, thanks for commenting. That’s a really interesting question. The best way to find out would be to try out HCL and see if it helps. You can start by testing for low stomach acid ( or try the smallest dose of HCL.

      The only way to know how many HCL pills to take with a meal is to test it out when you eat. Begin at the lowest dosage and work your way up. Because every meal contains a different amount of fat, protein, and carbs, you may find that at some meals you need 7 pills and at others 3 or 4 is plenty. If you have burning or a warm feeling, you have likely taken too much. The next time you eat a similar meal, take less HCL until you find the right dosage for that combination of foods. I hope this helps!

  77. To whom it may concern:

    Thank you for your response, however I do have another question or two! I was wondering now that I’m taking HCl with pepsin, how long does one stay on this regimen?? Is it something I would be doing for the rest of my life and is there a place on the website where I can find out more information about that? Also I am up to 8 pills now without any warning sensation or burning. I started taking taking enzymes yesterday I still have some clearing of the throat. Does this take several weeks to heal? Is this something that cures the situation? What happens if I continue to take this for quite some time and it doesn’t fix my issue? Is there something else that you would recommend? Thanks in advance for your help!


    • Hey Greg – great questions. Some people find that with the digestive enzymes and HCL + a healing diet like SCD or our SLG program, they can wean off the supplements. Others use the supplements for life (or at big, heavier, harder-to-dogest meals only). Every person is unique!

      We do recommend using supplements in conjunction with a healthy diet like SLG or SCD and making healthy lifestyle choices to promote total gut health.

  78. Hey Steve-

    I have had a problem with “clearing my throat” for the past 10 years and it has been so frustrating to say the least! Recently, I was told that I might have an issue with low stomach acid, of some sort……a possible acid reflux. I’ve done some research and have heard of this condition but didn’t necessarily think that I personally had an issue with reflux because I know of people who have it and they have major complications. For me, the
    constantly clearing of my throat has been the major drawback without any sort of pain, etc.
    I also have a little bit of a red rash around my mouth and chin. There are times where I also have some issues with a white coating on the tongue. I don’t think it’s a Candida issue yet it doesn’t seem to go away. At the present moment I have upped my HCL pepsin pills to 4 at each meal. My problem with clearing of the throat has gotten better but it is not 100 % yet!! Also, I have been using Braggs apple cider vinegar to wipe on my face and my rash seems to be doing better!
    Please, I am asking you to give me any sort of advice that you can in order to finally rid myself of this situation once and for all! Again, it is better, but not gone. Do you think I should up the pIlls/ supplement even more? How do I know if this is the right supplement for me to even take….. my doctor can’t find anything wrong!? Have you ever even heard of any body having this symptom with low stomach acid? Thanks in advance for any help that you may be able to give me!!


    • Hi Greg, thanks for commenting. We’re really sorry you’re struggling right now. Chronic congestion is a symptom of low stomach acid. We recommend Dr. Wright’s book “why Stomach Acid is Good For You” (find it here

      In our experience, 4500mg per meal is 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.

      We also recommend digestive enzymes – learn more here:

      I hope this information helps, Greg. You can always email us at [email protected] if you have more questions, too

    • Hi Delenne, thanks for taking the time to comment.
      You can follow the links at the bottom of this blog post to purchase the HCL online. You can also look for it in health food stores or vitamin shops. I hope this information helps!

    • Hi Dave, based on our experience, the right dosage of HCL is very personal.

      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.

  79. Hello and thanks for a very informative blog.

    Have you read this rebuttal to a poliquin’s article stating the same as you?

    Besides this, I have a question.

    If my breakfast consists of 5 whole eggs, 1 plantain, and kale, all cooked; and I am taking 7 pills for my big meals (8 causes burning), should I take 3 for breakfast?

    Also, I sometimes feel a mild burn with 7 and sometimes I dont; should I just take 6?

    Regards and thanks,

    • Hi Alan, thank you for reaching out. The only way to know how many HCL pills to take with a meal is to test it out when you eat. Begin at the lowest dosage and work your way up. Because every meal contains a different amount of fat, protein, and carbs, you may find that at some meals you need 7 pills and at others 3 or 4 is plenty. If you have burning or a warm feeling, you have likely taken too much. The next time you eat a similar meal, take less HCL until you find the right dosage for that combination of foods. I hope this helps!

  80. Hi, I did the heidelberg test 4 days ago and it showed I had low stomach acidity. I usually have stomach burning through out the day and some pressure in my throat as well. I started taking 1 pill 650 mg with pepsin at dinner and felt no warming of the stomach. Next day I took 2 pills at dinner time and felt burning I don’t know if it was the pills or the usual burn as I was already burning before I took the pill. If I have atrophic gastritis, How do I go about curing that? What should be my next course of action? What is everyone using to resolve that? Should I continue with the HCL?
    Thanks for the help in advance, Kind regards.

  81. Hi, will this help with people who have LPR (silent reflux, no heartburn or GERD)? I read all the great comments on here but most seem to be more GERD focused. I believe my issue is pepsin coming up into my throat into the larynx. Thx!

  82. Hi!
    I had a question. I accidentally took a thorne betaine HCL + pepsin capsule on an empty stomach (got all my supplements for the day ready – i was just starting these and added one into the mix, got distracted and headed out the door). This was between meals and my stomach started burning! I felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t’ eat anything until I got home about half hour later. Could that have damaged my stomach and does it indicate that I don’t need to supplement with HCL?

    Thank you!

    • Hi, Barbara! Thanks for reaching out to us. We don’t recommend taking Betaine HCL on an empty stomach or with meals that don’t contain protein (like just fruit, for example). The burning feeling you felt was normal, because you had stomach acid but no food that needed to be broken down. If you feel the burning feeling when you take HCL with food, it may mean you need a smaller dose with that type of food. If you need more support, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

  83. Hi..I bought betaine hcl to test my stomach acid and i am now at 12 capsules and not experiensing burning,etc..and i still have acid reflux after meal,especially if i lie down.what shoud i do now…..i’m almost 100% scd and on this mondey i will start the intro diet and completly follow all the direction….sorry if my englesh is not perfect,i’ m from Croatia.

  84. I am taking Digestive Enzymes at the start of my meal. I also want to take Betaine HCL with pepsin, but do not want the acid to inactivate the enzymes before they have finished their job. So, when do you advise I take the Betaine HCL.

    After my meal?

  85. hi
    im in 9 week pregnancy. Before that i had taken hcl for my problem with acid reflux and it helped me a lot. At the moment i’m pregnat and my all bad symptoms are back, so my question is : is it safe to take during in pregnancy?

  86. Chrys O'Chant says:

    Last night I went up to 7 capsules with 2 chicken thighs. Nada. No feeling or burning or discomfort(!)

    However, I had a slight headache and avoided ibuprofen. Today, I continue with a minor ache/discomfort in my head. I’ve gone off coffee, but continue with some No-Doz, because I develop a deadly, unbearable withdrawal migraine without it.

    Meanwhile, all week, I have had some bladder/urethral problems: Pain and near spasms and urgency together with an urgency. My urine checks as all normal (even pH) with slight blood (unusual for me). Plus (forgive my TMI) occasional vaginal bubbles.

    None of this makes sense to me so I’d appreciate your input!

    BTW, I had a protein drink (30gr) away from home, and 15 mins later , took 3 HCl. Is that okay?

  87. Hello –
    How long after taking HCL with pepsin would I begin to notice that “burning” feeling (indicating that dose is too high)? 15 minutes? An hour?

  88. Hello everybody:)
    I have just started supplementing myself with Betaine Hcl.Well,maybe I did not read about it enough and I am to rush to get rid of my problems.I’ve taken one pill with the meal and then when not feeling any side efects (warmth,burning etc.) I was increasing pills intake by one at each meal.I am at the level of 6pills and still nothing.Is it not too fast???Shall I stay with this dosage for 2-3 days or continue ti increase every day instead each meal.
    Thanks for help in advance

  89. Hi, does a normal ph (1.6) of fasting stomach acid mean I secrete enough acid, or just that what is there is normal.

    I have had low stomach acid symptoms (after doing the HCl challenge I could take 14 capsules of 648mg Now HCl Betaine without feeling warmth) and have been supplementing for four months.
    I just had a gastroscope to try to determine the cause of my non stop burping and the doctor aspirated some stomach acid to test. He tells me the ph means my stomach acid is normal. Is that true or is it possible to have a normal ph but not produce enough when you eat?

  90. My husband has been taking 7 drops of 10% HCL before meals in his lemonade. I wonder how many mgs that is?

    He is not constipated, his only symptom is coughing, really hard loud coughs…all the time. He burps some too, sometimes he will cough up balls of stomach acid while talking.

    Is this low stomach acid? The drops seem to reduce the coughing, but I wonder if it is something else. He went to see several specialists and they gave him all kinds of tests, lung x-ray too, all was fine.

    Any ideas would be very welcome!

  91. Hi,

    I am wondering if there is any decent test to find out STOMACH ACID in kids – want to get this test done for my 9 year old boy. He has been having stomach bloating very often for the past 2.5 years and has IBS like symptoms. Want to see if low stomach acid could be the reason and whether presence of h.pylori / candida etc., could be the cause. Also is there any known solution for sorting LOW STOMACH ACID?

    please share your expert thoughts


  92. Hi, i would like to start supplementing with betaine but wondering which brands you would recommend when buying in the uk. The brands recommended in your recent article do not ship to the UK. I have a tub of digestive enzymes with ingredients ox bile extract, protease, amylase, pepsin, protease SP, glucoamylase, lactase, acid protease, invert ase, lipase- that total 180mg with betsine HCL added of 200 mg. I am sure I read once that these should be separate Supplements? Any help with this will be gratefully received. My recent stool test showed my pancreatic output is abnormally low!! Angie

  93. GAIL DUTTON says:

    Hi Steve I have only been on PPIs on and off for about 1 month. I don’t want to take them for long as they cause vitamin deficiencies, but they also give me heart flutters each time I take them. I have LPR, do you think I would benefit from HCL? I was treated with anti biotics in December for H Pylori and my acid reflux started from that point, I didn’t have any acid reflux at all in my life before the anti biotics. Do you think the anti biotics have knocked out the normal flora? Could this cause acid reflux. What make should I buy and how many should I start taking please. Many thanks.

  94. I started taking Betaine hcl and increased to 5 pills. Have extreme gas for the past 5 days. It is especially painful when I have bm (it feels like there is loads of gas in my rear) never felt this way before. Any quick remedies? should I eat more protein to lessen the effects? I tried taking baking soda this morning and that hasn’t helped. I normally have pain in my upper abdomen(and still do) but the betaine causes gas in lower abdomen now.

  95. Hi Steve …

    I’ve been taking 8 capsules of Betaine HCL (650 per capsule) on and off for a little while to see if it helps my digestions/health problems. Even with that much I do not get any heaviness, burning, or hotness. I spoke with someone at the healthfood store earlier today and he said keep going up little by little. He’s had people who had to take as many as 12 pills at the beginning till they started getting better (and even one person that needed 15 pills). But I think he was talking about a smaller amount in their pills not 650.

    Tonight I skipped up to 11 pills and still no heaviness, burning, or hotness etc. And it wasn’t even a meal with any meat it was a gluten free pizza with fresh cut up red pepper on it.

    I don’t think my stomach is making any acid. Have you heard of anyone needing more than 7150 mg (which is what 11 @650mg would equal).

    I have been under chronic stress for over a decade. 4 hurricanes causing damage to my house the last three not enough money to cover repairs from insurance … last one I had 6 foot high flood waters the town says the house must be torn down but I still haven’t gotten money from insurance yet. Can this long term stress be causing stomach acid problems. Also was diagnosed with major mercury poisoning in 2008 and of course all this exposure to mold from the floods over the years.

    I am going to buy the brand you recommended and try one more than what I took today at tomorrows dinner and see if I notice anything. (I am taking Solaray brand)

    Do you know what I am not digesting if not getting enough stomach acid … I have symptoms of protein deficiency and vit B deficiency and I think fatty acids deficiency (are fatty acids also effected by stomach acid).

    Thanks … I’m a mess … but I meditate … that has kept me alive through all this … I think I’d have died by now had it not been for that.

    • Hi JC, Here is some information from an article on the number and quantity of HCL pills:

      “A couple points to clarify:

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

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

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

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

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

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

      You can view the full article here:

  96. Hi….
    I suffer from IBS (constipation). Betaine HCL with pepsin by brand Solaray has been a lifesaver. I have been taking it for a year now… 2 capsules (1300 mg of Betaine Hcl and 324mg of Pepsin) at lunch time only with a digestive enzyme. I dont take Any at breakfast. I never did the HCl pepsin challenge test out of fear of taking too much. However with the 1300mg daily I am still noticing undigested food particles in stool and experiencing shedding of hair on my head. I feel im not getting enough nutrients from my meals. Should i start taking hcl betaine aT breakfast and increase the dosage for the lunch time as well? .

  97. Hello,

    I’ve been slowly doing some research on my own to help find a resolution to my problem. I’ve had really bad heartburn and reflux since i was about 17. I’ve had the typical tests done to diagnose with GERD. My heartburn was alot worse while i was pregnant and since having my son in 2009 i’ve had the same issues. Reflux got to the point that i literally felt like food was caught in my throat. I did happen to choke once from that. Which sent me back to a Dr and to se a gastro specialists who just put me on Omeprozole twice a day 40mg each. The choking feeling has left and i rarely have heartburn, i go back in two weeks for a follow up. I’ve been mainly only taking one of those pills a day. But what brought me to this is the low stomach acid linked to not digesting protein correctly and the fact that i have lost alot of hair for someone who just turned 30. I thought it was thyroid related since that runs really strong in my family but every test has come back normal. I’ve had off and on stomach discomfort after eating for quite a long time and the fact that i lost alot of hair since having my son ( which yes i know you lose hair after pregnancy, but it has continued to thin and be brittle along with my nails) scares me. I’ve even seen an endocrinologist who didn’t want to do any further blood work since my family dr had just done it. So could this be from low stomach acid or is it really thyroid, i know you may not know that part, but i’m looking for some sort of insight on this. I’m not that old to be dealing with all this 🙁

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

  98. Carolyn Johnston says:

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

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

  99. Hi,

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

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

    Kind regards,


    • Hi Juliet, thanks for reaching out! “A couple points to clarify:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Kind regards,


  100. Hi Steve!

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

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

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

    I would be grateful for your thoughts.

    Kind regards,


      • Hi,

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

        Kind regards,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      You can view the full article here:

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

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

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


  110. Hi Lori,

    Thank you for your response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      by on April 22, 2013 ·

      in Articles, Digestion, Nutrition Review Archive

      by Jim English

  111. Betaine Hydrochloride supplementation has eliminated my gastric reflux.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  117. Hi,

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

    Thank you for the advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Hi Brent, thanks for the reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  134. Stacey Adkins says:

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

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

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

  137. Patricia O'Bannon says:

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

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

  139. Steven Lisowski says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  149. Dear Steve,

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

  150. Hi,

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

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

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

  153. Hi Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  157. Tina kalvelage says:

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

    Thank you

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



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

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

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

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

  160. Dear Steve,

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

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

    Thank you


  161. Paul Salafia says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  165. silvia Juarez says:

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

    Silvia Juarez

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

    • Steven Wright

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

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

  168. Mysterygirl says:

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

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

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

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

  170. Hi Steven,

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

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

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

    • Steven Wright

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

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

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

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


      • Sanjay
        The diet items you ate are mainly carbohydrates based foods. They have protein in them but the major macronutrient is carbohydrates in thsoe foods.

        Stomach acid is meant to digest protein. In a regular functioning stomach, the stomach produces adequate acid at the right time and right levels.

        In terms of digestion, the digestion of carbs begin right in the mouth. So carb digestion overall starts sooner. In that process if we introduce HCL, the carb digestion is hampered. The acid negates the other carb digesting enzymes and the carb based foods end up being undigested.

        The best time to take HCL, espeically if you are eating a high carb meal with low protein levels is to take the HCL supplements 30-45 mins after the meal. By then carb digestion would have occurred (as much as your normal system can handle) and then the protein digestion can be helped through the HCL.

        Hope this makes sense.

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

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

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

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

    • Steven Wright

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

  176. Jane Mansell says:

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

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

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

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

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