• Brianna Marie

Betaine HCL Challenge

Stomach acid is important for digestion and nutrient assimilation. Having too little stomach acid can cause just as many problems (if not more) than having too much...

Symptoms like:

Constipation, diarrhea, undigested food in stool, acid reflux, gas, bloating, indigestion, belching, skin problems or acne, and chronic nutrient deficiencies can be related to Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).

In more extreme cases, symptoms like hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, adrenal fatigue and even autoimmune disease can occur. Of course, these symptoms can stem from other problems as well, but often they can point to low stomach acid.

Risk factors for low stomach acid include: stress, consumption of processed foods, candida, aging, antibiotic or prescription drug use, drinking ice water with meals and mineral deficiencies.

Stomach acid (HCL) is a necessary part of the digestive system.

  • Stomach acid is a vital part of our digestive and immune systems. It helps break down food, but also maintains the acidic environment in the digestive system that kills bacteria, parasites and pathogens that we may ingest with food.

  • HCL is also important for stimulating the pancreas and intestines to produce bile and enzymes needed to break down foods.

  • Low HCL makes it difficult to break down foods, especially protein, into vital amino acids (which the body needs for hormone support, neurotransmitters and healthy skin, hair and nails).

  • Nutrient deficiencies and undigested food in the body can also raise cortisol levels and deplete the adrenals since they don’t have the needed nutrients to function properly.

  • Over time, this can create an imbalance in the gut that can make problems like Candida and SIBO worse since pathogenic bacteria that would normally be killed by stomach acid are able to thrive in the gut.

  • Leaky Gut and autoimmune disease– There is some evidence that undigested food in the gut can lead to leaky gut syndrome. At this point, small particles of proteins from undigested food can enter the bloodstream, which may create autoimmune diseases.

Low Stomach Acid Leads to Heartburn & Indigestion.

Stomach acid signals something called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (which separates the stomach and esophagus) to close tightly when the body has enough acid to digest the food that was consumed. When there is not adequate stomach acid to digest food, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter will not receive this signal and will not close tightly, letting acid and undigested food creep up into the esophagus leading to heartburn and indigestion.

Additionally, if food is not properly digested, signaling to the small intestine will also be delayed. Food can sit in the stomach longer, leaving more time for acid to reach the esophagus.


HCL can be a life-changing supplement for some people, but it should be used with caution and under the supervision of a medical practitioner.

  • People on pain medications, corticosteroids, NSAIDs or other medications should not use HCL.

  • People with ulcers should not use HCL.

  • If you have NOT had your poo checked for H. Pylori DO NOT TAKE HCL.

  • HCL should only be taken with meals containing proteins as not as much stomach acid is needed for digesting vegetables and fruits.

  • It is important to figure out the correct dose of HCL needed as too much or too little can be problematic.

The Betaine HCL Challenge Test

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.

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 tum tum any favors. You must follow the process below to figure out the right dosage to get the maximum benefit.

STEP 1: Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20grams of protein (about 4-6ounces of meat).

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

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.

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.

STEP 2: Stay there for another day and then try 3 pills.

Keep increasing the number of pills taken with each meal until you notice some GI discomfort described above.

STEP 3: 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.

Ways to Boost HCL Production Naturally

Supplementing with Betaine HCL with Pepsin should only be done under the care of a qualified practitioner, but there are other natural ways to help increase stomach acid production:

  • Do not eat when stressed or upset, as stress can lower HCL levels

  • Consume a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water about 30 minutes before meals.

  • Consume high quality proteins and vegetables and avoid processed foods, added sugars and additives.

  • Use a high quality salt to taste.

  • Chew foods thoroughly to make them easier to digest.

  • Don’t drink with meals.

  • Add 1/4 cup of homemade or unpasteurized sauerkraut to each meal

  • Drink ginger tea or chew a small piece of ginger between meals to stimulate stomach acid production

  • Do not eat within a few hours of bedtime to allow adequate time for digestion

Having low stomach acid can affect the body in many ways. If you think you may suffer from this, find a qualified practitioner to work with to correct this problem as soon as possible.

Thanks for spending time with me today!

In Health,

Brianna Marie, HHFC

#leakygut #lowstomachacid #HCL #betainehcl #autoimmunedisease #SIBO #selfhealers

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Lifestyle Interventionist

Holistic Practitioner


The content, views and statements expressed in the content of this site are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Viewers should always seek their own professional medical advice for any medical condition or if they think they may have a medical emergency.

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