We may wish we never felt pain. But pain is often a beneficial warning sign. Without pain, health can be at risk because we have no idea there’s a problem.
This is certainly the case with hypochlorhydria, a condition characterized by an abnormally low level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, also sometimes called hypohydrochloria.
Look at it this way, antacids stop indigestion pain by reducing gastric acid production. Great. Except gastric acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is essential for assimilation of vitamin B12 ~ Illustration ~ and many minerals, like magnesium.
Vitamin B12 can’t be released from protein without hydrochloric acid. In other words, low hydrochloric acid leads to low vitamin B12 levels. Over time devastating health problems take hold ~ often without the warning sign of pain.
Plus, hydrochloric acid stimulates the pancreas to release enzymes and bile into the small intestine for the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins A and E. Without enough hydrochloric acid a person can have malnutrition even with an excellent diet. Low hydrochloric acid, then, is a serious condition known as hypochlorhydria.
Hypochlorhydria and h.pylori
h. pylori precedes and likely causes gastric hypochlorhydria. h. pylori increases cancer risk by causing hypochlorhydria. Toxigenic Helicobacter pylori infection Clin Cancer Res. 2008.
See Diarrhea regarding Shedding h.pylori.
See Yogurt Making regarding inhibiting h.pylori
Warning Signs of Hypochlorhydria
Bloating, burping or flatulence can be signs of hypochlorhydria. When you don’t have enough stomach acid your food doesn’t digest properly. Consequently you may find yourself with bloating, etc.
Allergies can be a sign that undigested food particles are getting into your lower intestine.
GERD, a condition where stomach acid rises into the esophagus, giving the impression there’s too much stomach acid, may actually be a sign of too little stomach acid.
Premature aging may be a sign of insufficient stomach acid. The reason for this is that people with low stomach acid are likely to have poor nutrition because their bodies are unable to get certain essential nutrients from food.
Cramps in your legs or feet at night are a warning sign that hypochlorhydria is causing poor magnesium absorption.
Hypochlorhydria, Magnesium and Your Metabolism
Hypochlorhydria, that is insufficient stomach acid, causes poor magnesium absorption and that in turn critically affects metabolism.
I actually now believe that a low red cell magnesium is a symptom of mitochondrial failure. It is the job of mitochondria to produce ATP for cell metabolism and about 40% of all mitochondrial output goes into maintaining calcium/magnesium and sodium/potassium ion pumps. I suspect that when mitochondria fail, these pumps malfunction and therefore calcium leaks into cells and magnesium leaks out of cells. This, of course, compounds the underlying mitochondrial failure because calcium is toxic to mitochondria and magnesium necessary for normal mitochondrial function. This is just one of the many vicious cycles we see in patients with fatigue syndromes… I see low magnesium almost routinely in patients with fatigue syndromes. Dr. Myhill
Myhill offers an interesting observation about serum tests for deficiencies, “Serum levels are maintained at the expense of intracellular levels. If serum levels of magnesium change this causes heart irregularities and so the body maintains serum levels at all cost. It will drain magnesium from inside cells and indeed from bone in order to achieve this.”
47% of Americans have hypochlorhydria?
An estimated 47% of people in the U.S. have hypochlorhydria, partially due to increased use of antacids marketed as a good source of calcium.
Natural Remedies for Hypochlorhydria
Licorice, glutamine, gentian, acupuncture, stimulation of nerves to the stomach through chiropractic all help increase gastric acid.
Symptoms of Low Hydrochloric/Stomach Acid
- stomach bloating
- upset stomach
- nausea from supplements
- rectal itching
- weak, peeling/cracked fingernails
- dilated capillaries in cheeks/nose(in non-alcoholics)
- post adolescent Acne
- iron deficiency
- other mineral deficiencies
- chronic intestinal infection
- undigested food in stool
- ridges/lines on fingernails
- pins and needles
Hydrochloric acid, HCL, can be taken by capsule and is excellent to counteract low gastric acid.
If you have peptic ulcers, gastritis, or take NSAIDS, then hydrocholoric acid is not recommended.
Methylcobalamin is a safe, effective alternative to HCL. It replaces the B12 that is radically missing when someone has Hypochlorhydria.
In my experience, Betaine HCL with pepsin is fine, and is not irritating.