November 9th, 2017 | Posted By: Magdalena Wszelaki | Posted in Articles

How to Know If You Have Sufficient Stomach Acid

What You Will Learn in this Article:

  • How Stomach Acid Affects The Body
  • Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid
  • Benefits of Increasing Stomach Acid
  • The Problem with Antacids and PPIs
  • How to Test Your Stomach Acid Levels
  • How to Increase Low Stomach Acid

Having a low (not high) stomach acid level is a very common issue. It might come as a surprise to you that acid reflux is the result of too little stomach acid and not too much. Think about it: Older adults tend to suffer from acid reflux the most. They also tend to under-produce stomach acid and are more likely to suffer from acid reflux than young adults.

Sufficient stomach acid is part of a healthy digestive system which we now know is vital to keeping your hormones in check – I wrote about it here.

How Stomach Acid Affects The Body

Stomach acid, or Hydrochloric acid (HCl), is secreted by the stomach to help digest and absorb proteins and other nutrients that we consume in our diet. HCl also serves to protect us by killing various pathogenic microorganisms (parasites, yeast, bacteria) that might otherwise cause infection in the digestive tract.

Sufficiently digested food is key for giving the body the nutrients it needs to function well, including producing hormones.

Symptoms of Low Hydrochloric Acid (Stomach Acid)

People with low HCl (hypochlorhydria) or absent HCl (achlorhydria) may have no symptoms at all, or may have symptoms of poor digestion such as gas and bloating (especially meals high in meat and protein).

Here is the list of potential symptoms:

  • Bloating or belching immediately following a meal
  • Acid reflux
  • An excessive sense of fullness after eating
  • Feeling like food sits in the stomach forever
  • Gas after food
  • Iron and B12 deficiency, chronic anemia
  • Chronic constipation
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
  • Parasites (especially parasites that come back even after treatments)
  • Chronic intestinal infections
  • History of multiple food allergies and intolerances

Benefits of Increasing Stomach Acid

By increasing your stomach acid, you can mitigate, reduce or completely eliminate the above symptoms. It might come as a surprise how many other health improvements might come with it.

Problems with Antacids and PPIs

Antacids are medications that neutralize stomach acidity. Similarly, PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) actually block the enzyme that produces stomach acid. If your doctor has put you on antacids and/or PPIs, look back on your symptoms (other than acid reflux) since then and reflect on how your health changed since then. You might notice that many new symptoms appeared (such as feeling tired, losing hair, developing allergies, etc). This is very common and this is what you need to know about antacids and PPIs.

  • Slow down digestion, especially protein. As explained above, stomach acid is key in breaking down the food and extracting nutrients from it. No acid, no extraction and processing. Undigested proteins can lead to developing food intolerances and not having enough building blocks for your hormones (which are also made from proteins).
  • Food intolerances. Undigested proteins can lead to gut inflammation which can then result in full blown “leaky gut” or IBS.
  • Depletion in B12, zinc, folate, calcium and magnesium Sufficient stomach acid is needed for these minerals and vitamins to get absorbed from food and supplements. People on PPIs are chronically low on these which can lead to an array of symptoms from fatigue, autoimmunity, fertility problems, osteoporosis, hair loss, to estrogen dominance.
  • Constipation, gas, stomach aches. When the stomach acid is low, you can’t digest the food properly. This can manifest in the form of gas, indigestion, tummy aches, and feeling full for a long time.
  • Vulnerability to pathogens such as SIBO, parasites. Sufficient stomach acid is the first line of defense from bacteria, viruses and parasites. The pH 2.0 (how acidic the stomach should be) is there for a reason – to kill the pathogens before they travel further down the GI tract.
  • Autoimmune conditions. Low stomach acid can be a big contributor to autoimmunity through GI inflammation and zinc deficiency that is often caused by low stomach acid.

So, how do you maintain good levels of stomach acid to live well and thrive?

How to Test Your Stomach Acid Levels

Method 1: Baking soda test

You can very easily do this test at home.

  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold or room-temperature water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
  • Drink the baking soda solution.
  • Time how long it takes you to belch.
  • If you do not belch within 3 minutes, stop timing.

If you do not belch, you have too little stomach acid. If you belch, you are fine.

This is not the most effective test and it often produces false negatives (meaning, it makes you think you have sufficient stomach acid). I, therefore, recommend Method 2 below.

Method 2: The HCl pill test

The idea here is to dose the HCl pills until you feel a slight discomfort in your stomach. When I was low on stomach acid (due to the bacteria h.pylori), I had to take as many as seven pills to feel the warmth.

Step 1

On Day 1, start with one capsule (usually 500 to 750mg) of HCl, at the beginning of each meal. Note: This means a full meal, not a snack.

Step 2

Watch for any feelings of warmth, discomfort, pain or burning in the throat or stomach.

    • If you experience any of these symptoms after just one capsule, do not take any more pills.
    • If these symptoms are NOT present, go to Step 3.

Step 3

On Day 2, increase your dose by one capsule (this would be two capsules for a total of 1,000 to 1,500 mg for Day Two) of HCl at the beginning of each full meal.

    • If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above (warmth, discomfort, pain or burning in your throat or stomach) decrease your dose to the level at which you had no symptoms and maintain this dose.
    • If you do not feel these symptoms go to Step 4.

Step 4

On Day 3, increase your dose as described in Step 3. Each day increase the dose until you feel a warming sensation or until you reach a dose of seven capsules per meal. Do not take more than eight (8) capsules with a meal. 

Looking for a trusted HCl supplement? We recommend HCl Guard+ from Healthy Gut.

To learn more about how to balance your hormones with supplements (and which to take), you can download our FREE Supplement Guide here.

How to Increase Low Stomach Acid

For many people, taking HCl Betaine and/or starting the day with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for 2 to 4 weeks will kick the body back into gear and you might be able to produce your own stomach acid from that point on. If that does not happen, I recommend to work with a functional practitioner to test for h.pylori – a bacterial infection that inhibits stomach acid production. From my experience, h.pylori is hard to diagnose and blood tests often show false negative. My physician ordered GI Map (a name of a lab, stool test) and it finally confirmed the h.pylori infection. Another condition worth ruling out is pernicious anemia – an autoimmune condition when the immune system attacks the stomach lining cells that produce the stomach acid, by testing for antibodies.

120 Comments to How to Know If You Have Sufficient Stomach Acid

        • Hi Jocelyn,

          Yes we recommend the GIMAP. Feel free to search our article “What lab tests to order to manage your hormones?” This article provides a resource to order your own lab tests. =)

          Healthy Regards,
          HB Team

  1. Thanks for this information! I’ve taken HCL w/pepsin – 250 mg. – as many as 4 at a meal, and never felt the ‘warmth’ you spoke of. I was afraid taking more would be harmful, so didn’t try. Good to know a way to test the limits!

  2. Hello, I was wondering, I was diagnosed with GERD, although Ive heard the diagnosis for that isnt always correct and I can actually not have enough acid so I have tried the Hcl and could barely handle 1 capsule, so do you think it means that I have too much acid?

    • Hi Lori,
      It is very rare one has too much acid. What do you mean you could barely handle one capsule-what happened? ~Deanna HB Team

      • I did baking soda test for 3 days .. no burping ..means low st acid , right ? Took 1 pill w meals for one day .. burning in throat .. uncomfortable ..
        confused now … I thought HCL was suppose to help

  3. There is no mention of what to do if/when it is confirmed there is low stomach acid.

    • Hi Terri,

      You would want to check out this gut restore kit and possibly dietary changes to support gut healing. . ~Deanna HB Team

  4. Most other places I’ve seen this type of test mentioned in they said you could take up to 8, 10 or even 14 pills at a time until you reach the right dosage. Either way at the worst case you’ll have some diehrria, not pleasent but it won’t kill you. When you reach the right dosage you’re supposed to continue taking it and with time you’ll supposedly need less and less (I’m currently still in the testing phase, up to 3 pills).

    • Hi Ben,

      Magdalena does not recommend taking more than 8 capsules with one meal. How did the testing go for you? ~Deanna HB Team

  5. Hi, how come you don’t recommend 8 pills? I’m at 7 pills and still haven’t felt a burning sensation. Is it an obvious sensation when you do feel it?

    • Hi Chenille,
      In the article, she says, “Do not take more than eight (8) capsules with a meal”. There are recommended limits to consider. You may also want to support the body additionally with dietary considerations. Here is the program preview for Cooking for Balance to learn more. It has the foundational principles of healing the gut, supporting the liver and balancing sugar to bring the body back to balance. ~HB Team

      • Good morning 🌞
        Excellent information!

        My question:
        I currently take Betaine HCI 648mg 1tab. a.m. as needed.
        For over a year. Has helped tremendously with stomach issues (cancer survivor 5 years strong) I’ve been doing detox of liver e.t.c. since 2013.
        Keeps my weight in tact as well. Almost at a point to quit coffee! This is a Big success!
        I notice after 1 cup I feel acid in my throat only. Do you suggest I stop the Betaine until I completely quit the coffee? I do not suffer from IBS.
        Your comments would be greatly appreciated.
        Julee 🙋

        • I have been having severe sore throats for years. Have had several endoscopys and the doctor can see the redness in my throat but can’t understand what it’s coming from. When I get these soar throats they last for days, but I don’t have heartburn. Sometimes their so bad it feels like my esophagus is closing and I get severe pain in my back. I have been dealing with this for years and my doctors keep telling me to take ppi’s, but they make me feel worse. Even antacids make me feel sick. Can’t eat anything spicy. Please respond, thank you.

  6. Hi, my pills hold 1g pr pill. I am at 4 pills and will try 5 tomorrow. In other words, I’m getting close to your limit of pills or meal. Why don’t you recommend taking more pills? Why do you consider it to be dangerous?

    • Hi U,
      Most times supplementation alone, is not the answer. There may need to be more supportive foods included in the diet for real and noticeable changes to occur. More does not always equal better. Have you seen this preview of Magdalena’s program, Cooking for Balance It teaches about gut healing, liver support and sugar balancing to help the body heal naturally. ~HB Team

  7. Can these tests be done if you’re on PPI med every 12 hours for severe delayed stomach emptying? My symptoms are getting worse, and I wanted to self check before going into the gastroenterologist
    Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • I read if you are on PPI you shouldn’t be supplementing with hcl until you are off it completely as PPI reduces your stomach acid and hcl increases it.

  8. How long does it take for the discomforts to start when trying to find the right dosage with the high protein meals? 30 min, 1hr or how long roughly?

    • Hi Phillip,

      Please follow the direction in the article and listen to your body as everyone is different. If you experience any of those symptoms after just one capsule, do not take any more pills.

      Jeanne HB Team

  9. Hi,

    Is there a certain amount of time you have to wait before you start eating after you have taken your hcl supplement?

    I have been consuming some before, during and after (almost at 10 pills) and nothing has happened.

    • HI MC,

      Please follow the directions in the article:

      On Day One, start with one capsule (usually 500 to 750mg) of Betaine HCl, at the beginning of each meal. Note: This means a full meal, not a snack.
      Watch for any feelings of warmth, discomfort, pain or burning in the throat or stomach.
      If you experience any of these symptoms after just one capsule, do not take any more pills.
      If these symptoms are NOT present, go to Step 3.
      On Day Two, increase your dose by one capsule (this would be two capsules for a total of 1,000 to 1,500 mg for Day Two) of Betaine HCl at the beginning of each full meal.
      If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above (warmth, discomfort, pain or burning in your throat or stomach) decrease your dose to the level at which you had no symptoms and maintain this dose.
      If you do not feel these symptoms go to Step 4.
      On Day Three, increase your dose as described in Step 3. Each day increase the dose until you feel a warming sensation or until you reach a dose of seven capsules per meal. Do not take more than eight (8) capsules with a meal.

      I hope this helps!

      Jeanne HB Team

      • I’m confused, too, about the Betaine Hcl test. If you feel the symptoms described after taking one capsule, does that mean you likely have adequate stomach acid? If it takes two caps before symptoms (or 3 or 4 etc) does that mean your stomach acid is low to that degree and you should continue taking one less Betaine than the number that caused you to feel the symptoms?

        • My functional mech so doctor told me to take 1 less than the number at which I felt warmth or discomfort (5-10 min before a protein rich or large meal not snacks).

    • I was up to 6 pills with ZERO effects, said ok, forget this. Its not going to work. I took the rest of the bottle at 6 caps per meal as I had spent all that money. Never had any change, never felt a burning or even warmth.

  10. What if you have gastritis or an ulcer? Wouldn’t the betaine aggravate that?

  11. Hi! I just finished the initial testing phase and found taking 6 pills causes mild discomfort for me. While working on my gut health and diet, should I also continue taking 5 pills during meals? When do I know to stop doing this?

    • Hi Katharine,
      Please make sure you are eating adequate protein at each meal. You will also want to download this free supplement guide to learn more Please consider doing a retest every few weeks and start to wean down as you tune into how the body is responding. ~HB Team

      • How in the world do I know when to wean down? I don’tHave heart burn. When I have acid reflux, it goes in my lungs and becomes asthma. I’ve been off the poi and in hcl with pepsin for 3 weeks, taking ten capsules with my dinner. I feel great but don’t want to reduce to fat and get in trouble

        • Hi Becky!

          Please note, Magdalena recommends not taking more than eight capsules with a meal. You may consider making an appointment with a functional medicine doctor who can assist you on a more individualized basis.

          Here is a great tool to find a functional medicine doctor in your area.

          Healthy Regards,
          HB Team

    • Hi Dee,

      This article is about doing at-home stomach acid testing. With further gut healing, you may not always need this type of supplemental support. You are correct in knowing that there is so much more to the subject regarding enzymes, inflammation, natural options to help increase stomach acid. Here is one of my favorite videos about stomach acid to learn more I hope this helps ~HB Team

  12. I have taken 4 rounds of antibiotics and bismuth etc to try to rid of hpylori without any success. Any recommendations for someone like me? Thank you,

    • Dears, Do not try to get red of H.Pylori. we need it to control the feed back of stomach acid on stomach cell, it is part of stomach ecosystem. whenever traced we should augment stomach acidity and discard anti acids, H blocker and PPI. THIS IS THE FUTURE of multi system disease treatment.

      • With regards to the baking soda test, I am always burping so I’m not sure how to differentiate that it is the baking soda that is making me burp or not. Also, with regards to the HCL test, my stomach always gets bouts of feeling warmth, so I’m not sure how to gauge if and when it’s the pills causing the warmth or not. I have about 80% of the other symptoms of low stomach acid.

      • Hi Jeanne
        I am just wondering about other options for h.pylori treatment. I live in Panama, where there are no functional medicine practitioners unfortunately.

  13. Hello
    Does a person do all three herbal and alternative treatment options at once, mentioned in the video referring to Hashimotos Protocol by Izabella Wentz?

    • Hello, for any questions or concerns regarding Dr. Wentz’s protocols we suggest contacting her customer service team to best answer those for you. Here is the email address: [email protected]
      Thank you!
      ~ Jeanne HB Team

  14. I have been trying some of the recommended items above but they don’t really work for me. When I tried ACV in water, it sent me to the restroom immediately, and when I used lemon juice in warm water, the roof of my mouth became like sandpaper after a while. Did anyone else experience these issues? Any thoughts about why this might happen?

    • Yes, as an example, I have histamine intolerance and lemon juice and ACV make me sick. This is really frustrating as the suggested protocol is easy, many get a relief, but not me.

    • Hi Monica, have you tried Swedish Bitters (glycerine-based)? If you can’t tolerate any of the above, try ½ teaspoon of sea
      salt before meals. ~ Jeanne HB Team

      • My husband takes Swedish Bitters in a small amount of water. I try to get him to take before meals, but he will only take right after a meal. It has helped the GERD that he has during the night following certain meals.

  15. What is acv? How is it used to help the scalp? Thank you for your time and reply.
    Much appreciation!

    • Hi Susan, Apple Cider Vinegar rinses are wonderful for gently cleansing, strengthening and conditioning hair. It also helps balance the scalps pH and reduces inflammation. Here is Magdalena’s clay shampoo recipe you might find helpful, it includes ACV:
      ~ Jeanne HB Team

      • I have been using the WOW Products for thinning hair which have ACV…shampoo, conditioner and oil treatments. It does it all. My hair is filling back in and I can see new growth all over. I am still loosing some, but NOTHING like before. I am on my first bottles!

        I love these WOW Products. Just ordered the body cleaning gel for my e tire body as I shower…fantastic. Just sharing…

      • Hi Robin,

        According to “Pernicious anemia usually is easy to treat with vitamin B12 shots or pills. If you have severe pernicious anemia, your doctor may recommend shots first. Shots usually are given in a muscle every day or every week until the level of vitamin B12 in your blood increases.” ~HB Team

      • Hello, I apologize if this is a stupid question. But if you suffer with acid reflux, bloating and you take an HCL pill but still experience the symptoms of Bloating & acid reflux. Do you continue taking them until you feel nothing or do you stop taking them?

  16. How would a medical doctor check if a patient produces enough stomach acid? I need 2 to 3 capsules of betain hcl from pure encapsulattion. At the moment I am not sure how to explain my doctor that my findings shows that I am low in stomach acid.


  17. Hi HB

    I suffer from terrible IBS and am on a very limited diet. I don’t typically get burping etc it’s always the other end (diarrhea etc).
    I always thought my stomach acid was too high as I cannot tolerate anything acidic. Even a couple of drops of lemon juice in warm water gives me stomach cramps. How would one test for high stomach acid?

  18. I suffer from GERD. Would the pills be ok for me to take? About acv or the lemon juice? I just don’t want to aggravate my condition because the pain can be unbearable. Thank you

    • Amanda, in case you’re still waiting to hear about the prudence of taking ACV or lemon juice while having GERD….I can tell you that my husband has GERD and one day finally got up the nerve to try ACV. He said it did not burn, and did make him feel better. He began taking it daily, and for quite awhile slept better at night, with almost no snoring. He’s back to snoring now, but I think he needs to try something else–possibly the Betaine HCl w/Pepsin. He would NOT recommend lemon juice–that still burns; a little is tolerated now and then, but not continuous amounts.

    • I would like to test for low stomach acid. I am taking prescription Prilosec every morning. To test, using Betaine, do I have to stop taking Prilosec or can I continue taking it while I test with the Betaine?

  19. Hi, I’ve been doing the Betain HCL protocol for the last 4 days. I have IBS-D and have suspected low stomach acid due to noticing digestion problems. I have never had GERD or anything like that, the issue for me is excess gas. I did the bicarbonate test over 3 days and had no reaction whatsoever, so I then moved onto HCL.

    I started off really low on 1 tablet (324 mg) then increased to 2 tablets (668mg) and then increased to 3 tablets taking me up to 1000. I felt discomfort at 1000 in terms of bloating and a headache but not burning/heartburn. I didn’t sleep very well that evening. So the next day I reduced it back down to 2 tablets and that seemed to have gone well. The next morning my bowel movements were good and I had a lot less gas (which is my main issue).. But one symptom I seemed to have developed is an acrid taste in my mouth – is this normal? Does that signify too much acid? Also my throat feels more closed up and I’ve been burping a little (don’t normally burp much) . I don’t seem to be having any symptoms that are mentioned on any website, so I don’t know whether they mean I need to take more or less HCL. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    • That could mean to much acid. I’d back down and see what changes. If it continues stop all together and see if that symptom disappears.

  20. Does anyone else get extremely ill from Betaine HCL? After 1 pill I get so dizzy that I fell down half a flight of stairs. I also get a debilitating headache that lasts for hours. My doctor has NO explanation for my adverse reactions to Betaine.

    • We haven’t heard of this Suzanne, you might try connecting with a Functional Medicine Doctor to explore why that might be happening. HB Support

    • Yes me to just took one tablet for the first time not long after felt dizzy and queezy

    • It is the pepsin! It used to make me feel worse but then I switched to the Bioptimizers HCL Breakthrough without pepsin and worked wonders. I’m just not sure of the dose since I’ve read that more than 3 capsules would burn the duodenum.

    • Your liver could be not working enough to clear out byproduct from digestion.TAking hcl could increase digestion and create more by products to deal with.

  21. Betaine HCL with Pepsin causes a burning sensation when I pee. How can I get around this?

    • We would suggest discontinuing use, and discussing it with a Functional Medicine practitioner. HB Support

  22. Hi,

    I’ve been using douglas ultrazyme and 4-6 pills per meal of thorne betaine HCl 1000mg and pepsin 47mg. It seems to help with bloating especially. I felt a bit of heartburn with higher doses, but I still see undigested food in my stool (mushrooms, nuts, green leafy’s, tomato skins and pepper skins.) I’ve tested negative for h. pylori.

    Is it safe to use these supplements long-term?
    What can I do to increase my own stomach acid?

    I react negatively to ACV, and bitters did not seem to be effective.

    Thanks for any recommendations.

  23. Hi,

    I was having reflux issues and a feeling of fullness after eating and gave HCL a try. I started with one and it started working straight away. My stool consistency was also improved. I increased to four eventually and results stayed the same. However, I didn’t carry on until I felt a burn or discomfort.

    After a week or so like that, I found that I had a gnawing pain in my upper stomach, but not while eating – usually hours later. I stopped taking HCL, but still have the issue. I wake up and feel fine. I can eat breakfast and that seems ok, but when I eat anything remotely substantial, and hour or so after eating I start getting terrible cramps.

    I can’t work out whether the HCL has caused my stomach to become irritated, or whether it actually food sitting undigested that is causing the pain and I need to take more HCL…

    Any advice?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Rob,

      I recommend meeting with a medical professional who can work with you on a more individualized basis. Many folks have had success in working with functional medicine doctors. Here is an excellent tool if you need assistance finding one in your area.

      Healthy regards,
      HB team

    • I have the same exact symptoms as you. Have you found the answer to your problem?

  24. Would taking one calcium/magnesium indigestion tablet about seven hours before doing the morning baking soda stomach acid test affect results?

    • Hi Suze,
      It’s possible the calcium may cause your stomach to make more stomach acid. I’d probably do the test without that, at least at first.
      Healthy Regards,
      HB Team

  25. Hello! Nine weeks ago, I was diagnosed with GERD. I tested myself for H. pylori but the results were negative. My symptoms include burping after eating, acid moving up into my esophagus and a feeling of something being stuck somewhere along my digestive system that I feel in my back. My GP and two other gastroenterologists prescribed me Almagel (antacid), Zirid (Itopride) and PPIs which I took for 5 weeks. Because I wasn’t getting better, my doctors prescribed me increasing amounts of medicine. Towards the end of this period I was taking 80 mg of Nexium per day. However, as I was taking the medicine my symptoms worsened. I lost 8 kg because I was barely able to eat. I felt that food stayed in my stomach for hours before it got digested. After 5 weeks I decided to stop the medication as I read that my condition may be due to low stomach acid instead of high acidity. Although I had some rebound acid after stopping the medication, the rebound effects stopped after 2-3 days. I began taking Slippery Elm, herbs /germander, chicory/, propolis with royal jelly, honey and bee pollen. I started eating a little more, I found foods which I tolerated /honey, apples, pears, melons, chicken broth, kefir, carrot juice. Other foods such as egg whites, pickles, avocados, rusks in water were hard for me to consume but I found that I can eat them if I also took some apple cider vinegar. I think apples cider vinegar relieved to a big extent many of my above symptoms. Unfortunately, apple cider vinegar is causing pain in the epigastric region after I take it.

    Is there anything I could substitute the vinegar with? I read about HCL Betaine, but I expect that it will have an even worse effect on my stomach.

    Does anyone have any advice on the situation?

    Is there something that I can take to soothe the pain from the vinegar? Most times it just goes way after a day.

    • Hi Pavlina,
      One quick mention here. Magdalena was tested for H. Pylori and the only way anything showed up was by a GI Map. Have you considered doing that?
      Magdalena said she did a combo of supplements designed by her integrative doctor which included mastic gum. She has retested and after the treatment is pylori-free.

      Magdalena’s Video on H.Pylori & Low Stomach acid

      here was her protocol:
      • H. Pylori Protocol
      o Mastic Gum 2 grams twice daily x 8 weeks
      o Zinc Carnosine 75mg twice daily x 8 weeks
      o Berberine 500mg take 3 caps twice daily x 8 weeks

      Hope this helps. Healthy Regards, HB Team

    • You can try ACV pills instead. If I have a lot of sinus drainage I’ll take them instead of the liquid and it doesn’t give me the burning in the my esophagus.

  26. Thanks for the great article. I have H pylori and suspect low stomach acid as I have all symptoms you listed

    I took 1 pill of the HCL betaine and I didn’t feeling burning until 3+ hours after the meal (dinner) and also during the next day- is that bad? The next day I tried 2 Tbs of lemon juice with a little water before meal and my stomach did not burn again till after a few hours and remained entire day. Is this a good thing?

    • Hi, I’ve been dealing with stomach inflammation with no H Pylori (test came back negative) since November of 2020. What the doctors gave me made it worse and I had rebound acid badly. My whole body felt like it was like in flames and I’ve never had acid reflux or heartburn in my life till after that. After a while it finally calmed down and I started trying other supplements that people say helped them but, so far nothing has really changed. I saw Betaine HCL and I wasn’t sure if my stomach acid was low or not but, I wanted to just try anything at the time. I got the one by the brand called Doctors Best with Pepsin and Gentian Bitters. The first day I took 1 pill before a meal and it gave me some heartburn. I didn’t think much of it because I’ve gotten used to that happening sometimes when I eat certain things and I read comments saying to keep taking it for the best results. Unfortunately, I took another one the next day before a meal and later on my chest was burning sooo bad like when the prescriptions I took did. My chest felt tight like something heavy was on it, and it was almost hard to breath, I got all the reverse symptoms. So it was a big fail from taking 2 pills, I stopped completely after the pain but, its still happening now. Do you know how long the Betaine HCl supplements last in the system or does it wear off? Will my stomach acid go back to how it was or is this gas burning in my chest? Last thing, I was scared at first because nothing else was working but, I did the baking soda test afterwards and I burped just after seconds passed….

    • I’m of the understanding that one should not take HCl if you have Hpylori that is causing symptoms. That taking bitters or ACV to support stomach acid when you have Hp is better until the Hp is under control. Thoughts?

      • Hi Brenda. While Magdalena took HCl while having H. Pylori, it is always a good idea to talk with a health practitioner if you have any concerns.

        – HB Team

  27. Hi, I have battled low stomach acid for years.. so I know how to dose with hcl. But thank you for even more one point I was taking 12 pills before eating to get relief. I was able to slowly lower that down to none.with no symptoms. It took about 3 years.

    Now symptoms have returned, but…..

    I have LPR .or silent reflux, Before being diagnosed I had a sore throat for 6 months.. I am worried about taking HCL with Pepsin because I know Pepsin causes the damage to my throat. But when I dont take It I suffer.
    I have been making the alginate raft, before I sleep, which includes adding a tums to the mix. Will this defeat the hcl I take. I make sure I am done eating by 6:30-7pm.

  28. Hi! first of all, thanks for all the information.
    I started taking betaine HCl + pepsin made from fungus and started having very bad headaches. I swapped the brand to one with porcine pepsin. It was working well until I ran out of it and give it a chance to the old brand because I didn’t want to waste money. But, the headache came back. I stopped taking it and started again with the porcine version. The problem is that I still have headaches. Maybe my body is thinking I’m still taking pepsin from fungus and reacting to it? Or am I still “intoxicated” with the fungus? Or could be another cause?
    I usually take between 8 to 15 pills. I know it sounds too much but if I take less, it simply doesn’t work.

  29. Hello there, I did the baking soda test, and results say I have low stomach acid.. That was confirmed with Gastrin blood test.. So I decided to start HCL, with lowest dose of 500mg in one capsule with a protein meal, and sadly I experience heartburn.. I’m confused… Not sure what to do now.

  30. I know this was posted awhile ago, but the comments seem to be active. I tried the baking soda test and my results were inconclusive. Twice actually. I felt like I had to burp the whole time, and I could have burped if I pushed it a little. But I thought that maybe it was just suppose to happen uncontrollably. So I didn’t. So I decided to just try the HCL and see if I felt bad. I have LPR symptoms: Uncomfortable breathing, sore throat, and more recently phlegm after meals.

    After taking the HCL, my breathing issues have improved. They are not gone, but they have been better than they have been trying anything else over the last 2 years. My sore throat and phlegm persists. So it seems like maybe I do have low stomach acid. HOWEVER… since starting the HCL 5 days ago, I’m not burping up acid. Which I never did before. So maybe I don’t have low stomach acid? But why is it helping my breathing some? I’m not prone to the placebo effect either… as I generally don’t believe anything will help me.

  31. Hey there! Would love to hear your thoughts around something I am experiencing. I started Betaine HCL several months ago. It was a massive game changer for me. I was taking 9 caps per meal which left me feeling great! I have really revamped my gut and finding that things are shifting. I am taking 6 now, but I really cannot tell if I am needing more or less. There is something that feels like I may need more still, however I am also noticing a lot more acid coming upwards. For example, when I drink water, it immediately brings acid up my esophagus. This is the one thin making me feel like I should be tapering down, however acid reflux is so very common with low acid as well. Does the drinking water and bringing up acid ring a bell to you? I want to say that I was not experiencing this before, so it may be an indicator to take it down? Would love your views on this. Thanks! 🙂

  32. Hi Linn, try lowering how many you are taking for a few days to see if this relieves some of the issue with the acid. As your stomach gets stronger and your digestive tract healthier, you will need less HCl. If you find this makes things worse you may need to go back up. If you find it makes no real difference or makes things slightly better, this may indicate you need to continue lowering your dose.
    Healthy regards,
    HB Team

  33. I’m at 11 capsules and still can’t feel anything. Should I keep going with more pills or stick to 11 or add anything else?

  34. Hi

    I started having low stomach acid symptoms in 2013, but I didn’t know much then and left it for years. I have indigestion / gas stuck in chest immediately after eating or even during. I have to force burps out which sometimes then brings mucus in my throat which makes me swallow lots. But the main symptom is inability to take a full inhale of breath or yawn. It’s blocked. This can last a few hrs but usually a day or two.

    I started taking betaine hcl in Jan 21. My burping after eating has improved a lot and my symptoms are not as regular, but I do still get it. I now take apple cider vinegar tablets too.

    How long will it take to increase my stomach acid, when I have low acid for 9 yrs now?

    I have done the betaine hcl stomach acid test and the baking soda test 3 times in a year. I do the baking soda test for 5 days at a time. Each time, I didn’t burp once after the baking soda.


    • Hi Adam, if after a month or so you’re still struggling with low stomach acid, you may want to work with a functional medicine practitioner to look at a GI Map or stool test. This test can help determine why you’re struggling with low stomach acid and if there is a bacterial component to this. If you need resources for finding someone, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. ~HB Support

  35. hi there, once we are on the right HCL doage , how much does it take to feel better? no bloating no gas no burping?

    please note that i am on the right dosage for 3 days and still not feeling any benefit !

    thank you

    • Hi Totti, sometimes it can take a week or more to really notice a huge change, especially if there are other factors causing your gas and bloating beyond just low stomach acid such as dealing with food sensitivities and intestinal inflammation. ~HB Support

  36. I am confused I did the baking soda test and the vinegar one an had many low acid symptoms the doctor suggested betaine HCL which I have started taking, there was an immediate improvement no nausea and almost no burping sand no stomach burn, but about 3 hours later I get a mild burn in my throat and even ears . I am taking 1 tablet 500mg which also contains zine and some herbs I can’t reduce the dose with this pill do I need to have a bigger meal perhaps this occurred after a sandwich,

    • Hi Lin, you may need to change your brand you are using to reduce this symptom as the symptoms you are describing can be a sign the dose is too much for you. Also, you could try increasing your protein at each meal or make sure you are only taking the Betaine HCl with protein filled meals. ~HB Support

  37. Help. Idk what to do. I’ve been to drs,specialists, nd, fd. I cant tell if I have low or high stomach acid. Did baking soda test. Didn’t burp. I dont have time for games anymore. Not on ppi,pepsid or carafate they slow my gut down.. I have slow motility, gi map found h pylori staphylococcus aureus giardia low enterococcus low elastase 1 low firimites low secratory iga. Breath tested positive for sibo methane and hydrogen, candida little high at 5.5. I have silent asthma. Mild silent reflux mild gastritis. Ibs c. Im fatigued. Dont sleep great. Ears ring. Slight burning from sternum to clavicle when wake up or after eating sometimes. Get sob, fatigued after ate oatmeal. Idk what to do. Treated sibo with antibiotic fc cidal dysbiocide . Idk what to take for the reflux before bed. Or what to take in the morning. Used carafate after desperation. Cant use acv. Burns. I feel like no one is listening to me. I’m on lowfodmap and down to not many foods. Im losing weight. Im hungry. Take magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate to go daily. Drink magnesium calm before bed that makes my throat swell up but need it to 💩. Have vocal cord dysfunction too. All this after coofid 1.5 yrs ago. People say gi map is bs.

    • Hi Luna, We are sorry to hear you are struggling so much. There is a lot of good information that can be found in a GI Map test, so it’s really important to find a supportive practitioner that understands it, the results and can support you with action items. We would recommend a couple resources for you. The first resource is, and additionally, we would suggest this link to find a practitioner
      We hope that helps. Take care, HB support

  38. Sharon. Just started HCL supplements and having great results. Doctors have had be on Pantaloc for years. I stopped taking it two years ago because it made me fell worse. I get mostly bloating not heartburn. Wonder if HCL supplements will kill parasites?

  39. Thank you so much for this post! And answering the comments! You are a godsend for people struggling with this, but reluctant to see a doctor because of their propensity to push PPIs. Bless you!!! I wish I’d found this information several months ago when I was first struggling with this. I do have a question, however. I suspect I know the answer, but wanted to confirm…

    I’ve been working with a dietician since the Spring because I started having silent reflux. I did a hair analysis test and it confirmed I was probably not making enough acid and was severely lacking in protein. I’ve since upped my protein and have started supplements to help my deficiencies. I’ve recently discovered cutting out gluten seems to help me. My bowel movements are normal now and I no longer feel the cool sensation in my throat that I started associating with the gastroesophageal sphincter being open. But now I noticed that my throat is sore and it seems after I take the HCL my throat burns and I also have noticed it in my ears like someone above mentioned. And it is generally an hour after eating I notice the burning. I wonder if this means I no longer need the HCL and my body is finally doing what it’s supposed to?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *